Mecham’s abdication cheered, chided

February 6, 2015
Supervisor Bruce Gibson Photo by Daniel Blackburn

Supervisor Bruce Gibson
Photo by Dan Blackburn


A bombshell announcement at Tuesday’s county supervisors’ board meeting has two of its members seething, two others grappling with their abrupt elevation to leadership stature, and its former chairman content with his unprecedented action.

First District Supervisor Frank Mecham voluntarily relinquished his chairmanship — won only last month — to fellow board member Debbie Arnold and nominated new supervisor Lynn Compton as vice-chairman. Mecham’s motion passed 3-2, with Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson sharply dissenting.

The following day, Gibson testily confronted Mecham in a county office to voice his wrath.

Mecham downplayed the verbal dust-up while acknowledging that Gibson “said what he was thinking.”

Hill was elected to become vice-chair of the board at a January meeting, but because of a procedural error — no public comment on the election issue was heard by the board — a Brown Act violation was confirmed and the matter was brought back for board consideration.

Gibson would later say he “forgot to take public comment” at the meeting.

That set the stage for Mecham’s emotional explanation of his decision, which he said was the result of weeks of consideration and was an attempt to quell growing dissension on the board — much of it centered around the public behavior of Hill.

“To me, the way to fix [the board’s fractioning] was to get the board out of the situation,” Mecham said Friday.

That didn’t stop Gibson from accusing Mecham of “taking the easy way out,” a comment he made minutes after being hit with the proposal.

Then, in a commentary written for the local daily newspaper, Gibson said of Mecham, “I put him in a position where he needed to exercise some political courage… I guess the pressure eventually got to him.”

That didn’t sit well with Mecham, who said, “I’ve been very disappointed in the actions of those two (Hill and Gibson).”

Mecham said his email has been filled with positive comments from people all over the county “who all thought it was a great thing to do.”

Gibson, in his commentary, wrote that “COLAB, the Tea Party, and miscellaneous activists had mounted a particularly vicious campaign to change Supervisor Mecham’s vote” on Hill’s vice chairman position.

Gibson’s singling out of COLAB, the Coalition of Labor Agriculture and Business of San Luis Obispo Count, nettled the organization’s spokesman, Mike Brown.

“We are not operating behind closed doors, and there is no conspiracy as Mr. Gibson suggests,” Brown said. “We did advocate that Debbie Arnold be named vice-chairman, as she’s never held a leadership spot on the board. She has mastered the issues, done her homework, and is very articulate. She’s done it with elegance and grace in the face of opposition. We sure had no foreknowledge of what Supervisor Mecham was going to do.”

Julie Tacker, a county resident who follows the activities of a variety of local government agencies, raised the issue of the Brown Act violation. She said Mecham’s “selfless decision was a complete shock.”

“When used properly, the Brown Act works,” Tacker said. “In this case, Mecham recognized the error of the previous chair, allowed the public to speak and the board responded. Public comment is intended to shape board decisions, and this time, it did.”

Tacker said Gibson and Hill “marginalize the public’s right to speak.” And she is hopeful that more people will begin to take interest in local government activities.

“I was delighted to see person after person go to the podium, many who had never attended a meeting before,” she said. “Young and old budding activists gives me hope that more people will do what I do.  Watching and participating in government is more interesting than watching any reality show.  You really can’t make this stuff up.”



  1. hotgrandma says:

    only hot in summer.

    What happened at the Board meeting yesterday? Where d id Supervisor Mecham go? Thank you for the info.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. south says:

    It’s been years since I last subscribed to the Tribune and this winter I really missed it. You see it’s been cold and starting the fireplace with circulars isn’t easy.

    (21) 29 Total Votes - 25 up - 4 down
  3. Slowerfaster says:

    The naming of the chair and vice chair of the BOS has always been perfunctory and a simple formality….but not with complaining horde that makes everything a problem and controversial issues worse.
    Mecham, Gibson, Hill, and Arnold had all gone through this procedure, some many times; and none of them brought it up about the ‘forgetfullness’ aspect or objected at the time.
    It simply had never been a ‘problem’ before.

    Just watch now, as the pitchforks society will be emboldened by this ‘victory’ to waste even more time with screeching jeremiads and cloying testimonials to the new BOS leaders and themselves that accomplishes nothing.

    (-26) 64 Total Votes - 19 up - 45 down
  4. justbeware says:

    If Mr Gibson was hoping to mend fences with Mr Mecham by writing that “apology”, he should think again.
    Could he possibly believe his words would make Mecham look upon him more favorably?

    When Gibson accuses Mecham “of taking the easy way out”, and blames Mecham’s decision on “the pressure getting to him”, he most certainly guarantees Mecham will give considerable thought to aligning himself with Hill or Gibson anytime soon.

    Glad to know Mecham is as sick and tired of the behavior of Gibson and Hill as a lot of the rest of us are. Gibson and Hill are bullies, so nice to finally have them marginalized.

    (20) 46 Total Votes - 33 up - 13 down
  5. Sunflower says:

    Our species is doomed to fail, in an arena where greed takes precedence over everything.

    (9) 19 Total Votes - 14 up - 5 down
  6. JordanJ says:

    I hope Frank Mecham now realizes what bullies Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson are. There are many ways to handle the water issue; passing rules that will help private parties make money on water and allow for moving water out of county are not the answer. In Kern County, the actions Gibson is promoting made several men rich while many farmers lost their land.

    Its Gibson’s way or the sky is falling and he claims others deny the drought. Good try manipulating the public, but the public is becoming wise to the underhanded online manipulation and bullying tactics of Hill, Gibson, PG&E’s Tom Jones, their political operative Tom Fulks and several minions who post nasty lies on Facebook and Topix.

    Hill has promised to support PG&E’s plan to re-license and his former campaign consultant Cory Black was paid $10,000 a month by PG&E to undermine Mothers for Peace. I have always supported Diablo Canyon until PG&E became so political and supportive of online trashing.

    Why not honest disclosers by PG&E instead of hidden agendas? Also, why is PG&E’s Tom Jones working to promote Adam Hill to higher office? Is it that Adam Hill has no ethics and will do anything for a buck?

    These bullies have trashed anyone who questions their plan with comments such as calling county staffers whores, a local radio personality a pedophile and reporters mentally ill drug addicts. Enough people have disclosed that Gibson pays Fulks through his campaign donations and then Fulks pays several people to post the liable.

    It is not a couple members of COLAB who are fed up, but a large segment of voters on both the right and the left.

    (35) 63 Total Votes - 49 up - 14 down
  7. still laughing says:

    When this group has sold out to the big developers and ag users and the aquafier only has water unfit for plants or human consumption, will you still support their decision to let the ordinance expire? Paso will go back to being just a dusty wide spot in the road because without water your homes will be worthless!

    (13) 43 Total Votes - 28 up - 15 down
    • Maxfusion says:

      “The sky is falling”

      Chicken Little

      (-3) 23 Total Votes - 10 up - 13 down
    • 3 putt says:

      Compton’s own well had significant problems this last few months. She is not concerned because her “association” took care of it. She does not understand it.

      The beginning of the end!!!!

      (0) 36 Total Votes - 18 up - 18 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Your proof about Ms. Compton’s supposable well problem? or just an unsupported statement?

        (0) 24 Total Votes - 12 up - 12 down
        • justbeware says:

          Also, where’s the proof that the problem had anything to due with water?
          Could have easily been a pump issue, etc…
          A “significant problem”, or someone trying to make something out of nothing?

          (0) 22 Total Votes - 11 up - 11 down
        • 3 putt says:

          supposable ?????????????

          Lowering the pump ???????

          (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
  8. justbeware says:

    Is it possible Gibson is a bit envious
    of all the press Hill has gotten recently for his antics
    and feels compelled to get a little attention for himself?

    It may be difficult for Both Gibson and Hill
    to accept going from the top of the heap
    to the bottom of the barrel with one swift vote.

    This may also be an attempt to remain relevant
    now that he and Hill will undoubtedly find themselves
    on the losing end of votes.

    (23) 49 Total Votes - 36 up - 13 down
  9. Kevin Rice says:

    This is EXTREMELY TELLING—from Gibson’s “apology” in the Trombone:

    “In privately explaining his reasoning to me later, Supervisor Mecham said he was merely trying to satisfy and calm some members of the public who had demanded the re-vote. Then he looked me in the eye and assured me he wouldn’t change his votes.”

    It slipped by me the first couple times I read it…. Notice that Gibson talked privately with Mecham before the vote and wanted assurance of Frank’s vote ahead of time? This is the typical dark behavior of both Gibson and Hill. Business is done in private. The public performance is only ceremony to pretend they are complying with the Brown Act. They have already discussed the outcome in private in advance. Gibson is incensed, and wants us to be incensed as well, because Mecham didn’t go along with the preordained script!

    (30) 70 Total Votes - 50 up - 20 down
    • kettle says:

      “Business is done in private. The public performance is only ceremony to pretend they are complying with the Brown Act. ”

      I think the citizens would be shocked how much of the county politics are settled long before “public meetings” happen. For example how many decisions/opinions/lobbying pushed via private email accounts and facebook messaging that will never see the light of the brown act.

      And no I am not a republican or conservative, just embarrassed by our elected officials behavior.

      (27) 41 Total Votes - 34 up - 7 down
    • justbeware says:

      That “apology” from Gibson was no more of an apology
      than the 1/2 page ad in the Trib from former city manager Steve Adams,
      was a resignation.

      (7) 19 Total Votes - 13 up - 6 down

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