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Accepting reality

Whining about how unfair the Board of Supervisors is doing Adam Hill more harm than good

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Now that the victors of last November have all been sworn in, some of us are having difficulty accepting the results. Just look at President Donald Trump and Supervisor Adam Hill.

Reality has landed. Both have been elected and both have been seated. While some struggle with the reality of Trump, I’ve been struggling with the re-election of Hill. I thought the voters of the 3rd District would see through him and know better. I had also hoped that after a bitterly contested race that some humility might creep into Hill’s persona. I was wrong on both counts.

Reality is reality. We have no choice but to accept it, just as Adam Hill should accept the elections of John Peschong and Debbie Arnold to the Board of Supervisors. But will he?

If the first two major board meetings of the year are any indication, we shouldn’t be holding our breath that he will. But after his fetid blast of “The Gloves Are Off” (Jan. 26) castigating supervisors Peschong, Arnold, Lynn Compton, and retired supervisor Frank Mecham, he not only refuses to accept reality, he has created a self-destructive breach with his colleagues that has little chance of healing. 

He didn’t burn the bridge; he nuked the bridge. That he has done so at the probable expense of his future effectiveness as a member of the board for the remainder of this term is all but a given. Just one month into his new term, it’s time that the residents of District 3 realize that his behavior has now left them with zero influence on the majority of the board, relegating Hill completely ineffective in representing his constituents.

Just consider the Jan. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting. It was a rough one for all of them. While Hill had hoped to be elected chair of the board, the selection went to 1st District Supervisor Peschong. That should not be a surprise. After all, Peschong’s predecessor, Mecham, never served out his full term as chair in 2015. His selfless gesture to let Arnold to have her first chance at chair was a noble one. Thus, it was only reasonable that Peschong complete Mecham’s incomplete term. 

Nonetheless, Hill was appointed as vice chair at that same meeting, which puts him in line to be chair next year. As vice chair, Hill will also serve as chair of the board in Peschong’s absence, including during the forthcoming Phillips 66 hearings this March when Peschong recuses himself. 

But Hill’s performance at and since that first meeting of 2017 has demonstrated that he has learned nothing about how to comport himself with his colleagues. In fact, he has given them pause on whether to ever consider him for chair again.

Rather than graciously accepting the nomination as vice chair, Hill went ballistic, lashing out at Peschong and the supes who supported him. Then, Hill and Bruce Gibson locked arms to vote against Compton and SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson for the private funding of a Sheriff’s substation to enhance public safety in South County that thankfully carried on a 3-2 vote. Nice job of unnecessarily alienating your colleagues twice right out of the gate! What did they hope to accomplish by that? 

Then came the board meeting of Jan. 24, when the board appointed Peschong and Compton to the County Supervisors Association of California (CSAC), Peschong and Compton to the Economic Vitality Corporation, and Arnold and Compton to Local Agency Formation Commission over the strenuous objections of Hill and Gibson. After serving on CSAC for eight years, Gibson must’ve thought he owned the position, claiming that Peschong “was unqualified for CSAC.” Gee, nice compliment, Bruce. Can’t you give someone else a chance?

Then, Hill and Gibson went on a rampage of accusations that the board majority “is controlled by developers,” when in fact no supervisor garnered more money from developers than—you guessed it—Adam Hill. What hypocrisy!

Gibson’s protestations and admonishments to those who supported Peschong for chair that they were “damaging the collegiality of the board” had more than a hollow ring to them. It is Hill and Gibson who have tossed aside their working relationships with the remainder the board. With Gibson’s comments that he was “oscillating between sadness and outrage,” keep on oscillating, Bruce!

While I have reluctantly accepted Hill’s election, I will be oscillating as well: alternately between the reality of another term of Hill’s Jersey machine politics and the outright joy that I have four more years to write about him1

T. Keith Gurnee is happily settled in as a resident of District 5. Send comments to through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor at letters@newtimesslo.com

-- T. Keith Gurnee - San Luis Obispo

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