At first glance, one might think the brouhaha over the video shown at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce annual dinner is an indication that San Luis Obispo had completely lost its sense of humor. After all, the chamber dinner has a tradition of making fun of practically everyone at the event in the spirit of camaraderie and self-deprecation. Fire Chief Garret Olson’s video was poking fun at the chamber, chamber staff, firefighter stereotypes — and himself.
Olson is a man of integrity and takes pride in the professionalism of his firefighters. He would never intentionally demean anyone, especially his firefighters.
But this isn’t about the video. This got started when Olson got authorization to hire three more firefighters, a move that saves the city huge amounts by reducing overtime for firefighters. This incensed the firefighters union because some members had concluded that their high base salaries and generous pensions weren’t enough, and that they were entitled to overtime pay.
The public safety unions have a history of punishing management when they don’t get what they want. So, their leadership declared war on the chief and City Manager Katie Lichtig with numerous meritless labor grievances to harass them.
The citizens of San Luis Obispo are fortunate to have dedicated public servants, such as Olson and Lichtig, who are resisting the childlike behavior of the firefighters union.
Dave Garth, San Luis Obispo
Editor’s note: Dave Garth is the former executive director of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.