In recent weeks, the pages of The Tribune and the local airwaves have been filled with an ongoing war of words between the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Adam Hill, and the officers and members of the Coalition of Agriculture, Labor and Business.
Hill charged that a fundraising event hosted an entertainer in “blackface” who satirized the president due to racist motivations. The charge carried over to members of COLAB who were also accused of being a “secretive and hatemongering” group.
“Blackface” uses racist stereotypes and exaggerates racial features in the most derogatory manner. The entertainer in question, Steve Bridges, did nothing of the sort, other than use makeup to darken his skin color in his satire of President Obama. Bridges used neither racial exaggerations nor derogatory characterizations about race but mocked the president’s policies.
This is normal political satire. Bridges is a nationally known entertainer. He was featured on the Jay Leno Tonight Show hosted by the NBC Network. Not one liberal watchdog in the nation took offense by his satire of President Obama on Jay Leno, (identical to the COLAB performance) as Bridge’s performance was not “blackface.”
Had it been so, Bridges would have justifiably been drummed out of the entertainment industry. Supervisor Hill knew this — or should have known this — yet he misled the public into believing something heinous had occurred at a COLAB fundraiser.
To date, Hill’s apologies have been shallow and hedged. He has not retracted his charge of racism, although it was proven false; he continues to mislead the public about the motives of his opponents.
COLAB exists today because of the abuses of power of Hill and fellow travelers, who have bullied small farmers, ranchers and businesses into compliance with confiscatory land use and business policies. Confronted with environmental law firms funded by out of area celebrity millionaires, they united in self-defense to preserve their right to farm, ranch and be left alone, as many have done locally for more than a hundred years.
No “Texas oil money,” just ordinary Americans fighting to preserve a way of life under siege by adversarial government. No racism, as COLAB is about unreasonable government policies; it has members of every race and creed as members.
“Secretive?” No more so than members of any other political organization that fears retaliation from abusive politicians. “Hatemongering?” That’s a specialty of the extreme left, which uses character assassination as its stock in trade.
We now know from Tribune articles that this entire episode was contrived by Hill for craven political reasons, to intimidate a state senator, to stifle public dissent and smear the political opposition with a charge akin to being called a Nazi post-WWII.
This is the greater sin for an elected official. Hill is engaging in politics reminiscent of Nixon or McCarthyism, where political opponents were threatened with “investigations” and subjected to character assassination.
As chairman of our Board of Supervisors, Hill threatened investigations of COLAB through use of IRS records, browbeat his critics and used the power of his chairmanship to intimidate and silence dissent during public comment.
That is unacceptable for any official and must be repudiated by every person of conscience.
Supervisor Hill must retract his statements and set the record straight, apologize to those whom he has bullied from the dais of the chairman, to officers and members of COLAB and to all members of the public for his despicable behavior.
There is no place in American politics for arrogant officials who forget who is the servant and who is served in public life.
Atascadero resident Al Fonzi is vice president of the SLO County Lincoln Club, a member of COLAB and a part-time conservative columnist for the Atascadero News.