The slandering of John Mack

November 13, 2015

AG City Council 6


Why I believe Planning Commissioner John Mack was slandered — a malicious act to disgrace him in the Nov. 10 meeting of the Arroyo Grande City Council.

Let me explain as follows:

The three Council members — Barbara Harmon, Jim Guthrie, Mayor Pro Tem Kristen Barneich — and even Tim Brown who supported Mack — believed Mack intentionally quit claimed his house to avoid the conflict of interest charge filed by developer Nick Tompkins. Respected Councilman Guthrie was particularly articulate in making this accusation.

But — and this is the crux of the matter — no one asked what was Mack’s true intent in this matter — even though in his concluding remarks Guthrie suggested that Mack had not come forth to explain what he did. I suggest he was never given the opportunity.

I believe Mack’s intent was never to lie and cheat in using the quit claim issue to avoid the conflict of interest charge.

Mack believed he had no conflict then, and that fact has been subsequently confirmed by the FPPC that considered the quit claim issue. Nevertheless, Mack has been slandered by the accusations — he has been trashed.

Barneich wandered all over the place on Mack’s personal issues in her indictment that he intentionally attempted to circumvent the law.

Where Harmon perceived that Mack’s “appearance of conflict” was the issue after considering the FPPC’s determination,  I suggest the following:

The appearance of a council conspiracy on this matter regarding Mack was confirmed by Brown. He stated there was a “rush to judgment” by the three that supported Tompkins’s claim  — particularly citing Harmon and Barneich.

The perception by the citizens following this matter was that there was conspiracy involved certain council members supporting Tompkins.

Many citizens supporting Mack giving comments in the Nov.10 meeting stated so. Adding to this, Guthrie praised Tompkins for bringing the complaint in his concluding remarks. The perception of conspiracy was a real factor among the citizen observers who saw the contradictions and unfairness in the whole matter.

I believe Arroyo Grande’s respected Director of Community Development, Terersa McClish, appears to be a party with Tompkins to undermine Mack. Tompkins’ statement to the council, and the staff documents attended to the city agenda on the hearing of the matter by McClish, substantiates the apparent intimacy between McClish and Tompkins on the matter. The record here is very clear.

In the most generous explanation of their conduct, McClish and Tompkins wanted the project approved — as did the threesome. For those citizens following this debacle, this appeared to be a conspiracy to have Tompkins project approved.

I repeat as follows: If the council would have dismissed this matter after the FPPC ruled in Mack’s favor, it would have gone away. But by addressing the issue the council opened Pandora’s box with the possible motivations:

To either sincerely resolve the matter on a judgment to depose Mack. I do not believe this was the motivation. This was a hanging jury.

Or to rationalize and explain their conduct on the matter that appeared to suggest conspiracy. I believe this was definitely a factor considering the negative political aspect of the issue.

Or to politically embarrass Mack — to punish him — despite the fact that the FPPC has determined there was no conflict! Whether by intention or not the three did disparage Mack while — ironically –believing and alleging Mack intentionally lied.

The threesome never addressed what was Mack’s true intent. He was never asked. And he certainly — during the “fog of war” — was not given the opportunity to defend himself on the “intent question.” He was convicted first and tried later on Nov. 10. And he was found not guilty but thoroughly trashed during the hearing.

The rational by Barneich that item 12a on this subject was not dismissed from the council agenda to hear from the citizens was fulfilled by angry comments from citizens supporting Mack. But this testimony did not deter the three from trashing Mack in their subsequent concluding remarks after hearing the overwhelming support of Mack by the citizens.

Council member Brown gave a reluctant but moving support of Mack. Mayor Jim Hill gave a precise and factual summary. Hill ended by reminding listeners that the FPPC denied Tompkins’ complaint against Mack because he did not have a conflict of interest regarding Tompkins’ project.

The council’s surprising five votes not to convict Mack was a possible result of the three council members realizing their political interests were exposed and more important than their support of Tompkins. If so, the political reality on the matter was acknowledged.

The vote, led by Harmon after the Mayor’s excellent concluding remarks, is greatly appreciated by the citizens supporting Mack. But the prior concluding remarks trashing Mack added to the gasp of surprise when the council did not convict him.

Besides all this — why wasn’t the whole issue handled under California Code 54957 in closed session?

Why isn’t a commissioner given the same protection that city employees are given in closed session on “conduct issues?” At least Mack could have been castigated behind closed doors.

Someone owes Mack an apology. Probably the citizens in the election year 2016.

Otis Page is a citizen of Arroyo Grande.

Get links to breaking news stories, like CCN on Facebook.



  1. Otis says:

    A request has been made to the City Manager of Arroyo Grande by Otis Page, a citizen of Arroyo Grande, to include an item of the next agenda of the City Council to consider a “Council apology for slandering respected Arroyo Grande citizen, Planning Commissioner John Mack.”

    (20) 26 Total Votes - 23 up - 3 down
    • AGDUDE says:

      I think there is some thing in the water in AG, do any of you people know John Mack, He was slandered your joking right… Otis are you smoking Dope?…

      The mayor should of never picked this guy,where there is smoke,there is fire! lets just stomp that out too like we do with all our nasty business in AG these days..sweep it right under the rug.. face it clowns run the city.. all they lack is red rubber noses.. holly cow!

      John did all of it people.. wake up.. why does any normal person do a quick claim.. at certain times ,to resolve some thing fast.. that’s the point Holly F@@&!

      where are all the honest leaders.. if your stupid here sign here we have a job for you..

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. says:

    The Ag Council trashes Mack and merely slapped poor Stevie’s hand. Damn their arrogance. Tuesday’s show was crammed with hate and ugliness.

    (43) 71 Total Votes - 57 up - 14 down
    • justbeware says:

      Barneich and Guthrie fought hard to protect Adams.
      Barneich and Guthrie made their negative comments about Mr. Mack,
      seemingly firm in their convictions…
      Until Harmon decided to respect the FPPC’s decision.
      Barneich and Guthrie folded like cheap suits, voted with the group and demonstrated their upcoming election is more important than voting their conscience.

      Who should we respect less?
      Harmon for initiating the fiasco,
      or Barneich and Guthrie for being spineless?

      (38) 64 Total Votes - 51 up - 13 down
      • kayaknut says:

        There has been no respect for Guthrie and Barneich for many years, and hopefully at the next election we will no longer see them on the council. As far as Harmon, she talked big about open government fairness during the election and just showed us you really can not believe what you hear.

        (32) 48 Total Votes - 40 up - 8 down
    • doglover says:

      What was the motivation of Barneich, Harmon and Guthrie?

      To make sure Mack would not run for City Council?
      Any citizen who watches that sh!tshow will always side with Mack.
      They do not understand the “other stuff” that was not articulated at the meeting.

      Boomerang and the sh!t comes flying right back right on them!

      (25) 47 Total Votes - 36 up - 11 down
    • MajorityFan says:

      What did Steve do? Again, unproven allegations.

      (-9) 23 Total Votes - 7 up - 16 down
      • surferdude says:

        Steve was warned verbally that his private relationship with Mrs. McClish had appearances of impropriety and made other employees uncomfortable. He was disciplined for this matter with a verbal warning.

        Then on the night before a 3 day weekend, he went for drinks at two locations with only one subordinate ( Mrs. McClish), then used AG City Hall as a sobering center.

        When the Police arrived looking for Mrs. McClish, for fear she was experiencing a medical emergency, Mr.. Adams LIED to them declaring she was not there.

        The City Manager, City Attorney and then Mayor Ferrara decided to keep mums about the entire mishap until after the filing period passed for anyone to run for Council or Mayor.

        The cover up is always worse than the crime!

        Anyone want to add to the story to enlighten dear MajorityFan?

        (11) 25 Total Votes - 18 up - 7 down
      • agag1 says:

        He and Ferrara blamed the police for the ordeal, insinuating they had some sort of a grudge or vendetta against him.
        Remember, the call to check on McClish was initiated by her husband, and officers scoured the village when there was no response at city hall, yet her car was there.
        No one denies Adams and McClish were in the darkened building and didn’t respond to flashlights shining and banging on the windows.
        Check the police memos.

        (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Sounds familiar, just like Mr. Mack, unproven allegations.

        (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  3. Actionoriented says:

    While so many comments made by Barneich on the evening of November 10th were interesting, I found it intriguing that she continues to show her elitist mentality when it comes to taking certain public comments more seriously than others based on the length of time they have lived here.

    I sure hope this doesn’t deter people from speaking who were not born here or who have recently moved here…

    (49) 61 Total Votes - 55 up - 6 down
  4. LeAnn says:

    If Mrs. McClish is responsible for canceling the Planning Commission meeting, shouldn’t she also be included in an FPPC complaint? Do you really think she is an impartial staff member? I am sure that digging into staff reports or minutes of prior meetings would shine light on her impartial”ness”. Why are we not asking the FPPC to investigate the possible inappropriateness of McClish’s actions over the course of the last several years—do you really think she stands to gain nothing from Tompkins’ projects being approved? If she did not, why would she work so hard on his behalf? Maybe the council should ask this question and seek answers.

    This isn’t about Tompkins bringing project before the city or being able to do business in AG—it is about 1) if he should be entitled to special treatment by staff and other council members, 2) how volunteers are treated in the city, 3) whether or not the citizens are able to see the personal political agendas as they play out in terms of future political gain, 4) Dianne being the leader she was hired to be or a follower, 5) whether or not Teresa should continue to be able to operate without any restraints and therefore push projects through for people she has close ties with…(historically).

    Mr. Mack is a person who was tasked with bringing honest questions and concerns about projects proposed in the City of AG, he did that—and know he has been publicly chastised by the very council who appointed him.

    The council members who pushed for Mack’s removal made a serious mistake—a costly mistake on several levels.

    (40) 72 Total Votes - 56 up - 16 down
  5. citygirl says:

    I find it most insightful, that yet another planning commissioners meeting has been canceled.

    Since this ordeal with John Mack, the staff have decided to cancel 2 p/c meetings, could it be because John Mack retrained his seat?

    What was on the agenda’s you may ask? Yes! the Cherry Lane project that Nick is going to donate 50% of his profits from.

    And who might cancel those meetings? I believe the star of this is Teresa McClish herself, but I am not 100% sure.

    So much for anyone and/or project that might have been included in the agenda. This is all about Nick Tompkins and HIS projects. We know Teresa McClish has backed NKT projects for some time now, but this is getting up there in seriousness.

    Who ever is canceling these meetings is not doing the job she/he were hired to do. They seem to be bias towards NKT and really need a stern talking to, a write up in their file and disciplinarian action taken if needed.

    The city manager Dianne needs to stop observing and start running the city, and controlling her staff better.

    We are never going to get developers to come here as long as these games continue to play out. Obviously the problems went further than just Tony and Steve, Teresa McClish should have lost her job along with Steve, maybe then city would not seem so one sided.

    (39) 59 Total Votes - 49 up - 10 down
    • justbeware says:

      Check the traffic commission agenda for Mon 11/16.
      51 Room Boutique Hotel, Applicant none other than…
      …You guessed it! N. K. T.
      Mr Tompkins pants just caught fire.

      (43) 61 Total Votes - 52 up - 9 down
      • doglover says:

        On Tuesday, November 10th during public comments for agenda item 12a.
        Mr. Tompkins declared the Courtland & Grand project was his last in AG!

        So, who do you trust?
        Great balls of fire!

        (30) 38 Total Votes - 34 up - 4 down
  6. sbjcl says:

    This whole episode clearly demonstrates how much influence Tompkins has over this city council. Mack is by far the most qualified member of the Planning Commission. Tompkins wanted denial so he could get his agenda to the council where he knew it would be smooth sailing. To chase Mack around illustrates how disingenuous he really is. His project is a disaster.

    (42) 62 Total Votes - 52 up - 10 down
    • justbeware says:

      Tompkin’s influence is over the majority of the council, not the entire council, thank goodness.
      Maybe some day he’ll decide to follow the general plan and bring a less dense, less controversial project, but I won’t be holding my breath.
      Sooner or later is might occur to him that anyone tainted by Ferrara and his unethical ways is highly suspect. NKT is in that club, residents are tired of his less than honest ways.

      Who’s going to forget his “last project” statement?
      The hotel on Monday’s traffic agend shows he can’t be taken at his word. He KNEW it was on the upcoming agenda!
      All the promises in the world of donations to SLO aren’t going to buy him back into good graces.

      (27) 31 Total Votes - 29 up - 2 down
  7. doglover says:

    Why did BARBARA HARMON continue with the agenda item when she knew she was going to move to retain him? Why treat anyone in this manner?

    This did not happen to Councilman Ed Arnold after his arrest for attempted assault and obtaining kiddie porn.

    What was the motivation of GUTHRIE.BARNEICH and HARMON for the public lashing?

    They will NEVER remove a future Commissioner nor be allowed to publicly flog a volunteer again!

    SUE the City, Mr. Mack!

    (49) 83 Total Votes - 66 up - 17 down
    • SLOBodan says:

      I truly believe that Jim Hill’s well thought out points made the tides turn. It is true, people are not removed from their seat for conflict of interest, but rather have a financial fine.

      I am grateful that the others listened and did the right thing. Nothing to be gained by suing the city, just support Mr. Mack and convince him to run for City Council!

      (48) 70 Total Votes - 59 up - 11 down
    • kayaknut says:

      How about sue Ms. Harmon, Ms. Barneich, and Mr. Guthrie, the city residents didn’t do this unless of course we are to blame because we voted them in, (except Barneich she was only appointed), but hopefully we can change some of that in the next election, and if Harmon doesn’t change and follow her position during the election, at her next one is she runs again.

      (42) 58 Total Votes - 50 up - 8 down
  8. SLOBodan says:

    Well said, Mr. Page. JOHN MACK FOR AG CITY COUNCIL!

    (55) 93 Total Votes - 74 up - 19 down
  9. Mr. Holly says:

    On a similar case in the North County years ago there was a situation like this. According to the FPPC this is a legal action although at the same time, as noted in their ethics training handbook, it’s unethical.
    Legal but unethical?

    (5) 37 Total Votes - 21 up - 16 down

Leave a Comment