Media collusion cultivates corruption
April 24, 2016
Let’s not parse words: the local daily newspaper is the leading cause of widespread governmental corruption so widely associated with San Luis Obispo County.
This truism was driven home Sunday morning when The Tribune’s editorial board cheerily backed Adam Hill for another District 3 supervisor’s term, ignoring an ever-growing accumulation of solid evidence that Hill is deeply flawed personally and professionally, and is on the take from local developers.
Ironically, The Tribune’s unctuous endorsement of Hill came only hours after their own reporter, Kaytlyn Leslie, wrote a front-page article about the disintegrating District 3 political campaign and the corrosive role social media is playing in that battle.
Hill told Leslie that the social media venom surrounding his campaign is “not something that we should continue to tolerate. It feels like it’s crossed the line.” He also said he doesn’t condone the negativity coming from his supporters.
I’m betting that Hill’s own Internet trolls laughed out loud when they heard that comment, knowing so well that Hill himself is the architect of the acrimony, having assembled a cabal of attack dogs to spew his poison 24-7. Because while Hill may “tsk-tsk” his trolls publicly, he nevertheless regularly passes on their hateful commentaries to his constituents using county resources.
Let’s start with Hill’s more recent antics. Did The Tribune’s board of unctuous editors take into account that this Little Man has been trying to destroy local media figures because he objects to their reporting?
Put aside his ongoing feud with this news site; if CalCoastNews was his only target you wouldn’t hear a peep of complaint from me. But his arrogant efforts to torpedo radio talk show icons Dick Mason and Dave Congalton — trying to get them fired — because he disagreed with their on-air comments should raise a red flag or two for anyone calling themselves a journalist. Or for anyone who values a freely functioning press.
This supervisor’s behavior has gone unreported by The Tribune.
And to management at KKJL and KVEC: shame, shame, shame on you for condescending to the Little Man and allowing him to get away with his threats and badgering.
Hill’s trolls recently have aimed their bile at family members of people he considers impediments to his reelection. Several months ago, as Hill was actively lobbying management at KKJL to fire Mason, one of the supervisor’s trolls, his own wife Dee Torres-Hill, turned her rancor on Mason’s daughter, who doesn’t even live in this county.
Then Dan Carpenter, one of two remaining Hill challengers for the District 3 seat, found his own daughter’s photograph and accompanying personal disparagement posted on one of Hill’s troll’s sites.
This incident, coming literally years after Hill’s Internet blitz began, finally caught The Tribune’s attention.
The Little Man’s exploitation of opponents’ family members for political gain is nothing new.
It was first noticed last year, when Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higgenbotham withdrew from the District 3 race, saying she wanted to focus on her family. At the time, a report on this site noted that “multiple sources told CalCoastNews that Hill and his campaign have made several public records requests for information on the Higginbothams while dispersing negative claims about her family members.”
Dave Congalton’s wife has been insulted repeatedly by Hill’s trolls, and Hill has tried repeatedly to get Congalton fired.
Anyone over 40 should remember presidential candidate Ross Perot’s withdrawal from the 1992 race after threats were made against his adult daughter’s reputation. A key player in the Perot incident was San Luis Obispo County resident Scott Barnes.
A “60 Minutes” program reported that “the only source that Perot would identify for his accusations was Barnes, a former police officer who for years has been accused of fabricating stories about undercover plots and dirty tricks. Perot said in the interview that Barnes was one of those who told him of the doctored photograph.”
That apparently became the template for Hill’s scandalous behavior today.
But back to The Tribune, and the blinders worn by its editorial board.
Leslie’s front-page article surprisingly made clear that Hill, despite his protestations to the contrary, is backing his tawdry team’s smear techniques and assaults on the reputations of his perceived “enemies.” That didn’t sway the editorial board, which simply ignores Hill’s shortcomings. Why? It would appear the (D) after his name tells it all.
This would have been the proper time for The Tribune to take a neutral stance on the District 3 race, in view of the mounting pile of evidence that would damn virtually anyone but their favored politico.
This blind allegiance to obvious civic malfeasance in this county is the reason corruption is allowed to flourish. For this, the daily must take considerable responsibility, for nothing prevents official misconduct more than the harsh light of public attention.
Hill complains that CalCoastNews has written “99 hit pieces” about him in the last few years. Now the Little Man can round it off to an even 100.
CalCoastNews Senior Correspondent Daniel Blackburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.