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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San Louie

Does anyone here happen to know if Lichtig’s ridiculous severance package has to be paid if she’s canned for something like this?


shelworth

I’m pretty sure she put a clause in her contract that doubles it, if she is fired for cause.


kayaknut

With how Lichtig had Jan Marx and the former council controlled I wouldn’t be surprised if not tripled.


L.A.RamsFan

Wait, wait, wait a frickin’ minute here! Who’s the sexist here? Is it the man or woman who provided the t-shirts or the men and women who agreed to not only wear them but be filmed in them as well. No one has stated or implied that any one of any gender was forced to wear them so how is it sexist?


Sounds like someone with thin skin saw this piece and it somehow insulted his or her sexist sensibilities and they bitched! Get a life, would ya!


Chinaski

How many of you that are so “outraged” at this “sexist” video voted for the guy who wants to “grab them by the pussy”, has a proven track record of sexism, mocks the “handicapped”, and hires white nationalists to his inner circle? I’ve seen a bunch of Trump supporters on this site just “aghast” at this silly video and silly pictures. So you vote for THAT guy and then turn into a bunch of (wait for it…straight from the alt right vocabulary…) “snowflakes” over this? What a pile of political opportunism. Don’t care for PC? Grow a pair.

By the way, I’m still waiting for someone who was sooo enamored with Milo Ypediphile two weeks ago to come out and defend all that you “learned” at his circus. It’s been nothing but crickets around here…


Real_Donald_Trump

The American people are tired of winning because we are winning so much. Bigly. I talked to a lot of smart people. Lots of people. The best people. They tell me things. Important stuff you guys wouldn’t understand. We are going to win bigly.


rukidding

I guess your message here is that they are guilty? Thank you for clearing up any doubt.


nunsense

at first i thought you were referring to Bill Clinton.


the sword cuts both ways.


kayaknut

A little difference Bill Clinton actually did do it, Donald Trump just said he wanted to.


L.A.RamsFan

There is a commonality you know? Both had women accuse them of doing so and while Bill admitted to it with one the rest of his accusers are still generally believed while Donald, that ol’ trumpster, admitted to it, remember?


“…I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”


And had others accuse him of it and none of the “right” believes any of it! Remember?


I guess it’s just another “alt-fact”, right?


Chinaski

Yes it certainly does. And in your rush to make it a partisan issue, you miss the point entirely. Unsurprising.


easymoney

What a waste of money to investigate some bad behavior and cover up by the leadership. Who cares if they blow off steam, but to spend tax payer funds to look into something that was obvious is outrageous…


Slosum

This whole thing is a waste of talk, time and money. The firefighter union is leveraging its next bargaining position and we will be paying the bill for these “offended” little wusses.


Pelican1

Regardless of the outcome, the citizens of SLO are the losers. Anytime public officials behave badly WE pay. All the time spent putting the production together along with any costs incurred by public dollars should be considered waste, fraud and abuse.

The could have been better utilized volunteering as a method of promoting the chamber.

Now, not only do the citizens have to pay for the possible time and money wasted, they have to pay additional funds to have the incident investigated.

Wake up SLO, you’re getting screwed without even being kissed!


rukidding

I find it interesting the that article states that the city attorney, with the help of the city council, will determine the action to be taken. Usually the city council only hires the city manager and the city attorney. It will be interesting to see how they handle this. If there were no conflict the usual way to investigate this would be to have the city attorney look into it. It appears that there is already a conflict and maybe the city attorney needs to be completely out of the case and the city council would then deal directly with the outside law firm.

Looks like they might be turning the corner of the carpet back in an attempt to sweep it under the carpet like they have done in the past.

These 2 have set a very bad example that will not go away whether the attorney’s find anything or not. Time to clean house and try to regain the confidence of the taxpayers who are paying for all of this.


MBwaiter

Both City Attorney Christine Dietrick and Human Resources Director Monica Irons have major conflcits of interests. They do not just have a working co-employee relationship. Lichtig is good friends with both of them. They have all been to each others houses for parties and Lichtig also lived at Monica Irons house while Lichtig’s was being remodeled. Complete breach of ethic for our City Attorney ans HR Director to be involved in this disciplinary action.


They should not be involved in the investigation at all but will and so nothing will happen.


Another Sad day again for SLO under the watch of Lichtig Irons and Dietrick unless this new Council stands up to them and starts a new chapter for the taxpayers.


pensatore

The video is tasteless and reflects a staff undeserving of working for government.


MBwaiter

simply, direct correct statement. You just saved us $50k so lets fire them and move on with those deserving to work for the government..


LAH

I agree, Stupid? YES, Not a decent well thought out way to behave….But come on, $50k on an investigation? Dumb!! Don’t waste a penny on this. YA think they already got the hint it was in Bad Taste?? Whoever is “Offended” to the point of spending $50k, just wants his or her job, or has a personal issue going on here, guaranteed!