Less than a month after losing the board chairmanship because of allegations of bullying and a lack of decorum, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill sent a string of Facebook messages chastising a Pismo Beach man over his commentary in the Tribune before telling the man to “fuck off.”
After reading Andrea Seastrand’s column, “Supervisor Adam Hill is an embarrassment to SLO County,” Mark Burnes responded in an opinion piece that was posted in the Tribune’s Sunday paper. While Burnes’ opinion focused on advertising Seastrand ran while campaigning against Walter Capps, Burnes said he agreed with most of Seastrand’s column, which focused on Hill’s “sexist social media attacks.”
“I agree with most of her points, and, despite the fact that I’ve been a friend and supporter of Adam’s for many years, I, too, am disappointed with some of his antics and attitude,” Burnes wrote in the Tribune.
Shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Hill sent Burnes a private Facebook message in which he bragged of his accomplishments on the board, claimed to be the subject of hate and cursed at Burnes.
“Thanks but no thanks for your stupid letter. When you have walked in my shoes, when you taken the hate I have taken–and then been as effective as I’ve been, Mark, then you can take shots at me. Now? Fuck off. All talk, no balls,” Hill wrote on Facebook messenger.
In a string of messages that followed, Hill continued to tout his accomplishments while Burnes continued to question Hill’s behavior.
Burnes: “Actually, Adam, I walked in those shoes for 8 years on the Pismo Beach Planning Commission, where, I was every bit as effective in my role as you’ve been in yours. (A role that also gave my a prominent voice in the community that I used to help you get elected twice). I was also attacked by those who did not agree with the way I voted. Many of those attacks were ad hominem, and in Strawman Fallacy, by people who did everything they could to assassinate my character, and destroy my business. Unlike you, I never lashed out at them. I’ve always believed as a Public Official, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and conduct ourselves accordingly. E.g. my responses to my detractors were always civil and based on fact. (Thus my issue with Andrea, which was actually the subject of my letter). As to the letter: out of five paragraphs, there is one sentence about you. That sentence was neither disparaging or disrespectful. It was a simple disagreement. How you managed to take that as an attack that warranted that response is beyond me. I can tell you this, Adam, that you as a member of the SLOCBOS, would address anyone, particularly one of your constituents, in that manner is unconscionable. It’s not too dissimilar from the think-skinned manner in which Donald Trump attacks those who disagree with or are critical of him. You complain about the “hate that [you] have taken” yet you dish out hate – look in the mirror, Adam. The audaciousness of your response to me and others who disagree with you and your continued vitriol against other members of the Board is a clear indication that you are no longer fit to serve.”
Burnes: “Actually, Adam, now that I think about it; I was a great deal more effective in my role than you’ve been in yours, as I always chose to function within the boundaries of decorum, and, whenever possible, diffused dissensions and tensions, as opposed to exacerbating them as you have, and as you continue to do.”
Hill: “I’m sure you were as great as you think you were, Mark. Which only shows how little you know about what I’ve done or who I am. Whatever please your ego, Mark. Fine by me.”
Burnes: “A little Strawman Fallacy of your own, eh, Adam? I never said ‘great,’ I used the same term you did: ‘effective.’ “
Hill: “And please go ask the eleven companies out by the airport that I worked with to keep here. Or the HotHouse downtown that I helped start and got the funding for. Or the $1.5 million I got to purchase the Pismo Preserve. Or the grants I secured for five different low-income housing projects.”
Burnes: “Gaslighting will get you nowhere with me.”
Hill: “Tell me if you want names and contacts because your knowledge of me and my work is very underfed. I haven’t even seen you in years and you don’t show up in our data base as a supporter (it goes back 8 years) but I’m sure you are as important as you say I am bad.”
Hill: “Not even sure how that is a response.”
Burnes: “Then you probably don’t know what it is – google it.”
Hill: “No, I know what it is but I made it clear to you that you have no idea what I have accomplished and offered to have to confirm it for your edification. You seem quite comfortable with your accomplishments and legacy and I don’t dispute them, I don’t know anything about them. I also have not seen you in quite a while nor heard about you so I don’t make any judgments about your character.
Burnes: “You’re wrong, Adam. You’ve done some great things for the county, and I am quite clear on that. But the vitriolic manner in which you conduct yourself these days is unacceptable. That you would attack me, and others, as you do, who disagree with you, is unacceptable. It’s megalomaniacal. Regardless what you’ve done, who the hell do you think you are treating people this way???”
Hill: “I will gladly apologize for hurting your feelings and still maintain you have no idea what I do or who I am.”
Burnes: ” ‘Thanks but no thanks for your stupid letter. When you have walked in my shoes, when you taken the hate I have taken–and then been as effective as I’ve been, mark, then you can take shots at me. Now? Fuck off. All talk, no balls’ – you think it’s OK for you to address one of your constituents this way?”
Hill: “According to you, you are a personal friend and supporter.”
Hill: “If you were a stranger no I wouldn’t say that to you. You want or both ways.”
Burnes: “You didn’t hurt my feelings – you demonstrated a quality that is unacceptable for an elected official – it’s Trump-like.”
Hill: Please. “I’ll let you have your self aggrandizing morally superior stance.”
Burnes: “I’m tired of you attacking the other Supes too – there is a more dignified manner in which a person in that position should proceed – and again, Adam, gaslighting does not have an effect on me.”
Hill: “You be well, Mark, you don’t know what’s going on but seem to care about politeness over substance.”
Burnes: “Adam, as a citizen of the SLO County 3rd District, I have the right to address my elected representative to the county. I have a First Amendment right to make my views public without reprisal, and without being attacked by that representative.”
Hill: “I’ve attacked you?”
Burnes: “A little contrition will get you a lot further than being vitriolic.”
Hill: “If you feel hurt, I am sorry.”
Burnes: “Yes. Your response to my letter about Andrea in which you bragged about your accomplishments, then told me to “fuck off” and that I was “all talk, no balls.” Don’t misunderstand that for by thinking you’ve insulted me or hurt my feelings, you didn’t You don’t have that capacity. To reiterate: what you did was demonstrate that you’re unfit to serve on the Board. I expect decorum form my elected representatives… .”
Hill: “I don’t agree with anything you’ve said and you are welcome to bang the drum against me all you’d like.”
Burnes: “LOL! Did you see what I said? You DID NOT HURT MY FEELINGS! You’re outside the bounds of decorum as I see it, and you can count on me banging the drum against you in 2020 … or sooner.”
Hill: “You have a great opinion of yourself and I don’t want to interfere with that, Mark. Go for it.”
Burnes: “Not really, Adam, But my opinion of you has sure gone south – even further so as a result of this unpleasant conversation … .”
Hill: “You have not actually ever attempted to sit down with me.”
Hill: “You’ve judge me in a harsh way without even attempting to speak with me, which for a friend and supporter, seems a shabby way to act.”
Burnes: “You have got to be kidding???? You started this conversation first thing this morning by telling me to “fuck off” and that I’m “all talk, no balls” and now you say that I have been “harsh” and treated YOU shabbily??? Brother, you need help … .”
Hill: “Thanks for your compassion, I will note it next time you go public attacking me without even talking to me.”
Hill: “I moved recently to Shell Beach and now that I know you are the most important person here and everywhere, please let know how I can chip in for your local Decorum lectures.”
Burnes: “Grow up.”
Hill: “As soon as you show me how. I need your help, Mark.”
Monday morning, Hill sent Burnes an apology.
Hill: “Mark, after a few emails from people based on your letter, I want to sincerely apologize to you, and wish you well.”
Burnes plans to read Hill’s letter at Tuesdays board of supervisors meeting.