By Cal Coast Times Staff
Self-professed concerns for the poor along with mental health issues have allegedly caused San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill to take a leave of absence from his job, but his history as an elected county official suggests his objectives are less than altruistic.
As he faced new allegations of threats, bullying, and harassment, Hill announced in a statement Friday that he has suffered from depression and anxiety for most of his life. He blamed his questionable behavior on mental health issues and “concerns” for those less fortunate, in a statement repeated in The Tribune.
“A public figure suffering from private pain — a pain that expresses itself bluntly in frustrated outbursts — has created a persona that has allowed me to avoid and dismiss the obvious signs of self-sabotaging patterns of behavior,” Hill wrote. “It’s not a secret that I have allowed outrage at injustice and unfairness to overwhelm my sense of proportion.”
For years, Hill has excused his bullying behavior as driven by his feelings for the poor and exacerbated by his assertions that members of the media are writing about and harassing his children. Hill has declined to produce evidence of the alleged harassment of his family, yet he and his online trolls have demeaned and threatened children of his political opponents, and members of the media who write critically of Hill.
While his then-girlfriend and now wife Dee Torres headed CAPSLO’s homeless services, Hill lobbied for public monies to fund Torres’ program which was focused on allowing the homeless to sleep in a CAPSLO controlled shelter or parking lot. In turn, beneficiaries would be required to provide the bulk of their income to the program and Torres to manage.
Hill then pushed the city of San Luis Obispo to criminalize homeless people sleeping in their vehicles — unless they were in the CAPSLO program. After attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins sued the city on behalf of the homeless, a judge ruled the ticketing of homeless sleeping in their cars was unconstitutional.
At that time, Hill argued against a proposal by Supervisor Debbie Arnold to focus resources on housing the homeless through a “50-Now Program.” But after Torres lost her position with CAPSLO following allegations she was stealing from the homeless, she started a nonprofit that promoted case management and housing. Hill then not only voted in favor of the “50-Now Program,” he took credit for getting it passed.
A look at Hill’s eight-year history of threatening, bullying and harassing those who question his actions, support his political opponents or who refuse to donate funds to Hill’s campaigns:
2008 – For more than 10 years, a local printer produced fundraising brochures for the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. Then in late 2008, the owner of the printing business said she lost the contract after Supervisor Adam Hill threatened to withhold county funds from the Food Bank if the contract was not severed. This occurred after the printer supported Hill’s political opponent. Read article here.
2011 – Then State Senator Sam Blakeslee postponed a fundraiser after Hill criticized the event as
“pandering to racists and hate mongers.”
“This is a new low, and the saddest sign yet of where things are headed with you,” Hill wrote, also suggesting that the Republican state senator would be “pandering to hate-mongers. I wish I could give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, but this is so disappointing and offensive.” Read article here.
2012 – Hill sent an email calling a state parks official contemptuous, misleading and dishonest while the county was in litigation with the state. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Hill’s email was scathing and threatening and asked the court to include it in the court record.
In his Nov. 16, 2012 email, Hill threatened to fence off part of the Ocean Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, a state-run park. Hill went on to say officials with state parks had treated San Luis Obispo County with “contempt,” have acted “dishonestly,” and that they are “better suited to work for the Koch brothers or ExxonMobil.” Read article here.
2012 – Hill left the following message on a constituent’s answering machine, in which he called her names and claimed to be Ed Waage, Hill’s opponent in the District 3 supervisor race. Hill originally said he did not remember making the call, and then that it was just a joke.
“Hi Mrs. Blake, I read your letter in the Tribune, are you a communist, or a socialist, or both or maybe a Marxist, this is Ed Waage. Just wanted to let you know what I thought,” the message read. Read article here.
2012 – Hill lashed out at a local business owner for posing questions about a proposed homeless facility and seeking more detailed information from the facility’s planners. In a disparaging email, Hill assailed Bill Thoma for distributing what the elected official called a “fear-mongering flier.” Read article here.
2012 – Hill went in front of the SLO City Council promoting a program that would penalize homeless for sleeping in their cars. A judge later determined the ticketing amounted to an unconstitutional violation of the homeless and ordered the city to stop ticketing homeless people living in their vehicles. Read article here.
2012 – Hill was appointed chair of the homeless services commission. He pushed ending
homelessness in 10 years through a program of building homeless shelters to be managed by Torres, where 50 to 70 percent of the homeless persons income would be managed by Torres or others affiliated with Torres’ program. Multiple indigent persons were barred from services while others claimed the money the program took from the homeless was not being used to house the homeless. Read article here.
2012 – More than a dozen homeless people, people who work with the homeless and former romantic interests of Torres, told reporters Hill’s girlfriend Torres is pocketing donations slated to help the homeless. Read article here.
2012 – Hill threatened to destroy CCN and affiliated journalists if the news agency would not agree to stop writing articles critical of him or his girlfriend Torres. Hill then sent emails to advertisers claiming CCN reporters had committed crimes and were paid to write false news stories. Read article here.
2012 – While promoting funding for the nonprofit his girlfriend worked for, Hill described North County Connections, a nonprofit which supports veterans, as a “racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” organization. With Hill on the board, North County Connections lost nearly half of its funding. The county contributed $49,058 to the nonprofit in 2008, but only $27,600 in 2012. Read article here.
2013 – Hill called Mayor Debbie Peterson “a disgrace to our community” and said he was under police protection because of death threats. His anger at Peterson started after she disagreed with Hill on an issue with the Oceano Dunes.
“Frankly, I don’t care what you do about her anymore,” Hill wrote, referring to Peterson. “If you want to keep her on the APCD Board she will continue to embarrass the city, and most likely get the county sued. She has alienated me entirely, and I find her a disgrace to our community.” Read article here.
2013 – Hill attempted to get a witness involved in a lawsuit with Torres to change his testimony. In a series of texts, Hill offered to make things right before he threatened the man with attacks from an online troll. In the end, the man refused to change his testimony and Torres lost her lawsuit. Read article here.
2013 – Hill questioned reports that resulted in SLO County being ranked third in the nation for the highest percent of homeless who sleep unsheltered. Hill continued to argue against the 50-Now program Supervior Debbie Arnold was promoting in favor of case management provided by Torres though CAPSLO. Read article here.
2014 – The FPPC sent Hill a warning and ordered him to return a $1,000 donation from developer Gary Grossman. While Hill attended the groundbreaking for one of Grossman’s new developments, Hill listed Grossman as retired on his financial disclosure forms. Read article here.
2014 – A state audit found Hill skirting campaign finance laws by not disclosing nearly $70,000 in campaign expenditures. Read article here.
2014 – Battling back against a storm of negative publicity following a Forbes Magazine commentary detailing Hill’s abusive behaviors, Hill demanded a retraction from the national publication. Read article here.
2014 – After Torres was demoted by CAPSLO, Hill publicly chastised and threatened his fiancée’s employer, the organization then notified the board of supervisors that Hill was running a misinformation campaign geared toward influencing public officials. Read article here.
2015 – Hill mounted a smear campaign on an opponent’s family, Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham. Shortly afterwards, Higginbotham stepped out of the race for the District 3 supervisor seat. Read article here.
2015 – Will Harris, a senior engineering geologist, spoke during public comment at an Air Pollution Control District (APCD) board meeting in which he argued the district’s Oceano Dunes dust rule was pointless. During the meeting, County Supervisor Adam Hill threatened Harris’s job. Shortly afterwards, Harris was demoted. Read article here.
2015 – Hill objected to Supervisor Debbie Arnold becoming board chair in 2015. Arnold had earlier been passed over for the chair position because of her limited time on the board. In order to avoid the perception of an old-boys club, then Supervisor Frank Mecham made a motion to make Arnold chair and Supervisor Lynn Compton vice chair. Read article here.
2015 – CalCoastNews reporters discovered Hill was serving as a paid consultant for a company affiliated with a prominent local developer whose project plans Hill openly promoted.
Hill identifies himself on a statement of information filed with the state as the “managing member” of San Luis Consulting, one of 33 limited liability corporations tied to PB Companies. Hill reported that he was paid $10,001 to $100,000 in 2014 for what he described as “writing, editing, and coaching.” Read article here.
2015 – Hill allegedly threatened to kick a competing campaign candidate’s “ass” if the competitor did not stay away from Hill’s largest donor. Read article here.
2015 – Hill claimed he was getting death threats and as a result was being protected by the sheriff’s department. Hill had sent multiple emails describing the threats and had posted photos of sheriff’s department vehicles parked on his street. Claims the sheriff’s department said were untrue. Read article here.
2016 – Hill responded to veteran radio broadcaster Dick Mason discussion of both Hill and
developer Gary Grossman during a news broadcast by contacting Mason’s employer. Shortly afterwards, Mason lost his job. Hill’s wife Dee Torres then began harassing Mason’s daughter. Read article here.
2016 – Hill championed a nonprofit his wife has opened that duplicated services from other nonprofits. Hill then took a swipe at Janna Nichols, executive director of the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, for appearing on the Congalton Show to promote long-term solutions to homelessness in South County. Read article here.
2016 – In an email Hill sent to a group of people affiliated with a local program that receives county monies, Hill tied the county’s financial support to donations to his reelection campaign. Hill noted in his email that $99 donations are “not going to cut it.” Read article here.
2016 – In what is being described as a pay to play demand, Hill is alleged to have barred access and threatened financial harm to members of the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast if they would not support his campaign. Read article here.
2016 – While Hill and several of his online trolls worked to control the media and harass the children and family of those critical of Hill, The Tribune endorsed Hill by claiming his actions are in support of the poor and indigent. Read article here.
2017 – Hill was passed over for the board chairmanship because of allegations he bullied and
disrespected coworkers and residents. Read article here.
2017 – In a scathing email to a San Luis Obispo County Democratic party group list, Supervisor Adam Hill charged Democratic legislators with “taking bribes” and failing to support local elected officials.
“This column lays out just the latest reason why our Dem legislature is NO friend to our local governments–they take bribes from corporations to pre-empt our control,” Hill wrote in his July 10 email. “If you saw the Tribune’s Sunday column about the Mesa dunes dust issue and the lack of outrage — this too is another example. We have been dismissed by John Laird who doesn’t want to act to control his own agency, nor will Bill Monning go anywhere near the issue. Thanks, heroes! If we were to list the number of issues on which the legislature does something to hurt or nothing to help local governments, we might stop spending so much time worshiping these hacks.” Read article here.
2017 – Hill responded to an opinion piece by T. Keith Gurnee with harassing messages and allegations about Gurnee’s sexual orientation.
“Hi T. Keith, I hope you can take that Daddy Warbucks frown and turn it upside down,” Hill wrote in a Facebook message. “While I appreciate your homo-erotic obsession with me, I’m just not into you. But I’m sure we can be good friends if you can keep it platonic. Ok? I send you best wishes.” Read article here.
2017 – In a Facebook post teeing off on a reporter and a radio host, Hill announced he had marital problems — which he blamed on the two Central Coast media figures. Read article here.
2017 – Hill allegedly told a handful of local marijuana growers he would support their efforts to get permits for their grows if they would support him financially. Hill continues to negotiate deals for his supporters in the marijuana industry. Read article here.
2018 – Hill demeaned, threatened and attacked a fellow supervisor in his attempt to garner the board chairmanship. He began a social media campaign that harassed Supervisor Lynn Compton and promoted his selection for District 4 supervisor, Jimmy Paulding. Hill paid to boost many of his Facebook posts. Read article here.
2018 – Public speakers, 31 in all, asked the SLO County Board of Supervisors to deny Hill the chair position because of his issues with civility. The speakers ripped Hill for his attacks and threats directed at county resident and public officials with whom he has disagreed. Read article here.
2018 – Less than a month after losing the board chairmanship because of allegations of bullying and a lack of decorum, 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.” Read article here.
2018 – Hill took an indefinite leave of absence noting his concerns for the poor and issues with mental health. Read article here.