Adam Hill explains the path to civility
June 9, 2013
UPDATE: Shortly after Hill sent out his response, Paso Robles Councilman Fred Strong responded with an email available at the bottom of this article.
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill said Sunday that the path to civility requires disassociating with those whose views differ from his own.
Hill’s comments were made in response to a Sunday morning email by San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, who sent out a copy of the 2011 United States Conference of Mayors Civility Accord. The document was created in response to the shooting rampage in Tucson where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 14 others were wounded.
The mayor’s email, which was shared with 14 elected colleagues, suggested that public officials “need to work together at this time to restore our long standing tradition of collegiality and focus on conducting the business of the people to the very best of our ability.” Marx wrote the email because “at the Mayors’ meeting last Friday, concern was expressed about the lack of civility demonstrated during several recent regional meetings.”
The Civility Accord asks public officials to commit to “respect the right of all Americans to hold different opinions; avoid rhetoric intended to humiliate, de-legitimatize, or question the patriotism of those whose opinions are different from ours and to strive to understand different perspectives.”
Hill responded by email, asking that his colleagues not associate with COLAB, the Tea Party, or political activist Kevin P. Rice.
“You can’t have it both ways; associate with and take policy recommendations from people who vilify and lie, and then demand civility,” Hill wrote. “If this is a priority to some, then either disassociate from COLAB, the tea party, and Kevin P. Rice, or demand that those advisors of yours stop behaving the way they do in their newsletters, online activities, and even public comments.
“I also think running and/or supporting campaigns of personal attack and demonization lead to many ill feelings. Civility has to occur across all sectors of political activity for it to have any meaning. Otherwise you are simply asking people not to disagree with you.”
Rice responded saying that both the APCD and SLOCOG boards voted against Hill becoming the 2013 chair of those bodies because he continues to attack those whose politics do not always agree with his own.
“Hill is presuming to tell other elected leaders who they are allowed to speak to,” Rice said. “Eliminating diversity of opinion appears to be Hill’s goal.”
Less than 15 minutes after Hill sent his email, Paso Robles Councilman Fred Strong responded in an email that noted the importance of elected officials representing all of the people in their jurisdictions.
“It goes across the board between and among the elected representatives of the people in their official capacities, Strong said. “Everyone has beliefs and opinions. In this country we are free to express them and we are free to abuse our freedoms if we do not wed responsibility with freedom.
“Those in the private sector have freedom of speech which they can use to good effect or to drive people away from them. Their miscalculation as to the effectiveness of their behavior does not mean that anyone who agrees with them in principle is going to change their principles because others of similar belief behave badly. However, it would behoove those who want to be effective in their communications and persuasion to behave in a civil and civilized manner if they wish to enlarge, rather than diminish, their numbers.
“As to us, we have a deeper and more extensive responsibility as the elected representatives of all of the people within our respective jurisdictions. To be a civilization, it must be based upon civility.”