On his first day as chairman, county Supervisor Adam Hill called for decorum and a halt to vituperation and bitterness during the public comments period at supervisors meetings.
It didn’t take long for Los Osos residents to challenge him.
As he conducts meetings, Hill said at the beginning of his first full day as chairman Tuesday, “I am going to ask that people be civil and courteous and focus on the issue at hand.”
He asked speakers to steer clear of personal attacks, rants, threats, and slander, adding “I’m not going to tolerate that kind of boorish behavior.”
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Soon thereafter, Richard Margetson, one of a group of Los Osos sewer opponents who regularly criticize the Board of Supervisors and county Public Works staffers, warned Hill to “be very careful.”
Hill, he said, should read the state Brown Act guaranteeing the public’s right to participate in local government meetings and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. “You really cannot control what’s said,” Margetson said.
“You’re going down the road to all kinds of controversy,” added Leon Goldin of Los Osos.
Later, after another frequent Los Osos speaker spoke about the proposed sewer, Hill accused her of “trafficking in misinformation,” and corrected her.
That led to Margetson warning Hill again that “it’s going to come back on you.”
Supervisor Bruce Gibson interjected, “I’m waiting to hear relevance here, Mr. Chairman.”
Gibson is no stranger to this kind of exchange. Two years ago, during his tenure as chairman, Los Osos sewer critics routinely attacked him verbally.
Does Hill think hostilities will end? He hopes so, he told The Tribune later, but he is not optimistic.
He said the regular Los Osos speakers see themselves as victims.
Hill said they upset him a few months back when they consumed so much time during a morning meeting commenting on Los Osos issues that another discussion, about the Healthy Communities Survey, was forced into the afternoon session.
Some folks who had taken time off from work to come for the scheduled morning hearing about Healthy Families could not return for the afternoon session.
“That (Los Osos) group of people have spent more time in public comment than anyone,” Hill told The Tribune.
He said he recognizes and will honor their right to speak, but “if they disrupt, I’m going to have them removed. You don’t have the right to disrupt meetings.”
Hill also eliminated the afternoon public comment session.