SLO city attorney gets a raise

April 23, 2012

Christine Dietrick

Amid a recent agreement between the city and its management staff to forgo raises for two years, on April 17 the San Luis Obispo City Council approved a 3.5 percent performance based raise for the city attorney.

Before the 4-1 vote, with Councilman Dan Carpenter dissenting, the council discussed attorney Christine Dietrick’s recent performance evaluation which rated her as “highly competent.” The raise increases her salary to $160,437.

In December, in a 3-2 vote with Councilwoman Kathy Smith and Councilman Carpenter dissenting, the city passed an $807,000 cut in management annual pay and benefits which included the city’s top managers agreeing to forgo any salary increases for two years.

Both Smith and Carpenter argued at the time that more reductions in compensation were needed to help balance the city’s budget.

Dietrick’s new salary went into effect on April 12.

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I am certainly not a supporter of wasting tax dollars for any service but after careful consideration and my handy calculator have come to a new conclusion. Timing for an increase is foolish and a slap in the face of the remaining city employees, agreed. However her new hourly rate is $77 which is far below an average attorney’s billable rate. Heck, my Volvo mechanic charges more than that. The proper use of attorneys should be saving the city money and averting litigation. I hace actually surprised myself and have no opposition to this pay raise, other than the thoughtless timing.

Wow. 160k is a lot of money. Especially considering how many ‘extra” attorneys there are these days looking for work. I’d rather see a 3% pay hike for all the lowest paid city works and a 3% cut from the highest paid ones…

I was at an ATM today and a guy approached me asking for money when I was withdrawing. I was hoping there was a policeman around but then I remembered I hadn’t seen one in downtown for a long time. Something about cutbacks because their wasn’t enough money..

The panhandler was in uniform?

A city attorney’s role is to advise the council and planning commission (plus any other boards that might need it) on legal issues with an eye to making sure they don’t violate the law with their actions. Their No. 1 job is to make sure the city doesn’t violate the law, period.

They look over contracts, new ordinances and write some ordinances. They are usually the city’s Parliamentarians and experts in the Brown Act, too.

They are the ones who negotiate settlements on little claims like a trip-fall on a public sidewalk and are also supposed to act as prosecutors for violations of the municipal codes (cases too small for the DA) should one go that far.

Some also act as real property negotiators for their cities.

They are not necessarily the best ones to represent a city in a trial. That’s best left to trial lawyers, many of whom are actually hired by a city’s insurance carrier.

Also, most city attorneys also have other clients, sometimes other government agencies like a CSD and then cross their fingers that there isn’t an issue that creates a ethical conflict of interest. Some even continue with a small private practice on the side.

So this salary with SLO may or may not be her sole income source.

I would assume that if this is a merit raise (not a COLA) it’s because the council believes she’s done a good job at keeping the city out of court. Of course now, if something blows up in her face, the raise is on the books and will be her salary from now on. That’s why I like a bonus system for merit pay. Pay her once and it’s not on the books the next year, and if she screws up, the bonus can be cut or withheld outright.

So yes, I’d have to agree with the posters here, that this is being called a performance based (merit) raise and not a COLA, is pure BS and insulting to the people in SLO.

I suspect Dietrick’s stellar performance worked out to her efforts at PR damage control in the wake of the paint dumping episode, as we await the results of the state investigation. . .

Are you saying that whole toxic dumping incident hasnt been brushed under the rug yet? Gosh, she doesn’t deserve the raise if she can’t make that go away….

Whatever you do, do not pay attention to the man behind the mask! Lies, deceit and corruption all under the auspices of adhering to California State Bar Code of Ethics. Maybe, just maybe she signed the contract under duress or maybe, she wasn’t aware of what she was signing or it a signed during a momentary glitch of insanity or just maybe she speaks with a forked tongue?

Gee … I wonder why the Trib hasn’t reported this story?

Because they’re too busy falling over themselves crowing about the “marathon” which was a private for-profit thing paid for by the city taxpayers for the benefit of the Trib’s publisher-in-fact, the chamber of commerce.

Actually they did last week… But low profile spin!

Here is a paragraph right out of Dietrick’s contract as attached to the city resolution signed 5 months ago;

C. Notwithstanding Section 2(B), CHRISTINE DIETRICK agrees that

she will not receive any across the board salary increases (e .g . “cost of living ”

increases) from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013 pursuant to the

Reduction in Management Compensation Resolution (Resolution No .(2011 Series) )

This “pay for performance” is hypocrisy in its finest form.

Here is link to the resolution which also includes info ref city manager contract

I would be the last to criticize anyone for their ability to earn a decent living but you would at least think a person in the LEGAL system would honor a LEGAL contract.

Oh, no I am sorry….I forgot the rules are only for the lower income earners! No honor in this persons code. So Sad! :-P

Sorry Lens, but it isn’t illegal under what you quote. This was not an across the board increase, but one custom tailored to our esteemed city attorney who has negotiated all sorts of crooked deals with the likes of the Copelands — something CCN doesn’t have the guts or wits to report on, by the way, but which the city council loves.

It’s worth noting that when the city made a big deal about Katie Lichtig, the city manager, giving up her “car allowance,” Ms. Dietrich did not give up hers. She’s just different from all the rest, apparently, in how she’s treated by her employers, the city council.


By your (and the city’s) rhetorical reasoning then Dietrick can’t use the raise to cover her increased “costs of living” but can use it to cover “performance” increases, like, for instance, a more powerful car, a new more-efficient refrigerator, or a new “power suit” ???

Or drugs. Isn’t that how one improves performance?

Better this:

Organics, a juicer and a personal trainer.

“something CCN doesn’t have the guts or wits to report on”. Seriously? You obviously do not frequent this forum or watch the other media fall over themselves to get distanced from those very stories CCN covers to prtect their own self-serving interests.

hijinks says: “something CCN doesn’t have the guts or wits to report on, by the way,”

You must be a newbe.

There are more, but that would require an effort on your part (hint Google).


Performance rating? Just think if they had a position in SLO city entitled “preacher and Christian religious consultant” My performance rating in this godly area would be off the charts! By this rating alone, I would be the highest paid city official in California. Why, they would have to raise city taxes by at least 2 percent to afford me!

Come to think about it, and the way that things our going, I should be made the county’s “Christian preacher and religious consultant” so as to stop the shenanigans from going on by these spurious city officials in the name of the Hebrew/Christian God!

Praise Jesus for such enlightenment!

No, Brother Ted ….you know that with government involvement there would be plenty of sticky hands pilfering from your well deserved basket.

You have to emphasize the SEED OFFERING to a donation website.

Now, place your hand on the computer screen and receive your daily angel thoughts.