Adam Hill explains the path to civility

June 9, 2013
Adam Hill

Adam Hill

UPDATE: Shortly after Hill sent out his response, Paso Robles Councilman Fred Strong responded with an email available at the bottom of this article.


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.”




Adam Hill is by no means an “unintelligent” person; he is book smart, he has certainly learned to get down and dirty with those who have a different political viewpoint, but perhaps he lacks a certain confidence in how he feels he is viewed by the citizens of San Luis Obispo County. It is the only thing that makes any sense to me, how an elected official can have such disdain and occasional open hostility to those with opposing viewpoints.

I read here and occasionally at the Tribune how many voters think Mr. Hill is a real “piece of work” because he seems to put on an air of somehow being “above” most of us voters, and I don’t think that is too far off the mark. Dave Congalton suggested that our County Supervisors really started to shift in how they interact with the voters after the County building was completed and the Supervisors were located on the fourth floor, “above” all the rest of us, and the attitude is possibly reenforced due to the private elevator for the Supervisors use.

I also realize that many conservative voters think that the actions of Supervisors Hill and Gibson, those of Mayor Marx, Councilman Ashbaugh, City Manager Katie Lictig and City Attorney Christine Deitrick are all examples of how everyone on the left thinks they are supposed to behave once they become elected or have obtained a position of power or prestige; as a dedicated progressive, a lifelong liberal, please understand that I absolutely abhor behavior by any and all politicians no matter what their political leanings are when they think they are “better than” anyone who actually takes the time to cast a vote in an election. Fairness used to be a defining trait of liberalism, and I believe that it still does; politicians who take on an attitude of smug, “holier than thou” attitudes and actions are not expressing what a real liberal believes in.

Mr. Hill, you disappoint me to no end.


Let me ask you a question, have you ever voted for Hill?


Yes, you may ask me the question, and yes, i will answer; Yes, I did vote for Adam Hill. I will not again though. I thought he was going to mature, that he would grow into the role of an elected politician who would listen to the wishes of the voters, work to accomplish solutions for the benefit of the majority of San Luis Obispo citizens. I repeat my sentiment; I am disappointed with Adam Hill as our Supervisor, period.


Thank you for the honest reply. So did you vote for him because he was the guy for the job or party line?


Does your reading comprehension usually hold you back? “I thought he was going to mature, the he would grow into the role ….” Would you not think that I thought he was the guy for the job? Jeepers.


Well from the undertones of your first post mentioning your pride in being a lifelong dedicated progressive liberal, you impressed me as one to vote party line irregardless as to how he would have acted.

Also grow into the role? You sound like a woman marrying a man with all kinds of flaws and if I just try hard enough I can change him. Did you vote for Obama the same way? Here was a guy that had NO experience. Has he grown into the role??


To be fair (not sticking up for bob, he can do that himself), but: Do we really want to elect GOVERNORS to GOVERN? In other words, is a life in the public sector / elected office truly a metric we really want to adhere to? In this day and age?

I’m all for the “no experience” and “brings nothing to the table” – it usually gets people exactly what they deserve; however, I would not think Hill would be any different had he a life in elected office. In fact, with his personality (or lack thereof) he likely would have been worse…. maybe. Academia isn’t much better for “growing politicians” as the public sector at large (the line is fuzzy).

I am tired of not having a decent choice in candidates. This is why I left the Republican party 15+ years ago. They keep offering up crap, as do the democrats, and we just seem to lap it up and vote for “our guy” so that the “other guy” does NOT get elected. In essence, many people are casting Negative Votes. Sad, truly.


I agree on the vote my guy so the other guy doesn’t get in. I have left open (didn’t vote either candidate) two different Govs. I didn’t vote for in past 18 years and some smaller local. I didn’t like my choices in my party so I left that part open, rather than vote so the other guy doesn’t get. Not great (other party choice) but voting party line doesn’t fix problem either.

So with that said, that was my roundabout way of seeing how did Bob feel. Did he really think the guy was good or did he vote to vote, so the other party guy didn’t get in.


QUOTING BTDT: “Well from the undertones of your first post mentioning your pride in being a lifelong dedicated progressive liberal, you impressed me as one to vote party line irregardless as to how he would have acted. ”

You have it wrong.

It is conservative political ideology that depends on lock-step marching to the party line. Liberals are notorious for disagreeing with each other.


Thanks for the laugh Mary. I can’t believe you typed that with a straight face.


BTDT: I vote for the candidate that I think will try to work for the things I think need to get done, tempered by the possibility of that person actually getting elected. Some times it does happen down party lines, but not always.

And yes, “grow into the role”; a person elected to a particular office that they have never held before are usually somewhat pliable. Depending upon whom they turn to for advice and counseling, that person usually “grows into the role” as they learn about that office, about the power that they now wield, and if they stay in contact with those who elected them. Getting bad advice, listening and acting upon bad counseling and ignoring the will of the voters usually leads to a politician who becomes removed, isolated, possibly even slightly paranoid and/or bitter.

As for my voting for Barack Obama; I have repeatedly stated that I knew that he was no liberal, certainly not a progressive, but I did vote for him because I feared that if John McCain and Sarah Palin were elected, we would most likely be in another war, possibly even a new World War. For the second election, again, the opposing candidate, Mitt Romney was really all that horrible; he seemed to me as if he felt he “deserved” to be president, sort of an arrogant birthright type assumption. Definitely someone I could not vote for. Am I disappointed in the performance of Barack Obama as our President? Yes. He has never been, nor do I ever see him being a progressive, or even a liberal; he is “center right” in his authoritarian agenda and refusal to push for a liberal agenda.


What does being a “lifelong dedicated progressive liberal” have to do with the Democratic Party? From my perspective, the two have more often been opposed than aligned. In a non-partisan office, liberal or conservative philosophy, as reflected by the candidate’s accomplishments, have more relevance than political party affiliation.

I just wish people would grow out of the school yard us-them paradigm that the two-party system has foisted upon us. It only serves the 1% which controls the parties. It doesn’t serve Americans or democracy.


That’s okay, Bob.

I voted for Obama in 2008, but at this point I wish Congress would get off their kiesters and impeach him.


Impeach him for what?


Really Bob? Have you not watched the news in the last sixty days? Yes nothing yet or proven but definately a lot of stuff to look into and decide if any action may be required. Glad your not partison Bob.


I do not watch network or cable news, I read news sites and like to get a variety of reporting sources, cable and network news, IMO, is agenda driven to get one viewpoint or the other out, facts be damned.

That said, I will repeat the question; what should President Obama be impeached for? Did he allow an attack by foreign terrorists that killed over 3000 Americans to happen on his watch? Did he start an illegal war that has left 4000 service members dead, with thousands more injured and traumatized and upwards of 100,000 Iraqis dead? Did he start up any programs that take away civil liberties or trample any of our Constitutional rights? If you think he has done any of those, list your accusations and try to provide some backing evidence.

I know he has not given back any overreach of power or authority that was started by the last president, but tell me where he went beyond what was done before, please.


Did he allow the attack on the twin towers? REALLY??? So your one of those conspiracy wackos are you?

So by your reasoning we should bo back and prosecute JFK for getting us into Vietnam illegally? Or go after LBJ? Or how about FDR for Pearl Harbor????

I love your type. Bob we are in the here and now. Did Bush start these programs. Some yes some no. Did Obama. No. Does he know about? YES!! Has he done ANYTHING? NO!! And REMEMBER BOB he said TRANSPARENCEY and no improprieties on his watch. YEA F**KING RIGHT!!!

Spin it how you want Bob, you are a partison hack and your comments more than prove it.

Oh and one last, your comment about your trusted sites. Yea I remember about three weeks ago and you quoting someone that I posted back as an outright LIE by your sourse. Yea Bob you believe what you want to believe. I bet you don’t even read one conservative publication. Oh and to save you the time, yes I read both conservative and liberal.


Or how about hitting the net right now Bob, the latest prostitution etc. at the State Dept? Comon Bob wake up and smell the coffee.


Are you just now realizing the democrat party has been dragged through the mud for decades? I guess better late than never. Most people who are still democrats were too busy hating republicans to notice their own house was on fire. Similar can be said about republicans, too; however, far more people dropped the R quicker than those that dropped the D.


No, it is not “just now” that I realized that the Democratic party is not what it could be, should be or hopefully, someday, will be. Both parties have their problems, not all of them are the same though. I think maybe you’re suggesting that both parties have succumbed to the influences of big money, of kowtowing to the interest of the moneyed elite? I would agree with that assessment and would add that although there is a lot of common ground of what is wrong with both parties, there is also a world of difference between them. I do retain my registration as a Democrat, I usually vote for Democratic candidates (but not every single time), but I also attempt to “push” the Democratic politicians back towards the true ideals of Democratic policies like Social Security, Medicare (for all would be even better than Obamacare) and reinvesting in our infrastructure. The basic difference between the two parties has been reduced down to the amount of callousness towards the average voter, and the amount of groveling done at the feet of the ultra rich. It has to change if the freedoms we have all enjoyed are not going to be chipped away completely; neither party is concerned about freedom, it is all about the power, for both of them.


Not at all, “big money” is a symptom. Power is the problem. We have an established power system, and the D’s and R’s are really the same. Sure, they can publicly hate each other, vilify, etc. But in the end, how effective were the dem’s at slowing Bush? Likewise, how effective are the rep’s at slowing Obama? Zoom OUT. Check the timeline. We’ve been heading to the same place regardless of who is in power – it’s the same force that is in power. We’re trained to hate the differences and “party platforms” of opponents, while being forced to alter our own beliefs. It’s not some conspiracy, look at who has been elected president in the last century or so. Sure, there are occasional people who break the mold (Regan, maybe Kennedy, etc) but in the end, they’re all mostly the same. President X does THIS, successor president Y says he’ll reverse it… never happens.

How’s Gitmo? We out of any wars? No? Got into a few more? Hmmm… Just saying: we’ve all been duped for generations. It’s in our culture, our education (indoctrination), everywhere. And now we have Common Core coming online. Give that a few years or a decade and we’ll make Nazi Germany look tame. Mark my words.


r0y: Big Money is more than a symptom; it is the conduit of how power is allocated, enforced and changed. Think about it; there are 400 families in the US that have some huge amount (I can’t remember the actual percentage of real wealth that they control, but it is a huge number) and any one of those families can drop a ton of cash into a political race now thanks to Citizen’s United and not be accountable. Surely you’ve seen establishment Republicans who fear for the Tea Party nut being put up against them so they have to take as hard of a right turn as possible in order to not get spent out of their seat. And then there are the corporations, again, any one of which could bankroll any House seat with relative ease, and put a couple of them together and they can try to buy a Senate seat. I’m very glad that CU wasn’t decided before the California governor’s race, although it seemed like Meg Whitman spent as much as could have been spent in a losing campaign, can you imagine what would have happened if she had had double or triple the amount of money to spend? Possibly would not made a difference since she was such a lame candidate, but once a political investment group gets ahold of a serious candidate, it would seem like the sky would be the limit.

As far as successor president Y saying he will reverse what happened by the previous president X, just remember than any politician that comes into an elected office and has had the power of that office expanded by the previous occupant, the temptation to keep those newly enhanced powers is just too great for them to give up any power, any authority for a couple of reasons. Not the least of those reasons would be if president Y gives up powers that President X had assumed, then our country suffers some sort of attack and it comes back to that IF president Y had kept those powers, he might have prevented that attack, and so on and so on.

Kind of reminds me of a routine done by the comedian Bill Hicks (r.i.p.) where he talks about a newly elected president being taken down the hall in the White House to a room; he enters the darkened room with a small group of men sitting there in the shadows and one of them asks him to sit down for a couple of minutes. A video starts playing, it is the Zapruder film, with two additional angles never before seen and the extra gunmen are clearly shown. After the video stops, one the men in the shadows speaks up, telling the President that they are members of the group that made the film, that had the President executed and they would allow this new president “some” latitude in doing his job, but they warn him not to go “too far”, otherwise something might “just happen”. An explanation of presidential behavior from the mind of man with a lot of imagination, but just maybe not too far from the truth.


I disagree with you, r0y, in that you isolate one political party as having been dragged through the mud.

I would request that you not take this into partisan politics because I can only control myself for so long before I jump in with both feet, and I have lots of data compiled over decades on the Republican Party.


Thank you for expressing your sentiments from the progressive side. While I doubt we would agree on too many other issues politically, I appreciate your comments. The level of arrogance and contempt shown by our elected officials is unacceptable. Adam Hill is merely our most egregious local example, and the problem is not limited to one party or the other. Incidentally, am I the only one who remembers from Poli Sci 101 that under the CA state constitution local offices are officially non-partisan? The initial race between Hill and Jerry Lenthall became inappropriately entangled with national politics, and Hill trotted out the progressive Boogeymen of Bush and Cheney in order to rile up the local left-of-center folks. Now that he is comfortably ensconced in his $ 70,000+/year job he reveals his true self; a frightened, mean-spirited little man who wears a cloak of political holiness to cover his own doubts about himself. I no longer live in his district (thank God!) but I urge everyone, regardless of your political orientation, to take a long hard look at this prancing jackass before the next election.


Sounds like Hill is angling for a job with the IRS.


Well, if he wants a PROMOTION in Obama’s administration, he better FAIL worse than he has so far, or he’ll never get any upward mobility.


I disagree, r0y. I also believe you don’t know much about Obama if you believe he would bring into his administration such a walking political land mine as Adam Hill.

If nothing else, Obama is very good at limiting unnecessarily taking on the resource-wasting tasks associated with damage control.

I think Obama has his hands full with damage control right now. I believe he would view the risks of associating himself with Adam Hill as about the same as main-lining an ebola virus cocktail.

Mr. Holly

You can download the document at Google. Interesting document when they quote Barack Obama talking about honesty. I would refer to the old quote regarding the pot and kettle but that would certainly stir things up. If these Mayor’s were to follow these guidelines most of them would never get re-elected. Ask a politician a question and for the most part they will tell you want you want to hear. Most are like a fish out of water and flip around all over the place. Although there are some outstanding local individuals who hold elected office. Should be interesting to see if the email is made public by these Mayor’s of which there are seven in the county. Who are the other 7 out of 14? Just look at the record of Jan Marx herself and her participation in dirty politic and what some would say are illegal and/or corrupt.

Good luck San Luis Obispo County home to some of the biggest crooks around who fail to get indicted or prosecuted. Kelly Gearhart where are you?


Oh my!

This gives new meaning to being “over the hill” and out of touch.


I knew he couldn’t stay silent for too long. Thanks Hill for making me laugh out loud! You are a riot, sad, yet funny. The narcissist pot calling the kettle black. HAHAHAHAHA……..


Can we see a copy of this e-mail? I cannot believe a “grown up” would act in such a way… who are his supporters at this point? He must not have ANYONE he listens to or seeks advice from (a mentor, perhaps), as this would not have made it past even my teenage kids’ notions of a good idea for a response.


Kevin Rice

The content is quoted in its entirety. The only thing lacking is the email distribution list and the signature at the bottom: “AH”


If a public official sends out an email basically calling you, Kevin Rice, a private citizen a liar, isn’t that grounds for a lawsuit? It sounds like a good example of defamation of character and slander.

Kevin Rice

Mostly no. When you speak out publicly you become a “limited public figure” which opens you to all the ad hominem used when a rational argument is unavailable.


I laughed and laughed and laughed, but then I realized; oops, he’s not joking! He really thinks like that. So sad.


Adam Hill is so embarrassing. The people who elected him to office should be ashamed. He really does think it’s all about him and, as long as the people let him get away with it, I guess he’s right. What a sad example for our children.


Listening to Adam Hill is a joke within its self.

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