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.



Understandable then why it took 5 days for “SLO’s finest” (sarcasm intended) to bring Mason in for questioning. and why the DA didn’t want to proceed with the case, and will be understandable if Mason is found innocent or there is a hung jury. But what can be done since the people of SLO put those that appoint the city manager and several positions?


It didn’t take “SLO’s finest” five days to bring Mason in for questioning. Mason voluntarily went into the police station 9 hours after the incident. He was arrested 5 days later. Can anyone get their facts straight????


Facts are difficult to come by when the SLO police department is invovled


The deep rot in San Luis Obispo begins with the politicians. I urge you all to investigate just who backs the different candidates for SLO mayor and city council. You might find my following clip to be of interest:


Okay, I get it…there are some questionable employees. But the whole “7 degrees of Kevin Bacon” game with Nance being a friend of Gearhart and a contract with Wallace? Just another example of Karen’s playground gossip journalism.


Well, at least it appears to be true!

I mean,you can’t have everything.


Maybe the Employee of the Year for SLO SHOULD be based on the person with the most corruption. I mean, what else can they compete on?

Hmmm… Marx’s total incompetence vs. Ryan’s continual escapades of infidelity and violence vs. Dunn’s simple theft vs. … wow, there’s a LOT of candidates for Sh!thead of the Year award!


This is the tip of the iceberg. SLO is so corrupt which is why all these people get to keep their jobs. Everyone knows the crap going on at this City. It is any wonder that not ONE management position is older than 5 years. New manager, police, fire, attorney, planning, utilities, public works all hand picked by Katie, Jan and the scum running this City. However, do not be mislead on this group alone. Prior management fixed their great retirement packages, PERS 2.7% at age 55 PLUS the City pays 2% into a 401(a) = 4.7% towards retirement , paid health insurance in retirement. After the council gave this package to management, they worked five years and then jumped ship when the economy started going belly up and then we end up with the current bozo’s. Go out and look at what we are recruiting a Public Works Director for – $154,000 annually, $15,000 relocation fee, $236 car allowance (car also provided), 10 days admin leave, 12 days sick leave, up to 20 days vacation, same retirement as stated above, plus $1500 medical, dental, vision allowance, and free long term disability and life insurance. Even the Mayor and council get retirement and medical benefits and then they are trying to promote a full position for themselves. Hell, who wouldn’t want a job with the City, you get great pay and benefits plus you can do what you want, be a thief, liar, no morals, and then be rewarded with “Employee of the Year”. Great organization, no accountablity, just keep collecting taxes, fee, permits and fines from the people and redistribute the money, VOTE FOR THAT SALES TAX INCREASE COMING IN 2014 so we can pay our council/mayor about 60-80,000 annual salary (they already have the benefits). I suggest you to: and see the job openings, salaries, and benefits being offered in this economy.


Do you realize that all of these sweet deals throughout our formerly great state are not union members. I thought all of our problems were because of the unions. The management class of civil employees have been raping PERS for years. That car allowance and other perks are used to spike their pensions. The line employees do not receive these benefits.

Booty JuJu

Exclude the incompetent and corrupt and there is no one left.

The rot runs deep.


Not true, plenty of good people left.

You just don’t know them because they were busy working.

Your over simplification of a complex problem exposes the simpleminded.


Then let those “good people” come together and speak out or otherwise be lumped in with the rest.

The citizens are tired of this. Honest people need to come forward and run for these gov seats. As my grand father used to say: THROW THE BUMS OUT. The difference is back then, they did.


It isn’t just city employees either! There are 2 county employees that live next door to me that would make anyone ashamed of how they are representative of our county staff!

As the world turns

The city leaders lack ethics and good judgement. I am very surprised that the city is ruining its taking on the culture of southern california corrupt cities.


I am surprised Marx has the chutzpah to run again – and claim to have done a good job!

Nothing ever came of the Fed’s finding out she was in violation of campaign rules, etc. either. What a piece of garbage.

If people would just STOP voting for lawyers, professors, and other “elitist wannabies” we’d have a much better run city, I bet!


Wow, this is simply unbelievable, but is just reflective and indicative of the lack of morals and lack of integrity at the top at the City. I would gather that Katie will profess as she, Dietrick and Irons go down they will claim, “well, look what we had to work with, how could you expect anything more.” Glad our tax dollars go to pay such highly qualified individuals. If Faria got away with what amounts to GRAND THEFT then what does he know or that is have on management that they would not fire him? If Nance and his clowns intentionally dumped hazardous waste at the back of the City yard then what does he know about the misconduct of management that kept him from being prosecuted for a FELONY? Same applies to Wallace. Can’t wait till the fed’s get ahold of the City to clean it up!

What an absolute three ring circus!

The Gimlet Eye

The feds???

You have got to be kidding! They could not care less what is going on in SLO!

And they are 1000 times WORSE than the corrupt filthy scum in SLO.


While a 5th generation Californian, I have only been in SLO for 25 years and consider myself a recent local. I blame the transplants from Southern California for bringing their corruption to this fine area. I wish these ignorant people who sit back and put up with this crap would move back to the southlands. The city employees and elected officials need to be in jail instead of freeloading off the taxpayers. I mean Jan Marx should be in jail for the save san luis crap she pulled as a paid puppet of the copelands. and the beloved dave romero who gave city property to the copelands and others should join her. We get what we deserve. I am laughing my ass off at the fact that we hired Gearhart. I wonder how much marx got in the pocket for allowing that one.


Sam I think you may be a little misguided in blaming the transplants. To be fair a lot of going on’s (misdeeds) in this county in recent years has been done by long time individuals. Oh and so you don’t think I’m a thin skined transplant, I’m going on my thirty third year here in the county.

As the world turns

I agree with BeenThereDoneThat. Most of the corruption is being done by the good old boy long timers. SanSimeionSam is a recent transplant from southern California if only here 25-years. Are you to blame?


33 years? Coincides exactly with the beginning of the decline of quality of life in the area. Cause and effect easily established.


O.k. Mr. holier than thou, how long have you been contributing in your wonderful ways here?


Oh I get it now, you must have been here for awhile. So are you one of the crooks? Now I see why thin skinned.


I have lived here close to 14 years. The thing about transplants, especially those who have lived in SoCal and the like is that we know, that we have found something here that is near priceless. We are here to avoid corruption, traffic jams, over building and concrete. It isn’t the transplants who are looking to cash out and take advantage of this little county with it’s open space and trusting citizens, the transplants are looking to make a quiet, peaceful life here. In my experience it’s the locals that do all the damage.


When unethical people get rewarded for unethical acts, there will be corrupt people in every city, county and locale in the nation. They are like insatiable vampires, who feed on each other, and those they rule, and believe nepotism is the ultimate “family value.”