Peter Adam

Paul Wellman

Peter Adam

Adam Bomb on the Board

Farmer and New County Supervisor Peter Adam Ready to Stir the Pot

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

When the new Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is seated on January 8, the 4th District spot — which represents Lompoc, Orcutt, and parts of Santa Maria — will be occupied by someone other than Joni Gray for the first time in 14 years. It will also be the first time since 2008 the majority of the board is men.

That’s because Peter Adam — whose family business, Adam Brothers Farming, sells broccoli, lettuce, celery, and cauliflower — managed to beat incumbent Gray by nearly 3.5 percentage points in November’s election. Adam, a Tea Party conservative, is seen by many as a wild card. During his campaign he took a hard-line approach to many issues facing the county and hasn’t minced words about changing the discussion at the board.

The supervisors have a lot of “pet projects” that need to be eliminated, he said, and the focus needs to be on public safety and infrastructure. “We need to focus on what people pay taxes for instead of the gingerbread,” he said. He has suggested getting rid of the Energy Division of the Planning and Development department, explaining it doesn’t add value because the state already regulates energy. “Their function is to prevent oil wells from being drilled,” said Adam. Out-of-control spending and out-of-control pensions are his two main issues, he went on.

At Gray’s last meeting Tuesday, the supervisors thanked her for her work and spoke of how, despite differences, the board has moved past the acrimony that has divided North and South County members for years. “Our board tried to get around those skirmishes,” said 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal. “It’s so easy to play those silly games and not do the people’s work.”

The people’s work is what Adam — a married father of three and a fifth-generation Santa Marian — plans to do. While many wonder what he will be like on the dais, Adam said they need not worry. “If someone’s waiting for me to go in and be obnoxious, they shouldn’t,” he said. “There are arguments that should be made,” explained Adam, who has served on the boards of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau and Santa Barbara County Cattlemen’s Association. “I’m not doing it to make people angry; I’m doing it to have a discussion.”

That was his main issue with Gray, he explained. “She feels like going along and getting along is more productive,” said Adam, noting people up north (his 4th District is the county’s most conservative seat) are tired of business as usual. He realizes that with three progressives sitting in the South County majority he is going to be on the losing end of many votes, but “people want to hear it, even if it’s not going to make much difference. … They want to hear a little righteous indignation.”

The Adam family has an interesting past with the county. After the company sued Santa Barbara County in 2000, a superior court awarded Adam Brothers the largest land-use judgment ever against the county — $5.6 million, along with $1.1 million in attorneys’ fees and court costs. The legal tussle had to do with county staff classifying 95 acres of Adam Brothers property as wetlands. The company owned the land and was going to farm it, but the designation would have ended those plans without certain permits. That judgment was overturned by an appellate court, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Adam Brothers then took the issue to federal court, where it was ultimately dismissed.

The farm has had its fair share of other litigation over the years. In 2011, it settled a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Office. In that case, a former employee alleged her supervisor had sexually harassed her. After she reported the improper treatment, the lawsuit alleged, she was transferred, disciplined, and fired within two weeks of complaining. Adam Brothers settled the suit for $27,500.

In 2005, the company agreed to pay $1.15 million in penalties and conservation projects after the Environmental Protection Agency alleged Adam Brothers had illegally filled 70 acres of federally regulated waters in the late 1990s, including portions of Orcutt Creek.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

No mention whether Adams will be given a leave-of-absence as the logo for Pringles™.

binky (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 9:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Have to admit, it's rather uncanny. Maybe they'll sue for trademark infringement?

zappa (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 9:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 10:01 a.m.

So should Adam recuse himself from any discussions to do with Ag land and wetlands policies; will he do so; and what enforcement is there to advise and require Supervisors to recuse on issues where there are conflicts of interest?

at_large (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Great article Chris! Adam is the epitome of a Teabilly with all the trappings associated with that party.They can't stand any government or employee groups that hold them accountable for their actions. His company's actions speaks volumes.

Throughout Adam's campaign he's inflamed Tea Party fear mongers with claims the pension funds are going to implode the county finances. The FACT is when asked if he knew what the current employee pension funding percentage was he had no idea. How can Adam say it's going to run out of money if he doesn't know how much money is there???

Point of fact that Mr. Adam has no perspective. He advocates that ALL county employees (including public safety) retirement plans should be converted to a 401K style plan. Our Fire and Sheriff's departments would resemble the Stockton Police department with all the people that protect this county leaving as fast as possible. Why? Because our county would be the only one to do so. State pension reform, that goes into effect January 1st, will save the county a fortune in the future.

Thankfully with Adam's declared inability to compromise, or even agree on anything, he won't accomplish much. As he states, “people want to hear it, even if it’s not going to make much difference. … They want to hear a little righteous indignation.” Yeah, THOSE people want to know about doomsday bunkers as well.

"Clueless" is a good title for Mr. Adam. "Useless" will be the word used to describe his work on the board.

Validated (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 4:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Adam has to recuse himself from any discussions about Ag & wetlands policies. He has no choice.

I'd venture if he even attempts to vote or not step off the high platform at the meetings, his peers will demand it regardless of how they feel vs his views.

Barron (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 8:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It is interesting note that Adams ultimately lost the wetlands case against the County on appeal. The County's policies were vindicated. If Adams operates diesel engines to pump water, I imagine that he is regulated by the air pollution control folks as well. That will be another Board from which he will have to recuse himself whenever issues that may affect his business are discussed.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

County pensions were going to implode the county budget.

When 30% of present revenues had to be dedicated to past employees, Houston we had a problem.

Maligning some one as as a "tearily" and calling this loose confederation of like-minded thinkers a "party" over-states the case too.

Yes, he is on the right track about county pensions. We have seen this same bogus smokescreen on other threads about "pension funding percentages" which appears to be the latest public employee union ruse to keep people focused on the wrong issues.

However, this "pension funding percentages" is just one more diversionary union tactic which has been soundly discredited and not just by "teabillies".

County pension liabilities were unsustainable. More was going out than was coming in. So cannibalzing present services to pay for past employees means accepting these former defined-benefit pension plans awarded by SB County now have to be reformed and the county is making good progress doing just that.

Present residents and taxpayers have much to be grateful for this "tea billy" concern and that the majority progressives like Wolf, Farr and Carbajal had to agree too to make this essential pension reform happen.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2012 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: