Rehired SLO firefighter agrees to pay cut

June 7, 2013
John Ryan Mason

John Ryan Mason

Embattled San Luis Obispo firefighter John Ryan Mason, whom Fire Chief Charlie Hines rehired this week, has agreed to take a pay cut of more than $36,000 and a five-year probationary period. [Tribune]

Following a bar bathroom brawl, Mason faced charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury. But, Mason’s trial concluded with a hung jury leaning eight to four in his favor, and the District Attorney’s Office chose not to retry the case.

Mason, who has worked for the fire department for more than a decade before Hines fired him last November, will return to his job as an entry-level firefighter. Mason’s annual pay will drop from $92,140 to $56,160.

Mason also agreed to return to work on a five-year probation period during which Hines can fire him again for any conduct similar to the bar bathroom brawl.

The agreement between Mason and the city ends the possibility of Mason filing an appeal to get his job back. Had Mason won an appeal, he could have also sought back pay from the city.

The agreement also states that it cannot be used as an admission in a future civil or criminal case against him

While Councilman Dan Carpenter issued a statement Thursday reprimanding the decision to rehire Mason, Mayor Jan Marx said she is satisfied with the agreement.

“I think that the agreement has built in sufficient safeguards so that the public and the city is protected,” Marx said. “He can be terminated without rights to appeal with any misstep. It is now up to him prove himself. It is not clear he will be able to make it, but I for one hope he is able to do so.”


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The problem with this issue is not whether he had been convicted, but what had actually happened.

Whether John Mason was convicted, or, the aggressor he was still the party that walked away without a scratch. So common sense says that he just wailed on this guy relentlessly to the point that Jory Brigham was unable to cause a scratch, bruise, etc.

Then, even though he has a sworn duty to protect and assist even when off duty, he left a man with a shattered face and unconscious on a bathroom floor.

For the City to hire back a man who has not once, but twice, lost his temper and physically harmed people is stupid, wrong, and stupid. Even Jan Marx can’t provide a statement that shows total faith in the guy, “…..It is now up to him prove himself. It is not clear he will be able to make it, but I for one hope he is able to do so.”

We need to as Citizens and tax payers make sure the City Government knows that we don’t want to “hope” there isn’t a next time. The first guy got a Champagne bottle over his head, the next a shattered face- so then, what happens the next time this guy gets mad?

Doesn’t seem like this guys is the “fighter” type

Hey SLO, A large part of this country does this as service to your community. I don’t care about bar fights.

FIRE them all and do it yourselves.

I don’t know if he was culpable or not. But a jury did not find him so. That being the case, he should

have been hired back at full pay.

You don’t “know” if he is culpable or not; fair enough- do you “know” if he left a man knocked out cold on the floor of a barroom bathroom who was bleeding? Does that “fact” bother you in any way? Does that sound like the actions of a professional who is supposed to help injured people as part of his job, and his job requires that he make himself available anytime he happens across an injured person? Or are you going to suggest that since he wasn’t “on duty” he did not have to “render aid”? And the jury did not find him “not culpable” or “not guilty”; it was a hung jury, meaning there was NO judgement as to his innocence or guilt. And he should have NOT been hired, even at no pay. The man is a menace, he does not belong in the role of interacting with the public in any way, period.

Do YOU know? You presume to know what you do not.

I do “know” what I have read here; the Tribune did a little reporting on the situation, but to assume that CCN got the story correct isn’t a bad bet considering how they have gotten every story right so far. What I do “know” is that John Ryan Mason should not have been rehired, period.

Was there an opening in the fire department…..Were other candidates considered for the position or is this just another fireman back on the county welfare dole…..He got reduced pay…maybe….but did he get his seniority back for retirement calculations. ???

I think the important question is whether or not there was an opening in the department or did they just create a new position…Maybe he is the Chiefs new Administrative assistant….

He didn’t get reduced pay-he is getting normal pay for firemen across the country. The coworkers are getting outrageous pay.

They talk about the thin blue line for police. Do we now have the thin red line to protect firemen?

Hnm…it seems the city took the safe way out…. they cut a deal with the man. At the end of the day I am shocked that even if they could not convict him of a crime, that they couldn’t have given him the boot based on character issues alone. Hurt over rumors spread on Facebook? This guy has the restraint of a spurned high school girl.

You shouldn’t be surprised when there was a juror with ties to the fire department

And why did the prosecution allow this because they wanted to lose

Kayaknut, I remember at the time of the trial, there were a lot of CCN commenters referring to a juror who was a firefighter. I always wondered…was this ever confirmed? How do people know this?

I am glad he gets another chance, especially since he was found not guilty of any crime by a 2/3 vote. People that heard ALL the evidence found him not guilty, so it doesn’t make sense to punish him. You naysayers on this site want to be mad from what you are guessing happened. It’s scary that so many people will be extreme in their beliefs when they are basing them on a lot of gossip.

Were the pictures of the beating also gossip?

…or the hospital records of the facial reconstruction?

mej…. He was not found not guilty, it was a hung jury. The jurors were not given all the facts. the burden of proof was on the D.A. if you know anything about criminal trials you would know that a ton of evidence isnot allowed in.

I think it says a lot about Mason’s character (arrogance, lack of empathy, et cetera) that he even made such efforts to get his job back. That said, while in some ways I’m stunned by this news, in others, I probably should have seen this coming given how things work with unions, government, and how SLO has handled other issues. I was also surprised that he accepted such a pay cut (why does he want this job back so badly?), but then it occurred to me that we don’t know any of the details of the agreement. For all we know, the pay cut could just be for the first year and then he could go back to his old rate of pay (or even a raise beyond what he was making before all this).

I don’t know if it will do any good, but at minimum may at least annoy them, so I am sending emails explaining my displeasure with this outcome to City Manager Licthig (, City Attorney Dietrick (, and Fire Chief Hines (