SLO fire chief to retire

July 23, 2013
Charlie Hines

Charlie Hines

San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Charlie Hines will retire from the city in September, according an email memorandum issued by City Manager Katie Lichtig Tuesday.

Hines, who recently rehired the embattled firefighter John Ryan Mason, will retire on September 10 in order to spend more time with his family, according to Lichtig’s email.

“Charlie and I have been discussing his desire to spend more time with his family for a number of months and he has decided for the first time in 38 years to put his family first,” Lichtig wrote.

Last month, Hines reinstated Mason, a fire engineer and paramedic, who faced charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury for his alleged beating of a man in a bar bathroom following a wedding. Several members of the public protested Hine’s decision to rehire Mason before the city council.

Councilman Dan Carpenter, who criticized the Mason rehire, slammed Lichtig for Hine’s sudden retirement in an email response Tuesday afternoon.

“Once again, we get left the horrid remnants of your ineffective decision making and management style,” Carpenter wrote. “The residents of SLO deserve better.”

Since Lichtig became city manager in January 2010, the majority of the department head positions have turned over, some more than once.

Hines became the fire chief in October 2010 following the death of previous Chief John Callahan. Hines previously served as the fire chief of Yakima, Washington.



Should Katie Lichtig be terminated as the City Manager of San Luis Obispo, CA?

Please take the survey at:

I will report back with the results. Thanks.


Serious? You need to ask that here at CCN, one of the most informed new sites on the central coast (both in reporting and it’s members comments). Pretty sure we’ll know how that survey turns out…


Answer Choices – Responses

Yes. She should be terminated as soon as possible for poor performance.

28 votes, 71.79%

No. She should continue on as city manager.

4 votes, 10.26%

Possibly. Give her a documented warning outlining her poor performance and review in 90 days.

7 votes, 17.95%

Total 39


A formal city council did a HORRID JOB of approving the hiring of Katie Lichtig. She was hired largely I suspect because she is a woman (yes, I know how terribly non-PC of me to even mention the truth in this context.)

A simple Internet search showed that she already had a troubled employment history. They did an even worse job of agreeing to a contract which pays Lichtig $250K no matter why she ends up leaving unless she actually quits on her own.

Now the current SLO City Council must summon the courage to can this loser once and for all. She’s doing great harm to our city and its employees. Yes, paying Lichtig $250K to leave is deeply repugnant — but agreeing to that contract was the abject failure of another council.

Live up to your pay grade and get rid of her.


Lichtig is an abject failure city manager. She needs to go.

How long did Hines work for SLO and how much “retirement” will he draw from SLO taxpayers? Also, how much did the search cost that culminated in the hiring of Hines?

Lichtig’s comment “Charlie and I have been discussing his desire to spend more time with his family for a number of months and he has decided for the first time in 38 years to put his family first” is nothing but garbage. She was supposed to have such discussions with potential hires DURING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS!

All Hines did was use SLO taxpayer $$$ to fund his move (and retirement) to SLO. Lichtig screwed up and needs to be canned. As much as the truth hurts, she would already be gone if she was a male. Hell, how are we kidding, she would have never been hired in the first place!

Take the hit, pay her the $250K and boot her backside back to SoCal!


Something else is going on “and he has decided for the first time in 38 years”

Someone in the know please correct me but if he did not work here for 5 years he doesn’t get his second dip (slo pension)?

Why would he do that (besides true personal reasons) when he only needed 2 more years?


Your presumption is that Hines’ intention was to milk the city for a pension boost. You’re shocked that he took an action in opposition to your presumption. That says more about you than it does about Hines.


Presumption or just a clear interpretation of historical fact regarding top level public servants? You decide.


kettle was referencing one official, not plural/historical. Comprehension? —you decide.


That would be an Ironic Fail on your part, Russ. Establishing a pattern to apply to a single individual often requires analysis of pluralities. My comprehension is just fine. How’s your logic and understanding?


I appreciate Carpenter’s position; however, it is a little too late. The council unanimously hired Litchig knowing her track record. It was and is a well known and highly publicized fact that when Litchig was the City Manager of Malibu that every Director and Deputy Director left in short order. In fact, the mid-level management turnover was greater than any other agency in the area. When she moved on to the City of Beverly Hills, the mass exodus commenced. This is exactly what council wanted, a City Manager who would bully, harass, oppress and intimidate good staff into leaving, thus the agency could then hire others at lower salaries and lower benefits. Litchig recruited and hired upper level managers with questionable records. While in Malibu she recruited several Directors with a history of uncontrollable rage issues and it appears that she hired one of the “school yard bullies” who was fired from the County of Santa Barbara just three plus years ago. Litchig is only able to achieve this goal with the support of the HR Director and City Attorney. What is left in the wake are the employees who are not qualified to do their jobs or are known to be so corrupt that they can’t get a job elsewhere. Just a quick review of all the stories on this website during the past couple of years reveals a fire fighter (Mason) with a well known propensity for violence being reinstated. A public works employee (Faria) with a propensity of helping himself to a little extra at the public trough retaining his employment. A utilities employee (Nicholson) charging unsuspecting residents for the same services he is paid to do for the city. Another group of utilities employees under a guy named Nance illegally dumping hazardous waste on City property. Then there have been all the stories about police corruption (Pierce, Limon and etc). In my view corruption like this is only allowed to perpetuate because the organization is rotten from the top down. Now, there are likely a lot of good people there, but the top is filthy.

Hines hired Mason back, he played ball with Katie and realized that this ship is about to go under, so he is bailing to maintain some integrity. Two years of services, typically top level managers have to sign on for at least 5.


Let us not forget the Finance Director who left after one year and then a temp comes in and last month got the job without recruiting for the permanent position. Corruption is certainly amuck at the City but let us not forget the top starts with Marx.

Also, you forgot to mention the City Attorney, Christine Dietrick, who cost the City (TAXPAYERS) $150,000 for illegal parking procedures imposed on the homeless.

And yet, this council and administration is going to ask the taxpayers to approve the extension of the sales tax Measure J so we can keep giving it to all these pension deals along with the highest paid police officers in the State and their pensions.


Oh and there was that Christine Wallace character that went postal on her face book account while on the City clock in PD and told her new cohorts to go *#@* @@*@*. Based on the article on CCN she had a well documented history of this kind of conduct in Parks and Recreation and so they promoted her!!


Well, she has been promoted once. She is no longer with the Police Dept. but was promoted personally be Miss Katie. Lots of personal gossip circulating about this move!


Now there is some top quality vetting…

Mr. Holly

Thank you Dan Carpenter for being up a stand up giuy and telling it the way it is. Now, What will the generous retirement package be that we the working taxpayer will be giving away? At some point all of this is going to have to stop or the ship will sink.


City Manager Katie Lichtig cost this city dearly when she arrived, with the blessings of the council. That trend continues to this day, while the council sits on its hands. Is this a trend that the city can afford to continue, with each new hire being offered ever-greater benefits?

Next year’s sales tax extension could be re-named: Measure Why?


No we can not afford Katie Beverly Hills Lichtig.

Someone commented elsewhere that paying Katie to leave (her $250K) before she is fully vested is a sound financial decision.


It may be a sound financial decision to a reasonable person, and all it takes is 3 of them on a city council.

Unfortunately, at least two on the current council exhibit symptoms of being in total denial as Lichtig sycophants. I’m hoping that Christiansen won’t be a third. If she is, the city is doomed.


Christiansen will do exactly what Marx and Hill tell her to do. that and nothing more


I doubt that. Carlyn can think for herself.


You are wrong Hodin, the Democratic Central Committee run her campaign and she is beholding. Just watch the way she votes, she’s on board with Marx!


Make a mess, then leave before it blows up, again. Way to go Super SLO!