The supervisor, his toadies, and the Internet

April 7, 2016
Daniel Blackburn

Daniel Blackburn

OPINION by DANIEL BLACKBURN

Karen Velie’s adult daughter Autumn died two years ago after suffering a seizure in her bathtub. In the aftermath and in the midst of family grief, a rumor was floated that Karen, co-founder of CalCoastNews, was being sought by investigators as a suspect in her daughter’s death.

The rumor was widely promulgated through an online account regularly shared by a county supervisor.

A couple of weeks ago, a website oozed to the surface called “Deport Karen Velie,” featuring a decades-old photo of Karen in a maternity ward holding baby Autumn, with the caption “Rosemary’s Baby?” and calling the child the spawn of Satan.

In another post, there is a photo of Karen with her stepfather a few weeks before he died. The post claims Karen resembles “Justin Beiber” and that her stepfather was already dead. Again, the meanness is being spread through sites promoted by the same county official.

For about four years now — half of this news website’s existence — an ever-nastier, one-way war has been waged against CalCoastNews, Karen, and anyone remotely connected to the site, even family members. Somewhere along the line, the assumption was made by someone that Karen, being just a mere woman, would wilt under pressure like a flower under a hot sun. That someone made a terrible tactical error.

A photo of Karen Velie with her now deceased daughter.

A photo of Karen Velie with her now deceased daughter.

I’m talking about Supervisor Adam Hill. There is really no conjecture here about his involvement in this incessant character assassination: Just ask him. He’s proudly boasted about it to a few too many people.

So I’ve been in a bad mood for days now, compelled by the increasing vitriol to mull Hill’s history of Internet venom spit at Karen. I’ve needed to keep reminding myself that even swallowing something benign like salt will make one retch when taken in too large a quantity.

A professional lifetime spent reporting on politicians and other powerful people made me witness to the hovering clutches of sycophants so often at their elbows… which is to say I understand succinctly what’s going on right now in old SLO County with Hill and his culpable cabal. But there is a real difference between now and the good old days: it’s the Internet, which allows bullies like Hill to soil the atmosphere under color of authority while sustaining minimal blowback.

Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill

But even before this odd fellow was elected to the county’s District 3 supervisor’s seat, a local media environment was proliferating which would facilitate the eventual malignancy. I’ve always believed that a lack of media oversight (here it must be termed purposeful ignorance) is a key factor enabling rampant civic corruption and blatant ripping off of taxpayers that thrives in this county.

Remember North County’s free-spending thief Kelly Gearhart?

CalCoastNews reported on his financial crimes, alone, literally for years, its work countered constantly by The Tribune’s puff pieces on the man. CalCoastNews’ offers to share with the daily’s reporters its volumes of evidence were declined. Gearhart is now spending 14 years in federal lockup.

Remember Paso Robles’ police chief, the popular Lisa Solomon?

CalCoastNews was called “Swamp Gas” by a Tribune columnist now retired, Bob Cuddy, for daring to report on her salacious conduct with unwilling underling officers. No other media seemed to think it strange when Solomon “resigned” and asserted in an official city press release that she was leaving city employment because this website had “made it impossible” for her to do her job any longer. Oh. And only CalCoastNews bothered to ask why she got more than $220,000 in city taxpayers’ money for walking. And got no answer.

Remember Tony Ferrara, the mayor?

His official actions caused community angst in Arroyo Grande, and he ignored a last-second write-in candidate only to get ejected from office at a particularly unfortunate time for him. CalCoastNews’ reporting was again controverted by the daily, which did everything to support Ferrara short of hiring a public relations firm.

Even today, several of CalCoastNews’ most vigorous detractors are media people here in the county — not one of whom has made the slightest effort to verify CalCoastNews’ documented reporting. New Times’ cartoonist Russell Hodin is one frequent critic prone to making phony online accusations about Karen.

In one post, Hodin claimed Karen started a website critical of Hill; she didn’t. Hodin then claimed Karen stole one of his cartoons and placed it on the website; she didn’t.

Against this backdrop of media negligence, guys like Hill fester and somehow prosper with little fear that their malfeasance will become the subject of reporters’ curiosity.

So Hill brazenly shares and promotes tasteless online posts penned by his minions, bedeviling Karen and CCN reporters, affiliates, and family members with spurious and false assertions of felonious activities, mental illnesses… even claiming Karen is an ex-con. (She is not.)

In 2012, when CalCoastNews published unflattering articles about Hill’s and Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s behavior, the pair badgered KVEC’s general manager, Ron Roy, into banning Karen from the station’s airwaves; that ban remains to this day.

Aaron Ochs

Aaron Ochs

Subsequently, county employees were instructed by top bosses to prevent CalCoastNews or KVEC’s popular talk radio host, Dave Congalton, from obtaining equal access to government information by denying or delaying records requests, refusing to answer questions, or failing to provide public information. (Congalton too has had the temerity to muse publicly about Hill’s fiscal machinations. So did another long-time radio icon, Dick Mason, who was subsequently terminated by management at KKJL after complaints from Hill.)

Hill frequently uses his office to threaten CalCoastNews advertisers who have pending projects with the county, thereby deflecting vital reporting by trying to choke off the news source’s revenue stream.

He has loudly claimed that CalCoastNews writes about his children (not true), and that legitimate reporting of his actions in office constitutes harassment (it does not). He refuses to meet with constituents he deems “friends” of CalCoastNews. Don’t believe me? Ask Hill.

CalCoastNews reporters have had their phone numbers and addresses posted online; homes vandalized; a family dog poisoned; mutilated cats left on porches. On one occasion, a commercial alarm was left taped under Karen’s porch. She has moved three times in the last four years because a few of his thugs continue to act on Hill’s coaxing.

In 2012, Hill told CalCoastNews if reporters did not stop writing about his girlfriend (now wife) Dee Torres-Hill and her habit of pilfering gift cards from the county’s homeless she ostensibly was serving, he would retaliate.

One of Aaron Ochs photo shopped displays.

One of Aaron Ochs photo shopped displays.

Shortly after that, several anonymous ads were placed on Craigslist seeking to pay a blogger to “change public opinion” in SLO County. One job applicant reported Tom Fulks, a campaign consultant and regularly-featured columnist for The Tribune, was the originator of the ads. Fulks, whom Supervisor Bruce Gibson has called “his evil genius behind the curtain,” has denied any connection to the ad.

But from that appeal immediately emerged a slimy website called CalCoastFraud (perhaps coincidentally?) which may be the only website in the world devoted to minute-by-minute critiques of a single news outlet. Initially promoted by Hill through Facebook, it’s “written” by Aaron Ochs.

Ochs allows comments on his site from miscreants like Bill Leys, a local businessman and owner of Central Coast Waterproofing, who calls another of Karen’s daughters “a dried-up c**t.”

Earlier this week, Leys posted several threats against Karen and supervisor candidate Dan Carpenter, Hill’s opponent. The threats prompted a local chief of police to send an officer to one of the events Leys claimed he would attend. Leys failed to show.

Ochs claims he’s not being paid by anyone for his efforts, which if true only confirms his lack of acuity. Ochs claims to “monitor criminal activity, misconduct, malicious and fraudulent activity conducted by CalCoastNews and their contributors.”

Hill, on a regular basis, forwards Ochs’ garbage via the Internet to folks all over the county.

We asked for Hill’s emails, only to learn that County Counsel Rita Neal encourages supervisors to expunge emails from public servers as they desire, in violation of state law. Hill deletes his county emails almost daily, and the county has installed a system that scrubs deleted emails from the servers within 30 days.

A couple of years ago, Karen’s grandchildren were taken from their home by Lee Collins of the county’s Public Health Department under the auspices of Child Protective Services. The reason? Allegedly having a “messy house.” The grandchildren were eventually returned after a growing public outcry, but Collins still posts under his own name on CalCoastFraud about Karen. Confidentiality? No such thing in Collins’ vernacular.

Hill, too, makes frequent and shameless mention of this incident.

Recently, CalCoastNews wrote a series of articles about a local developer, PB Companies, that has surreptitiously been using Hill as a paid advocate. CalCoastNews has been provided with evidence that those articles prompted internal company discussions of hiring “a hit man” to terminate the reporting, and the reporter.

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

Adam Hill promoting a PB Companies project.

Law enforcement authorities have been notified about many of these egregious actions.

Last month, Karen requested copies of several law enforcement reports to include in correspondence to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in an attempt to get an unbiased investigation. Sheriff’s records staffer Makay Butz first told Karen that exact dates of the incidents were needed in order for her to locate the right records. Then Butz said a state law prohibited Karen from sharing the reports, but was unable to identify the law.

Butz eventually did send the reports, which were essentially blank. The deputy who originally took Karen’s report said the document she received from Butz was not as he had written it.

Another deputy told Karen he was ordered by his commander, who just happens to be the uncle of a PB Companies principal, not to investigate another of her incident reports.

I’ve been curiously omitted from much of Hill’s and Ochs’ toxin, maybe because I’m an old and cranky man whose reaction to this misogynistic nonsense could prove very unpredictable. But I’ll certainly get targeted now by these two little fellows.

So here’s my message to the twin aberrations: Let fly the insults. If I can distract for even a short time your despicable assaults on Karen, then purpose served.

These are some of the things that have been happening around CalCoastNews lately. I just thought some of our tens of thousands of loyal daily readers would like to know.


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jana

Does Dan have any comment on the aquittal of A.J. Santana on perjury charges?

He and Karen broke the story and covered it quite extensively because it was about government misconduct, their bread and butter, and it appears based on the jury’s verdict the target of their reporting was innocent.


Going to do a follow up piece Dan?


Scarlet

Hey, Jana, not guilty in no way means innocent.


diamond

OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony also found not guilty.


Scarlet

How can we adults teach children that bullying is bad if an investigative reporter cant get the help she needs? Imagine the lawsuit her family would have if something happened to Karen and NOBODY with the power and responsibility to protect her did…


antishillnetwork

we can definitely start by electing Bernie Sanders.


Thomas A

Aaron Ochs just posted that JordanJ is Karen Velie. Aaron Ochs and Adam Hill constantly accuse me of being Karen Velie. Aaron Ochs has threatened me in a private message, (thinking I was Tom Salmon) saying, “See you soon, Mr. Salmon.” Aaron Ochs and Adam Hill very publicly accused Dick Mason of being the voice of the Fire Adam Hill videos (who is actually a Los Angeles television news anchor who wanted to come public when the “Team” was going after Dick Mason.) Aaron Ochs and Adam Hill have both accused me of being Kevin Rice, and they both have accused me of being COLAB. Adam Hill and Aaron are both very confused individuals.


Fire Adam Hill


JordanJ

It is interesting to watch Adam and Aaron claim that almost everyone who opposes their actions is either a CalCoastNews reporter or what they refer to as a contributor. Aaron loves to say he investigated and was able to determine the person by voice or writing. Or that he knows a friend of theirs.


People need to go back and read their ever changing allegations and attempts to harm family members. All this in an attempt to tarnish the reporters of news stories showing both PB Companies and Grossman throwing money at Hill and his wife, while Hill promotes their projects. It is called corruption.


Posting the picture of a child, now deceased, with comments that she is the devil’s spawn is a great example of what these men will do to keep their actions under the radar.


horse_soldier

Americans love an underdog.

In 2014 we were captivated by the write-in campaign of Jim Hill in Arroyo Grande and celebrated from afar when the longtime bully Ferrara was ousted.

Best of luck to the Fire Adam Hill group as they attempt to dethrone yet another bully.

Many outside District 3 are rooting for you, and hoping the clean up of our local officials continues to spread. We are long overdue.


Thomas A

Thank you horse_soldier and everyone for your attention and support to clean up SLO, especially district 3.


Thomas A

Residents of SLO accused by Adam Hill and Aaron Ochs of being Fire Adam Hill:


1. Tom Salmon

2. Dick Mason

3. Karen Velie and her daughter

4. Kevin Rice

5. The reporters of CCN and their families

6. COLAB

7. The Right Wing

8. Dan Carpenter


All of who have nothing to do with Fire Adam Hill and have no knowledge of us.


Fire Adam Hill


ajdury

“If you want to be your own person you should vote for Dan Carpenter.”


Rather contradictory. How is being told who to vote for being ‘your own person’?


Never mind. I don’t need an answer. I’m my own person usin my own mind and making my own decisions.


Two people in this race keep pointing fingers and sniping at each other. Ugly politics by two current elected officials.


One candidate actually goes to meetings freely and is very involved in finding solutions.


THAT is the leader I want and my hometown deserves.


antishillnetwork

Dan Carpenter that is against Cannabis?

Cannabis that helps seizures?

damn; too bad he thinks like conservative trash…


JordanJ

I am surprised those who are wrapped up in CalCoast Fraud do not seem to use reason before their vicious attacks. First, Aaron Ochs says he knows Tom Salmon is behind Fire Adam Hill and the group of low-brow regulars trashes Tom.


Then, after a video is released, Adam Hill blames Dick Mason for Fire Adam Hill and even gets him fired. Hill’s wife starts harassing Mason’s daughter. Ochs says he has proven Mason is behind Fire Adam Hill through voice recognition software. The group spends about a week harassing Mason and his family.


Next, for a short time, the group blames Kevin Rice.


And lastly, they say they know it is CalCoastNews and Hodin claims they are thieves because they posted several of his cartoons on Fire Adam Hill. But the real Fire Adam Hill folks then remind Hodin he told them how to post his cartoons in a way that doesn’t violate copyright restrictions in response to a request to use his cartoons.


Hodin fires back that telling them how to post his work without violating copyright rules wasn’t giving them permission, and that they had stolen his work. Wow, the inner workings and mental thought processes of New Times staff.


hijinks

And New Times terminated Jerry James, a truly great cartoonist, because some idiot “consultant” told them they didn’t need two local cartoonists, and they went with Hodin, who half the time you can’t even understand. Given Jerry’s history, if he were still doing his weekly cartoon I’ll bet we’d be seeing some differing images in NT. Where is Jerry, anyway? Hope he’s doing well.


ajdury

Somebody had a birthday party tonight.


Hosted in the home of Gary Grossman, with (to name just a few) Paavo Ogren, Kristen Barneich, Aaron Ochs, Ed Eby, Erik Howell, John Ashbaugh, John Belsher, Jim Guthrie, Tom Fulks and several local business owners in attendance.


It was touted as a birthday party, but it really was a “here take a campaign contribution envelope and a sign for your yard” party.


Second time I’ve been in a private home with my District supervisor and it’s the second time he has avoided me completely – and I even brought a gift this time, LOL!


All the same old shoulders, rubbing up against each other. I cannot wait until he is gone. GONE. GONE!


horse_soldier

Rarely does one election result in all the change needed. If Kristen Barneich and Jim Guthrie are not removed in Nov, Arroyo Grande will continue to struggle.


antishillnetwork

did they both vote against cannabis reform? i know Barneich is scum


what about Guthrie?


hijinks

Thanks for the report. You better bet the Fibune isn’t going to tell us about this stuff that’s so important to understanding the systematic corruption Hill’s “progressive” crowd has brought to our local politics. Grossman’s a greedy crook — bribes politicians right and left with campaign cash, good times, donations to their favorite non-profits (even the ones that pay their salaries as with SLO’s Dan Riviore). Says a lot about “somebody” Hill that he allows people with such big bucks to be made from his votes to throw birthday parties. All the while Grossman’s a pretty bad developer — google Wildomar toxic subdivision if you want to know more. Was Jan Marx there? She needs to go in November too.


phoenix.rising

I am not against a birthday party. I am not against raising money and doing a birthday party. What I am against is that people that “love” Adam Hill or at least kiss his feet do this because they respect the power each of you that voted for him and still give him money.


Power is why people sell their souls. Power and money are the irresistible opiate for our county. So if you have chosen him you are lacking and need him and his image to lift you up in status here. We won’t even talk about the drugs and sex this group requires.


If you want to be your own person you should vote for Dan Carpenter. He earns your admiration and loyalty. He does not extort it from you by giving you choices and then punishing you for making the choice that is honest.


This team of people that create the atmosphere of hate and fear among all the business people and citizens is now exposed for all to see.


HATE AND Meanness is an Adam Hill and Trolls M O.


Vote Dan Carpenter on June 7 and send the Trolls and AH packing!!!!!!


Clean UP this county with your vote………………..


TeeItUp

I agree


STOP


FREE YOURSELVES


Vote


DAN CARPENTER for 3rd District Supervisor he will not BULLY you into giving him $$$$$ or threaten you and or your family and or your business.


Get excited for a BETTER WAY


just the facts

As long as people continue to bring $$ gifts to the tyrant Adam Hill, he will not be “gone, GONE, GONE!”


Vote for Dan Carpenter, a man of integrity and good character. Carpenter has signed his name on the dotted line to run against Hill, and I applaud him for that. The vast majority of people do not have the courage to run for public office and take the heat. It is interesting to note that Hill is so threatened by Carpenter, he is running vicious radio attack ads on Carpenter. He even sent one of his trolls to check out a recent Carpenter Meeting and Greet.


Many today, just complain and ‘feed’ the tyrant with their dollars. Wake up voters! It is no one’s fault but yours. You have the power to say ENOUGH! .NO MORE! Vote for Dan Carpenter this June!


antishillnetwork

dan Carpenter supports the war on drugs; he has proves himself to be a failure as a politician.


Skip Tracer

Aaron Ochs and Adam Hill do not know how to stop this crazy behavior. Aaron stayed up all night spinning his little web of deceit in an attempt to counter this piece. They’ve got to be on drugs for any of this to make sense.


hijinks

Who pays Aaron for his “work”? Or is he a trust fund baby?


Jim Anderson

Aaron Ochs is clearly paid by Adam Hill. He lives in the basement of his broke parents house trolling all day and all night every day of his life. The fact that he thinks what he does is okay is evidence of serious drug usage. Drug test Team Adam Hill.


Truth1

Thank God for the people of CCN, especially Velie and Blackburn. Long may you stand. Name one other media source / reporter that has sacrificed their personal reputation to expose the truth….I am waiting….can’t name one…neither can I!


For any Public Servant, to use their office and political influence to manipulate, mislead and harm the public for their own personal gain, fly’s in the face of the very principals upon which this country was founded.


To attack someone’s family is utterly reprehensible and a criminal act for which these people must pay. They swore an oath to protect and serve the people’s best interests, it’s called a “fiduciary duty” and it is a CRIME to violate it.


Where is the DA and law enforcement? Hiding under a rock like the spineless disappointments they are. How safe are the rest of us?


Where is the other media, wait…hiding under the same rock!


I am honored that there are still a few good people bold enough to exposed the truth in order to educate the rest of us at great personal cost. God Bless You! Keep it up or we would still be in the dark.


“In a time of universal deceit, truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell


“When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)


hijinks

“Where is the DA and law enforcement?” Dude, Hill’s their boss. What can they do?


Jim Anderson

“What can they do?” Um, maybe their jobs for a start. Sheriff Ian and Dan Dow swore an oath to the people and they clearly ignore it. Teaming up with and not knowing when to walk away from Adam Hill will likely lead to both of their demise. Can you imagine the fodder for anyone running against them? Like Charlie Brown and Dee Torres-Hill says, “Good grief!”


Whyaduck

Where is Dan Dow in all of this? I would imagine this could be classified as cyber bullying. Then again, we know law enforcement has it in for Karen, too.


taxpayer

The only way that the District Attorney would get involved is if someone presses charges against these despicable people. We have a good District Attorney. We just need someone to step forward. I don’t know why it hasn’t happened yet.


TeeItUp

it always takes $$$$ to fight the bully etc.