Forbes Magazine notes SLO County as government run amok

January 20, 2014
Adam Hill

Adam Hill

In a Forbes Magazine article about relentless government bureaucracy, San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution District salaries and Supervisor Adam Hill are used as examples.

“Today, local governments in the U.S. are just as careerist, self-seeking, and mindlessly bureaucratic as any remote bureau in Washington,” Forbes contributor Steven Hayward says before using San Luis Obispo County as an example.

“I’ve been making a case study of my local home county in California, San Luis Obispo. Compared to California as a whole, the county has grown only modestly over the last 30 years. Its politics ought to be fairly simple, but they are not.

“The county government likes to boast that its budget has grown in line with inflation over the past decade while its workforce has not increased at all. But like much of government at all levels today, the real mischief is not to be apprehended on the ‘top line’ figures of general spending and number of direct staff. More and more of local government is being conducted by special agencies, indirectly and tenuously accountable to voters at best, with opaque budgets and complex legal authority.

“San Luis Obispo’s Air Pollution Control District (APCD) is a case in point. Just about every Larry Allencounty in California has one of these standalone bureaucracies. They make some sense in high air pollution areas like Los Angeles and Fresno. But air pollution is relatively low in San Luis Obispo County, and is steadily falling because of improving technology driven by national standards. If San Luis Obispo’s APCD were abolished tomorrow, there would be little change in the improving trends of air quality in the county. In fact, if the APCD had been abolished a decade ago, air quality trends would likely have been little different. A close look shows that the APCD exists mainly to perpetuate itself, and provide comfortable employment for its staff.

“Instead, as air pollution continues to fall, over the last decade the APCD’s budget has doubled. Its director, Larry Allen, is paid close to $250,000 a year (plus a car allowance). By contrast, Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is paid $179,000 a year. Nearly all of the APCD’s staff is paid a six-figure salary. Allen’s chief accomplishment, according to his staff biography, is overseeing the ‘residential wood combustion rule,’ which is exactly what it sounds like: restrictions on the kind of fireplaces that can be installed or used in new residences. The APCD exists not by appropriations from the county or the state, but solely through permit and inspection fees and fines that it determines itself. The perverse incentives here are obvious. Right now the APCD is looking to fill $300,000 in lost revenues from permit fees on a power plant that is shutting down soon. Back in 2010, the APCD charged the state university $13,000 to re-inspect and permit a tractor.

“This kind of government is corrupt at a profound level: largely autonomous entities like the APCD violate the basic principle of the separation of powers, as well as basic understandings of just about any conception of democratic accountability. And this kind of rule is spreading like weeds throughout American government at all levels.

“If you pay attention and complain about this kind of rule, you tend to get the kind of response given last week by the incoming chairman of the board of the APCD, county commissioner Adam Hill. In a letter to the editor of the New Times, the local ‘alternative’ weekly, Hill makes clear that he views all critics of unaccountable bureaucratic rule as ‘conspiracy’ mongers.”

Link here to read more.


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jrstone

I have a question: If you folks feel like you represent the majority of voters in SLO why hasn’t there been an effort to recall this bumpkin? Why not take the time and effort to get him out of office? Oops! Maybe that ain’t such a good idea! Dee would probably get him hired at CAPSLO and then we’d have “Bonnie and Clyde” overseein’ the homeless population…


Just Sayin’…


r0y

Well, speaking as a conspiracy nut, I whole-heartily believe the elections are rigged. That’s why.


GVD

Questions…


Where is the Tribune on this story ?

Will Cal Poly hire Adam back after his stint at supervisor ?

Does Adam have the same contempt for his students as he has for his constituents?


Cindy

“Does Adam have the same contempt for his students as he has for his constituents?”


LOL, Karen Velie was one of his students at CP. Does that answer your question?


rogerfreberg

Unfortunately, this is the kind of national attention our county has gotten over the years. However, you wouldn’t know how the America thinks by reading, listening or watching the local news.


By the way, Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson are looking to keep their majority with their Governor Brown appointee sweetheart from Arroyo Grande… the best way to neuter Hill and Gibson’s relentless pursuit of control is to prevent her election. Find a candidate you feel you can get behind… work for them and help get this county accountable, solvent and on-track.


BTW, I did read Adam Hill’s rambling incoherent dissertation on New Times…. I can see why New Times didn’t publish it right away…. its embarrassing.


1inthemiddle

I would say the best way to combat Hill or Gibson is vote them out of office.

If you pay any real attention to the BOS you would see that Ray is not in cahoots in any way with these control Freaks.

Not sure what that would do for accountability but the county is currently solvent.


rogerfreberg

Remember, she is up for election this time around also…. have you forgotten her secret meeting with Adam Hill covered by CCN??


In any event, Caren Ray may be a sweet and wonderful person… or not… the issue is that she has aligned herself and plays “Mo” to Larry and Curly on the board. In truth she is far to radical for the south county or the county at large.


1inthemiddle

Please justify the inflammatory remarks.

Certainly a meeting out side in front of a popular coffee shop on Broad street next to the parking lot in broad day light does not qualify as a “secret meeting”

In what way has she aligned herself with “Larry and Curly”?

The votes certainly don’t show that.


You sound more like someone from the Byrd or Compton campaign than someone providing accurate insightful comment.


Kevin Rice

Try the fundraiser sponsored by Hill. The one where he invited all his big money friends with the notation, “bring your checkbooks”.


In rebuttal, please enumerate all the times Caren Ray didn’t vote with Hill and Gibson. Zero? Once? Twice?


Not in cahoots? My ass.


1inthemiddle

Hills desire to feel like a big man by trying to take credit for everything is not a reflection on anyone’s commitment to his questionable mindset.

Many people sent out invites because a broad base of support exists for Ray.

And the point of a fundraiser is of course to raise funds and since legally a candidate cannot accept cash then bring your check book is appropriate.

Hardly any different than any other candidate and not much in the way of evidence.

Ray has has not voted with Hill and Gibson the exact same number as she has not voted with Mecham so that does not prove much.


Jorge Estrada

If you read the gov heterolingual docs, you will likely find this disclaimer in the fine print,”we don’t need no stinking badges.”


isoslo

It is amazing how so many government entities have become self serving organizations with their main purpose being the continuing payment of salary and benefits for their staff. APCD is the worst of the worst in this department. We, the citizens, elect representatives to oversee these entities so that the citizens are fairly served by these organizations. In this example Adam Hill is of the belief that the APCD is fair as is. First thing the citizens must do is to get rid of Adam Hill. Then after we elect a more sane supervisor we need that supervisor to represent the citizens and make sure that Larry Allen is not paid more than most police chiefs, teachers, firemen, and other government agency heads.


r0y

Uh… “have become” ??!? We’re only just beginning to hit critical mass of over 60 years of this crap.


A good example is the police and sheriff – back in the day, they were often referred to as “Peace Officers” or “Keeping the Peace”; whereas today, they are simply “Law Enforcement” – say it slowly, each after the other. Keeping. The. Peace. versus: Law. Enforcement. Law as in, mostly, petty regulations by unaccountable bureaucracies. For the People™, no doubt.


Pretty much sums it up, the attitudes of past civil “servants” and what we have (as a majority, I’m afraid) today. Sure, there are decent, blah blah blah. We’re talking the rule of thumb. Even if there was someone who viewed “keeping peace” over “enforcing law” that person is likely “surrounded” and will probably just keep shut and retire ASAP; well, they all retire ASAP… usually with some medical whatever to pad the retirement… then find a way to double- or triple-dip.


I’m old enough to remember when Officers of the Peace were actually respected. When it wasn’t a rare thing to find one who wasn’t a mind-numbed extension of a bureaucracy (local, state or fed).


falconbh

Please add the 5 Cities Fire Authority to the list with their New Fire Tax Increase.


NorthCountyGuy

City and county employees in SLO county are notorious for aiding and abetting the violent crimes of their chronies.


The EPA is totally corrupt. CARB and its minions is just as corrupt.


When a corrupt, self-serving public employee (i.e., career-criminal on the govt payroll) willfully commits fraud, waste and abuse with taxpayers’ money, it is guaranteed that he will be coddled, pampered and protected by the organized-crime thugs in charge of his public sector union.


Cindy

I guess the NT will be getting plenty of cyber hits now that Forbes has linked to Adam Hills rant. I wonder if Adam thought he was being clever when he wrote that letter to the New Times? He even contacted them a second time because they didn’t initially print it. Doesn’t he realize that he sounds like a nut case? I have always chalked his egregious behavior up to alcohol or drug abuse but in this case, he actually contacted the NT wanting that letter printed so that letter wasn’t composed as a result of a knee jerk reaction when he was inebriated or high on something. It would appear that he just plain needs psychiatric help.


Apart from that, we obviously have to support the candidate who runs for Adams seat during the next election and we all do have to approach the BOS about reigning in the APCD. They need to be down sized and they need oversight.


It’s disheartening to realize that we would all be paying 50% less taxes if we would just all manage our government rather than allowing them to manage us. We have to start somewhere, maybe the APCD and the 250K salary (along with other unjustified 6 figure payouts) is the place to start.


MaryMalone

If I lived in HIll’ s district, and the next election was between Adam HIll and Satan, I would choose Satan.


panflash

Hell, for all we know, and judging from his behavior, maybe he IS Satan.


rogerfreberg

Same vote, different name? ;)


leatherpink

When people didn’t like the fact Jerry Lenthall voted for his own salary raise in office, that was pretty minor to the things that Adam Hill has done. He sweet talked the voters in 2008 to get elected and since then, I’ve heard nothing about people complaining about Adam Hill. Between the airwaves and the press, Internet forums, people have gotten really less supported on the guy which I concur. I think we can now admit the Jerry Lenthall was honest and didn’t piss off nearly as much people than Adam Hill did.


leatherpink

Which I am referring to the Forbes magazine over the recent comments.


Laughlines

Jerry Lenthall was the better choice in 2008. Adam Hill is a total disappointment as a supervisor. But what happened here mirrored what happened on the national level; Hill managed to convince people that voting for Lenthall was like voting for Bush, and a self-absorbed, narcissistic “academic” with no practical experience in much of anything was able to ascend to his maximum level of incompetence. Now we see the results at both levels, and only the most self-deluded partisans still hang on to their belief in their false idols.


r0y

A self-absorbed, narcissistic “academic” with no practical (or any) experience in anything… why does that sound familiar…


givemeabreak

Roy…..sounds just like the mayor of Morro Bay Jamie Irons!


R.Hodin

Not to compare the two, but Lenthall repeatedly created “advisory” committees for controversial topics, then stacked them with appointees who shared his predetermined view of the issue, all the while claiming he was “on the fence” about how he would vote. He was a good-ole-boy wanna-be with plenty of character flaws, always ready to grease the skids for his buddies.


Does power always attract people with compromised character?


r0y

Russ, there was actually a study done (both here and in India) that shows that cheaters are more attracted to government jobs.


Big surprise there, huh?


Myself

I’ve said it several times here on CCN when the power plant in Morro closes the apcd will look for other ways to keep the money flowing to keep their jobs,they will come out to ranches,shops,farms and where ever else they think they can set fines for BS rules,they will come knocking on your door,this stand alone agency needs to be cut back, but as its not part of the county system there is no oversight to keep control of them,not that it would do us the taxpayer much good anyway.


Citizen

The APCD is also in the business of creating air pollution through their controlled burns. They collect fees for controlled burns which are most often done for weed control, not for fire prevention. Yes, they allow private property owners to burn to get rid of purple thistle, and allow State Parks to burn to get rid of non native plants.


In spite of complaints from residents, controlled burns are the norm in this county and they create problems for everyone exposed to the smoke. We have enough smoke from accidental fires; we don’t need the controlled burns done for the convenience of some wealthy property owner.


Remember what happened to Cambria earlier this year when the wind changed on a controlled burn for State Parks? Remember the Montana de Oro area fire that got out of control?


In my opinion, the APCD is out of control and should be reduced in size and money to a true functioning county agency to air pollution control.