Supervisor Adam Hill demands Forbes Magazine retraction

January 22, 2014
Adam Hill

Adam Hill


Battling back against a storm of negative publicity following a Forbes Magazine commentary, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill has demanded a retraction from the national publication.

Hill accuses Forbes columnist Steven Hayward of making up information and ascribing false motives to Hill’s letter to the New Times last week. In the letter, Hill ridicules people in the community who speak out against or question government.

Hill even suggests Hayward was compensated by someone in San Luis Obispo County to write the Forbes’ article. In the past, Hill has made spurious claims that CalCoastNews reporters have been paid by his opponents to write articles about him, and pay sources to lie.

Hill’s email requesting a retraction:

“Mr. Hayward:

“Re: your latest Forbes column, doing some actual reporting and fact-checking is greatly encouraged. Also, you should not purposefully misrepresent things as you do in this paragraph about me:

“’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:

“Now nowhere in my letter to the editor (which is black humor and has nothing to do with APCD rules) does it say I am referring to ‘all’or ANY ‘critics of unaccountable bureaucratic rule.'”

“You made that up, ascribed false motives to me, and in doing so, have potentially defamed me.

“While the timing of your column suggests you were coordinating with some SLO County folks, and that you may have even been paid by one of them to do this hit piece on our county gov, our APCD, and me, what I am asking for is a full retraction and an apology. If you cannot make your arguments in a factually responsible manner, you should not be writing such columns. I hope to hear from you and/or your editors within ten (10) working days.

“Adam Hill”

Hayward’s Jan. 21 email response:

“Dear Supervisor Hill:

“It certainly takes some moxie to complain about being libeled after your New Times screed describing a good portion of your fellow citizens as, among other things, people who “use cats as food tasters.” I gather you are unfamiliar with libel standards for elected officials by opinion writers, or are unacquainted with the way in which, for example, H.L. Mencken or James Wechsler routinely described elected officials decades before New York Times v. Sullivan, but in any case you may wish to check with the county counsel about the prospects for your cause of action. I’m sure he or she will laugh as much as I have over the notion.

“Perhaps you can clarify then: exactly who do you have in mind with your letter to the New Times? Would you care to name specific individuals, or a more specific description of the type of person you have in mind? It appears from the ellipses that the New Times may have edited your letter (or is that your standard punctuation?). Lacking this specificity, I see no reason whatsoever to qualify my characterization of your views and motives, for in my opinion it is accurate. If you’d care to send me the original unabridged version, I can assure it gets wider distribution than the New Times can give it. I note that this is not the first time remarks like this from you have been broadly controversial, and by all means I would delight in bringing you more national attention.

“In 15 years of working around government officials in Washington DC, and five years doing the same in Sacramento, I have never seen such tawdry expressions of contempt for fellow citizens from an elected official as is manifested in your New Times letter, and I note this not the first such public communication from you that has this tone. There is no possible ‘context’ that can redeem language of that kind.

“You observe that the ‘timing’ of my column suggests coordination, and further you allege that I may have been paid by someone there to do so. (Another irony failure on your part, but never mind.) I am paid by Forbes and Forbes alone for my articles, like my similar articles that have been solicited over the years by the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Wall Street Journal (etc. etc.), along with numerous magazines going back 25 years now. But if I had collaborated with local people on the substance of the story, so what? I see there is more than one part of the First Amendment that you don’t respect — free association.

“For the record, I am working on a chapter about the SLO APCD for a forthcoming academic book about local bureaucracy, so I am starting to pay closer attention to things. And very much looking forward to the additional material your prospective chairmanship is likely to provide.

“Finally, the imperious tone of your closing demand that you receive a response ‘within 10 working days’ rather makes my point better than I could have made it myself, and I thank you for yet another revealing display.


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Between Adam Hill’s 5 year rant and Bruce Gibson’s adultery on his wife, is there one good democrat on the county board that would take his job seriously? If I was Adam Hill, I would be embarrassed if there was one rant on me but Adam Hill has the biggest list of trouble with individuals, the media, the airwaves, heck even fellow democrats want Adam to out of office. He’s mad at everybody, I think Adam needs to attend church and make peace with people.

Poor Adam needs to be placed on a 5150 hold!

From Larry Allen

Mr. Hayward – you ought to check the accuracy and credibility of your information source(s) before you publish an article in a national magazine. Absolutely none of the information you’ve published here in this opinion/attack piece regarding me and the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District is correct.

Contrary to your claims, local air quality would not be nearly as good as it is today without the efforts of our agency and our many partnerships with local business to help achieve and preserve clean air. We do and have implemented many successful programs that have significantly reduced emissions from local sources that are not directly regulated by the state and federal EPA. The residential wood combustion rule you mention was adopted in 1993 to ensure clean burning woodstoves are installed in new homes to reduce exposure inside and outside the home to toxic air contaminants from inefficient woodburning units. It was just one of numerous other measures that were developed and implemented as part of a very effective clean air plan that achieved significant local emission reductions with broad input and support from the business and community interests. Our plan was used as a model by the California Air Resources Board for other air districts to follow, and implementing that plan resulted in SLO County attaining the state ozone standard. I am proud of that.

Regarding your statements on our budget and salaries, I am paid a $153,096 annual salary, not $250,000 as you claim. Of 23.5 total staff, only 4 others, our Division Managers, earn a 6-figure salary – $105,310 per year to be precise. You might also be interested to know that our staff size has not increased since 1993, a claim very few other government agencies could make. Our agency is extremely lean and streamlined in its operations. Our long-term fiscal plan, adopted by our 12-member Board of elected city and county officials, anticipated the closure and loss of revenue from the power plant several years ago and implemented numerous cost cutting measures to build reserves to cover that loss when it occurs. All of this information is included on the Air District’s website, an information source you must have not considered in advance of submitting your attack piece.

Contrary to your statements, only 50% of our budget comes from permit and inspection fees, which are set by our Board in a public hearing, not by staff; less than 1% of our budget comes from fines. The other 50% of our budget does come from state and federal appropriations, motor vehicle registration fees and local property taxes. Regarding the alleged $13,000 fee to the university to inspect and permit a tractor: I have no idea where you got such a notion. We do not require permits for tractors, but we do provide grants for farmers to repower or replace their tractors to help them comply with state regulations – I’m guessing that’s what you must be referring to, with the notable correction that we are giving them money, not charging them fees. We typically provide over $1 million per year in grant funds to local business and other organizations to help them comply with state air quality regulations.

I would hope that a national magazine like Forbes would hold its writers to higher standards than you’ve clearly been held to, and I will be contacting the Forbes editors to ask for a formal retraction and apology to be published by them.


Larry R. Allen

Air Pollution Control Officer

San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District

“Regarding your statements on our budget and salaries, I am paid a $153,096 annual salary, not $250,000 as you claim” I see no mention of benefits, just salary. What is your total with benefits, including pension payments?

Had Mr. Hayward intended to communicate that Mr. Allen’s salary included his benefit package he should have done so, otherwise his statement does come off as being purposely misleading.

‘Its director, Larry Allen, is paid close to $250,000 a year’

Hayward doesn’t call it a salary, he say’s that is what Allen is paid and it’s true. It doesn’t matter what category of payment Allen disguises it under. Our government employees have become rather creative with all the tax payer funds they manage to swipe from the citizens, under the guise of added perks that we aren’t supposed to know about. Wade McKinney was compensated under at least 8 different categories, probably more. It’s entirely out of control.

A we written thoughtful response that provides verifiable fact instead of hearsay and conjecture. I hope others can follow that example.

A well written thoughtful response that provides verifiable fact instead of hearsay and conjecture. I hope others can follow that example.

Look up Hayward’s credentials and then decide if you really want to take him on. Your chances of winning area slim to none.

Mr. Allen appears to have a short memory. I decided to check some earlier CCN articles on the APCD. This one is pretty interesting:

This quote indicates where the salary figure came from – one of the ACPD’s own documents:

“Top earner, Executive Director Larry Allen, costs $240,119 a year, according, to the district’s fiscal year 2011/2012 salary projections.”

I’m guessing the figure includes, as another poster suggests, other compensation.

Then there is the tractor inspection fee issue. Where did the $13,000 figure come from? Looks like that is backed up by good documentation too.

“In Oct. 2010, the air quality district charged Cal Poly $13,215 for the re-inspection of a Caterpillar tractor, according to the Cal Poly district file.

Looks to me like the assertions that Allen is denying are backed up by solid research and documentation. I guess he just forgot a few things.

Nice work

CCN gets the credit. They did some great articles on the APCD. Karen wrote the one I referenced, above. There were also some I didn’t have time to review in depth – the ones about the California Attorney General filing a lawsuit against the SLO APCD. I want to check into that tomorrow and see how all that turned out – or does someone have that information handy?

I am not so sure that CCN has the facts right on this. I used to have a lot of trust in their reporting but familiarity with some errors on their anti-CAPSLO campaign has made me less inclined to trust either their accuracy or objectivity.

I think that it is reasonable to conclude that Mr. Allen’s actual salary is as he claims and that his total compensation with benefits is close to what CCN and Mr. Hayward claim. However, I would like to see some verification of the situation with the “Cal Poly tractor.”

Also, if only 1% of their budget comes from fines, that does minimize the accusations that they are driven to fine people/organizations to sustain their own budget. Conversely, it also goes to show that not putting said fines into their budget would not have hurt much either. (They should not be doing so on general principal even if the fiscal benefit is small.)

Hayward does not state that this if Mr. Allen’s salary. He writes: “It’s director, Larry Allen, is paid close to $250,000 a year (plus a car allowance).”. What Allen is “paid” can certainly include pension, benefits, etc.

Mr. Allen’s claim that he earns three times his constituents’ median salary and not five times is unlikely to endear him to them.

Dear Air Pollution Control Officer Allen:

Would you please take a couple of paragraphs in this forum to clearly outline specifically what you do on any given workday to justify your $153,096 (plus benefits) annual salary?

Would you also take another paragraph or two to explain what the four APCD “Division Managers” (your subordinates) do to justify their annual $105,310 (plus benefits) salaries and why their positions even exist?

Based upon your current daily workload, do you think the four “Division Managers” positions would even exist if you were employed in a similar function in private enterprise? How would the absence of these four positions effect your own compensation?

Thanks in advance for your help.


A. Taxpayer

“Would you also take another paragraph or two to explain what the four APCD “Division Managers” (your subordinates) do to justify their annual $105,310 (plus benefits) salaries and why their positions even exist?”

Those bogus positions exist to extort the local business owners, would be business owners and our local citizens in general. Whatever they can’t extort from our tax dollars they reach into our personal pockets for. All to cover their bogus salaries, benefits and car allowances, that and to push a few envelopes and do some hand shaking with the ‘little wienie’. (Can’t recall which poster used that term but I’ve adopted it)

I came up with that one and you along with anyone else are free to use it. I think it neatly sums up the man without using gratuitous profanity. Plus you know it’s got to just drive him batshit crazy to read it.

Mr. Allen, I personally still find a Civil Servant receiving a salary of this amount egregious.

I know of small business owners working 12 hours a day,7 days a week who will never make that kind of money. No paid holidays or inflated benefits to look forward to.

We definitely need CHANGE.

Hey Adam,

How’s that “retraction” demand working out for ya….not too good huh? Poor baby!

As others here have pointed out, Mr. Hayward is by far the better writer, with a rapier wit which has effortlessly disemboweled (figuratively speaking, of course) the Little Weenie. Little Weenie just got his ass handed to him and he probably can’t even figure out what happened. One just can’t make this stuff up. Hill, do yourself and us a favor and just quit. Hang it up and let’s have a special election to fill your already empty seat.

How’s this for a deal Mr. Hill, as soon as you apologize in person one on one to every voter of your district, then we will ask Forbes for a retraction, okay?

Oh no. Don’t let him off that easily. How about what was done to Karen Velie’s grandkids?

Thumbs up to the apology…skip the retraction!

Hmmm. Calls out “conspiracy theorists” all the while suggesting there’s a conspiracy on the part of “… some SLO County folks, and that you may have even been paid by one of them …”

Get a grip Adam, please! It’s no theory, and it ain’t a conspiracy! It’s more like a slow tide comin’ your way, one you’ve been askin’ for for some time while it gets stronger every time you open that condescending mouth of yours …


Just sayin’….

So Adam Hill writes to Mr. Hayward, “You made that up, ascribed false motives to me, and in doing so, have potentially defamed me.”

Adam: You do remember the outcome of your fiancés defamation action against me, right? And to think that you were embroiled in the middle of that balderdash.

Remember the threatening text messages that you sent to me?

Oh the irony!!!

Mike Brennler

Some people never learn:((

It is more than irony that Mr. Hill would threaten Hayward with libel or defamation after the public humiliation he faced from losing an obvious SLAPP suit against Mr. Brennler, filed by his fiancée. This is not just irony, it is pure hubris on the part of Hill.

He is, after all, the epitome of a “public figure”.

Any attorney who would take on another lawsuit brought by this egomaniac should be

tarred and feathered.

Well, perhaps we should be urging Stupidvisor Hill to go forward with his threatened libel/defamation action.

I’m sure Mr. Hayward would love the publicity, and many of us in SLO would very much like to have more national focus placed on Adam Hill and the APCD.

The abridged version of Mr. Hayward’s response might look like this:

“Dear Supervisor Hill:




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1 Adam 12….approach with caution.

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