Supervisor Hill’s 2 jobs raise conflict of interest

October 14, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill’s consulting work for a company tied to a prominent developer. Find the 2014 articles of organization for San Luis Consulting, Adam Hill’s Form 700 and a 2015 statement of information for San Luis Consulting at the end of this article.

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill serves as a paid consultant for a company affiliated with a prominent local developer whose project plans Hill openly promotes,  government records show.

Hill identifies himself on a statement of information filed with the state as the “managing member” of San Luis Consulting, one of 33 limited liability corporations tied to PB Companies. Hill reported that he was paid $10,001 to $100,000 in 2014 for what he described as “writing, editing, and coaching.”

Adam Hill speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a PB Companies project.

Hill’s consulting income was reported in filings with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), California’s watchdog agency that investigates and enforces conflict of interest regulations. FPPC regulations prohibit public officials from using their official positions to influence a governmental decision where the officials have reason to know of their financial interest. The law, Gov. Code §87100, requires officials to file forms called Statements of Economic Interests, also known as Form 700. The form requires officials to report income in levels of $500 to $1,000, $1,001 to $10,000, $10,001 to $100,000 and more than $100,000.

Hill’s disclosure form contradicts some of San Luis Consulting’s state filings. In addition, Hill has not disclosed his connection to PB Companies to the public or through his FPPC filings.

John Belsher and Ryan Petetit

John Belsher and Ryan Petetit

John Belsher, 61, and Ryan Petetit, 28, are principals in PB Companies, a real estate investment and development firm which is involved in more than a dozen proposed projects throughout San Luis Obispo County — several of which Hill has actively promoted. PB Companies was ordered recently to shut down one of its projects by the City of San Luis Obispo for construction that did not have the necessary permits.

Belsher filed articles of organization for San Luis Consulting LLC on July 10, 2014. At that time, Belsher reported to the state that he organized San Luis Consulting, which, he reported, had more than one manager. Hill later listed himself as the managing member of the organization.

The California Secretary of State’s office lists San Luis Consulting’s address as 3480 S. Higuera Street, Suite 130— the same address it lists for PB Companies San Luis Obispo office.

San Luis Consulting is listed as a sole proprietorship located at P.O. Box 15248 in San Luis Obispo on Hill’s financial disclosure form for 2014,

In a 2015 FPPC statement of information filing for San Luis Consulting, Belsher was replaced by Hill as the agent for process of service and Hill is then listed as the managing member. The principal office address remains the same as PB Companies address.

On a May 27, 2015 PB Companies spreadsheet titled “PB Corporations,” San Luis Consulting is listed as one of 33 LLCs tied to the development firm. On the spreadsheet, it says the operating agreements and bylaws for San Luis Consulting are pending with PB Companies Chief Operating Officer Simon Lowrie.

Neither Hill nor Belsher responded to requests for comments.

As a county supervisor representing District 3 and earning $130,897 in total pay and benefits annually, Hill has worked to change planning in areas where PB Companies or its principals have ownership interests in construction projects. Hill also has met with individuals proposing projects competing with those in which Belsher has an interest, without disclosing his consulting connection to the developer.

PB Companies announced plans in Oct. 2014 to construct a $60 million, 80-bed assisted living facility on Las Tablas Road in Templeton, according to a Pacific Coast Business Times article.

Nearby, on property also off of Las Tablas Road, Harvey and Melanie Billig are working to get approvals for the construction of a 55-to-60-bed assisted living facility for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and a 91-bed psychiatric hospital.

Early last year, a flier was mailed to Templeton residents warning that approval of the Billigs’ proposal would result in lower property values and endanger residents. Belsher is reported to have sent the flier though he did not publicly disclose that he was behind an apparent attempt to derail a competing project, a reliable source said.

Several months later, Hill met with Harvey Billig in the county supervisors’ chambers to discuss the Billig’s proposal. Harvey Billig provided Hill a package detailing his plans.

Hill did not disclose he is paid to consult through a business organized by a man attempting to derail their project. In addition, Harvey Billig said Hill acted positively when they met.

“We had no indication that either Hill or Belsher was opposed to the project,” Melanie Billig said.

Hill also has been actively involved in plans for current and future development in Avila Beach. Belsher has financial interests in several ongoing development projects in Avila Beach, according to several lists of PB Companies projects and holdings.

In April, Hill spoke at an Avila Beach Concerned Citizens Town Hall Meeting. The agenda described Hill’s appearance in the role of county supervisor there to respond to questions and concerns about several proposed developments. Hill announced his plan to bring an update of the general plan regarding development in Avila Beach in front of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill

Hill said he had put together an “advisory group” to help determine the most prudent developments plans for Avila Beach. Hill did not disclose that he is a paid consultant for a firm tied to several Avila Beach developments.

Hill declined to name the members of the advisory group.

“The members of the working group are to remain confidential but are trustworthy, responsible business leaders, and experienced attorneys with generational ties to the community who lean towards conservation,” Hill told the citizens’ group when asked about the composition of the group.

According to the FPPC’s conflict of interest rules, if a public official who has received $500 or more in the past 12 months from an entity, the official has a prohibited conflict of interest and cannot in any way use or attempt to use their official position to influence a governmental decision that could have a material financial impact on the entity providing the public official income.

Conflict of interest laws are in place to ensure that public officials remain stewards of the public trust, said Hana Callaghan, the director of the government ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

“Because of their relationship to those they serve, public officials have an ethical duty to avoid actions motivated by personal gain,” Callaghan said. “They are to avoid even the appearance of an impropriety.”

Several examples of decisions public officials are barred from making after receiving income from a business include: “(1) Authorize, prohibit, regulate or otherwise establish conditions for an activity in which the business entity is engaged. (2) Increase or decrease the amount of competition in the field in which the business entity is engaged,” according to Gov. Code §18702.1.

Each violation of the Political Reform Act can carry a $5,000 fine and some can lead to criminal prosecution.

See Hill’s response here.

 

San Luis Consulting’s 2014 articles of organization, Adam Hill’s Form 700 and a 2015 statement of information for San Luis Consulting:

slca700rd by CalCoastNews

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Jorge Estrada

Does Hill vote against the water rights of owners so that new rights can be created for his private business opportunities? Considering this, he should never vote on any water issues. Re-election is less likely from behind bars.


Jim Anderson

Team Adam Hill is responsible for the Tenborg v Cal Coast News lawsuit. Charles Tenborg, ECO Solutions, was caught several times illegally dumping PG&E’s hazardous waste in the back of Cold Canyon Landfill. CCN reporters call Tom Jones at PG&E to ask if they know this is happening and all of a sudden this lawsuit springs up. Well…

Here we see that Tom Jones, and the local lawyers Steve Adamski and Marty Moroski, all are listed as Team Adam Hill.

https://adamhill.us/about-adam-hill/adam-hill-for-supervisor-2016-supporters/

Here we see that Tenborg’s lawyer James Wagstaffe is intimate with Adamski.

Adamski quotes,”Jim is the very best. I have worked with him on a number of projects over thirty years. He is always professional, prepared, and on point.”

http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/94105-ca-james-wagstaffe-234979.html

Here you see that Adamski and Wagstaffe authored a book together sold on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/California-Practice-Guide-Procedure-Chapters/dp/B005Y4L1GO

Wagstaffe is protecting Tenborg pro bono, for the good of the public, for free. Adam Hill is good buddies and works in waste managment with Tenborg’s buddy Bill Worrell. Adam Hill has publicly vowed to destroy CCN. When CCN published a story about Adam Hill’s internet troll, Aaron Oches, guess who sent CCN threatening legal papers? James Wagstaffe, and he personally signed them. It will be fun to see the list of cronies called to the stand for CCN!


IronHub

James Wagstaffe is pretty heavy-duty to be siding with the broke Aaron Ochs. Wagstaffe represents the widow of Robin Williams and is known as a celebrity lawyer. Is CalCoastNews getting buried by the biggies for reporting on a legitimate environmental problem? Does Bill Denneen know about this???


what the

Where is Mr. Dow?


Whyaduck

Uh oh. Somebody’s going to jail.


I recall reading an article about an official in Palm Springs who is doing jail time for far less than this.


And, do you suppose Fulks or Black or any of the others who keep Hill in office knew about this?


Pelican1

As long as Hill remains in office, the citizens should demand that he recuse himself from ANY involvement in this proposed project to include but not limited to support, promotion, lobbying for, ex-parte communication of any kind, or financial support. If violated, he would be dismissed immediately.


what the

Umm, you mean when he gets out of jail?


Mike Byrd

Not to be lost in the obvious monetary conflicts of interest is this: An elected public official who, if reelected next year, will hold great sway over the future of Avila Beach has appointed an advisory group whose membership is confidential. Public business being conducted in secret by who knows who?


There’s already an Avila advisory body whose membership is known and conducts its meetings in public. So why another secret, competing group? Money perhaps? Think there’s any correlation between those on this group and money being funneled to Hill through his private “business”; or his campaign contributions? It’s good to remember that most of Hill’s money in both respects comes from developers.


Yikes!


Paso_citizen

WOW!! This is almost Breaking News on CNN. (Irony)


But, really, should anyone with any level of understanding of local politics be the least

bit surprised at this??


After all of the stuff that has come out from Hill’s mouth, from his actions at the BOS

meetings, from other sources – why in God’s Green Earth would anyone be taken aback

by this recent finding?


It has been proven so many times, in so many ways, that Hill thinks he stands above

anyone else and has not been the least bit reticent at saying so.


The real breaking news here, and the one CCN ought to do a story about – is the

gullibility of the voters in Hill’s district. Hill has and will continue to do whatever he

chooses to do to serve himself – knowing full well he will never be held accountable.


Russ J

Right-left-liberal-conservative, it’s just a continuous cesspool of political incest. It will only stop when you rah, rah cheerleader voters start voting for the “other” guy. FOOLS! (All of us).


Myself

Hill is for sure slimy,the last article I read on PB is that the city is going to possibly clean up their mess at a house they bilked investors out of money and charge them for clean up,I wonder how much hill may have gleaned off of that scam. I sure hope he goes down the road next election, but you can be sure that any bad mouthing of Debbie will come from Hills camp.


Rich in MB

Will any Adam Hill supporter please turn out the lights on this corrupt guy…the party is over.