San Luis Obispo to reinstate Ryan Mason

June 6, 2013
John Ryan Mason

John Ryan Mason

UPDATE: Councilman Dan Carpenter’s statement on this issue is at the bottom of this article.

San Luis Obispo officials have agreed to reinstate embattled firefighter John Ryan Mason.

The decision was made by Fire Chief Charlie Hines with the support of Christine Dietrick, the city attorney. Hines noted that Mason has an exemplary record as a firefighter and feels that he can work with him. Last night, Mason left city hall carrying two uniforms.

The fire chief fired Mason in November, shortly after he escaped a felony assault conviction for his role in a bar bathroom brawl.

Mason, a fire engineer and paramedic, faced charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury following his alleged beating of Jory Brigham in the bathroom of Pappy McGregor’s Bar & Grill after a wedding. 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.

The fire department placed Mason on unpaid administrative leave in April. A few months later, City Manager Katie Lichtig named him as a nominee for city employee of the year.

Nevertheless, several members of the city council told CalCoastNews that Mason’s behavioral pattern did not match the ethical code of a San Luis Obispo firefighter and that they were in favor of his termination. The fire department’s code of ethics mandates that firefighters “accept this responsibility of public trust both on and off duty.”

The city council does not have jurisdiction on this issue.

Councilman Dan Carpenter issued a statement voicing his disapproval of Hines’ decision to rehire Mason.

“I’m extremely saddened and disappointed with the decision of our Fire Chief and top management to reinstate firefighter Ryan Mason,” Carpenter said. “Traditionally, the city has held its public safety employees to the highest level of integrity and trust. Today, that tradition has been compromised by rewarding conduct unbecoming of a firefighter. My heart and compassion go out to Mr. Brigham and his family as they continue to heal from this tragedy.”




Sounds like the people who disagree with this decision need to call for the Fire Chief’s resignation. He was the one who terminated him and now the one who reinstated him.


Justice! The city knew they would LOSE THEIR ASS in superior court so they had to do the right thing and reinstate Ryan.


They may have made their decision based upon potential legal expenses and lack of confidence in their success in court but that does not excuse them from not trying to make a statement about the expected behavior of public safety employees.

I think it also reflects upon the competence of Dietrick as a city attorney if this was the reason. Of course she has already given poor legal advice to the council (the ordinance trying to prevent homeless from living in vehicles) which has resulted in major city legal expenses so this should be no surprise. What does it take for a City Attorney (and a City Manager) to be dismissed these days? Are the people negotiating their contracts so ignorant that incompetence is not an acceptable reason? I am glad I am not paying for SLO’s city government! (Not that my city is without its own problems.)

Mr. Holly

We really need to find out what the terms of any impending lawsuits might be. A perfect case for the attorney’s. How in the world could something like this even be considered if were not for a big dollar threat? Or are there no ethics or morals in SLO? I would judge it’s a combination of both. Will there be back pay as is the usual case? Another win for government and another defeat for taxpayers. I think I’ll go cool off and have a glass of ice TEA.

Ted Slanders

Mr. Holly,

Don’t be a candy ass, have a straight whiskey over ice instead! Show Ryan Mason that you’re as tough as he is when refuting the decision that gave him carte blanche over all logic and reason.


Settle down, Galaxy. I don’t work for CCN. I don’t have access to the site. But I’ve been reading your stuff over the months and I think I know who you are. Just took a good guess. Looks like I’m right. Thanks for taking the bait. Now canl we all remember that thing about glass houses?


Glass houses?? Again, you imply my situation was like Paul Brown’s. Not so. Not even close. Paul Brown is also a pubic figure. I noticed you are “fishing” with other commenters. Not Kosher, Dave. Not even clever. I expected better from you. You started something, here. But I will finish it.


Dave, Galaxy,

You two should be ashamed of yourselves for choosing to engage in such sophomoric, uncivil discourse. Surely, you are smarter than that,

Having each gone through the divorce process, I would think (or hope) that you would taken the high road.


Puh-Lease! This is the red (read?) meat that CCN subscribers love! It’s like a slightly-smarter (not always) version of the Kardashians or American Idol.


How in the world can he be nominated City Employee of the year?? Even IF he is forgiven for this over the top beating, enough to get his job back (which for a “Firefighter” is very disappointing) For “Katie” to reward him while this was going on is just wrong. Is SLO that short of Good City employees? Was there NO One more deserving? I just find it despicable.


Where did Christine Dietrick get her law degree? Is she a member of the California Bar Association. I suspect a weak background for this weak attorney.

Ted Slanders

Reinstating Mr. Mason blatantly goes against all fire department codes of ethics and any rational thinking whatsoever. If this is allowed to happen, then where is the incentive to actually be moral and ethically correct while performing the duties of the fire department if one is to be coddled, their nose wiped, and allowed reinstatement under these conditions?

This is opening a can of worms, and a precedent is now being set for another Dave Mason type in the future to be coddled as well with equal circumstances, or lawsuits will be filed for discrimination at the taxpayers expense.

SLO Fire Department and the city is setting such a great example for our upcoming youth, aren’t they?


Ted, I agree but you need to be more careful with names. The guy you to which you refer is RYAN Mason. (I think there was a Dave Mason in the radio broadcasting business here many years ago.)


We’re becoming a city run by philandering thugs…all at our expense.


I blame Bush. Seems to be in vogue again.

Spirit Filled

That’s San Luis for you.



No, don’t lump the entire city into the category of thinking this is a good move; this is an administrative move that is not supported (apparently) by the city council (you know, the ones that are elected to supposedly run the city), but is an indication of the mindset of those who are in the actual positions of power in our city administration. A very lame decision, a very lame excuse; the city council should have called the city attorney and the fire chief before them, in public, to discuss the implications of this decision. FAIL all the way around; I am very disappointed.


Keep believing everything you read……