Is Adam Hill crying wolf?
December 24, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill says he’s getting death threats and as a result is being protected by the sheriff’s department. Hill has sent multiple emails describing the threats and posting photos of sheriff’s department vehicles parked on a street.
But, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Commander Stuart MacDonald said that the department does not have a protective order for Hill. Persons who live in the neighborhood say they have not seen any sheriff’s department vehicles in the area. And, the department is not conducting any investigation into Hill’s claims that his life and family are being threatened, MacDonald said.
Hill did not respond to multiple emails asking him to substantiate his claims about death threats or of sheriff’s department protection.
Hill sent the emails following critical media coverage and commentary about his conduct on the board of supervisors. K-Jewel (KKJL) News Director Dick Mason reported on Hill walking out on a board of supervisors 50th anniversary presentation for CAPSLO, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo.
Hill’s wife Dee Torres was the director of CAPSLO’s homeless services. In 2013, CalCoastNews published a series of stories in which current and former CAPSLO employees said she routinely took gift cards intended for the needy and homeless and made personal use of them. CAPSLO administrators denied most of the allegations, but they admitted to questioning Torres-Hill about selling items donated to the homeless and not accounting for them.
In March 2014, CAPSLO demoted Torres-Hill and cut her pay. CAPSLO announced the move as a “restructuring” because of financial concerns. Torres sued CAPSLO alleging wrongful termination, retaliatory firing for being a whistleblower and workplace disability discrimination. That lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms in October 2015.
Mason also questioned money that developer Gary Grossman gave to a nonprofit that Dee Torres-Hill started.
Before she left CAPSLO, Torres-Hill started the SLO Housing Connection, a nonprofit that provides homeless services that appear to duplicate many CAPSLO services, including case management, shelter and employment services. In fall 2014, Grossman made a $50,000 donation to the SLO Housing Connection as Hill aggressively attempted to persuade members of the San Luis Obispo City Council to vote in favor of a land use change that Grossman needed to develop large parcels near the airport,
Hill responded by contacting KKJL’s station manager with threats of a possible lawsuit, Mason said.
“Adam Hill contacting our station management to complain about my reporting is his prerogative, however, he’s attacking the messenger,” Mason said. “I’m only reporting the facts. His absence during CAPSLO’s 50th anniversary presentation, his threats against San Luis City Councilman Dan Carpenter, his involvement with PB Properties and his relationship with developer Gary Grossman are all newsworthy.”
Hill also sent emails to Mason directly accusing him of lying and being responsible for threats to himself and his family.
“ ‘Oh, and Dick, if you were thinking your spreading of hateful lies has no effect?’ Hill wrote. ‘Here’s the current protection outside my house, where I live with my wife and three girls.’ ”
Hills emails also blamed CalCoastNews, Dave Congalton, host of a talk show on KVEC and comments broadcast by radio station KRPL.
“You see I got another death threat stemming from lies told by the good folks at CalCoast, Congalton, and KPRL,” Hill wrote. “There are consequences to your lies. There are people out there who are stirred up and want to hurt me and my family because of the toxic garbage you all put out there. May you and your family never experience this. Shame on you.”
Mason was not present during the call that Hill made to KKJL, he said.
“For his sake, I hope his tone with my supervisor is more diplomatic and professional than the profane diatribes he emails me.”
Shortly after Hill called the station’s manager, a second call came in, Mason said. A person claiming to be Maggie Cox, president and CEO of the Barnett and Cox & Associates marketing and PR firm, called. The caller said she was calling on behalf of Grossman and then repeated many of Hill’s complaints, Mason said.
Cox has since said that the call did not come from her or the firm.
“No one from Barnett and Cox contacted the station,” Cox said. “It is a lie.”
Hill also accused Mason of being the voice over on a “Fire Adam Hill” video that says Hill belittles people who cross him. Mason, who said he was unaware of the video before Hill pointed it out, said the voice is not his. A search of YouTube.com turned up four “Fire Adam Hill” videos. Two of the videos appear to be criticisms of other “Fire Adam Hill” videos.
At the same time, others, including public officials, have also received calls and emails from Hill and several of his supporters claiming that the media is endangering Hill’s life and should limit its reporting to softer topics.
San Luis Obispo City Mayor Jan Marx spoke with a manager at KVEC asking that the station direct Congalton to stick with non controversial topics, Congalton said.
In another email to a local resident who does not support Hill’s reelection, Hill claims Congalton has given his address out on the air and again includes photos of sheriff vehicles he claims are there as part of a protection detail.
“This is current protection needed because of another threat against me, based on lies from CalCoast and Congalton and their accomplices,” Hill wrote. “Come by and tell them about why you spread these lies … your pal the radio host knows the address as he broadcasts it all the time.”
Congalton has regularly questioned how Hill, on a supervisor’s salary, affords a home at the country club. However, Congalton said he has never mentioned Hill’s address on the air.
“I don’t know his address,” Congalton said.
Earlier this year, a self-described volunteer for Hill’s reelection campaign warned KVEC management that Hill’s campaign would file a complaint with the FCC and turn advertisers away from KVEC and Dave Congalton’s talk show. The “volunteer” claimed that Congalton had made personal attacks against Hill.
In November, CalCoastNews wrote a series of stories about Hill’s moonlighting for a prominent developer. Hill refused to answer questions regarding his consulting business, his ties to developers or inconsistencies in his government filings.
Instead of answering the questions, Hill posted a statement on Facebook claiming he is being targeted by CalCoastNews on behalf of his political opponents. Hill is currently running for reelection for the District 3 seat.
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