Out with the old, in with the new in Arroyo Grande

April 24, 2015
City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish


The Arroyo Grande City Council has hired Dianne Thompson to replace ousted city Manager Steve Adams and plans to replace long-term city attorney Tim Carmel with Heather Whitham. The council is slated to confirm both hires on April 28.

Dianne Thompson has a Master’s in public policy and was the Cotati city manager from 2007 through 2014 when she resigned. She is currently serving as interim city manager for the Town of Ross.

Thompson is expected to start her new position with the city no later than Aug. 1 for an annual compensation of approximately $229,000, including salary and benefits.

After 14 years as the city manager, in November, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously to place Adams on paid administrative leave after reviewing an investigation into an alleged sex scandal.

Dianne Thompson

Dianne Thompson

On July 3, 2014, five officers caught Adams and a subordinate employee in a darkened City Hall. Several years earlier, Adams insisted on the termination of a female police officer who had a personal relationship with a lower-ranking member of the force.

Carmel led the investigation into the alleged affair which resulted in a verbal reprimand, even though this was not the first time the Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish had been caught engaging in inappropriate behavior.

After 22 years, Carmel is stepping down as city attorney and has recommended the city hire Whitman, an attorney with his firm Carmel and Naccasha.

Whitman was the deputy city attorney for the City of Torrance for 14 years. For the past four years, she has represented numerous local special district and served as the special attorney to the City of Arroyo Grande.

During the past month, the Arroyo Grande Council has had several closed session meetings to discuss Carmel’s performance in light of his support of Adams and issues with Adams’ claims against the city following his termination.

Since the sex scandal was exposed in an exclusive CalCoastNews article, Mayor Jim Hill ousted 16 year incumbent Tony Ferrara and recently elected Councilmember Barbara Harmon replaced Joe Costello.

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Will there be a newer version of after hours tea and biscuits? Check out her reputation prior to Cotatai? Another prime example of what is wrong with local government.


I think we should welcome the new city manager. I think a progressive thinker will be good for Arroyo Grande.

The last city manager and last mayor stalled growth for years in AG. I mean really all we got during his time period was some suburban housing developments, Panera, and the Hampton Inn. We need higher density, affordable housing, and more jobs in south county. I hope this lady can bring what the region and the city needs.

BTW, Julie, I can’t wait to see Oceano go bankrupt. The zoning laws in Oceano are terrible. Most of the town is zoned for rural housing. The town could add up to 7,000 more population in high density housing. Oceano will not change unless it grows. Oceano is severely behind in sales tax and bedroom tax compared to other neighboring towns. Maybe if Oceano had more an economy, then taxes wouldn’t be so high. I guess the majority of low-educated voters in Oceano could care less though.


The last city manager and mayor didn’t stall growth if your initials were NKT.


Why in the world would the City Council keep anyone from Tim Carmel’s firm as the City Attorney. Throw out the entire firm PLEASE!


ANSWER: Could not get three votes!


Since nothing was reported from the closed session no vote was taken, we are left with then that our new mayor and city council member did not even call a vote, so I guess you are right, there were not three votes, there wasn’t even one vote since none were taken. More and more it is looking like our new mayor will be a one term mayor.


Yes Your Right About 200 k With Bennies is pretty low…

Say Can I sign up for the low Pay ,and hang out in the closet Half naked ,drink Tea & blame other’s for my Lack of professional behavior. I am sorry this seems VERY .. Normal to me ..

The line forms here for the 6 figure Low Pay.. Way to go.. Fish wrap paper’s !!


Permanently ban roundabouts in Cotati, lol small town politics, she will fit right in.

“One key failure in Thompson’s time as city manager was the failure to develop Cotati’s northern corridor. The city tried to make improvements to that part of the city by instituting roundabouts (traffic circles) that proved highly unpopular with the citizens. Voters in 2012 passed a measure to permanently ban roundabouts in Cotati.”



Does anyone know when Steve Adams pay ceased? Was it when McFall took over? (he’s been great!) Or is it when Ms. Thompson begins?

He’s reamed our city enough, we don’t need to keep him on payroll any longer!


When McFall started, but he took the council to the cleaners arguing he was

wrongfully terminated. Rather than go to legal battle they agreed to give him $71,000 in severance.

The man then further fleeced the taxpayers, less than a month after the Arroyo Grande City Council agreed to pay former city manager Steve Adams a $71,000 settlement, Adams filed a claim of involuntary separation with the city’s insurance carrier.

It is unknown if the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority approved Adams’ claim,

he could have received up to six months’ salary under the city’s executive separation

insurance coverage.

The claim, which is in addition to the $71,000 settlement, was for approximately $107,000.


Good riddance Steve (he’s such a nice guy) Adams.


Adams is truly a doosh.

If the Avengers franchise ever needs a new character, they could call it

MegaDoosh and get Adams for the role. He is a true natural.


Pardon me for asking But does this thing Get any Crazier???

Pretty Jacked up stuff , no wonder things are going to He_ _ .. These days

Wow Act Stupid Get a Big Check!!


“Dianne Thompson has a Master’s in public policy and was the Cotati city manager from 2007 through 2014 when she resigned. She is currently serving as interim city manager for the Town of Ross.”

Do we know why she resigned? Do we know why the AG Board feels the need to increase the base salary (and benefits?) so much?


Cotati? Ross? I didn’t know it was possible that there were towns even smaller that AG. Most likely she can give up her second job as dogcatcher when AG hires her.

I’m sorry, but for that much money she be coming from a larger pool.


It’s very gracious of you to start bashing before she’s even started.

Certainly hope you plan on posting an apology when she’s sufficiently proven herself to you.

What a jerk.


Thank you. I learned from your “gracious” example.


That “article” was so weak, it might as well have been written up by the head-hunting firm who gets a cut of the salary… no surprise, they want AG to pay more.

I guess the Santa Maria Times is as much of a joke as the Tribune is here in SLO.


That article was as thin as anything the Trib (or Santa Maria Times) would run; however, the comment section shed some light on the type of “administrator” that this person was for their town. It does seem like she’ll fit right in.

…and I am detecting a pattern in local governments (especially California).