SLO police chief facing administrative leave

May 8, 2015
Steve Gesell

Steve Gesell

By CalCoastNews Staff

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell will be placed on paid administrative leave by the end of the work day, today, Friday, May 8, sources say. It is the first step in what reliable and informed sources say is City Manager Katie Lichtig’s plan to remove Gesell from the city payroll.

Those sources have confirmed rumors that have been swirling for months that Lichtig has irreconcilable differences with the chief. City officials are not disclosing the reason for Gesell’s departure. The city council is expected next week to discuss a payout, likely to be in six figures.

Responding to a CalCoastNews exclusive earlier this year that detailed multiple violations of city travel reimbursement policies by Gesell, Lichtig said some of the police chief’s financial transgressions were “mistakes.”

In other cases, Gesell’s actions violated written city policies. Nevertheless, Lichtig and Director of Finance Wayne Padilla dismissed concerns about many of the violations. Gesell’s actions were excused as a “consistent application” of policy according to a “historical interpretation.” Historical interpretation means that even though policies and procedures have been laid out, prior practice allows them to be violated without consequence.

Some of Gesell’s expenses that have been questioned involved participation in events sponsored by the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). Lichtig and Gesell went on some of the POST-funded trips together.

City officials refused to comply with requests for documents under the California Public Records Act showing expenditures for the training. City officials said Tuesday that they disposed of all requests for financial reimbursements from POST and none were available for review.

POST officials said the city is required by California law to retain the records for a minimum of three years.

Lichtig and Gesell did not respond to requests for comment.

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This could be a win/win for all the taxpayers. We know that Gesell has been placed on leave for cause and of course unlike those of us in the private sector, our public Employees get to have “due process”.

First, rather than drag this out and allow us taxpayers to be further fleeced while he continues to collect his unearned paycheck for sitting home on his butt, they need to step this up and get their jobs done. Due process should be completed in 2-4 weeks maximum for any public employee placed on leave.

Second, they need to refuse to PAY HIM OFF. Paying him off is the equivalent of hush money. No hush money and he will write songs about some of our other “Employees” and possibly even some elect. If they pay him off, get rid of them.

Great point. If or when they do pay him off, you imagine it’s because he does know some stuff

they would like kept quiet. Perhaps more of the same from others, maybe folks even higher

than the chief.

Isn’t the way the government is structured in the city of SLO that the city manager is the chief’s boss and the only position higher than Gesell, and if a payoff is to keep him from talking about higher ups it would be about his only boss??

Or engendered Council Members who have colluded from time to time from behind

closed doors.

NOTHING can be said under the beautiful umbrella of “personal privacy”, even if waived by the employee in question. I don’t know Gesell, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about him until “travel-gate”. But then that’s not why they’re getting rid of him. Why, in fact, are you getting rid of him?