Hill blasts Mecham; then the two agree on vote

February 11, 2015
Adam Hill, photo by Daniel Blackburn

Adam Hill, photo by Daniel Blackburn

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A week after San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham removed his fellow board member Adam Hill from a leadership position, Hill lashed out at Mecham during a discussion on water use regulations.

Despite receiving the verbal lashing, Mecham ultimately sided with Hill Tuesday. Mecham agreed to reconsider a vote he cast last week and possibly extend an ordinance that restricts water usage in North County.

Last week, Mecham volunteered to step down as chairman of the county board of supervisors and seat Supervisor Debbie Arnold as chair and Supervisor Lynn Compton as vice chair. The move unseated Hill as vice chair, which will likely cost him the chairmanship in 2016, his campaign year.

Also during last week’s meeting, Mecham voted with Arnold and Compton to let a water use ordinance expire. The ordinance, which is set to expire in August, prohibits residential or agricultural development in the Paso Robles basin unless developers or ranchers create conversation projects elsewhere in the area that preserve an equal amount of water.

In last week’s vote, Mecham, Arnold and Compton rejected not only an extension of the ordinance, but also a plan to implement it in the Los Osos and Nipomo Mesa groundwater basins. On Tuesday though, Mecham said he would like to reconsider the vote and that he is interested in extending the ordinance, but not making it permanent.

Minutes later, Hill, who supports an extension of the ordinance, chastised Mecham for his vote a week prior and referenced the bible in questioning Mecham’s conversion on the issue.

“I don’t know why this wasn’t talked about last week, why this has suddenly become a road to Damascus for Mr. Mecham,” Hill said. “Not really interested in that let’s see if we can cover up one supervisor’s ass.”

Following Hill’s comments and several warnings from county attorneys that the board was flirting with a Brown Act violation, Mecham withdrew his motion on reconsidering an extension of the ordinance.

The discussion on a reconsidering an ordinance extension lasted for about nine minutes after the conclusion of public comment Tuesday. The Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, allows the board to direct staff to place items on future agendas, but it prohibits general discussion on items that are not agendized.

After the nine-minute discussion, the board proceeded with its business. However, about nine minutes after that, Hill made a motion to place the water ordinance on a future agenda. Hill said there would be no limitations to the discussion.

Mecham then joined Hill and Gibson in agreeing to revisit the issue. Arnold and Compton dissented in the 3-2 vote.

Since Mecham removed Hill from his leadership role, Hill and Gibson have taken turns chastising him.

The day following the board realignment, Gibson confronted Mecham in his county office. Gibson then penned a commentary in the Tribune saying Mecham took “the easy way out” and failed to show courage when faced with pressure.

During last week’s meeting, Hill accused Mecham of partisanship.

Mecham often holds the swing vote on the board of supervisors. Both Hill and Gibson are liberal Democrats, and Arnold and Compton are conservative Republicans.

Mecham is a Republican, but he has often sided with Gibson and Hill on key votes.

Prior to announcing last week that he was stepping down as chair, many of Mecham’s constituents were criticizing him for cooperating with Gibson and Hill. Since the realignment, though, county residents have overwhelmingly praised him.

It is currently unclear when the water ordinance will return to the board of supervisors.


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26 Comments

  1. Pelican1 says:

    Does anyone notice the strong resemblance to Jabba the Hutt?

    (15) 21 Total Votes - 18 up - 3 down
  2. Slowerfaster says:

    Supervisor Hill has a perceptive and well-reasoned opinion article in this week’s New Times. He uses no personal names and avoids ad hominem here, unlike many of his adversaries that bloviate profusely …often on this forum.
    Yes, he has not always been so deliberate; so perhaps he is growing in his appreciation and abilities.

    I have to admit that I would not be so polite or constrained when confronted with ignorant blowhards and time-wasters that would be better served by long stretches in intensive therapy or solitary confinement; for themselves and civilized society in general.

    Supervisor Hill cogently titles the article, “What Now?”.
    I proffer that NOW that the BOS is effectively controlled by a faction of do-nothing dumb-bells ( with dissembling Shakespearian actor ‘Falstaff’ Mecham doing a tight-rope dance ), that we will see what non-governance looks like.
    It will be like a Little League game with control parents disputing everything.

    (-27) 45 Total Votes - 9 up - 36 down
    • snooky156 says:

      Very few people take the time to write long opinions regarding what they themselves are supposed to be accomplishing in their jobs. If Adam Hill is all about Governance and working together, he should lead by example and recognize the role he actively plays in the county’s partisan divide. He wanted that fight, and he got it… plain and simple,

      (22) 28 Total Votes - 25 up - 3 down
  3. fishing village says:

    okay, so if Mecham had remained chair, he would have set the agenda, he would have had one vote Hill would have been VChair. Now, Mecham lets Arnold set the agenda, why would he do that? Hill doesn’t get the VChair or Chair next? Unless he gets 3 votes? That could happen. Lots of work to do and the votes can be 3=2 in favor (at the least) to pass legislation. I am holding my breath for good county government. Mecham is probably the swing vote wherever he sits! We need to be alert to what is coming up with our county and send mssages to our Supervisors expressing our views! Read the agendas write emails/phone your representative, and let the others know how you feel. It is no time to be trusting or complacent about what is going on in our County!

    (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
  4. joseywales says:

    Caren Ray’s bff

    (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
  5. achillesheal says:

    They always seem to post the most flattering pictures of Adam Hill.

    (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
    • isoslo says:

      They couldn’t find any others

      (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
      • joseywales says:

        lol….so true….

        (10) 22 Total Votes - 16 up - 6 down
      • LameCommenter says:

        Correct. Hard to find a pleasant photo of Hill. In this one, someone in the audience must have deployed an electronic device against Hill which National Lampoon Parody magazine once described as a “face melting ray”.

        (6) 18 Total Votes - 12 up - 6 down
  6. Citizen says:

    I am glad the BOS is going to reconsider the extension of the ordinance. We have nothing else to keep new people from coming in to start their wineries and nothing to prevent a massive growth in vineyards already here.

    Despite the best intentions from many people, the proposed water district will not do the two things that need to be secured for our future. The proposed district will come with the power to sell Paso ground water outside the county, and will allow large out of county owners to seize control of the district through their managers/staff.

    (17) 33 Total Votes - 25 up - 8 down

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