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.

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Adam Hill, IWMA, San Simeon, Cambria, Morro Bay, and soon SLO and Grover. What kind of beast do we have with so many shoes dropping? Maybe a DA asleep at the switch? Maybe a toothless Grand Jury? Maybe a US Attorney who sees SLO County as too small a fry to spend resources on? But certainly, there is a pall of corruption that is endemic in this county. It’s hard to point the only finger at Wade Horton, but he does control a county with departments that at best are inefficient and at worst, corrupt. While I’m pleased that the DA did go after the IWMA, I really think they are too close to the other subjects. It really needs a referral to the US Attorney since the SAG will do nothing to their party members and the above list does have a common thread running through it.

The idea that Helios Dayspring did not funnel money to unemployed SLO mayor Heidi Harmon through Nick Andre and the SLO Progressives is ludicrous. Hope the FBI can prove it.

Blackburn has clearly articulated WHY the Trib is in freefall, both in subscribership and credibility. It is a business that will eventually fail as well. But, they seem to ignore the basic and tested tenets of journalism and I have learned to expect nothing more than ultra leftwing “talking points”. I quit them awhile back. Just dismissing the Hill corruption and REFUSING to closely examine all those who were at Helios’ fundraisers where he was just giving out “money orders” ( untraceable) to political candidates , including those working for Harmon. Our democracy is threatened when we allow this to go unchallenged. This is a common cause that people all across the political spectrum should rise up together to protest.

I keep calling for people to call out Heidi on her IG, but unfortunately no one is. She is successfully steering the conversation away from this scandal talking about masks and vaccines, but I implore us all to steer it back to this. She is not allowed to delete comments on her Instagram. If we all question her enough, eventually, she will be forced to resign. Come on, the evidence is overwhelming and everyone’s just letting it get swept under the rug.