The truth about COLAB

July 1, 2011

Andy Caldwell


COLAB has recently been attacked in the media by County Supervisor Adam Hill, because in our opinion, we threaten to expose and oppose policies that are not beneficial to county residents. We firmly and categorically deny his accusations against us as well as the aspersions he sought to cast upon state Senator Sam Blakeslee.

We perceive Hill had two main goals in mind when he called our organization and members “hate-mongers” and “racists” and in a similar vein, sought to cast aspersions upon Blakeslee via guilt by association.

First, if you know Hill, then you know he is the most politically motivated member on the Board of Sups. It is no coincidence that Hill sought to embarrass Blakeslee at this time for two specific reasons. First, he believes Blakeslee is vulnerable because of the proposed new lines for his senatorial district.

He wants to cast Blakeslee in an unfavorable light with “moderates” so as to ensure his defeat in the next election.  Second, Hill was serving the progressive political machine in Sacramento who want to create problems for Republicans like Sam who would not agree to tax hikes without real reform. Hill conveniently used COLAB as a means to attack Sam by inference, innuendo and defamatory speculation.

Having said all that, I would appreciate the opportunity to tell you about myself, my colleague, and the organization I work for in order to give you some context regarding the recent controversy prompted by Supervisor Adam Hill as to why he chose to attack our particular organization.

I have served as the Executive Director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB) for the past twenty years in Santa Barbara, with concurrent duties for the past two years here in SLO. I have been a SLO County resident for the past 15 years. I am joined in my endeavors by Mike Brown, Government Affairs Director of COLAB.

Before working for COLAB, I worked for the oldest factory on the Central Coast, Union Sugar, for eleven years. I started as a seasonal laborer and ended up becoming the Industrial Relations Manager. I have lived on the Central Coast for over 40 years.

Mike Brown worked in government for 42 years at the local, county and state levels. His last position before retiring was the CEO of Santa Barbara County. Previous to that, he worked in Tucson, Hartford and Berkeley as an executive in government. He was considered one of the top city/county administrators in the nation for his budgetary prowess, innovations and professional managerial skills.

Mike and I bring some 62 years of combined experience before the County Boards of Supervisors in the two counties each and every week.  Our main purpose is to serve as a government watchdog, as business and private property advocates, and as a resource for politicians and bureaucrats who are interested in efficient government.

Our goal is to see that government demonstrates more responsibility, accountability, and transparency with respect to its use of taxpayer funds.  We are a private organization, we receive no public funding. We are not running for office or trying to win a popularity contest. We tend to be perceived as conservative, we are certainly fiscal conservatives.  We are non-partisan.

What do we do and what do we stand for? Well, we dissect county budgets like no one else.  We maintain the fundamental duty of government is to provide for public health and safety, infrastructure and a safety net of last resort for the poor, elderly and disabled.

We support free enterprise. We contend there is no quality of life without a job. We want people to be able to prosper.  We consider it is incumbent upon government to allow the residents and communities to prosper in such a way as to be able to generate the tax revenues necessary for government to be able to pay for the provision of services the citizenry expects.

In other words, if government policies prohibit the growth of the economy they will no longer afford to be able to deliver the services we should expect.  Our opinion is that our local government and the State of California are in just that state of failure as we speak.

We serve to expose regulatory failures that only serve to decimate our economy while accomplishing nothing for the environment. We are convinced that the best way to help the poor among us is by creating economic opportunities in the form of jobs that pay livable wages.  We value property rights but we do not want to see ag lands converted to other uses, so any charges that we are a front for developers is patently false and misleading.

Specifically, Hill is concerned that we have exposed the fact that the County Board of Sups failed miserably in their attempt to borrow their way out of their pension obligations to county employees. We have served to expose that the County is spending more money per capita on planning department programs than any other county in the region, in spite of a recession in the building industry.  We have vigorously opposed land use and regulatory programs that will serve to make farming and ranching economically untenable.  We don’t believe Smart Growth is the right fit for SLO.

Hill does not like any of this exposure.

COLAB is a true coalition with nearly 2,000 members from all walks of life here on the Central Coast. A new chapter has just been created in Ventura County and there is a fourth chapter in Imperial County. All of the groups are independently organized and distinct.

The Santa Barbara group is so well established that our annual meeting is the largest event in Santa Barbara County each and every year.  We typically average upwards of 950 guests. We enjoy the support of organized labor, farmers, ranchers, industrialists, and mom and pop businesses owners.  We have extensive media outreach in the form of a daily radio show that broadcasts from Ventura to SLO and we are regular opinion columnists in several papers throughout the region.

COLAB will continue to do what we have been doing for the past twenty years, regardless of the threats and character attacks against us. We also trust Sam Blakeslee will continue to be the moderate, independent and well respected representative he has always proven to be.

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Unfortunately, I was not able to vote for the Honorable Supervisor Hill, nor did I know much about him before this whole flap. After I realized that Mr. Hill took a potentially unpopular stand against racism, I had to compliment him with an email. He personally responded within minutes. I hope to have the opportunity to vote for Adam Hill because he believes in fairness, integrity and decency, and he will challenge even the most powerful and well-resourced factions to uphold these. Fortunately, I believe Supervisor Hill to be the future of politics, not the past. I should qualify myself – I’m not rich, connected, or even a Baby Boomer.

Andy, i don’t always agree with you–especially when you take the side of the religious right—

but I will support you on this one. For this clown Hill to call you racist etc. rather than addressing issues, is pretty pathetic. Any time someone throws out the race card in the opening line I know they are hateful.

Whether Andy Caldwell is “racist” or not, is beside the point. But what has disturbed people is that Mr. Caldwell has heedlessly stirred up racial animosities with his radio broadcasts and other lobbying efforts, not the least of which was writing under an assumed name, “Spike” and publishing a political diatribe newspaper advertisement that declared in large headline style boldface type across the width of the page: IGNORANT MEXICAN ACTIVISTS.

What Caldwell doesn’t like people to publicize is that ad, among dozens of others, was bought and paid for with DONATIONS from COLAB members. The extent that COLAB “members” realize or aopprove their money goes to pay for “advertisements” like that is worth some scrutiny.

Comments containing re posted material and personal attacks have been removed. Several users have been added to the moderation queue.

Mr Moderator has taken a few days off and I am much less tolerant of anonymous commenters attacking authors and other commenters.

Commenting accounts can be converted to your real name for no charge, just let us know.

I was disappointed to click on the title “The truth about COLAB” and discover that it was actually one man’s opinion. Hopefully, CalCoastNews got paid to post it.

“Hopefully, CalCoastNews got paid to post it.” No we don’t.

You are more than welcome to write your own opinion piece for consideration by CalCoastNews, however it will require your real name.

Thanks for the invitation, Spork,

Happy Fourth of July! We live in a great country that allows us to express our differences of opinion.

I apologize if my comment was taken seriously as impugning the integrity of CalCoastNews by some. That was not my intent. I will try to leave a little smiley face next time I am trying to be facetious.

I have now had the opportunity to read some of the COLAB opinion pieces on their website and have a better understanding of them. While I will take up your offer some day it will probably not involve any commentary regarding interactions between what appears to be a right-wing lobbyist group and a member of local government. Those of us who work for a living don’t have time to compete with those, who get paid to write their diatribes.

Thank you Andy Caldwell (and CCN) for being willing to say more about COLAB. I do like COLAB’s efforts to curb government intrusion in our lives. Some of the solutions that the government creates are worse than the problems that they are seeking to address, or at the very least the solution has too high a price.

Having said that, I’d be more interested in a group that promotes compromises that improve the lives of all Californians. gives interesting insight into the teacher Adam Hill. Many comments are complimentary, some frightening.

Disgusted. Perhaps an apt response to you.

What comments were frightening?

The one I recall right off was near the end and the student, who received an A, didn’t like that he hit on the girls in class and tried to sleep with them. Several referred to his preoccupation with sexual subjects.

Give me a break., 53 reviews spanning 2001 to 2006. All pretty excellent. A couple who did n’t like that he challenged them to argue their point better.

ONE ONE who said he tried to hit on a girl and sleep with her. One out of 53 who has nothing more to say than that. Nothing to back it up. Just a slam like you’re doing here.

YOU say this one is, “some frightening.”

Back to school with you so you can think and read better.

Dunce. I am putting you in the corner and you stay there.

Hey, whatever floats your boat. Having a college age daughter, I see red flags that cause me concern. If you don’t, so be it. How’s your reading comprehension by the way………..take another look and you’ll notice I said MANY are complimentary, and I have no problem with challenging classes. Did you note the number that said he was easy, boring, etc. SEVERAL made reference to his preoccupation with sexual material. Maybe I just expect more out of a college education. Who needs to go back to school?

One more thing. I decided to be kind to you after reading your lengthy, original post,

but since you choose to call others “dunce,” I encourage you to go back and look at what you wrote. Maybe an English class from Adam would help.

Oh, lordy. Look up ALL of the teachers in that article–one of them, the reviews will shock you. I’ve not seen that type of statement by students in any of the other professors who I’ve looked up before.

Caldwell isn’t offended by Hill, he loves the publicity that he’s getting. He should be sending Hill a thank you note for helping him to get the attention that he so desires. This isn’t a guy that is sorry that he’s caused all of this negative attention that serves only to take attention away from Blakeslee. There was supposed to be a fundraiser for Blakeslee and now Caldwell has stolen Blakeslee’s parade. On the other hand hopefully Sam has found out that Caldwell is no moderate and if he wants the moderate vote then he should distance himself from this ego maniacal self serving,,,person.

Andy Caldwell is a JOKE- Look at what he’s doing-He’s got the High paid Developer Consutant Jamie Kirk-and just about any BIG LOCAL Developer player/Money behind him-He IS NOT supporting farming, ranching or labor-That is a farce-It is all about lobbying for power and money to get their way…to level the laws and regulations that may stand in the way of the special interests that fund him and their ability to develop. He is attempting to level anyone or any law maker/politician that might stand in the way- POPR (protect our property Rights) Look into these folks and see just what rights they want to protect-Look who funds thes secretive groups-

Caldwell is like a cancer…