Emails detail ties between SLO City manager and violent employee

July 22, 2019

SLO City Manager Derek Johnson

By KAREN VELIE

An investigation into a San Luis Obispo city inspector who violently assaulted a woman in a bar ended several weeks ago, but the employee remains on paid administrative leave while city management ponders what they should do next. [Cal Coast Times]

A trove of emails, released under the Public Records Act, exposes an unusually close relationship between SLO City Manager Derek Johnson and Christopher Olcott, a relatively low ranked employee with a checkered work and criminal history. In a public statement in April, Johnson called an “unwarranted act of violence” by Olcott against two people at a local bar “appalling.”

On May 28, 2016, Olcott was drinking at Mr. Rick’s in Avila Beach when he purposely bumped into Camile Chavez, a special education teacher at Righetti High School. After he pushed her a second time, Chavez pushed back.

Within seconds, Olcott hit Chavez in the temple with his elbow, knocking her unconscious. Olcott then punched Chavez’s companion, Isaac McCormack, in the back of the head three times. Both Chavez and McCormack suffered concussions during the assault.

Amid public outrage over the assault, in mid-april Johnson placed Olcott on paid administrative leave while the city investigated if the inspector can do his job in the interest of workplace and public safety.

In the past, several former coworkers reported Olcott for workplace transgressions, including accepting a gift card from a developer after doing an inspection, and for yelling at a female coworker, coworkers said. However, these reports appear not to have impacted Olcott’s employment leading coworkers to question why management appears to be overlooking serious behavioral issues.

The 2,035-page cache of emails exposes a cozy relationship between Johnson and Olcott. While it is highly unusual for an administrator to perform site reviews with an inspector, emails show Johnson attended inspections with Olcott.

Chris Olcott

“The guys are ready for us down there at the hotel anytime today,” Olcott wrote in an email to Johnson about a Hotel Serra site visit in Oct. 2018.

Johnson responded by thanking Olcott for coordinating their visit.

In late 2017, emails show Olcott’s supervisor Mark Sadowski working to hire a temporary inspector to help speed up the permit process. Sadowski said he had received approvals from three department heads and was awaiting approval from Johnson before moving forward.

Olcott responded with an email to Johnson objecting to his supervisor’s decision to hire a female inspector.

“FYI Derek & Michael I was never asked if I needed the help or not,” Olcott writes to Johnson and Codron. “In my opinion it is not needed.”

Johnson then told Olcott he planned to evaluate Sadowski’s request.

In June 2017, a week after Johnson’s birthday, Olcott gave Johnson a book of poetry from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, a man know for his odes and love poems.

“I have a late birthday gift I wanted to hand to you, when is the best time for me to come by and do that,” Olcott wrote in a June 26 email to Johnson. “Also happy birthday (better late than never right….)”

On June 27, 2017, Johnson sent Olcott a thank you email.

“Thank you for the book of poems from Pablo Neruda!” Johnson writes to Olcott. “Appreciate it and love Pablo. Hope you are doing well and look forward to seeing you soon.”

In April, the city hired a private investigator, Dave Fleishman of Atascadero-based Hanley & Fleishman, to conduct the investigation while Olcott earns $1,420 a week in paid administrative leave.


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copperhead

Are they in love? The plot thickens…


fat chance

Can this story get any weirder…..I doubt it.


analyticone

Ick.


mercut1469

Too bad Olcott didn’t read Neruda’s poetry a little more carefully. The majority of it is happy and celebrates life. On the other hand, the video depicts quite an angry young man who, in my opinion, should be spending a bit of time in prison.


wineguyjc

When you read an article like this you have to wonder? But with the history of these knuckleheads and their history of corruption or covering up corruption it is not surprising.

A little history, so Derek Johnson worked in Santa Barbara and was part of a group of upper management that were all let go or forced out for being abusive to staff. A Ventura County Grand Jury report on the conduct of the management team in Santa Barbara revealed how abusive these tactics were. In fact, Santa Barbara paid out millions of dollars. Then Derek Johnson moved to Capitola and Jason Stilwell moved into Carmel and the allegations of corruption continued. Several other abusers moved to Carmel to. Then Johnson got a job at the City of SLO where shortly thereafter his abusive nature was revealed – numerous staff members referred to him verbally and via email as “Director Dick” when he was the director of community development. Then he hired another hire ranking manager’s miscreant of a brother in law without any background check, much less a resume based upon articles in Calcoast. When this issue came to light the miscreant moved on. Then he was promoted to Assistant City Manager, then City Manager. Let’s see since he has been in top management (All levels) we have had one firefighter go postal on a bar patron was terminated then rehired. A police chief departure for misuse of public funds for personal family travel expenses. A union labor boss, Faria outted for misappropriation of public assets (A $5,000 bat-wing mower) for personal gain. A utilities manager outted for illegally dumping hazardous waste. Several peace officers busted and convicted for drug trafficking, illegally importing controlled substances into the US, another officer busted for extortion and blackmail. Another utilities employee outted for double dipping on the City dime (A little something on the side Nicholson). A police chief who recklessly left her gun in a public restroom where a small child good have gotten a hold of it. And most of these employees kept their job. Only the peace officers were formally disciplined. By the way, the fireman was put on non-paid leave for his off duty antics.


Lastly, a question for the readers who is Chris Olcott related to or in this case the indirect relationship to the City Manager. By the way, Olcott based upon the articles was caught accepting a gift card from a local builder and he’s way out was to pass on the gratuity in the form of a book of poems to the City Manager. Honestly they should all be fired and have their pensions taken away.


oldtimer

Hot dang. Hope you can speak this and prove on record.


Mjd

Wineguyjc,


Thank you for connecting the dots, and the more I hear about Derek Johnson, the less confidence I have that he is fit to lead. These stories are credible and all of them highlight someone who is incapable of offering the required leadership.


Evn if you dismissed all of the other unprofessional acts and lapses in judgement, the fact that he accepted a book of poetry from convicted criminal Chris Olcott ALONE is reason to move on to another city manager.


San Luis Obispo has always had its leadership challenges, but this current city council and upper management staff are underwhelming, and I wonder if they are up to the task of leading our once-fair city?


Speak truth to power.


kayaknut

The whole “paid administrative leave” needs to end. If an public employee is under investigation they need to continue to report to work and in a case like this remove them from public interaction, and limit their contact with other employees. Have then just sit at a desk. The probably is paperwork that they can do, filing or other such tasks. Most offices have some work, that may not be the most enjoyable, that just never seems to get done that someone under investigation could do instead of a taxpayer paid vacation. Yes I know the Public Unions would never lets this happen but with many things that may “have been” time has come a backbone from those negotiating public contracts to end taxpayer funded vacation such as this.


oldtimer

Agreed, for all public servant jerks guilty of murder or laundering etc. What a pennies form heaven scheme, paid leave. Lol, us surfs and peons could only dream of bilking and raping tax payers of their cash for half asz work.


sbjcl

Love poems from a convicted thug. Free pass for the Chief. All three should be seeking new employment.


sbjcl

This guy Johnson sounds like a real Bozo. Love poems from a convicted thug, cotton candy and sugar pies for the chief. Sounds real cozy up there at city hall. They all need to go.


rjakelian

Why did he get paid leave? That’s nonsense…


horse_soldier

He works in the public sector. SOP