Gesell lawyers up for employment dispute with SLO
May 13, 2015
San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell, who is currently on paid administrative leave, has retained a Pismo Beach lawyer who is arguing the city has no good cause to terminate Gesell’s contract.
On Friday, City Manager Katie Lichtig placed Gesell on paid administrative leave after she was unable to agree on a separation settlement with the police chief. Lichtig and City Attorney Christine Dietrick are now negotiating a settlement with Gesell, after receiving instruction to do so during a closed session San Luis Obispo City Council meeting Tuesday.
Gesell’s attorney, David P. Warren, delivered a letter to Dietrick during the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting. The letter, which is dated May 1, states that there is no go cause for the city to sever its relationship with Gesell, and the police chief does not want to leave his position.
“We are very concerned that the council is being led to believe that there is a mutual agreement to end the relationship. This is simply not the case,” Warren’s letter states. “I was told that it had gone beyond working it out and that Ms. Lichtig intended to sever the relationship.”
City sources have told CalCoastNews that Gesell is being released from employment because of irreconcilable differences with Lichtig. Gesell has been under fire publicly for charging the city for family dining, as well as for allegedly having illegal ticket quotas.
If an agreement is not reached, sources say Gesell could disclose damaging information about the city, some of which could implicate Lichtig.
If the city terminates Gesell for reasons other than misconduct, malfeasance or criminal negligence, he is due a severance of at least six months of his salary and benefits, which equals $132,532. Warren notes that financial obligation in his letter to Dietrick.
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