Supervisor campaigns to shut down CalCoastNews

July 16, 2012

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill

By CALCOASTNEWS STAFF

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill has been using his elected position to bully advertisers and supporters of CalCoastNews (CCN) in a campaign to cripple the website.

In several instances, Hill’s own emails, obtained by CCN, have led to cancellations of contracts with businesses advertising on the news website. Hill sent emails to advertisers claiming that CCN reporters have committed crimes. That has been followed by a flurry of emails from Hill to county residents asking that they not support CCN advertisers.

“To claim and solicit donations to a phony site with phony stories is a crime,” Hill said in an email to an advertiser that linked the statement to a veterans site. “Those families and fellow veterans we urge all of you to no longer support any advertisers on the calcoastnews.com site, how many other stories are false, fake and imposters.”

CCN editor Bill Loving, a longtime reporter, editor and professor of journalism, defended CCN and its news staff saying that CCN does not pay sources or perpetrate frauds on the public.

“I teach reporting and media law and ethics. I would not be associated with CalCoastNews if it engaged in those practices,” Loving said. “CalCoastNews works to bring stories to people that otherwise would go unreported. It does good work.”

Sites like CalCoastNews are important for the health of democracy, because journalists tell people what they need to know so they can make informed choices, said Loving.

“It is a trust that we hold and I would not be a party to anything that would undermine CalCoastNews’ credibility or rob people of their confidence in the work of journalists,” he said.

Hill’s campaign against CCN began after he claimed to have heard CCN was planning to report on a proposed homeless service center, which his girlfriend would lead. Hill and a supporter threatened CCN reporters that they would get the Tribune to write negative stories about CCN if the website covered homeless services in any way but a positive manner.

Hill’s threats intensified after CCN reported that Hill cut off the microphone of a person speaking at a supervisor meeting because he did not like what she was saying. CCN also reported when Hill made a call to a Pismo Beach resident who had written a letter to the editor. In the call, Hill pretended to be his political opponent in the last county election.

Hill has “found” postings on the internet and forwarded them to recipients around the county, sometimes within minutes of their creation. The postings contain false claims that CCN has paid sources or deceived the public.

Hill sent an email to Loving referring him to a link with one of the posts. Loving sent a reply thanking Hill and letting him know that he would be in contact with the poster in order to hear his evidence of wrongdoing or get an apology for the statement.

“Requests have been put forward to get the identity of this person whose post Mr. Hill is spreading around,” Loving said. “It’s taking a while to reach him because the author of the post doesn’t seem to exist.”

Hill has threatened persons who are affiliated with the news site, warning them that if they continued to promote or contribute content to the site, they would lose jobs and reputations.

Tribune columnist Bill Morem repeated some of the false assertions being spread by Hill in a front-page column discussing a CCN story about a man caught up in new regulations controlling homeless persons.

The man claimed to have been a decorated veteran. CalCoastNews quoted and paraphrased the man’s claims, attributing the words to him, as all journalistic organizations do.

Morem inaccurately claimed that CCN not investigating the man’s veteran status had led to a federal fraud investigation. His only source to the false allegations was a man who claimed to be a decorated veteran named Steven Williams.

Morem said he did not verify his source was a veteran, was injured in combat, or even that the man’s name was Steven Williams. He also failed to call CCN for a comment or check to verify that CCN had not retracted its story as he had stated in his article.

Among those who have received threatening messages from Hill is Dave Congalton, host of a popular daily talk radio show, Home Town Radio,on 920KVEC.

“You need to take responsibility for promoting someone who has no ethics and gets paid to do hit pieces (yes, we have proof of this),” Hill wrote in a May 30 email to Congalton. Hill strongly suggested that Congalton no longer have CCN reporters as guests on his show.

Hill repeatedly warned that he planned to “go after” CCN after the June election.

Voters in the 3rd District handily returned Hill, a former Cal Poly English teacher, to office in June for a second four-year term. Congalton also received an email from Hill that referred to a file on CalCoastNews being kept by county officials.

“Oh, my, my, after the file I just read about your beloved protege (CCN reporter Karen Velie), I think you will be doing more than ‘distancing’ yourself,” Hill wrote. “Probably you’ll have to hold a press conference to apologize to the entire community. Wow.”

CalCoastNews filed a request under the California Public Records Act to get a copy of the alleged “file.” San Luis Obispo County Council Warren Jensen told reporters that the county does not have a file on CalCoastNews or its reporters.

“He (Hill) did say that he may have referred to such a file in an email, but that any such remarks were not intended to be taken literally,” Jensen said in a July 6 email to CalCoastNews.

Several of Hill’s manufactured claims have been repeated by public officials, many of whom have received email from Hill in which he falsely claims CalCoastNews is paid to write untrue stories and then splits the proceeds with sources who agree to lie.

The claims are not true, Loving said. Loving stepped in as editor after the death of George Ramos, who was the site’s first editor.

“George was a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and a well-respected member of the community. Does anyone think that he would condone that sort of behavior,” Loving said. “Does anyone think I would sully his reputation and memory by allowing anything like that to be done on the CalCoastNews site? I do not.

“Mr. Hill is opening a door to a lawsuit from anyone who has been a CalCoastNews source. Saying that someone takes money to lie is a statement that is defamatory. As Mr. Hill appears to be operating through his county position, this could have the county sitting at the defense table at any number of lawsuits,” Loving said.

Loving has taught media law for more than 20 years, was an adjunct at the University of Oklahoma School of Law and is coauthor of a widely used media law textbook that is in its 13th edition.

Oceano Community Services District Board President Matt Guerrero repeated some of Hill’s claims during a board meeting. He publicly retracted his statement two weeks later, but his comment had been repeated dozens of times on public access television as the meeting was rebroadcast.

CalCoastNews’ Karen Velie has asked Hill several times to correct all untrue statements and to stop sending out the libelous emails.

Hill responded with an email: “LOL.”

In February, CCN first started covering the issue of more aggressive ticketing of the homeless.

In April, attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s aggressive homeless ticketing program is unconstitutional. A few weeks ago, a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction barring police from ticketing homeless people who sleep in their vehicles because it appears to be an unconstitutional way of dealing with the homeless. Both Hill, Torres and the city of San Luis Obispo have promoted the aggressive ticketing as an important aspect of the safe parking program.

Torres requires the handful of homeless permitted to utilize the parking program in which they are allowed to live in their cars, to sign over 70 percent of their income to her department, something Torres also requires of most of those who stay for more than a few weeks in the homeless shelter she runs. In addition, homeless services then charges the client $12.50 monthly in administrative fees.

Torres contends her safe parking program is modeled on Santa Barbara’s homeless parking plan, which also requires participants to enroll in case management and that the monies are used to get people into housing.

And while Santa Barbara’s program includes case management, it does not include the requirement to sign over income and subsidy checks, said Nancy Kapp, Santa Barbara’s Homeless Outreach coordinator and case manager.

“These people are living on $1,000 a month and you don’t take money from these people,” Kapp said. “It is highway robbery and wrong. You don’t give something and ask for something, you give it unconditionally.”

In some areas of the state, homeless services require as much as 50 percent of a shelter resident’s income be placed into an account to be used to get into housing, something that generally takes no more than 100 days. Several programs CCN contacted said monies are generally returned within a day of dropping out of the program.

At a San Luis Obispo City Council meeting earlier this year, Torres said it generally takes one to two years for her staff to get someone doling out 70 percent of their income into low-cost housing. Local homeless people contend very few ever get into housing and it can take almost a year to get monies returned.

Several local attorneys contend several of Torres’ programs result in unconstitutional treatment and criminalization of homelessness.

As of June 1, San Luis Obispo homeless services started enforcing a variety of rules for the homeless to follow including agreeing to searches of their persons and vehicles upon demand and not being seen within an eighth of a mile of the Prado Day Center between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. If a homeless person fails to follow Torres’ rules, she bars them from services such as meals and a place to shower often for months at a time, according to the program’s rules and dozens of citations CCN staff have viewed.

“To deprive someone of public benefits when they are doing something perfectly legal is a violation of due process and cruel and unusual punishment,” San Luis Obispo based attorney Stew Jenkins said.

In an article about the prohibition of services, CCN accurately reported a homeless man had been deprived of services after his bike was spotted on Prado Road, but the man exaggerated his status by claiming he was a decorated veteran with several medals.

CCN issued an update correcting the story after the man admitted he was not a decorated veteran.

After that correction, Hill and the Tribune began making untrue claims that CalCoastNews was under investigation from federal officials for fraud. The Tribune went on to repeat Hill’s false claims that CCN received public donations to pay the man for making his false claim of being a veteran.

Hill has also threatened radio personalities who have hosted CCN’s reporters on their shows with a denial of access to public officials. Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Tony Cippola said Sheriff Ian Parkinson has a policy of not allowing CCN the same access as other local media.

“The sheriff has a policy that says I cannot do phone interviews with CalCoastNews reporters,” Cippola said.

Two years ago, CCN Senior Correspondent Daniel Blackburn was warned by then Public Information Officer Rob Bryn that if Blackburn covered a story reflecting negatively on Ian Parkinson, CCN’s access to information would be limited. At the time, then-CCN editor Ramos told Bryn that he had vetted CCN’s stories and he stood behind them.

Several county agencies, including the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s office, have refused to provide CCN press releases or interviews following investigative reporting by the news site of questionable acts and omissions within those departments.

California case law has consistently supported the rights of all media to have the same access to government, to prevent public officials from manipulating the media with threats of cutting off information.


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choprzrul

“…because journalists tell people what they need to know so they can make informed choices….”


It really sucks when someone exercises one of their civil rights to actively suppress the free exercise of one of your own civil rights. I think that the most appropriate label would be that of a ‘Bigot’.


Using power & position to limit the message will always be bad for all involved.


As far as Sheriff Parkinson & County atty. goes, I would direct them to carefully review California Civil Code 52.3:


“(a) No governmental authority, or agent of a governmental

authority, or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority,

shall engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement

officers that deprives any person of rights, privileges, or

immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the

United States or by the Constitution or laws of California.”


If any of them are limiting the press (CCN), I have no problem having a grand jury examine their actions. However, it wouldn’t be the first civil right Parkinson has arbitrarily limited.


.


Crusader

How tall is Adam Hill?


Ted Slanders

Crusader,


You can see Adam Hill’s height at this time, whatever it is, but, subsequent to the founded legal actions that will be forthcoming in his behalf, he’ll be about 2 inches tall at best.


Therefore, look at him now while you can!


“LOL”


Ted Slanders

^^^^ Adam Hill, quit taking the time from your government work by pressing the “dislike” button, along with your cronies, within this story! We’re paying you to conduct county business, not to peruse the blatant unbecoming facts against you that will become your eventful demise within SLO County!


Now, get your sorry @ss back to work for the SLO County citizens, that is, while you still can, okay?


“LOL”


Cindy

and that goes for you too Dee. Stop reading CCN and hitting the red thumbs on work time, that isn’t what we pay you for.


pasoparent5

Hey Cindy–don’t forget Lovely Lisa Meter Maid Chitty. She’s off work now so I’m sure she has time to troll this chat board and give a few thumbs down. And don’t forget her pal Jim Phat Bald Guy App, too. I guarantee that guy’s lurking out there, also.


Cindy

Yup, and we all know Hills fan club gal TQ is trolling as well.


Cicero

Napoleon was 5 foot 6.5 inches tall. I knew Napoleon Bonaparte and Mr. Hill is no Napoleon Bonaparte.


MaryMalone

In my experience, it’s not the height of the man but the size of the bat he swings…just sayin.


Disgusted

Such a sad, little man. It’s about time that government wrongdoing get exposed in SLO County. Hill is an embarrassment to any citizen interested in ethics from their representative. If you cross him, you’re threatened by the bully. He relishes the power he perceives to be his, but he needs to remember that he merely works for us, the common citizen. We’re his boss, and we should demand that he be above spiteful and childish retaliation.


slowtime

Similar personality to Lisa the meter maid, huh?


Ted Slanders

.


Adam Hill, we know you’re reading this news break story relative to your outright dumbfounded actions against Cal Coast News, therefore, let myself and others make a few comments directly to you.


Adam Hill, your best bet now would be to remain SILENT! I am sure that your newly hired legal team subsequent to this breaking story by CCN has told you now to STFU and not step any further into the proverbial poo! Yes? Of course they have.


Adam, but then again, your type are so predictable. It’s the “I have a bigger male anatomy” than you do modus operandi. Therefore, you’ll probably keep stepping in it by not being silent from this time forth by giving CCN more cannon fodder. Please do to completely seal your fate!!!!


Adam, a recall may be in order, or the least of which, your reputation will be so shot subsequent to the obvious forthcoming legal actions against you, that you’ll leave on your own accord? Yes? Maybe?


You’ve presented CCN with a “slam dunk”. The citizens of SLO County have to ask you the obvious question. Why did you make it so easy for CCN in the way of bringing libel and First Amendment Right’s actions against you? Why? Are you really that arrogant and stupid?


Obviously, you don’t expect San Luis Obispo County in any way to pick up the tab for you in this respect, do you? Of course not, how silly of me to even think of this possibility, because you saw what that type of action did in “Chitty-Gate” in Paso Robles!


Oh, I almost forgot, “LOL!”


ordinarycitizen

Sounds like Hill and the Sheriff are scared! I will double my support to your advertisers and Dave Congaltons too. Its time to re-establish some integrity in this county. Thank you CCN


Bored Watcher

Four-plus more years of this fool? Now that’s the joke.

How do you spell RECALL?

If he’s spent on second of taxpayer time or resources going after CCN he should RESIGN now! Oh wait…Warren Jensen, County Counsel, is fielding his blather….that’s taxpayer dollars.

Bye, bye Adam. Do the right thing, step down before you get thrown out.


rtor481

Hill is beyond arrogant and should be stopped. I just made a donation to CCN; I feel CCN is an important investigative newspaper that has the courage to report the news that other newspapers won’t report.

I also plan on patronizing the advertisers here on CCN.


justapostingcat

Yup…..dittto on your post and donating to CCN……have at ’em Karen…..his hubris knows no bounds and we all know what comes next…….I’ll bring the popcorn LOL

thecat


Crusader

I’m glad CCN had the resolve to run this story. Hill’s antics are nothing more than crude attempts to suppress the truth. As CCN’s resume of righteous stories continues to grow, expect the attacks to become ever more bitter and hateful.


furthermore

Bill, a blanket denial of CCN’s obviously spotty work just doesn’t cut it with the public that knows better. This is your problem #1. Denial merely prevents you from improving your product. That’s not Hill’s fault as well, is it?


Hill is a moron for sure, but your counter assertions fall far short of the high standard you claim to represent. If you have the Hill emails, redact the names and post them. Let the evidence speak. If Morem wrote a dumb column, link it. Let the evidence speak. Why link Hill cutting off the microphone of someone in Los Osos — to convince us he’s a bully? We know that. Tell us something we don’t know and stop whining.


Dee Torres is Hill’s “girlfriend”? Prove it. Post it. Link it. Until then you are everything Hill says you are, and Hill is everything you say he is: Get a room. If you can’t stand the heat, you’re in the wrong town, in the wrong business. There is no crying in investigative reporting.


Kevin Rice

Prove it? Okay:


E-mail from Hill in Sept 2011:


“… [referring to ex-wife] … I did not dump her I did not cheat on her and did not begin seeing Dee until a couple of months ago. So mind your own fucking business. I do not want replies from either of you. AH”


The Morem column takes about ten seconds to find on the daily rag web site. Exert some effort from your index finger on your mouse.


furthermore

SLORider — you failed. Yet again. And congrats for getting Adam Hill elected.


WHERE, in your copied email (email itself not posted), does it say that Dee Torres is Adam Hill’s “girlfriend” today, as stated as FACT in this current article?


Answer: Nowhere. Because neither you nor CCN offer a shred of relevant proof — you offering only a 9/11 email saying they dated at one time, CCN offering nothing. She was never his “girlfriend,” which is used here to denigrate her. Typical.


Don’t you think it behooves those who claim to be journalists and activists to bring themselves up to date with the facts? I take it you are not a big fan of fact-based journalism by how you keep tripping over it. It’s clear what you and CCN have in common: You don’t see the same things.


kettle

Oh look an anonymous account demanding “proof” and “facts” but no name?


So you think every article in every newspaper etc must publish there notes, email’s to meet your requirement for fact-based journalism?


Please link to your comments in the Tribune and your letters to the Newtimes showing you demand for them to print all there email’s etc for there fact-based journalism.


When does any publication show all the mails and notes? show all there cards? link to some examples, locally.


Where are your “facts” anonymous commenter ? where are your comments in the Morem article? No email or background check there.


Don’t forget to bring up the constitution in your next demand for double standards.


Kevin Rice

>> furthermore wrote: “congrats for getting Adam Hill elected.”


Your statement amounts to an assertion that Adam Hill would have lost but for my participation in the election. Is that your claim? Would the people have otherwise elected Waage? Are you claiming the people otherwise recognized Adam Hill as the lesser choice?


First of all, I don’t believe that. Second of all, I don’t think you believe that. Which leads me to believe your statement is just a barren snipe of retaliation for applied effort. Which I think is a compliment. Perhaps we both can look forward to doing it again sometime in the future.


furthermore

Kettle rants: “Oh look an anonymous account demanding “proof” and “facts” but no name?”


You folks just don’t get it. Torres is NOT Hill’s “girlfriend.” That’s the point. It’s merely an infantile, immature accusation that reduces CCN’s “news” yarn to pure drivel for the perpetually uninformed.


Apparently, not one single CCN editor or reporter dared to pick up the phone to ask Torres if she was, in fact, Hill’s “girlfriend”! That’s a real fact — unlike the fake fact that she is.


SLORider, you definitely played your goofy part in getting Hill re-elected, and that’s no compliment. I heard you on the radio swallowing your words and making a fool out of yourself, so I’m a bit surprised you’re still on the scene wearing your activist in an organ grinder’s monkey suit.


Oh well. Hey, even though we’ve never dated, is it OK if I adopt CCN’s standards and call you girlfriend?


MaryMalone

QUOTING FM: Torres is NOT Hill’s “girlfriend.”


Okay. She’s his “poke-in-the-whiskers.” Better?


furthermore

No, not “better,” Mary. You should apologize to readers and staff should remove “girlfriend” comments for the sake of any remaining credibility and dedication to accuracy. Otherwise… No hope for you.


kettle

“You folks just don’t get it. Torres is NOT Hill’s “girlfriend.””


furthermore Would it be better to say you were once Hills close confidant?


We realize that some women think “girlfriend.” is degrading.


Or are you saying it never happened ever and you two are just acquaintances?