I must disagree with The Tribune’s position on the fire chief’s decision to reinstate John Mason. As a retired fire chief from Southern California, I think Chief Charlie Hines has made the right decision to reinstate Mr. Mason. The chief has put Mason on a tightrope over Niagara Falls, and at any missed step, he will take a long fall.
Not only has Hines punished Mason with a reduction in grade and seniority, he has potentially saved the city thousands of dollars in legal expenses and damages. In my opinion, if this case had gone to court, the city had less than a 50 percent chance of winning. If the city lost the suit, not only would it have to reimburse back pay, damages and court costs; it would be liable for Mr. Mason’s attorney fees. This could add up to $300,000 to $500,000. What would you be printing if this case had gone to court and the city had to fork over that kind of money and the employee got his job back?
Chief Hines put his pride in his back pocket and did the “right thing” for the fire department and the city of San Luis Obispo.