Supervisor Adam Hill must go

September 28, 2016
Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill


With Nov. 8 rapidly approaching, all of the elections—national, state, and local– seem more contentious than ever. Such is the case with the local race for District 3 Supervisor where incumbent Adam Hill is facing San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter and it is that race that seems to be generating the most attention.

In seeking a third term, Adam Hill must think he owns the seat. Yet after garnering less than 42 percent of the vote in the June 2016 primary, apparently the voters have other ideas. Despite his massive campaign war chest that has been filled with thousands of dollars by his cabal of big developers, Adam Hill is in trouble and he knows it.

 In the beginning

When first elected, Hill initially impressed me. He joined Supervisor Frank Mecham in founding the County’s Economic Vitality Commission that has done some good work over the years. In 2012, he cast the deciding vote not to gut the county’s award winning agricultural clustering ordinance, the most powerful open space preservation tool in the county’s arsenal.

That he did so against the fervent pleas of then allies supervisors Bruce Gibson and Jim Patterson, was no small act of political courage. Yet despite these promising signs, his wheels seem to have come off some time ago.

Who can forget that article that Hill wrote a few years ago in the New Times, “Who is susceptible to conspiracy theory thinking?”

Remember its opening line, “Not only the superficially educated and narrow minded, not only bumpkins with bad breath and worse teeth…” That was just a snippet of a rant that revealed a troubled mind starting on a downhill slide into a series of gaffes.

T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee

Whether it was insinuating himself into the debate over the management of CAPSLO homeless services after his wife had been discharged by the organization, or his tantrum in 2014 over not being appointed vice chair of the SLO County Board of Supervisors, his actions signaled he was losing it.

Hill’s shrill attacks against Cal Coast News and his attempts to blackball the publication and its advertisers have also been disturbing.

Add in 2014’s FPPC $2500 fine levied against Hill for failure to properly maintain his campaign records for his 2012 race and one would think that Hill’s chances would be a shambles were it not for the huge infusion of campaign cash from his cronies. Indeed, it is that cash from the political machine funding his reelection campaign that is most disconcerting.

Why has it taken so long for the public to hold Hill accountable for taking so much money from so many powerful interests who have so much to gain with Hill on the board?

Meanwhile, even liberal Democrats have begun to abandon Hill.

Self-proclaimed “leftist” Tom Fulks, an opinion writer for the Tribune and a key political backer of Supervisors Hill and Gibson who is apparently partially funded by Hill’s war chest, wrote of his laments in the Tribune on “Where have all the liberals gone?”

Fulks need look no further for an answer than a letter published in early 2015 by liberal attorney Stew Jenkins who stated that “Liberal Democrats increasingly find Hill’s actions so embarrassing that he can no longer be supported.”

Revealing disclosures

Later in 2015, troubling disclosures revealed Hill’s involvement as a consultant to local developers John Belsher and Ryan Petetit in advocating approval of their projects in the city of San Luis Obispo. Reports by CCN that Hill was the “sole proprietor” of San Luis Consulting with an office in the same building as Belsher and that he has apparently been helping these developers who are facing serious legal challenges is eye opening.

That Hill sits on the San Luis Obispo County Council of Governments (SLOCOG) which funnels transportation grants from the state to local governments begs the question: What kind of pressure might that exert on those San Luis Obispo City Council Members whose elections were partially funded and supported by Hill?

Would they be reluctant to turn down city development projects advocated by Hill out of fear that the reprisals of such an action might result in the loss of grants from SLOCOG with Hill on its board?

San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

San Luis Obispo Councilman Dan Carpenter

While Hill successfully advocated the board’s adoption of a resolution backed by the League of Women Voters calling for civil discourse in matters before the board, he was the first to violate it before the ink was even dry. At an opening event for an affordable housing project in Pismo Beach, Hill physically threatened his opponent, San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Carpenter.

Grabbing the councilman’s shoulder as witnessed by other attendees, a seething Hill confronted Carpenter telling him that he would “kick his ass” if he dared to talk to Hill’s financial backers. So much for the “civil discourse” he resolved to honor.

Then comes his most recent indiscretion: his caustic emails sent to members of the business community demanding heavy financial “pay to play” contributions to his campaign, or else. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. And it’s got to stop.

Approaching the Finish Line

Having started this piece back in late 2015, I have held back on publishing it out of fear of offending a powerful “ruler” of our county. After all, Hill and his henchmen like Fulks excel at making the lives of his opponents miserable. But I’ve concluded that it is a risk that I and other voters must be willing to take.

On the cusp of the Nov. 8 elections as we await the anticipated flood of Hill’s false and malicious advertising against Dan Carpenter, where do we find ourselves? It is high time for the voters of District 3 to stand up and be counted, fear of reprisals be damned. We can wait no longer.

While we can’t take the bully out of the bully, it’s time we take the bully out of politics.

Hill’s lapses in judgment have relegated him to an embarrassing political cartoon. That he has had to publicly apologize so often speaks volumes of his intemperate outbursts. Recalling one of those apologies when he said “You can’t take the Jersey out of a Jersey boy” should tell us that come this November, now is the time “to send the Jersey boy back to Jersey!”

T. Keith Gurnee is a retired planning and urban design consultant and a former member of the San Luis Obispo City Council.


Gotta add my personal favorite, and gigantic, Adam Hill f-up:

His disastrous flip-flop on funding the disastrous, fraud-based, and completely unnecessary $40 million women’s jail facility that’s currently under construction off Kansas Ave.

Here’s his flip, and yuuuuge flop:

First, just before his critical vote to fund that disaster, back in 2010, Hill’s all, “I don’t want to contribute to the empire of incarceration,” and then, like, a week later, he practically breaks his back flip-flopping around to approve the funding for that $40 million disaster/fraud, without ever inquiring, once, about MUCH less expensive alternatives like SB 959 (mandatory home detention for low-risk inmates), low-cost mobile units (that the Sheriff’s Dept. added AFTER they secured the Supervisors’ disastrous vote to fund their pet-project/waste/fraud, of course), a simple remodel of the existing facility, or, likely the best (read: BY FAR the cheapest) viable solution, a combination of the three.

Not a word from Hill on any of those alternatives when he voted to fund the disaster.

First, he says that he doesn’t want to contribute to the “empire of incarceration,” and then he turns right around and contributes to the “empire of incarceration” by carelessly voting to throw tens of millions of county $ (that could be used for things like, you know, homelessness, instead) at a completely unnecessary jail facility — and a facility whose price tag balloons every budget cycle… of course.

The gigantic mess Hill made with all that flopping around? No comprendo.

Of course, that’s now my question for Dan Carpenter: Would Dan have also voted for the mucho dinero, new women’s jail disaster, OR would he have opted for the numerous, and MUCH less expensive alternatives?



what’s $40mil to a misogynist?


Thank you Mr. Gurnee,

I appreciate your candid openness, and braveness! The public needs to be informed!! Thank you~!

I have one question for you. Do you have a little sister who’s name starts with M? I think I went to school with her, and grew up in the same neighborhood. She had older brother’s, already out of the house, And her Father Tom was a Dentist!! Are you Mini’s brother? LOL


Well LAH, you found me out. I am Minette’s older brother and my Dad was indeed a Dentist and I didn’t like it when he worked in my mouth. Thanks for your comments!


Ha, It had to be! LOL I will have to tell Minette! I grew up on Warec, so Minette and I had fun getting into all kinds of trouble…jk I loved your parents! Many fond memories! And you do look like your Dad!



At least he is not Debbie Arnold or Tom O’ Malice.


I’m so proud that Debbie Arnold is my Supervisor. As an ardent environmentalist, I appreciate her dedicating to preserving a way of life under assault by Limo Libs. We need Debbie to stand up to the Resnicks of Beverly Hills who careless about our community as they stripe mine old growth Oak in the City of Paso Robles (can’t miss the irony). Thank you for all your hard work, Debbie Arnold!


Agreed we need to get rid of Hill. Our elected officials need to represent the people not their personal interests. Adam Hill wants power for power’s sake. We fortunately have a credible alternative, Dan Carpenter is an honest man who wants to do right by the citizens of this county. Time for Hill to stop lying to the people and move back to Jersey.

Vote for Dan Carpenter and restore integrity to the office of county supervisor!


Hill only says destructive things. He’s a bully and a shill for development.

He is giving away our county to developers instead of doing his job.

He has many personal problems.

His cronies: Caren Ray, Kristin Barneich, Erik Howell & partner Don Stewart, and Karen Bright all share in that same pot!

Get these people out of office NOW!


I just appreciate comments from anonymous entries that state very little factual information. Yes, my name is Thomas Aquinas..


were you going to state a fact?


Gurnee, you were (still?) a nasty person to people opposite your position. You have no credibility to make comments about Hill.


Sorry, no one has been as nasty and out of control in the history of our local government officials as Adam Hill. Therefore, anyone and everyone has the credibility to make comments.


Funny timing on this piece. Gurnee, an owner of RRM Design which is Big Development if ever there was any such thing — while dumping on Hill’s big development allies, lauds the ag cluster ordinance and Hill’s skepticism about it — ag cluster being another RRM creation, just 2 days after Hill votes to kill the Laetitia Ag Cluster subdivision which — you guessed it — was sponsored by RRM. Hmn. Ain’t it curious? Maybe this is just in-house developer fun and games?

Thomas A

Fire Adam Hill.


Funny timing? It was precise timing despite your erroneous comments. I am categorically not an owner of RRM Design Group. Had I been, the company never would have allowed me to write what I did( believe me, I tried!).

While I retired from RRM well over 3 years ago (so please update your fallacious records), I enjoyed a great career with a great firm. Having played a role in helping permanently preserve over 10,000 acres in this County through the agricultural ordinance is a source of great pride to me. That I worked with a firm that perpetually preserved over 100,000 acres of the California landscape was even better. How much open space have you preserved?

As for “killing” the Laetitia ag cluster project, it will only a matter of time before the loss of that opportunity to create a greenbelt between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo will be regretted.

Finally, when I left RRM, it was a great firm with great people who contributed mightily to this County and community. From what I hear and see, it is better than ever. If you want to attack me, have at it, but don’t be a coward by attacking others when they had nothing to do with what I wrote


The Truth is HILL buries himself with his OWN Mouth! Gurnee merely gathered already exposed info. HILL is his Own worst enemy. Perhaps if HILL did not lack self control, No one would be so convinced he has no business in a Government Office.Let him survive via his own accord, not being financially supported by MY tax dollars. Let him be out in the world fending for himself. Then anyone can CHOOSE to do business with him, and we the public are not forced to contend with his weird behavior.


Hill is not alone. His toxic, warped behavior has become common place by those who long for his ease at self enrichment and notoriety.

Caren Ray is the perfect example. At first glance she appears to be a decent option for office. Yet, dig a little deeper into her connections and personal life and you will see this is a woman with more baggage and dirty laundry than voters should accept for an elected official. She is not who she presents herself to be. Her short stint on the BOS with Hill did allow enough time to reveal just how desperate her desire for power and attention is. At the end of her campaign many Democrats turned their back on her in disgust just as is the case with Adam Hill now.

Kristen Barneich is desperately attempting to glom onto Hill and yearns to be welcomed into the cabal that would allow her access to the donations Ray and Hill receive with little effort.

Arroyo Grande has one of the most highly respected Police Departments in the area. The fact that they have chosen to support two outsiders over former council member Ray and current council member Barneich speaks volumes.

Arroyo Grande must reject Barneich and Ray this Nov.


Gurnee is no exception


Gurnee is not running for office.


The main issue in Arroyo Grande’s election is those who endorse growth and those who for good reason endorse a moratorium on development.

The headline in AG is the large proposed East Cherry development and its impact on water resources and traffic. The East Cherry proposal is expected to be finally reviewed by the Planning Commission and the City Council in October prior to the election on November 8.

For those running for Council, the pro growth agenda is endorsed by mayoral candidate Richard Waller, Kristen Barneich (for reelection to council) and Caren Ray).

The moratorium is endorsed by incumbent Mayor Jim Hill (elected by write in votes in the last election), Planning Commission member John Mack and activist LeeAnn Akins.

Obviously, the pro growth advocates have substantial backing by prominent developers where the moratorium advocates do not.


You are Spot On! We need to keep Caren Ray out and send Barneich packing. It’s quite obvious tat they’re well funded in this campaign by all the signage they have out. The people of AG need to see through that and vote accordingly. We also need to re-elect Jim Hill.

San Louie

Adam Hill is a toxic cesspool of raw sewage. He came here from New Joisey and he’s employing stereotypical Tony Soprano-like thuggish behavior (not the threats above) in his quest to hold onto his supervisorial seat.

He claims to be an environmentalist while he vacuums up special interest developer dollars. In other words he’s a lying hypocrite.

Thankfully Dan Carpenter is standing up to Hill. As more and more people learn of Hill’s unacceptable behavior and Carpenter’s competence, I grow confident that he will be replaced by Carpenter.

Get the word out! Let’s send hill back to the New Joisey hell-hole that he managed to escape from…