SLO hires firm to investigate Lichtig, Olson and ‘sexist’ video

February 24, 2017

The city of San Luis Obispo will pay a Santa Ana law firm up to $50,000 to investigate personnel complaints against City Manager Katie Lichtig and Fire Chief Garret Olson pertaining to a video that allegedly sexually objectified firefighters.

Intended as a spoof to promote the SLO Chamber of Commerce, the video showed female chamber employees asking Olson about full monty calendars and hot, shirtless firefighters. The video was shown at the annual SLO Chamber of Commerce dinner on Jan. 20.

After the video spread, the city received two personnel complaints which named Lichtig and Olson and alleged 11 violations of city workplace policies. Additionally, the San Luis Obispo firefighters’ union issued a public request for the city to mount an investigation into the sexual objectification of firefighters by city officials.

On Feb. 10, the city entered an agreement with the law firm Burke, Williams & Sorenson to conduct an investigation into the case. The contract sets a maximum price tag of $50,000, but the agreement states the city can only spend more than $15,000 on the investigation if Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson gives approval.

The contract only tasks Santa Ana law firm with fact finding and giving the city legal advice. The law firm is not responsible for determining whether any laws or statutes were violated.

It is up to City Attorney Christine Dietrick — with the help of the city council and Human Resources Director Monica Irons — to determine if any disciplinary action against Lichtig and Olson is warranted. Following the completion of the investigation, Dietrick’s office will take into consideration state and local workplace policies in deciding whether disciplinary action is needed.

In addition to receiving personnel complaints, the city also received a letter threatening a lawsuit over the city’s handling of the investigation. The letter, which arrived on Feb. 11 and was addressed to Irons, alleged the city issued a gag order to stop individuals involved in the case from talking about it.

The letter also objected to Irons making initial inquires about the complaint before the city hired an independent investigator. City officials have not revealed who authored the letter.

Dietrick said the letter mischaracterized the city’s attempt to warn people not interfere in the investigation by calling it a gag order. Dietrick also said Irons was following best practices by asking preliminary questions.

Katy Suttrop, the investigator for Burke, Williams & Sorenson, began making inquiries in the case on Feb. 16 and 17. Suttrop has been interviewing city employees and witnesses, and she returned to San Luis Obispo on Thursday to continue her investigation.

Burke, Williams & Sorenson has no deadline for completing its investigation.

In a separate matter, CalCoastNews reported earlier this week that several racy photos surfaced showing Olson engaged in behavior that critics characterize as sexually suggestive.

One of the photos shows Olson at a Halloween party sandwiched between a woman in a bra, a woman in a maid costume and a man in underwear and a woman’s robe. Olson’s hand was positioned over then-Cal Fire Captain Mark Cameron’s genitalia.







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43 Comments

  1. demiseofslo says:

    $50k to investigate a youtube video?

    WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. hijinks2 says:

    Where to begin on this revelation, so many issues and manipulated realities!

    So Dietrick has hired a firm to evaluate whether or not a violation of City Policy and State Regulations occurred that was filmed and audio recorded. Let’s not forget the fact that the Chief’s audio recording at the Chamber Office may have been a criminal act involving the serendipitously recording of others without their consent. Back to the facts, so Katie Litchig authorized the non-disclosed hiring of Christine Dietrick’s brother-in-law to work for Derek Johnson in Community Development without going through the vetted and tried hiring processes that the City utilizes for 99% of all other hiring’s. Let’s not forget that Derek Johnson participated in this gifting of public resources for personal gain. Also, if you have been asleep for some time Derek Johnson’s buddy Jason Stillwell was hired as a contractor for the City’s finance department in roughly 2015 after being fired / terminated or forced out of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This action reflects cronyism at its best. Stillwell served as the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Administrator for several years after being forced out, fired or dismissed from the County of Santa Barbara where Derek Johnson was employed and relieved of his duties at the same time. Here is an excerpt of the Grand Jury Investigation into some of the alleged misconduct these individuals conducted which is a snippet of the misconduct that occurred in Santa Barbara County while Johnson and Stillwell were there.

    In the fall of 2014 the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury (MCCGJ) received a written complaint from a group of Carmel-by-the-Sea (Carmel or City) residents asserting that during 2012-2014 the City’s governance and administration had “substantially failed.” The complainants requested that the MCCGJ investigate various alleged improper activities such as fiscal irresponsibility, lack of transparency, unfair treatment of employees, legal exposure, and others, and determine what led to the failure of proper oversight during the period. The complainants also asked the MCCGJ to recommend how Carmel’s governance structure may be improved to avoid such problems in the future.

    The issues in Santa Barbara included abuse at such a level that a secretary was awarded over a million dollars for what was done to her. Don’t worry folks the City of San Luis Obispo has plenty of money that they spend annually to defend their misconduct at tax payer expense.

    Why is this relevant, simply these individuals all cover each other’s backs over and over again? When they are finally outed they are then hired as a contractor which often rolls into a permanent position at the agency at a later date by a buddy. Now where is Monica Irons in all of this? She simply comes and goes as she pleases and no one says anything. Now all of this is possible because the staff that they keep on board, Mason, Faria, Nance, McDow, Nicholson and etcetera have all been either outed publicly for misconduct and / or charged with a criminal act while in the employ at the City. These are just a few of the individuals working for the City that have questionable backgrounds. Why would an agency keep such individuals in their employ, simply because they are beholding to upper management at the City and will blindly do what they are told!

    Now back to the issue at hand, nothing will happen. The team all reviewed the film prior to its release, laughed and giggled about it as fire personnel where being ridiculed. This is no different than the skit they did on Mary Beth Schroeder at the corporation yard where they ridiculed and made fun of her civic commitment. Again, nothing will happen. This is simply a $50,000 gift to a friend to document the decision to do nothing. Worse case, Johnson will be put in charge, but wait he did nothing about the video in the first place, thus a willing co-conspirator or at worst an accomplice after the fact.

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
    • MBwaiter says:

      And dont forget that Ltchtig is not just the boss of Irons but also very good friends. I have seen them together in the restaurant I work at were they are laughing and drinking.

      Lichtig also lived at Monica Irons house in Morro Bay while Licthig’s Edna Valley Home was being remodeled. Roommates !

      That is how Lichtig met Morro Bay Councilmember Christine Johnson. As a favor to Morro Bay Mayor Irons and Monica for letting her stay at their house, Lichtig hire Christine’s husband Lee Johnson as SLO Economic Development Manager even though he was not qualified for the job.

      Another favor between them as you mentioned was City Attorney Christine Dietrick brother in law being hired for the Town who also and was unqualified.

      All of them should fired they are so corrupt and disgusting.

      (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
  3. mb business owner says:

    Public officials – department heads and city managers – are generally held to a much higher standard than line employees. apparently the city council and mayor in slo do not feel this way or these two employees would be on administrative leave (as they should be) during this investigation. interestingly the firm to investigate was chosen by lichtig’s good friends the city attorney and hr person. Keep in mind that lichtig actually has the ability to hire and fire the hr person and greatly influences the city attorney. seems pretty tight to me.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      What 1950’s fantasy world do you still live in? Held to a higher standard? A public bureaucrat? Please. As much as I would love to share in this fantasy, I have to tell you, it’s just that: fantasy.

      I’m still hopeful there is some type of over-sight somewhere, but I’ve been hopeful for a couple of decades now… guess we all have our fantasies.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. c.d.cox says:

    As Howard Jarvis said years ago San Luis Onisp City&County the most corrupt in the State.

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
  5. Ricky2 says:

    This is typical Lichtig — city can’t do anything without hiring an expensive consusltant. She wastes millions of taxpayer dollars every year on this sort of junk. Hey, Katie, do us a favor, and just leave town. Your expiration date has passed. Go someplace else so we can get this town back on track.

    What do you get for $15,000? At $500 per hour, that’s 30 hours of work. Lichtig is part of the growth of inequality in our town. Go back to LA, please!!!

    Then the city council needs to hire a competent city attorney who can do this sort of work in house.

    (26) 30 Total Votes - 28 up - 2 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      It’s the Beverly Hills mentality…she feels that she and her colleagues work in a gated community and the rest of us are mere commoners.
      It’s time to dethrone the “Royal” (ass) family!

      (22) 22 Total Votes - 22 up - 0 down
  6. San Louie says:

    Is the person on the far right a man or a woman?

    (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down

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