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Time to speak out

Adam Hill shouldn't be alone in telling his county supervisors to do the right thing



There's something smarmy, almost prissy about the way opponents of SLO County's 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill chastise him because he has a short fuse when he sees powerless people being manhandled and government being grotesquely abused.

It's almost as though they expect him to say, "Oh, dearie me, we really must stop urinating on the homeless. Can't we, heavens to Betsy, do something to help small business owners and their families instead of bankrupting them and ripping up their lives? Shouldn't we help with housing for people who can't afford to live here?"

Hill's pinky should be properly extended from his cup full of chamomile as he gently chides his fellow supervisors.

This demand for delicacy is a weird reaction from where I sit. When critics start excoriating Hill because wrongdoing angers him, I always ask myself, why aren't they as cheesed off as he is? I certainly am.

If ever there were a time in America to get passionate about bad things happening, this is that moment.

Hill's opponents took time and taxpayer dollars last week to conduct their annual Hill Roast, mobilizing their goons from around the county to insult the supervisor and those who elected him.

They do this every year about this time, in a sort of annual hoedown similar to a once-a-year Klan meeting in Dogpatch. Some groups have annual picnics, others have cross burnings. The local contingent has a Hill-burning.

The chief actors are Hill's fellow supervisors John Peschong, Lynn Compton, and Debbie Arnold. But the strings are being pulled by Mike Brown, the fifth-rate Wizard of Oz wannabe who orchestrates this event at the behest of his owners, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB).

COLAB is a secretive far-right group that runs the county government through these puppets.

They get people like the depressingly familiar public scold Julie Tacker and her ilk to dump on Hill. The ostensible purpose is to keep him from becoming chairman because he's "unfit." But nobody falls for that horse pucky.

What's really going on? Two things. One is a visceral personal attack on Hill, thus the nastiness toward his family, who should be off-limits.

The real reason for the show, however, is to keep the discussion away from the havoc this crowd has wreaked and the harm they have done.

Here are just a few things COLAB and its puppets don't want you to think about:

• Housing. Only the well-off can afford to live here. The Board of Supervisors could do something about that. But the majority won't. Why should they care? Compton has a roof over her head. Peschong has local digs. Arnold isn't bedding down in the creek bed.

• Homeless. Many homeless are drug-addicted or have mental problems, or both. Others earn poor wages or have lost their jobs. Hundreds of children in county schools are homeless. Arnold, Peschong, and Compton, who could help, do nothing. After all, the homeless don't provide campaign contributions. COLAB members do.

• Small business. The ruling troika has stomped on it with their handling of the marijuana issue.

There's more, and it all wraps around the very important issue of incompetent local governance. Anyone who wants to see how this works hereabouts should watch the tapes of 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson trying to explain the marijuana ordinance to the clueless Compton.

Marijuana is a major national, state, and local problem. It is extraordinarily complicated and involves public health, law enforcement, the environment, small business, the county budget, lawsuits, and many other components.

Gibson, who knows more about local governance than his colleagues combined, patiently tried to explain this to Compton, whose take on the issue seemed to boil down to this:

Some constituents on the Nipomo Mesa smelled the evil weed and complained to her about it. She had to protect her constituents by reining in marijuana growing everywhere. End of discussion.

This revealed Compton's view of governing to be a local version of President Donald Trump's "America First," except with Compton it's "Nipomo First." That's why she hijacked much of the county's park money for her district.

Gibson struggled in vain to explain that supervising a local governing board that encompasses five districts is about more than protecting a handful of your own constituents.

Watching Gibson make this effort was amusing, if depressing. I kept waiting for him to start pounding his head against the podium in frustration.

In the end Compton, Peschong, and Arnold pretty much put the kibosh on meaningful county marijuana operations, putting some people out of business and throwing their families' lives into chaos.

Why did they do this? Because they could.

And also because nobody is trying to stop them. Except Hill and Gibson. This makes me mad. And I'm wondering, isn't it about time the real majority in this county showed up at a Board of Supervisors meeting and demanded that this bought-and-paid-for trio do right by us.

I think this county is filled with people who share Adam Hill's beliefs and even his passion. It's time for them to stop being prim and take a stand.

When they do, I hope they don't bend over backward to be polite about it. Like Hill, they need to speak passionately rather than being mealy-mouthed. I'm sick of people in government sticking the shiv in people's backs in a mannerly way. Δ

Bob Cuddy is an award-winning columnist, now retired and living in Arroyo Grande. Send your thoughts to clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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