Mason detractors protest rehire of SLO firefighter
June 11, 2013
Prior to a city council budgeting meeting Monday evening, protesters gathered outside City Hall holding signs criticizing SLO Fire Chief Charlie Hines’s decision to rehire Mason.
In June 2011, Mason allegedly beat Jory Brigham unconscious, fracturing 17 bones in his face, after an eight-month rift stemming from claims the firefighter was having an affair with a local policeman’s wife. Mason’s trial concluded with a hung jury, and the District Attorney’s Office chose not to retry the case.
On June 5, Hines agreed to reinstate Mason with an agreement that the firefighter take a pay cut and serve a five-year probationary period in which any similar misconduct could lead to his immediate termination.
The conditions placed upon Mason’s reinstatement did not satisfy his detractors.
Protesters Monday read a statement that described the decision to rehire Mason as “rewarding abhorrent, egregious behavior.”
“A person who leaves a man for dead cannot be trusted to uphold the firefighters’ code of ethics of committing to keep all people safe,” another sign said.
Upon the start of the council meeting, the protesters moved in the chamber and some made public comment.
Los Osos resident Lelah Broyles said Mason’s behavior was “not only unthinkable, but intolerable.”
“He is under one of the highest stress jobs,” Broyles said. “You cannot be someone who can snap in that position”
Following public comment on the Mason reinstatement, Mayor Jan Marx requested a legal explanation of the rehire from City Attorney Christine Dietrick.
Dietrick said the council does not control whom the fire chief hires.
“The city council’s jurisdiction over employment decisions is limited to the city manager and I,” Dietrick said. “All other employees in the city are appointed by their appointing authority, which is in most cases the department head and in this case Fire Chief Charlie Hines.”