Adam Hill wants protection–from the public

February 24, 2011

Adam Hill

County supervisor and the current chair of the Board of Supervisors Adam Hill is seeking police protection during public comment period at each Tuesday meeting. [New Times]

Hill has asked Sheriff Ian Parkinson to station a deputy in the chambers to help maintain decorum, especially from the more vocal residents of Los Osos who regularly use the comment period to criticize board actions.

The request harkens back to Hill’s first meeting as chair in January when he announced that he would not tolerate boorish behavior from the public, including slander, threats or personal attacks.

“Johnny Law overseeing public meetings kind of sends a bad message. Don’t you think? Either the supes are afraid of the public—most of whom would snap like a twig in a light breeze—or they think sticking a cop in the back of the room is the best way to encourage civil discourse. Don’t get them wrong, though, you can absolutely say whatever you want, as long as it’s condoned by the board or you like tazers in the tuchus,” suggested New Times in its popular Shredder column.

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Tucson is on this supe’s mind. I’m sure his wife & kids told him they want him safe also so if a cop makes him relax and do a better job, cool. Maybe we need to review why people are flippin’ out around here. Maybe stand back & get a little perspective. I’m a Los Osan, I moved here from the big city where you could wake up one morning to the sound of earth movers and not even know why or what they were doing there. Never any details in newspaper or TV news reports. It could be a nuclear power plant or a huge sewer plant, a Wal-Mart or a thousand house subdivision. It was just “growth”.

You felt helpless to stop it in the big cities which were always in such pandemonium anyway so it was considered normal, I guess. Some people see all that as insane and realize they have to move somewhere where they could get some answers and question these things. So they move to places like Los Osos and start asking those questions. They find the answers are invalid or flat lies or worse they are ignored. Still seeking those answers they peer into the mechanism deeper and see cronyism, status quo and underhandedness from the realtors to the Governor. So they make a stand for the first time in their lives against that status quo and realize this is also the first challange the status quo has ever been faced with. So of course there is a huge clash.

But there’s beauty in all this you don’t find in the city. Here you can see the entire system, the inner workings, the reasonings and reactions from all sides. And you can even influence change! That seemed miraculous after being overlooked and always forced into accepting that status quo while living in the big metros. It’s like experiencing real life in living color compared to sitting and watching some old black & white movie from a distance. To me it’s beautiful, the whole thing, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are beyond lucky to have the oppurtunity to be involved in these inner workings here. The bad things get exposed and excised (thus the pain) while the good things take root and grow. Yeah, we went nuts when the absurdity of the original sewer became too ridiculous to accept. It’s called frustration. We had already seen in the cities what it all leads to. I think If we were old we wanted things to be different before we died, or if we were younger we wanted things to be different for our kids (both for me). So, enough of the LON crapola and to the “anti-Wal Marter” or the “anti-sewer in the middle of towner” who may lose it here and there out of frustration, here’s to ya. You’re involved and thatt’s beau-ti-ful and in case you haven’t noticed it is working out for the better everywhere around here. The sewer moved, the WalMart will be smaller or certainly less obtrusive if one is built, the supes listen and will be more respectful. But the best thing is we have realized from these results we are now on track to a better future which is now more in our control. Or like Dr. Frankenstein said, “It’s alive!!”.

There’s nothing wrong with having law enforcement at a public meeting. In fact, it’s probably a good idea. But the way this came about reveals Adam Hill as more of a “drama queen”, seeking adulation and avoiding criticism, rather than a competent supervisor.

You may hold your opinion on Mr. Hill as a supervisor, but what he did to protect the board has nothing to do with drama but a everything to do with the threats from the LONs from whom he got a boatload of criticism and no praise beyond what you see here from some of us. It took guts to do what he did.

You wrote, “…but what he did to protect the board has nothing to do with drama but [has] everything to do with the threats from the LONs.”

That’s a big assertion. What’s your basis for that?

I disagree with the overusage of the “LONs” term. For those who don’t know, “LONs” is an acronym for “Los Osos nuts,” and it has been used to describe the opposition to the 2005 recall and to the currently proposed wastewater treatment project. Name-calling is often used by people who are not satisfied with disagreeing, and feel too burdened to explain themselves. You have this relentless impulse to call people names. That’s not civility. If you’re going to invoke the Tuscon shooting as something that Mr. Hill should consider as a means of erring on the side of caution, you might as well be consistent and lay down your arms.

I already explained in detail that it doesn’t matter who is speaking. Everyone is entitled to be free to speak without having their free speech rights chilled by a police presence. In our country, that belief is prevalent in our state and federal Constitution. To challenge this based on a prejudiced assumption that the “LONs” are the sole problem — and that they merit police intimidation — is an attack on the constitution, and rights that have made our country so great.

I’m disappointed that you didn’t commit to your end of our deal.

To what deal do you refer?

Anyone who threatens supervisors, staff or other citizens and comes from Los Osos is a nut, a LON. Overused? I have no idea.

You say “chilled” while I say protected. If I spoke there, I would feel protected by a sheriff being in the room.

Mythbuster, what, we’re school kids on the playground here? What do you get out of that lame LON insult? Don’t you have to know what “guts” are before you imply that someone has them?

I’m entitled to my opinion just as you are to yours justme.

True enough, but as a fellow “hothead” please understand we were driven to nutseyness. It was temporary. Thanks for the response.

Apparently there are threats to the supervisors/staff. Looks like the “nutseyness” as you put it, is not temporary, but continues for some. I’m not sure why you label me as a hothead, but whatever…

I don’t go to the supe’s meetings, and hear fragments on the radio only once in awhile. Tuned in about 2 months ago and listened to a well run presentation by county planning I think. Then it was time for public comments. Before anyone spoke, Mr. Hill did. He labeled some on the audience, and was hostile in his attitude to them. Treating them differently before they spoke. He minimized their questions and comments in advance of their speaking, and said it’s all been discussed before, pretty much

It sure came across as rude and unprofessional to me and it caused me pause and concern. So I listened even more carefully to see why the heck he was acting that way. These members spoke to him about his attitude and choice of words, and no apology came forward. Just more insults. It made me think of calling him to tell him how he came across and knock it off, the day got away from me and I let it go.

It would have been helpful for me to hear their questions and the supervisor’s comments but it was railroaded by his negativity.

Not a resident of Los Osos. No interest in Los Osos.

Voted for Adam Hill, very unlikely to do so again.

Sounds to me like Adam is taking lesons in paranoia from Robert Grigger Jones. a few years back when our case was still in SLO courts I faxed a copy of my affidavit/declaration that was filed with the court directly to Mr. Jones’ office in Atascadero Robert jones threatened me with a restraining order a restraining order for faxing him a document filed in the courts regarding the wrongful sale of the Arkansas property which because of HIM ended up being a judgment against our fathers estate for $330,000. Mr. Jones has a way of lying to people about my being a threat to him in an effort to justify his not contacting us and letting us know what was happening with our father’s probate

Sounds to be like Adam is arrogant and is creating an atmosphere of paranoia to satisfy his own agenda


Is this a mug shot or what?

Good call Roger!

I use a Mac; when my cursor stayed over the picture of Adam Hill at the top of the article, the word “unknown” pops up- rather curious, and hilarious.

Adam is very, very important. This is all about getting attention through the press and being (again) very, very important. After all Adam is going to singlehandedly solve the homeless problem in SLO by promoting the idea of placing 200 beds on one acre in the middle of an industrial zone. Very important man, indeed.

Note to Adam: Taking the heat is part of the job, no one is going to hurt you. It would help if you quit coming up with silly ideas. Toughen up and do the job!

We don’t know if there have been personal threats to Mr. Hill or the board (Mr. Gibson perhaps?) from people in Los Osos. Or perhaps even threats to audience members. Before passing judgement, we should ask former LOCSD directors (especially from 2000-2005) if they felt or were verbally or physically threatened. (But then perhaps Mr. Hill has done that.) Also, ask any mental health provider – if threats are or have been issued, should you take them seriously? Answer: To NOT do so is to act irresponsibly.

As the sewer project advances forward, the pressure ramps up, the expression of upset has a possibility to escalate. There is no recall or possible lawsuits that can stop this project from moving forward, so the pressure is even worse. Better to be safe than sorry. I appreciate Mr. Hill’s judicious caution.

Apples and oranges.

What happened from 2000 to 2005 is completely irrelevant to what’s happening in 2011. Let’s talk about what’s happening right now.

Until Hill provides an official response to this issue, there will be debate about the specific reasoning for bringing law authorities to the meetings during public comment, but there are some things that need to be taken into consideration.

Whether you’re a public official or a private citizen, nobody is exempt from filing a complaint against a person or persons who issues a criminal threat (see California Penal Code § 422). If a threat was made, law enforcement can arrest the threatening individual — and a restraining order can be issued, thus effectively keeping an individual(s) from being in close proximity with the victim. However, no arrests have been made, no restraining orders have been issued, and no complaints have been filed against any of the speakers from Los Osos since the passage of AB2701.

In November, County Counsel Warren Jensen told me that threats have been issued by some residents of Los Osos, and board members are fearful for their personal safety. There is a legitimate concern. However, the board can be proactive and prevent threatening individuals from setting foot inside the chambers without infringing on the constitutionality of free speech. It’s the chairman’s prerogative to deal with the specific problem instead of making a broad presumption that everyone speaking about Los Osos is the problem, and that everyone speaking about Los Osos is violating decorum. See the difference?

I don’t see how some of the same angry players over the same expense for a sewer is a different situation from 2001-2005.

Threats come in many sizes. Smaller threats that need nothing like a restraining order still need to be taken seriously. Restraining orders may simply escalate an angry verbal person into an angry active person. Perhaps allowing a borderline person venting time (to exercise their civil rights) will keep them on the safe side, yet having the sheriff present would stop the unthinkable from happening. If you are not thinking violence or being violent, (or being thin-skinned hypersensitive) why would the presence of a sheriff be so upsetting? I mean so what? If I ever spoke there I would not be offended to have a sheriff present!

Addressing your “proactive” comment, how is a person prevented from entering the chambers allowed their free speech? Also, if prevented from entering, who is to say that the person is not even more enraged and likely to do something stupid later when the sheriff is not present?

Hypothetically, if one person appears to be the threatening one and the sheriff is only trotted out to be present when that one person speaks, isn’t that discrimination? Los Osos has a bad reputation and THAT is a fact, whether you individually did anything or not. That reputation is likely to stick for some time. This seems to be a tempest in a teapot. Safety for the board and the audience trumps a few people’s hurt feelings. Mr. Hill is taking the prudent approach in my opinion.

There are several reasons why the situation now is different compared to 2001-2005. True, there are some of the same speakers, but the locale and the issues are completely different. What happened more than six years ago does not and should not justify why there are cops in the back of the room during Los Osos-related public comment.

So if what you’re saying is true about the size of the threat — which it is — wouldn’t it make sense, then, if the deputy is in the back of the room the entire time? Let’s use this hypothetical. Say Speaker (the hostile) X approaches the podium to speak only about Los Osos during public comment. After that, public comment concludes and the deputy leaves the chambers. What’s to stop Speaker X from inflicting verbal or physical harassment when the deputy is not there? In this hypothetical, the chair of the board errs by failing to consistently maintain decorum for the entire meeting.

If you speak and you’re not offended to have a sheriff present, that’s great. But let’s switch things around. What if you, someone with no inclination to be violent, were speaking and the cop showed up only when you spoke? According to your remarks, you’re alluding to the idea that doing something like that is, in fact, discrimination.

A person prevented from entering the chambers is allowed their free speech by submitting their correspondence in writing to the board to be admitted into the record or they can prepare a speech and have someone physically present recite the speech for them; this isn’t uncommon, but it’s at the chairman’s discretion to allow additional time for a speaker present on the floor to present comments from someone who is absent. In short, it can be done.

Law enforcement is typically summoned not because of someone’s “bad reputation” — or, in this case, a town’s supposed “bad reputation” — but because of security measures or illegal acts. “Maintaining decorum” is not a security measure, and all people who speak during public comment for any agenda item for any purpose are all held equally responsible for their personal decorum. Why should Los Osos be treated any differently?

Let me quote you: “In November, County Counsel Warren Jensen told me that threats have been issued by some residents of Los Osos, and board members are fearful for their personal safety. There is a legitimate concern.”

So… you have some of the SAME speakers – with the SAME main issue that inflamed them about the last sewer project – the cost – and all that is left is the locale. And you have threats. Do you think they will be more well behaved because of a different room? Mr. Hill should forget the threats and not take precautions because these people are in a DIFFERENT room?

How do you know why law enforcement is summoned? Are you law enforcement?

Do you think Mr. Hill is wrong to say that he wishes for “decorum” when he really means safety for the board members and any collateral damage a nut case might inflict on staff or audience? He should just inflame things MORE to make a statement claiming THREATS?

He hasn’t come to barring speakers from the chambers – why should he go there? Perhaps if Los Osos speakers behave through this round they will erase with their good behavior the bad behavior from the past.

“Why should Los Osos be treated any differently?” Well, because it is different. Bankruptcy, default on an $134 million loan, stopping a sewer project under construction – all accomplished by the diligent work of some of the PRESENT speakers who used some threatening tactics during the last go-around to accomplish their goals of stopping a sewer. Do you see speakers from other towns that have reputations like the Los Osos speakers? Have they done to their elected officials what some Los Osos citizens did to theirs? Maybe in Paso? Templeton? Arroyo Grande? Please, name one.

There are some of the same speakers on the same overall issue (the sewer), but there are different subsets of issues compared to what was discussed from 2001 to 2005. It’s the same animal, but different stripes.

So let me pose the question to you: do you know why law enforcement is summoned? If someone has personally threatened you with bodily harm, who do you call? Would the situation be any different if you had a “concern” — a hunch, if you will — that a particular someone might threaten you with bodily harm? In layman’s terms, law enforcement will only answer a call if a clear and present danger exists, the danger is active and present, or if the danger has already passed. In other words, placing a cop in the back of the room to “maintain decorum” does not fall within their scope of duty.

Mr. Hill is not wrong to say that he wishes for decorum. Don’t we all? You have a point that his statement is actually a euphemism for a more startling purpose, and that stating the true purpose would inflame things. I can understand that, so it would be more logical to have a cop in the back of the room at all times. Wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s clarify one thing. No matter how “ugly” or “repetitive” or inflammatory their comments have been, the collective Los Osos audience in attendance have behaved appropriately in accordance to board rules and guidelines. The only threats raised were threats to bring more people to the chambers to talk about the issues.

And lastly, you didn’t understand my rhetorical question. Of course, Los Osos has vastly different circumstances compared to other County issues, but that poses no relevance to the people who are speaking at the meetings and how they are treated. Why? Because we are talking about law enforcement is present when Los Osos residents are speaking about the issues that you partially listed. It’s about speech, and the chilling effect from the police presence, and the general presumption that Los Osos speakers are “broad-stroked” as a threat.

In light of what happened to Gabriel Giffords in Arizona, Mr. Hill would be remiss to not take threats seriously. You personally do not know what those threats were but Mr. Hill does. Not all threats are made in public you know. That is why he has summoned the law enforcement. You cannot cherry pick the offenders for sheriff supervision without being discriminatory.

Sadly, the reputation Los Osos holds was brought about by residents of Los Osos, certainly not all of them, but enough of them to have garnered a bad reputation for the town. All must suffer because of the rowdy few.

I am not at the meetings so only someone who is there knows how long the sheriff stays. Are you there all day? Where does your information come from? Unless you are in the room you don’t get to see the back of the room where the sheriff stands. I don’t know if the Los Osos bunch remains past the public comment period or not. Maybe the worst offender leaves and so does the sheriff. Little of the audience is shown on camera. If they stay to comment on other items does the discussion become as heated as is shown on the sewer topic?

Why is it that only speakers who are against the present iteration of the sewer are objecting to the sheriff at the back of the room?

I’ll continue the discussion on my site, if anyone would like to participate.

Wow, I totally didn’t get the memo saying YOU decide what is relevant…let’s take the arrogance down a notch.

Remeber the $100k spent for the escape elevator for the new county bldg.they requested, and got?

They all should have been voted out of office for that.