Six years ago, my former employer told me that CalCoastNews co-founder Karen Velie personally told her that she “made income” filing lawsuits.

These comments were made during a time when Velie attempted to blackmail my employer. The implication was fairly clear: if I wasn’t fired for my job, Velie was going to harass my employer and her family through a lawsuit, specifically a “class-action defamation lawsuit.” Since then, Velie has pulled similar stunts against her perceived adversaries. …


SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow speaking at the New California fundraiser in Pismo beach on October 13, 2020

SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow may be up for re-election in 2022, but that’s not stopping him from courting voters in all the wrong places and undermining the integrity of his office in the process.

Traditionally, the role of District Attorney is a nonpartisan one. There’s a reason for that. Adding partisanship to the traditionally nonpartisan District Attorney position can create the appearance of bias and partiality. In other words, politics can play a significant factor in determining whether or not a case is properly or thoroughly pursued.

Around the time when 20-year-old Black protest organizer Tianna Arata was…


Recently, I had to make a significant correction on a Facebook post made on my personal profile. It wasn’t a column, but it was something that had to be swiftly addressed and resolved in any event. I formally apologized to the individual who was haphazardly mentioned in my post. I could’ve easily made my point without invoking their name and raising implications about their political opinions. This person also happens to be a personal friend.

Out of respect for them, I’m not going to re-litigate what the original post was about.

In a journalistic capacity, making mistakes aren’t good. In…


Josh Friedman (front) streaming the NAACP August 6, 2020 protest at the San Luis Obispo courthouse

When San Luis Obispo started seeing an increase in protests following the death of George Floyd in May, readers asked me questions about one of CalCoastNews’ reporters Josh Friedman. People asked me because he’s appeared at several local protests, recording video and live streams on YouTube.

Recently, Friedman made headlines on his website when they said he was “battered” by supporters of 20-year-old Black protest organizer Tianna Arata. Despite CalCoastNews claiming he was a victim of battery, Friedman did not file a police report. …


I have to admit it’s rather peculiar to see a story written by CalCoastNews of Black Lives Matter-inspired protesters allegedly demanding money from San Luis Obispo businesses, especially considering one of SLO’s mayoral candidates is a victim of CalCoastNews doing the same thing to them.

Since mid-July, CalCoastNews has ramped up coverage of recent protests taking place throughout SLO. As they often do, the website generated controversy for reporting claims that could not be independently verified — from claiming protesters “detained” a pregnant woman in labor to organizing a protest in front of a District Attorney’s home to attempted extortion…


A 2016 video named “Arrest Adam Hill” was uploaded by an account associated with CalCoastNews. Other video uploads include video evidence specifically sent to CalCoastNews as part of their libel trial.

I wrote Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community & Those Who Dared to Fight It with the expectation that CalCoastNews was an anomaly we could eventually move past from. But I wouldn’t have imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would be eulogizing someone who was a target of their harassment for almost a decade more than a year after publishing my book.

There’s a lot I don’t…


SLO County District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill passed away on August 6 at the age of 54.

Hill, who endured a lifelong battle of depression, was an exuberant, compassionate, combative, pugnacious whirlwind from New Jersey. He was undoubtedly an iconoclast who reveled in spontaneity, academia, rigorous debate and social justice. Hill was undoubtedly a flawed man, but he was candid about his flaws in ways that helped others accept the flaws within themselves. He used his position as county supervisor and a mental health advocate to help reignite a conversation about mental health struggles.

Before he became county supervisor, Hill…


Photo by Diego Rivera (Mustang News)

Let’s start with what many of us can agree on. Young people and people of color are motivated, energized and passionate over combating systemic racism, police brutality and misconduct. In our predominantly white county, a group of protests and organizations have successfully started a conversation on race and how SLO County, like every other county in this state and across the nation, should address racial inequality in their respective communities.

Right now, in SLO County, there is a clear deviation from the plainly stated purposes and goals that Black Lives Matter organizers have presented. …


It’s been three years since I appeared before now-former SLO County Superior Court Judge Charles S. Crandall in a case that proved to be one of the most surrealistic moments of my life. Though I’m years removed from it and have grown a lot since that experience, I still face harassment over it and hold Crandall partially but personally responsible.

Because Crandall remains part of the faculty of San Luis Obispo College of Law, I have decided to not continue my pursuit of a career in law at that campus.

Former SLO County Judge Charles S. Crandall (Source: SanLuisObispo.com)

Crandall presided over a restraining order hearing where CalCoastNews co-founder…


Former Arroyo Grande mayor Jim Hill

Since he lost his re-election bid to Caren Ray Russom in 2018, the former mayor has tried his hardest to stay relevant in the conversation. And he has a really odd way of expressing himself. He writes like he’s still campaigning for mayor. And when he actually was mayor, he wrote a number of op-eds on CalCoastNews as if he was still campaigning: a lot of aimless stump speeches that routinely glossed over substance. I’m not too familiar with the issues in South County — most likely because he was unable to articulate them in a clear and presentable way…

Aaron Ochs

Marketing entrepreneur and columnist from Morro Bay, California.

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