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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Finally, we see the accurate “fat Elvis” photograph version of Adam HIll.

I’d say more “Otis” than “Elvis”.


I wish Forbes would write an article on the large vineyards in our county depleting our water supply.

Don’t hold your breath on that one! They are a business magazine after all and then there’s this…

Just sayin’….

Dear Mr. Hill,

My deepest apologies and sincere condolences that your shenanigans have been revealed nationally! You have worked so hard to create an image of being above board, professional and honest despite the truth as reflected in articles herein, thus I will give you credit for that. I think your talents and attributes would best be utilized in some third world dictatorship, so moving abroad may be a good option for you where people don’t know you.



Not smiling in this picture…

Some things $$Money$$$ can’t buy (even a gold medallion won’t do!) the TRUTH.

Adam, do you offer up apologies for the offences you commit on others when they

“DEMAND” you do so?

After looking at the colab dinner event and the books by Hayward it is obvious he is an extreme right wing partisan. That does not denigrate his comments but surely raises questions about his sincerity and accuracy. Yet skepticism does bot mean doubt, only the reader should be wary and take care in this hot debate between two partisans.

Adam fashions himself a ‘leftie’, now we see Hayward is a ‘righty’. But let’s see who is credible, who is telling the truth and who (it either) deserves our clear attention after some ‘critical thinking’.

I am glad CCN is bringing all this to the fore, we deserve to review these comments.

And which looks more “Wacko”? It sure negates the RWW slogan the lefties love to use.

Pete, if you want to turn the shit that Hill wrote to the NT into a partisan issue, then I’d say that the Dem’s should be embarrassed. “Critical thinking”, really? Keep thinking ……..

I agree, CIndy.

Clearly, there is nincompoopery practiced on both sides of the political aisle.

Regardless of his political leanings, would someone of Hayward’s stature really go after a zero like Hill just because Hill is a Democrat? Not likely. He went after him because of that outlandish letter. The fact that someone like Hayward would take notice just emphasizes how totally obnoxious and wacko the letter is.

Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

I am a lifelong Democrat, and am quite aggressive about my politics, yet I am a very loud critic of Obama and his administration. Does my political liberalism make invalid my criticism of Obama?

A person’s politics can be independent of their opinion. If you disagree with a person’s opinion, attack the opinion, not the person. Find the weakness in their argument’s evidence if you want to prove their opinion wrong.

Hill vs. Forbes

This may be the event of the year. The man (?) just doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. Never has and never will. This may turn San Luis Obispo from the friendliest place to the funniest place. SNL where are you?

” I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.” Former Congressman Charles Brownson, Indianapolis Republican,

Uh, isn’t that Mark Twain, or a paraphrase of him?

Not to be a stickler but I found this to be the most common answer to the above question.

Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

In his Great Political Wit: Laughing (Almost) All the Way to the White House (1998), Bob Dole wrote that Bill Clinton considered this the best advice he got after becoming president. The admonition to avoid unnecessary disputes with newspaper publishers and journalists has been attributed to Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, and many others, but the person who deserves credit for the original idea is Charles Brownson, a Republican congressman from Indiana (he served from 1951 till 1959). The first appearance of the saying in print was in the 1964 book My Indiana, in which author Irving Leibowitz wrote:Former Congressman Charles Brownson, Indianapolis Republican, used to say, “I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

What happened to Adam’s “Pacifying” beard. He promised “greater tranquility and patience” in his second term as mentioned in a cal coast news article back in Jan. 2013.