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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mb business owner

congratulations on hiring someone with municipal experience. too bad the folks in morro bay didn’t see the need to hire someone that had an “idea” of how a city functions. we envy you AG as you move forward and we run backwards.


Maybe that’s because there have been too many cases where people make the claim we have to pay more to get the best and the brightest and for decades now the so called best and brightest have only been that for their own personal benefit and those in their little circle. So maybe just hiring the right person might be the best thing and their so-called experience doesn’t amount to anything good for the taxpayers.


Who is this “we” you speak of? Maybe you’d be happier in Arroyo Grande… don’t let the door hit you on your way out.


bazarro grande lol ..

is that like Bozzo Tony.. he is selling pencils out of shopping cart at the pismo pier… what did you expect , everyone has seen .. Mr Hill in action at OCSD.. meetings .. new location same guy!!!

it’s time to play family feud…. welcome to the feud…


new city manager??

veryyyyy interesting…


Approximately $229,000 in salary and benefits? How does that compare with what Adams got?


You not referring to his special payment of “tea” are you? We all know that costing the citizens of A.G. more and more everyday, and will until we remove his accomplice, and all the Ferrara fan club still working at city hall


Steve’s salary was $157,294, plus benefits.

Watching the budget meeting last month, it appears Adams was not such a good City Manager, every fund is running very thin.

Dianne’s is $179,000, plus benefits.

The consultant hired to recruit a new manager advised the council they were paying below average.

Recognizing this, they upped the salary for recruitment.

**Don’t forget Paavo Ogren is making $196,500, plus benefits to run little ‘ol Oceano and he has a $5,000 increase scheduled for next fiscal year.

Mitch C

It takes a very good manager to keep all the balls in the air with minimal funds; anyone can be an adequate manager when they have more cash on hand than can possibly be spent. With all due respect, Julie, Steve was a very good manager.


I thought so too; until a late night cup of tea last July.


Adams made decisions that cost the city dearly.

While at one time he may have been a good manager, unfortunately that was not the case before he was let go.

We are hopeful that Ms. Thompson jump right in and pick up the ball Mc Fall has rolling. He’s been a great interim.

AG is not missing Adams.


…will jump right in- –



You should not be so hung up on the earnings of the CEOs of public agencies.

Their pay is public and you take EVERY opportunity to try to define the narrative by their earnings. Anyone can find out salary info at http://transparentcalifornia.com/

Those more significantly compensated are generally significantly responsible.

Go back into your wormhole from where you came from in Los Osos.



I answered the question posed above. Threw in Paavo for compari$on.

I am only “hung up” on boards and council’s over paying for incompetence.

Oceano is just one of many. While Paavo is smarter than the rest, Oceano can’t afford him.

Los Osos has been just as chronic in their bad choices on GM’s, ironically, Paavo was the first.


PAAVO….@ $200k and not worthy. So how’s that gross overpaid public servant and your over the top support working out?

$126k doesn’t sound so bad now does it? That agency could use the added $100k to pay down its loans and fordtall rate increases from the disadvantaged community.

You and your sidekick Jeffy must be proud “dogs” that portend to be watching the public’s trust.

You really need to “bone up” before you distort reality.


Sp. forestall


For a community the size of Oceano with a budget of really only

$1.3 million (the rest of their $4M budget is pass through payments

for water, fire and sewer), $100,000 is the top of what they should be

paying for a GM.

$126,000 of Geaslen or Curtis was far too much since neither had a bone of transparency

in their bodies.

Geaslen hid the fact he had no contract with the district for nearly 5 months.

Curtis hid his resume and plagiarized writing sample for tow months. Both tried to hide their incompetence.

The BOARD was lazy and didn’t cut the cord soon enough with either, the collateral damage from each is untold.


Wait a minute, back up the sewer truck! What about the $6,000,000.00 in low interest loan money that you and your colleagues absconded with that was intended for the sewer? Why was it not given back to the taxpayers of California?


You sure have your facts wrong.


Was it higher than $6,000,000? I lost track at $4,000,000.


Please explain where the first installment of the SWRB low interest loan ($6,000,000.00) that was approved for TRI-W went.Those were public tax dollars. You subsequently defaulted o n the entire loan (the only time in history any community has done so.

Where’s the money?


There is no TRI-W in Arroyo Grande.

Stop it.


“Those more significantly compensated are generally significantly responsible.”

C.V., the keyword in your assertion is “significantly.”

As you know, for years Paso residents paid soon-to-be former (yay!!) city manager Jim App a boatload of money…and look at our crumbling roads, inadequate infrastructure, poor morale among city staff, sewage treatment plant woes…the list goes on.

Also our disgraced former top cop Lisa Solomon Chitty was paid $200K+…and we all know what happened with her.

So yes, some of us do get “hung up” on how much our local government officials are making–because WE are the ones paying their bloated salaries and generous pensions.


Mayor Hill, with more decisions like this, keeping the same law firm, we might be making you a one term mayor.


It takes three votes to can the firm. You all know where Mayor Hill stood on this and Seitz at San Dist.

Your bitterness should be aimed at council members that wouldn’t terminate the firm.


If there was a vote, even in closed session, we legally should be told of the vote count, this will tell us if you are correct. If the vote count was 1-4, or 3-2, or whatever. Knowing the vote count will help us come 2016 when Barneich and Guthrie are up for re-election, then again there should not a snowball’s chance that either of them will get re-elected.


Watch for the report out of Closed Session.


You’re forgetting it takes the majority of five votes to do anything. Mayor Hill is ONE vote.

Give it a chance Kayak, if Whitman doesn’t do a good job it will be much easier to get the votes to send her on her way, than it appears was the case with Carmel.


Out with the old

In with the new

We’re so glad

To see the last of you!


Very happy to see AG moving forward!


I can’t understand why in the hell the city would hire anybody that Carmel is recommending, especially someone that’s working for his law firm. *Facepalm*


Not all partners in a firm are created equal!

Carmel “stepping down” is big change, Hill wasn’t going to let up on replacing him, and Carmel knew it.


Carmel stepping down is not a big change if his firm continues to legally represent the City.


Did I read it correctly: Arroyo Grande is getting ride of Carmel BUT considering hiring someone from his firm????? Keeping Carmel backstage and directing legal issues is NOT getting rid of Carmel. Oh wait, this is Arroyo Grande; the city that has discriminated for 20+ years and supported Wallace.

It’s “Bazarro Grande” – NOT Arroyo Grande.


The Tribune had the rest of the story today. Interesting!