Stating there was no "cover-up" of a July 3 incident involving two Arroyo Grande employees, Arroyo Grande council members decided in closed session Tuesday not to pursue another investigation of the matter.
"I went back and forth on this," Councilman Jim Guthrie said after the decision was announced about 11 p.m. to the 15 or so people still present. "I felt there wouldn't be anything gained from doing an outside investigation than we already had."
The details of the council's discussion were not made public, nor was it immediately clear whether a vote was taken. City attorney Tim Carmel could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Only Guthrie and Councilwoman Kristen Barneich commented on the decision Tuesday night.
"We did reprimand Mr. Adams," Barneich said, referring to City Manager Steve Adams.
In the July 3 incident, Arroyo Grande police officers found Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish inside Adams' office after McClish's husband had called police, worried because she hadn't yet returned home.
Officers later described them as looking disheveled. Adams appeared unkempt with his shirt partially untucked and his hair uncombed, according to police officer statements.
A few of the officers who saw McClish described her as holding a shirt or article of clothing. Both also appeared sleepy.
However, none of the officers' statements reported seeing Adams or McClish in an intimate situation, nor did they report that McClish was unclothed behind whatever article of clothing she was holding.
Adams and McClish told the deputy city attorney that they had a few drinks at two restaurants in the Village and were talking in Adams’ office to ensure they were safe to drive home.
The deputy attorney, Michael McMahon, interviewed the five officers who responded, as well as Adams and McClish, and determined that no city personnel regulations, contracts or laws had been violated.
But some residents remain upset and believe the council should do more in response.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, council members heard a renewed call to reopen an investigation or take steps to regain the community's trust. Some said what happened at city hall that night isn't the issue — it's the response from city officials that has them concerned.
"I feel this is a big cover-up," said resident Vanessa Andrews, a former Arroyo Grande police detective.
About 13 people expressed disappointment in the council’s handling of the situation, called for another investigation or urged people to contact the county’s civil grand jury. Four others expressed confidence in city staff and asked the council to drop the matter and move on.
“What more could be learned by another investigation which will cost who knows what?” resident Rod Hatch said. “I haven’t found one person yet who thinks there should be a further investigation. … I think we all want to move on.”
In her comments after the closed session ended, Barneich agreed.
“There are lots of people in this community who share a different opinion than most of the people who spoke tonight, and I feel we are representing them,” she said.