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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“The city council is expected next week to discuss a payout, likely to be in six figures.”

So he mismanages and gets forced out, but he “knows” things so he gets a golden parachute, a la Lisa Solomon? Wtf my city of SLO?

Any city council member or mayor Jan who votes on free money (“it’s a personnel issue” ) for Gesell will hear about this over and over every election season, unbelievable.

I looking at you SLO elected officials……..

too bad this didn’t happy just a little earlier and he could have applied for the deputy city manager job in morro bay – that’s right, morro bay is approving a new administrative position on Tuesday night at city council, even though the city manager has already hired and signed a contract with the new deputy city manager.

The new assistant City manager was interviewed by Council members and staff members before any contract was drawn up. There will be no increase personnel costs. They will actually go down a little. That is because the Recreation Director position is going to be left vacant. In other words, this action simply puts the money spent on personnel where it will do the City the most good. The new hire has good experience as an assistant city manager, and is working on a master’s degree in public administration. Sounds to me like a great addition to the staff.

Yeah, that’s what the City of Morro Bay needs, a Deputy City Manager at the cost of $113,000 annually + benefits. So now we have two employees doing the job of one. Also, this job was never advertised. There was no job description until this person was hired. The new person is 30 years old and has less than a year’s experience as an Assistant City Manager.

In the meantime, our current City Manager, is trying his best to convince the voters of Morro Bay that all the City’s fees must be raised in order to balance the budget. What a deceptive shell game these guys are playing!

You sure this person is the City of SLO’s Attorney who has been trying for a couple of years to het her brother hired but he is so stupid he cannot pass the tests! They has to be a connection because these management folks are all connected by blood or marriage…

Also, this new person has no coastal experience in city government and the citizens of Morro Bay had to pay the fired Recreation and Parks Director a severance payout of $70,000. Yep, they sure know how to save money.

With a population of 10,000 what makes you think having an assistant manager is a good idea,the dork we have isn’t able to do his job so these people figure that adding another dork will help out.

Sounds like this warrants a whole different story, CCN?? That is unless the koolaid that some are drinking has spilled over into your offices?

Morro Bay needs to have a lot of stories done about the City’s mismanagment. Our last City Manager made $152,000 annually. David Buckingham is being paid $160,000 annually + $17,500 in deferred compensation because he has medical benefits from serving on the military.

Now, this Deputy City Manager will make $113,000 +benefits to start. Two people doing the job that was done by one for years. Instead of paying on person $152,000 annually, we are paying two people $290,000 to do the job of one. The voters of Morro Bay have been had.

CRLA ran off Michael Blank due to “discrepancies in his billing”. Now this.

Character matters.

Tempted to feel satisfied somebody is watching out, but if we only knew what else is going in that isn’t known…yet.

Katie knows.

Lichtig runs a cesspool of corruption, and our stupid city council just goes along with it. This is but one example among dozens of her poor judgment and corrupt leadership.

Why did she ever hire this guy in the first place? Unfortunately, it was clear from the start he’s a philosophical misfit for this town — even before any financial issues were apparent. But, then, Lichtig’s an ideological misfit too, so maybe she saw kindred in him.

What the council needs to do is fire Lichtig. Then resign en masse so we an elect some good people. Wanna take bets they’ve got the intelligence and integrity to do either? So that leaves us with a recall. It’s overdue, folks.

You are partly correct; the council needs to get a new City Manager. However, you are wrong that Steve Gesell is “…a philosophical misfit for this town[.]” Steve Gesell, who I have met and spoken with on several occasions, is a SLO local who returned to try and make a difference. He is an experienced and dedicated professional who is highly regarded my his subordinates. The real issue here is the way in which every department head who showed a spark of independence has been run out and replaced with malleable non-entities. It’s happened over and over again. Steve Gesell is the one responsible for implementing the Community Action Teams who have made real progress dealing with the homeless. The council needs to set its sights higher, and clean house at 990 Palm Street. Steve Gesell is a good police chief, especially compared to his two immediate predecessors, and SLO will not profit by his departure. One man’s opinion.

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”

Will Rogers


The City isnt complying with the Law in keeping public records.

Will DA Dan Dow do anything about it?

No surprise here. We need to clean house from the top down. We have had nothing but problems since Ms. Lichtig became city manager. She is not worth her ridiculous salary and benefits (in excess of $300,000) given how disastrously she has managed the city: Over $150 million owed to CalPERS; more unneeded city employee;, a police department that is totally screwed up; employees violating laws and going unpunished (toxic waste dumping at the corporation yard, etc.,) and her unvetted cronies from around the state being brought in to take over the mess, all the while owing her for their jobs. The city has been found to be out of compliance with its own investment strategy, hoarding cash in stead of paying down debts, while we go on a spending spree hiring more employees to check out trash cans, bad odors and now allegedly unsafe living conditions in every private rental in the city.

This is truly the happiest police state on earth!

Throw ALL the bums out and start over!

If AG can get rid of Tony Ferrara then Slo could get rid of Lichtig, find a good grass roots group who have just had enough and let them go after her

I am not sure that she is responsible for ALL the problems you mentioned but she’s certainly responsible for enough of them to warrant her own employment termination. However, given the makeup of the SLO City council (3-4 of her cronies out of 5 total), I doubt it will happen until at least the next election cycle unless she is convicted of a crime.

Was / is he a good police chief? Or are these ‘games with expenses’ a window into his other actions?

Let him go with a pat on the back and a small severance. … but you’re still not telling us what he has done wrong.

See the links to previous articles below this one for some of the details. As to what he did wrong in Lichtig’s view, he probably embarrassed her by getting caught and forcing the whole policy into the public eye. What they claim as the reason may never be known due to settlement conditions.


Why do I feel so absolutely hosed no matter what happens?

Oh that’s easy because the tax payer is on the hook for the stupidity and corruption of the ruling elite… You know….the ones that tell us they know best.

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