County Supervisor Adam Hill has accused me of being a racist. He has accused 2,000 Central Coast members of COLAB of being hate-mongers. He accused the nationally renowned presidential impersonator at the Santa Barbara County COLAB dinner this past April (attended by over 800 people) of using black-face and employing a "racist lynching type of humor" as he portrayed President Obama. Hill did all of this in an email to State Senator Sam Blakeslee as he accused the Senator of pandering to hate-mongers. He then copied the press on the email and expounded further in interviews.
These are very serious accusations. Can Hill defend his statements? Don't you think he should? What proof does he offer of these allegations?
In our legal system, somebody that is accused of something has three fundamental rights in court. They are considered innocent until proven guilty. They have the right to face their accuser. And, they have the right to defend themselves. I am hoping that the good citizens of San Luis Obispo County will demand that Adam Hill give all the people that he defamed, slandered and libeled in this unprovoked attack the same rights in the court of public opinion!
Perhaps the Tribune would like to host such a forum?
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I spoke at this past Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting. I asked Supervisor Hill to do one of two things. Either defend the accusations or retract them! I don't believe that is too much to ask of a public official who used his name and office to smear members of the public. Hill either has proof of his accusations or he doesn't. Can he defend what he said in an open forum? The next day, he offered a very weak apology for what he characterized as a broad generalization on the issue. The rest of his press release was replete with issues and instances of no relevance to the issue at hand or COLAB. His apology was no apology. He did not accept responsibility for the fact that he was completely and totally wrong to associate our organization with racism. He can't point to a single quote, mannerism, or any content of our entertainers act that could be even slightly construed as having anything to do with racial stereotyping or else he would produce it! The only way to interpret Hills follow up is to say that he didn't mean to call ALL of our members racists! That is not a retraction.
Our organization has a right and the public should demand to hear proof from Adam Hill as versus innuendo. I want the opportunity to defend myself and the organization I represent. I consider Hill's goal to have been nothing but an unmerited and unprovoked political attack against Blakeslee, myself and COLAB using the proverbial "race-card". I don't believe he has anything to base his opinion on except that which he would distort and take out of context. In that regard, the residents of SLO need to understand this man is not telling the truth about this situation. He is too proud to apologize and accept responsibility for his statements at the expense of our reputation, and that of our good Senator and the entertainer, Steve Bridges.
Bridges is the absolute best presidential impersonator in America. He impersonates Clinton, Bush and Obama in their role and style as Presidents. Race has nothing to do with his impersonation. If he had ever said anything inappropriate, believe me you would have read about it by now.
Further, Hill accused us of being a hostile and secretive organization in his email blast. Hill has thus been trying to make political hay out of the fact that COLAB is a private organization and we don't reveal who our members are. And for good reason! We have been attacked before, just as Hill is attacking us now! So, just who are the members of COLAB?
COLAB, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, is comprised of members of organized labor, farmers and ranchers, and members of the business community, such as doctors, lawyers, industrialists, and other family owned businesses, including those owned by Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans; none of whom are racist. Our members are from all walks of life. We enjoy the support of democrats, republicans, and libertarians. We are non-partisan. We don't donate to candidates. We don't endorse candidates. Our goal is to preserve our quality of life, but unlike the progressives in our community, we firmly believe there is no quality of life without a job! If Hill wants to know who our members are, he could have come to one of our annual meetings attended in the aggregate by over 1,400 members.
Some folks have asked who represents Labor in COLAB as if organized labor couldn't possibly belong to a group they so desperately want to dismiss as being right-wing. During our twenty year history, we have had on our board of directors representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Auto Workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Deputy Sheriff's Association, the County Firefighters Union, and others. Do these organizations represent the right wing, as Hill has charged in his slam of COLAB and Blakeslee? Of course not.
We are of the opinion that Supervisor Hill is attacking us for the simple reason that we are exposing things about SLO County government that he would rather the public not know. Such things as the insurmountable debt burden of county government, the over-reaching of the Planning Dept as it undermines property values in the county, the folly of Smart Growth, among other things. These are the issues that should be the subject of our debate with Hill, not spurious allegations of racism and hatemongering. Hill is trying to deflect attention away from the real issues and our real concerns. We invite you to visit the SLO COLAB website at www.colabslo.org to learn more.
We would love to have a public forum and debate Hill and any of the other Supervisors on any of these hot topics on a regular basis! We are not afraid to defend our organization, our reputation or our positions in public. Can the same be said of Adam Hill and his colleagues??
Again, please ask yourself, and more importantly, continue to ask Adam Hill, if he has the courage and the proof to defend his outrageous attack on COLAB and by inference, Senator Blakeslee and our entertainer? Charges of racism are a serious matter, if Supervisor Hill called you a racist, wouldn't you like the opportunity to defend your reputation? That is all we are asking for unless and until he publishes an unequivocal apology and retraction.