Gibson, Hill get verbal lashings
January 14, 2015
San Luis Obispo County residents teed off on supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill Tuesday morning, possibly swaying the board majority to rethink its decision to place Hill in a leadership role.
Public speakers took aim at Gibson for manipulating a meeting last week in a manner that allowed Hill to become vice chair of the board of supervisors. The speakers ripped Hill for displaying an ongoing disregard for the public and for hurling numerous insults at county resident with whom he disagrees.
Hill responded to the criticism by saying that his fellow supervisors should disassociate themselves from the people who attack him.
On Jan. 5, Gibson presided over the final meeting of his most recent chairmanship. During the meeting, a reorganization of the board occurred in which Supervisor Frank Mecham took over the chairmanship and Hill became vice chair.
Prior to a vote on the reorganization, Gibson did not allow for public comment as required by law. Likewise, the meeting agenda did not call for public comment on the item, and speaker slips were not available in the board chambers.
During the reorganization, Supervisor Debbie Arnold lost an opportunity to become vice chair. Both Hill and Arnold are up for election in 2016, and holding the chairmanship could play and advantageous role in a reelection campaign.
On the day following the board reorganization, activist Julie Tacker submitted a cease and desist notice to the county for violating the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law. The threat of litigation led to both Gibson and County Counsel Rita Neal admitting Tuesday that they allowed a Brown Act violation to occur.
At the board’s meeting on Tuesday, the supervisors listened to public comment that was supposed to occur during the reorganization hearing. Speakers discussed Hill’s tendency to insult his critics, several of whom singled out a piece he penned in the New Times last January.
Hill’s letter to the editor described his critics as conspiracy theorists with habits ranging from speaking in spittled spurts about the Constitution, to owning 66 books of terror to using their cats as food tasters. One speaker also made note of Hill’s apparent distaste for those with dental problems, whom he described in the letter as “bumpkins with bad breath and worse teeth.”
Los Osos resident C. Hite said she chipped a tooth on Sunday, which triggered thoughts of Hill’s rant.
“Degrading doesn’t even say enough,” Hite said. “We are tired of being slandered and humiliated by Supervisor Hill and Supervisor Gibson.”
Hill responded Tuesday by calling his critics vicious and intimidating.
“I know that if people who were my friends and supporters came and attacked in personal, vicious ways Ms. Arnold or you, Mr. Mecham, or Ms. Compton, not only would I not thank them or encourage them or respond to them positively, I would disassociate myself from them because that is not proper,” Hill said after the board took public comment. “It actually intimidates other people from coming to speak their mind.”
Gibson said the same speakers were appearing before the board, and no one new addressed them Tuesday.
Many speakers called for the board to conduct a second run of its reorganization process. Both Hill and Gibson objected to the idea, calling it a waste of time, but Mecham, Arnold and Supervisor Lynn Compton favored the request.
On a 3-2 vote, the supervisors chose to place board reorganization on an upcoming agenda. Prior to the vote, Mecham said he wanted to set a board tone of inclusion and transparency.
During the initial vote on reorganization, Mecham supported Hill and nominated him for the vice chairmanship. In order for Arnold to wrestle the position away from Hill, Mecham would likely have to change his position.
Compton, too, voted for Hill, but she is a political ally of Arnold.
The second reorganization vote could take place at the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 27.