San Luis Obispo rewarding dubious behavior

September 21, 2012

Katie Lichtig


San Luis Obispo city officials and management staff have selected several individuals for promotions, awards and high-dollar contracts who are currently under fire for either alleged criminal activities or anger management issues.

City manager Katie Lichtig recently named Ron Faria, a San Luis Obispo public works inspector, employee of the year for his “shared vision, mission and goals.” Faria was reprimanded less than two years ago for misappropriating public property.

In 2010, Faria claimed a city-owned bat-wing mower was junk and then sold it to a salvage yard in Arroyo Grande for $150. Without removing it from the truck he arrived in, Faria then paid the owner of the recycle yard almost double what the city had received and took the mower to his home in Atascadero.

He then sold the mower for more than $3,000.

Currently on unpaid administrative leave while he faces felony assault charges related to a 2011 bar brawl, John Ryan Mason also was a 2012 employee of the year nominee.

Several utilities employees, not on administrative leave, also are involved in criminal investigations.

Wastewater collections supervisor Bud Nance is under investigation for illegally dumping toxic chemicals at the city’s corporate yard on Prado Road. Nance is facing several years in prison. His former friend, Kelly Gearhart, is facing 300 years in federal prison for a mountain of alleged financial frauds.

Even though property records provide evidence Kelly Gearhart’s son Jeremy Gearhart helped his father manipulate property values and defraud investors, Nance lobbied to have the younger Gearhart given a job in the city’s utility department, and he was hired several months ago.

Kelly Gearhart and his son would transfer properties between themselves, creating over-sized valuations and funding that helped hide a Ponzi scheme costing local investors more than $100 million.

For example, on November 7, 2006, Kelly Gearhart deeded a residence on Encinal Avenue in Atascadero to Jeremy Gearhart, at no cost. A month later, on December 8, 2006, Central Pacific Mortgage Company provided the junior Gearhart with a $250,000 loan on the property. Later that same day, the property was deeded back to Kelly Gearhart, according to the title profile history.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, councilwoman Kathy Smith congratulated staff for awarding a contract for a water pump station analysis to John Wallace’s engineering company, The Wallace Group.

“Good to see it go to a local group,” Smith said.

Smith said she was unaware, and not informed by city staff who recommended The Wallace Group, that a superior court judge ruled last month that allegations of fraud and mismanagement against John Wallace could lead to criminal prosecution.

In September, a city employee who management promoted several times following anger and discrimination issues, was awarded the city’s new Neighborhood Outreach Manager position.

While serving as a San Luis Obispo Police Department administrative assistant, Christine Wallace called her fellow staffers names and told them where they should go after a department employee asked to have her photo taken off a Christmas tree for religious reasons.

“Hey assholes at my new job, GFY (go fuck yourselves),” Wallace posted on her Facebook page shortly after being reprimanded by then-Chief Deborah Linden.

Before securing her police department position in late 2011, Wallace was in charge of rentals for the city’s parks and recreation department. After several complaints from the public that Wallace was openly hostile during rental negotiations, city officials ordered her to take anger management classes before being promoted.




  1. Nancimeek says:

    Mary Malone? Just wanting to keep people enlightened and in the loop of truth so the gearharts grigger jones’ of the area wont steal from others the way they did to our family. may not mean much to most but our family hurts every day because of their lies fraud forged documents etc. Amazing these guys still walk your streets. Cut ribbons and run the Atascadero chamber of commerce. Why don’t people stand up to them. We are

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Mayoral candidate Steve Barasch at the Chamber/Rotary event last week called for a top-down review at the city. That is a great place to start, at the top, where the buck stops and decisions are made for better or worse. The incumbents have had all this time to answer all the charges of problems. They say they want to work on this or that; my question is, so what have you been doing all this time? The only initiatives going on are ways to raise fees, fines, surcharges, and don’t forget, salaries for upper management.

    Throw them out.. Give Steve Barasch an opportunity to clean house. And elect Kevin Rice and re-elect Dan Carpenter to help him do the job.

    (26) 32 Total Votes - 29 up - 3 down
    • Crusader says:

      A true top-down review of the city IS what needs to happen no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it might be.

      I don’t know Steve Barasch other than the fact that he is a professional architect with roots in the community. What I DO KNOW is just as you say, Marx has had the opportunity to fix things for several years now and she has failed. Let me repeat that, she has failed. She has failed more than once. She also has severe credibility issues stemming from the illegal “Save San Luis” operation she was part of. I would be remiss as a citizen if I voted for Marx. For that reason alone, Mr. Barasch deserves my vote.

      I very much agree that Dan Carpenter’s record speaks for itself. Mr. Carpenter has shown a remarkable mix of community interest, personal empathy and business savvy. Unlike Marx he deserves another term.

      John Ashbaugh is not the wasted paycheck that Marx is, but we need fresh ideas and more vigor. I think Kevin Rice would simply do a better job than Mr. Ashbaugh at this time.

      (24) 24 Total Votes - 24 up - 0 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        You people in SLO are getting royally screwed.

        (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
        • Crusader says:

          So are those from just about every other community in SLO County…

          (17) 17 Total Votes - 17 up - 0 down
  3. Nancimeek says:

    Just a heads up Gearhart partner (he admitted it in court two years ago)….Attorney Robert Grigger Jones while telling people he is now retired also has a financial business Called Delta Financial LLC

    Just a heads up

    (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      MUWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA! Thanks, Nanci. You must belong to the “Our Spies Are Everywhere Association.”

      (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
  4. blondehare says:

    My mother bought a senior condo here… Nothing was disclosed to her.after her asking one pacific question. But KW.. they even went so far to admit their non discloser.. on faulty flooring.. Then she goes to sell, they were corrupt enough to refuse to sell her unit.. BUT TRIED to sell her another one in the same complex.. Crazy or corrupt ? 501.Then not qualified, as she was stuck with unit 213.. KW cashes good earnest check and title company did not ask one question.But they were concerned there was no loan or escrow. First America said ” we always do what the realtors ask of us.. “Bruce Blair with honest and honest all over his web site see’s senior coming.. Tries to sell her a home on 407 Bakeman ln.. knowing she did not qualify for 501.. and saw what Miss Carson, great agent of the year did.. Cashed a second good earnest check from mom senior who just wanted to be near her kids in retirement years.He had her running pathetically all over town while he already had her sign off her $5.000 as she had not seen it said 24 hours. Talk about.. creepy corrupt agents..Then do not even get me started with Board of Realtors Cindy Doll who told senior mom she was protected..Cheap builder Gary Young, building those cheap cheap condos..You can hear every foot step or piss from anyone upstairs.Board of realtors hired scum bad lawyer Roy O to say what? Win a refusal to sell due to fear of Cancer.. Yes yes this town is going to be exposed.. You old timers need to suck it up and hold yourself accountable.. it does not mean if you have been here all your life.. Or you just moved here.. Rotary Club is all corrupt, Tamara Burns town idiot of the city… I have had it with all of this towns corruption.Grover Beach police.. too.. AG police at least fired their cop who ended up in a board of realtors meeting stating home owner called them to much due to noise.. Come on .. All of you involved in this will be exposed..Stop bullying people and scamming the seniors.. There is a Fair housing complaint and it will prevail..

    (17) 25 Total Votes - 21 up - 4 down
  5. blondehare says:

    So true as they only expose some.. There is so much more then this.. This is nothing compared to what I will expose..

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
    • centralcoastcoyote says:

      I think your name should have been wildhair?

      (-10) 10 Total Votes - 0 up - 10 down
  6. Crusader says:

    When all is said and done this ludicrous crap wouldn’t be going on if SLO had an honest and capable mayor and city council. Change and improvement must begin at the top. After thinking about this long and hard I have to say that the slate of:

    Steve Barasch for Mayor
    Dan Carpenter for SLO City Council
    Kevin Rice for SLO City Council

    would lead to real reform. I cannot imagine Jan Marx returning as mayor. She has already failed more than once We need to try something different! Same with John Ashbough. Dan Carpenter has shown some real interest in what impacts voters and some fiscal responsibility so I’m comfortable with him.

    Kevin Rice might be a bit unorthodox in his approach to politics but he’s bright, he’s a breath of fresh air and he’s anything but an insider. He’ll get my vote.

    (25) 35 Total Votes - 30 up - 5 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Why does government fail so much?

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • Crusader says:

        Because politics has become such an inherently scummy pursuit that those who are most able and honest are often the last people who ever consider stepping forward to serve. That “scumminess” also attracts an awful lot of deviant individuals.

        (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
        • The Gimlet Eye says:

          I think what attracts the filthy scum is the potential power to be had. I always say that the smartest of the criminals go into government.

          In any case, I see a major short circuit in gov in SLO, as elsewhere.

          One thing that nobody seems to be able to answer here: why do the most able and honest so seldom run for office? There would seem to be something inherently dirty about the business such that honest people won’t touch it.

          Or, are the most able and honest really in such short supply?

          (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
          • Crusader says:

            “…why do the most able and honest so seldom run for office?”

            Because they don’t want to associate with the scum, nor do they want to be associated with it.

            (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  7. HarryMalone says:

    Funny how when YOUR ‘hard’ earned money becomes THEIR money it is so ‘easily’ spent!

    (29) 29 Total Votes - 29 up - 0 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Because it’s not theirs, and because the “owners” of it are not present to witness the reckless abandon with which they spend it. It’s hard to control bureaucrats if you can’t see what they are doing.

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down

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