Hill casts deciding vote for CAPSLO contract

September 17, 2013

adam hill newBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill cast the deciding vote last week to approve a contract of more than $360,000 for the organization that employs his fiancée.

Hill often abstains or recuses himself when the Board of Supervisors votes on contracts for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, which employs his fiancée Dee Torres as its homeless services director. But, at the September 10 board meeting, he voted for a $361,347 mental health services contract for CAPSLO, that otherwise would not have passed.

Hill’s vote capped a recent pattern of the supervisor choosing not to distance himself from the approval process of CAPSLO contracts.

The Board of Supervisors currently has only four members due to the June death of Supervisor Paul Teixeira. At last week’s meeting, Supervisor Debbie Arnold recused herself from the vote on the CAPSLO contract, bringing the remaining number of eligible voters to three.

Arnold sits on the board of directors for CAPSLO, as well as on the Homeless Services Oversight Council, which approves funding for the nonprofit. County Counsel Rita Neal suggested that Arnold recuse herself from voting on CAPSLO contracts last week as she investigated whether or not the supervisor had a conflict of interest in approving funding for an organization that she represents.

Had Hill also recused himself on the September 10 CAPSLO vote, there would not have been a board majority needed to conduct a vote on the measure, and the approval of the contract would have stalled.

Prior to voting on the contract, Hill asked Neal whether supervisors possess conflicts of interest when they vote on contracts for other boards on which they sit. Hill did not, however, mention that he often does not vote on CAPSLO contracts due to his perceived conflict of interest.

The Board of Supervisors approves several million dollars annually in funding for CAPSLO, much of which goes to homeless services in the form of federal grants.

Neal responded to Hill prior to last week’s vote by saying she was still investigating the matter. Arnold told CalCoastNews Monday that Neal concluded her investigation and determined that Arnold does not have a conflict of interest in approving funding for CAPSLO because she reaps no personal financial benefit from the matter.

Neither Neal, nor Hill responded to CalCoastNews email requests for an explanation of why Hill recuses himself on some CAPSLO votes but not on others.

An examination of Hill’s voting pattern over the last two years on matters pertaining to CAPSLO contracts shows the supervisor has become increasingly lax in his efforts to avoid creating a conflict of interest.

Prior to a March 20, 2012 Board of Supervisors hearing on the distribution of annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant money, Hill announced that he would recuse himself.

“Mr. Chairman, with an abundance of precaution, I’m going to recuse myself on this item,” Hill said.

He then left the dais and did not return to the meeting until the completion of the item.

Two weeks later, the board approved a $301,995 contract, funded by state prison realignment money, for CAPSLO case management services. Hill again recused himself, but he neither provided a reason nor left the dais.

On December 11, 2012, the board held a hearing to discuss preliminary distribution of 2013 HUD grant funding. No vote occurred, but the board heard funding requests from several CAPSLO employees and then discussed a proposal for distributing nonprofit grant money that involved concentrating more of the funds with CAPSLO.

Hill neither recused himself, nor stated that he had a conflict of interest. Instead, he recommended that, in 2013, the board distribute the grant money to fewer nonprofit recipients.

“If we’re trying to get our administrative costs down, having less grants to administer is just one of the obvious ways to do so,” Hill said. “But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

On January 29, Hill returned to recusing himself when two CAPSLO related items appeared on the consent agenda. One item increased the prison realignment case management contract by $58,034. The other was a vote to approve appointments to the Homeless Services Oversight Council. Torres was one of the individuals recommended for appointment. Hill recused himself from both votes.

In March, the board voted on the distribution of the 2013 HUD money. Hill again remained at the dais and participated in the discussion. He argued that money allocated for an Oceano drainage project should instead go to homeless services in the county. The board then voted to reallocate some of the money, but Hill abstained from the vote.

“I’m going to abstain from the final vote, so there is no appearance of conflict in regards to CAPSLO’s funding,” Hill said.

Hill did not recuse himself, though. Meeting minutes likewise stated that he abstained, as opposed to recusing himself. Commonly, a recusal indicates a board member’s acknowledgement of a conflict of interest on an item, whereas an abstention does not.

Since his March 5 abstention, Hill has voted to give CAPSLO contracts for childcare, family services, parental education and teen parenting case management, in addition to the mental health services contract issued last week. The childcare contract, which Hill voted in favor of on June 18 totaled more than $1.5 million. On July 9, he voted for a family services and parental education contract totaling more than $407,098.

 


53 Comments

  1. rogerfreberg says:

    Has anyone ‘called this in, yet?’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  2. Pelican1 says:

    This is nothing more than local political earmarking….or “Dee”marking in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  3. karma2come says:

    I found this on CAPSLOs web page. It’s part of their policy’s and I think it’s fitting for this article. Chek out the policy handbook online on CAPSLO’s website under human resources. It’s very informative and has policies that should have kicked in with all these stories and accusations. But here is this one:

    1.2 Conflicts of Interest and Procurement Integrity
    Because CAPSLO administers public funds and has financial and legal responsibilities to the public, issues regarding conflicts of interest are extremely sensitive. Such conflicts can result from seemingly innocent situations in your personal and professional affairs. You have an obligation to conduct business using good judgment, adhering to high ethical standards, and avoiding situations, which create an actual or potential conflict between your personal interests and the interests of CAPSLO. A conflict of interest exists when your loyalties are divided between CAPSLO’s interests and those of another, such as yourself, a supplier, a client or a co-worker. Both the fact and the appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided.
    These guidelines do not attempt to describe all possible conflicts of interest, which could develop. Note that the same conflicts can arise indirectly, such as when they involve a member of your immediate family, partner, or other such relationship. However, some of the more common conflicts from which you should refrain include the following:
     Soliciting or accepting any gratuities, favors or anything of monetary value from contractors or parties to any sub-agreements with CAPSLO. It will normally be acceptable to accept extremely modest entertainment (such as a lunch invitation) or personal gifts of nominal value (not to exceed $25) from any person that is or may possibly be doing business with CAPSLO; however, it is never acceptable for an employee, officer, manager or agent of CAPSLO to solicit or accept any amount of cash from current or potential clients, suppliers, contractors, or vendors. Employees, officers or agents of CAPSLO may not accept anything as a result of, or in anticipation of any transaction with a present or prospective consumer, contractor, vendor, partner or donor. It is important that employees decline any gratuities which could cause even the slightest question of improper influence. Gifts based entirely upon kinship, marriage or social relationships entirely beyond and apart from any business context are not subject to these prohibitions. These ethical standards flow both ways. Accordingly, it would be a violation of these standards for any CAPSLO employee, officer or agent to offer an inappropriate gratuity to any consumer, vendor or contractor.
     Using or disclosing confidential CAPSLO information for personal gain or to CAPSLO’s detriment.
     Having a direct or indirect financial interest in, or relationship with, a supplier or other agency, which might adversely affect otherwise objective, decisions by CAPSLO in which you are involved. Such an interest would include situations where there is an actual or potential financial interest in a firm selected to do business with CAPSLO and that firm either employs or is about to employ you or a member of your family.
     Using CAPSLO assets or labor for personal use.
     Acquiring any interest in property or assets of any kind for the purpose of selling or leasing it to
    CAPSLO.
     Engaging CAPSLO in a business relationship with a relative or personal friend where you benefit by the relationship.
     Personal lending, borrowing or investment transactions with fellow employees or clients.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 6

    • Jorge Estrada says:

      These guidlines would mean something if they included one sentence about disiplinary consequences.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

    • MaryMalone says:

      !!! Good catch!

      Unfortunately, since the BOS and CAPSLO both use most ethical codes as toilet-paper, I wouldn’t expect them to change their ways any time soon….not as long as Adam Hill is calling the shots for the BOS.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 6

  4. karma2come says:

    And the saga continues……new day same players, same story! Am I the only one who doesn’t get why Hill and Torres flip the finger at ethics, doing whats right, and morals, yet everyone in a position to stop things, stand there waving a green flag! UNBELIEVABLE!!! The moral of this story; do what you want, take what you want, stomp on who you want, make your own rules or change them to fit you, and have no regrets! The Dangerous Duo strikes again!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 40 Thumb down 6

    • msminiver says:

      karma2come,

      You are not the only one that sees the issues. The interesting thing is that when you link the Capslo issues, the county issues, the solid waste / hazardous waste issues you see the same players. The little people, like us are just too busy trying to survive and if you speak up they do come after you.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 6

  5. aft50s says:

    Said it before, and I’ll say it again, the man is a waste of skin.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 9

    • LameCommenter says:

      This man has been required by law to take every two years, a two hour professionally administered multi-media CLEAR focused course on ethics in government, known as AB1234 training. I’ve taken it many times, and it definitely covers NOT voting where you OR A FAMILY MEMBER OR PROSPECTIVE FAMILY MEMBER OR FINANCIALLY INVOLVED INDIVIDUAL will come within a MILE of financial gain remotely connected to your vote. Voting for big contracts for the agency of his squeeze is so BLATANT.

      This point has been well made by others posting here, I am merely repeating this conclusion.

      Supervisor Adam Hill should be filed against by the State Fair Political Practices Commission or other prosecuting agency for misdemeanor violation of state law. FORTHWITH.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 85 Thumb down 8

  6. whoowhoo says:

    Doesn’t pass the “Smell Test”…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 6

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