Former Brentwood alderman and resident Betty Rick Dilthey submitted the following Letter to the Editor on Sunday. Want to submit your own Letter to the Editor? E-mail editor Ryan Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just returned from a beautiful retirement party given for the former Brentwood fire chief by those that truly know and love him.
In the past few months, Bob Niemeyer has been crucified by some of the people living in the “City of Warmth." What a shame as this shows their lack of knowledge. Yes, some firemen were paid overtime for more hours than they worked, and yes, this was wrong. But this is not the fault of one man.
The chief does not sign his own paychecks. If you know anything about government, you know that the fire chief and police chief answer to the Public Safety Committee, which is comprised of three members from the Board of Aldermen, appointed by the mayor. This committee approves or disapproves the chief’s requests. In some cases, these are brought to the board for total board approval. The board in turn answers to the mayor. All checks pass through city administration and over the mayor’s desk for approval and signature.
In the past two decades, there have been at least five mayors, two city administrators and 10 or more aldermen serving on the Public Safety Committee. If this was such a crime, what were they thinking all those 20 plus years? How can it be that only the chief is punished? If this was such a crime that both the chief and assistant chief had to be forced into retirement, what justified their turning around and rewarding the assistant chief with a paid position in the city?
What does this say about the people in Brentwood? Those of us who have grown up and/or lived in Brentwood the past 50 years KNOW that there is not a malicious bone in Bob Niemeyer’s entire body. This man has given his life for the city that he loves. This man has given more and been more to the citizens of Brentwood than any person I know. Bob loves his community and the people that he served. If those of you that are so offended want to know the truth, try talking to those that have grown up or lived in Brentwood for those two decades. Instead of trying to hang the man, you should take your hat off to him.
I doubt that any of you self-proclaimed “do gooders” will do as much good in your lifetime as the chief has done in his 49 years of service for you. And if you are determined to “punish” somebody for overpaying their men PLEASE start at the top and work your way down. Name and point your fingers at the mayors and city administrators who approved these paychecks without questioning them.
And, least of all, don’t overlook the aldermen that served on the Public Safety Committee and were your checkpoints to good and safe government. Better yet, get involved! Go to the monthly meetings, join a committee or run for office. But at least dig far enough into the story to find out there is more than one person involved.
To be really qualified to say who did good and who did wrong, you need to know the person from the inside out and the reason he did what he did. Then, and only then, are you qualified to make a judgment call.
Betty Rick Dilthey
50-year Brentwood resident