Who ignored SLO County corruption?

August 10, 2021

Daniel Blackburn


Who would have thought? Civic corruption in the happiest county in America?

Well, dang. Let’s look first at Wade Horton, San Luis Obispo County administrator. Wade recently expressed surprise and feigned concern over recent revelations of deep-rooted criminal behavior rampant in local government offices.

This is a man who has not only been in a position to know what was occurring, but did unquestionably know, probably in excruciatingly clear detail. Wade’s method of dealing with individuals discovered to have been taking financial advantage of their positions was to assist in their quiet departure after extracting a promise of silence.

Wade likely knew more about Adam Hill’s ongoing unlawful foibles than anyone in the county. For him to sanctimoniously crow now about keeping things on the up and up is truly laughable. Wade has been much more interested in illusion and covering his backside than in truth.

And then comes the Tribune’s jaw-dropping editorial whitewashing Hill’s history and nearly suggesting he may be in line for sainthood. “Time to move on” from talking about Hill and his crooked cadre of compatriots, says the Tribune. This is remarkable, because the paper’s progressive base would be the last to make such a suggestion that America move on from the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Here’s a publication that is supposed to deliver to their readers a candid and factual report of goings-on in the county, but has opted instead to adopt favorite politicians and back them regardless of their behavior. The Tribune has had access to much of the same information that CalCoastNews has used to report on Hill and his bandit band, yet they ignored the obvious.

Hill practically boasted about skill in plucking bribes from the pockets of those folks who needed his vote on a particular issue. CalCoastNews started reporting on his penchant for play-for-pay back in 2016. Those reports were fact-based and document-rich, but roundly ignored by the newspaper’s editors. More often than not, a story would appear that directly contradicted CalCoastNews’ reporting, lauding Hill or one of his cohorts.

The facts were there. And ignored.

So let’s just move on, says the paper of record. Let’s just pretend that this was all just an unfortunate series of circumstances.

No. Let’s not.

Usurping its moral authority with the vacuous plea for us to forget the past, the Tribune hopes we won’t notice that they have been profiting greatly over the past few years from the ill-gotten gains of organized crime.

They won’t tell you, but maybe you will have an opportunity to ask a Tribune editor, ‘How much has Helios Dayspring paid for advertising in the paper over the past four years or so?’ If you had the answer you would understand the Trib’s kid-glove handling of criminals.

The Tribune would meet CalCoastNews’ reporting on Dayspring’s open bribing of officials for greasing the wheels of a permit or two with a puff piece, extolling Dayspring as a benevolent medicine man – and again questioning CalCoastNews’ reporting.

Even today, the Tribune advocates for Dayspring’s marijuana businesses, now in the hands of his girlfriend.

I once worked for a newspaper whose publisher told me, “Write what you want, but don’t f**k with the Cadillac dealer.” That was the newspaper’s primary financial support.

But the Tribune’s situation is much different from that of a small-town publisher. The Tribune is a McClatchy paper, part of a once-proud reporting machine with ample resources to uncover and report on important community news. Instead, the paper advocates we forget Hill’s larceny and… yes, they really said this, vote for a Democrat to offset the Republican majority on the board of supervisors.


Adam Hill was a criminal who operated openly and brazenly year after year, without any apparent fear. No one was in a better position to know this than administrator Horton.

One public official, Debbie Peterson, former mayor of Grover Beach, resigned her position and talked openly about massive corruption. She was roundly ignored, too.

But the Tribune thinks we should just move on – and oh, vote Democratic. Here’s part of their ridiculous screed:

“At this point, though, it serves little purpose to dwell on shaming the late supervisor, who died by suicide a year ago.

“Nor is it constructive to call out Hill’s supporters, as some are now doing.

“Just because someone agreed with Hill, voted for him or contributed to his campaigns does not make them guilty by association.”

Actually, often, it does just that.

The Tribune editorial, which looks like it might have been penned by lobbyist Tom Fulks, refers to “allegations” of Hill’s conduct. Ask the FBI if these are only accusations as their long-running investigation continues.

In one glaring example of officials’ ability to ignore criminal behavior in their faces, take the case of Carolyn Goodrich, former board secretary of the Integrated Waste Management Agency (IWMA), now charged with 10 felonies, nine for embezzlement and one of destruction of public records.

Goodrich’s misuse of an agency credit card was obvious, because CalCoastNews was reporting on it two years ago. She could not have been stealing from tax funds without the knowledge of her then-boss, William Worrell.

And she probably wouldn’t have been able to destroy public records if District Attorney Dan Dow had not warned IWMA officials that they were planning on moseying on down and collecting a little evidence. Goodrich then acquired a paper shredder and brasshly took care of Dow’s evidence in her own way.

So who allowed Goodrich to rip off county taxpayers?

Former manager Worrell must know that California law is very specific when it comes to this kind of criminality.

That law specifies that there is no time limit to bring charges for crimes such as murder or embezzlement of public funds.

Forget Hill? Forget his crimes? Forget his co-conspirators?

Yeah. Sure.

CalCoastNews co-founder Dan Blackburn thinks crimes should be punished.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our government leaders are either stupid for not seeing the corruption, or are an active part of the corruption. Either way, the citizens of SLO county lose out.

Thank you and CCN for the continued sanity checks! The loss of an honest “newspaper of record” can really have a negative impact on a community. SLO is feeling that reality today.

I have long wondered why McClatchy has allowed the Tribune to rot? To decompose into the joke of a radical tabloid it has become?

Based on its ever-diminishing physical size and circulation, it cannot be good for business? Then again, McClatchy itself (which I know little about other than it too is struggling to survive) might also be a joke of an organization, top to bottom?

It’s sad to find people today who remain negative towards CCN. Not because of the quality of your reporting, but because you bring the truth into view, which so often impinges upon their own highly partisan beliefs.

I hope CCN continues to evolve. Perhaps into a daily online digital newspaper? Thanks for all you do.

Who ignored SLO County corruption?

Dan Dow.

The only thing the DA cares about is political pandering and his good ol boys. That crook let’s so many people commit crimes. Vote that fake out and his friends, we know who they all are.

Dow, remember when several of us would comment that Adam Hill’s behavior (nasty online comments at 3:00 a.m.) was that of someone on cocaine? Well, he was on cocaine. Remember when Knudson gave you his report saying Worrell and Tenborg were guilty of embezzlement? Well, they were embezzling. Come on Dan, are you thinking of running for assembly?

I like your, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck analogy” because with any luck the flock may soon be leaving?

I think you are spot on Dan. Wade, I fear just doesn’t like bad news and he is a poor judge of character. Right now he still hasn’t fully resolved the problems his former Public Works director caused, and at the same time there is a huge problem in the Planning Department, where a simple permit can take six months or more to process. Their director and leadership is the problem and Wade does not hold them accountable. I guarantee this. If David Edge was still in charge, none of this would be happening.

Edge brought his own truckload of bull manure to the position…

Guys – I was referring to the fact that Edge ran a tight ship. Directors and analysts were always on their toes, and there is no way he would put up with the lousy government service currently provided. There is no questions he had his blind spots, and clearly Gail Wilcox was one of them.

You’re kidding about Edge…please say you’re kidding.


When the Board of Supervisors decided to discontinue their LIVE public meeting broadcast on KCBX (our local National Public Radio Broadcast station), the workings of our local government became allot less accountable to the public. Sure, we have CNN and other media that pick and choose their follow-up but we no longer have the public attendance and listening ears. Until we have a live radio broadcast, we have severely limited the commoner from tuning in. The http://www.BS access is extremely limiting because most don’t or can’t have that option during the work day. Radio Free San Luis Obispo is no longer a funny joke, it is a serious need.

The facts are clear. Dan Dow has much work ahead. But it should be easy: CalCoastNews and predominant investigator Carl Knudson already have laid out the case. In detail. Years ago. Expecting a lot from Mr. DA now.

Don’t hold your breath. Dow has never shown much appetite for aggressively pursuing white-collar criminals. As this article stated, it was Dow’s pre-warning to IWMA officials that gave them the heads up to start shredding all those documents. This is why the FBI has had to step in to get the job done.

Carolyn will detail the crimes of Worrell and his contractor to the investigators. Note- No statute of limitations for ‘murder’ or ’embezzlement of public funds.’ Embezzling public funds is serious, like murder. Get it? Let’s wrap it up, Dow.

If memory serves me right, Wade Horton was Ron Faria’s boss at the City of San Luis Obispo. Faria was outed for misappropriating public assets – the batwing mower. Horton was also the boss off toxic chemical dumper Bud Nance who directed staff to dump gallons of toxic chemicals at the back of the City’s Yard. What your article does not include is that Wade’s approach to public governance is that, “there is no problem, until you bring me the problem and then you are the problem.” Then he simply has his team of cronies eliminate the problem (the person who raise concern). The misconduct or more aptly put the continuous and routine management style to cover up criminal misconduct under Wade is legendary.

Again, great reporting by the CalCoast Team. Will taxpayers get their money back from Adam Hill’s ex-wife? Will Caroline Goodrich have to reimburse county tax payers plus interest? Will Dan Dow come off of his thrown and go after Worrell and his team? The answer is simply, no. Dan Dow does not want to make waves with his friends.

I would start sleeping with the light on, in a secure room at this point. We don’t want any more witnesses dying that can shed more light on SLO County’s Corruption, the happiest most corrupt place on earth. Come and sit for a while and we will pilfer your wallets.

1 2 3