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Opinion: Don't Blame the Chief for Brentwood Firefighter Scandal

In this Letter to the Editor, former Brentwood resident and alderman Betty Rick Dilthey urges current residents to get involved in city government.

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 ryan.martin@patch.com.

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
Former alderman
50-year Brentwood resident

Deborah Houlihan September 26, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I totally agree. I too, was at Bob's retirmement party and was so happy for the turnout. He is a wonderful man. Deborah Houlihan
Matthew Mayer September 26, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Bob is what Brentwood is all about, someone who has given their life so others may sleep safely. My father and Bob were hired on the police dept together. even though my father has passed away he always felt Bob was a man of integrity and honor. My entire family supports Bob Neimeyer and feel Brentwoods alderman and Mayor should be ashamed at their attemtps to tarnish a great mans legacy. Bob Neimeyer is more than a paycheck he is Brentwood. Matthew Mayer and the Mayer Family
Jack Bock September 26, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Betty, you wrote exactly what I would have said. Great job. One thing, not only has Bob been punished, but so have have brave firefighters. They are being punished by not receiving any pay raises over the next couple of years or so. Those who let the horse out of the stable and the fox into the hen house should have to give up their salaries until the debt acquired by the firefighters is repaid. Then, you would see who truly wants to represent the people of Brentwood. The next election will be fun. Do we have a City Dog Catcher who could run for Mayor or Alderperson?
Chillidan September 26, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Brentwood's salaries are the highest of the 18 municipal fire departments in the county. Salaries last year ranged from $77,476 to $87,954 for rank-and-file firefighters, so not taking raises in this economy is hardly a punishment, especially when these firefighters make more than most brentwood citizens. Bob Niemeyer's salary last year was $130,000. He will collect about $104,000 in annual pension. If you think thats a punishment, I'm worried about how you people raise your kids. What is wrong with you people? Just because Niemeyer can put on a smile and tell you what you want to hear you will defend him to the death? This OT was an obvious fraud, and Niemeyer approved the program and managed it for decades. Just because you get away with a crime for a long time does not mean that it becomes justified. You want me to start at the top? Its suck-up voters like you that justify stealing that create problems like this.
Matthew McClure September 27, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Chillidan Why make a comment like this and hide behind a unknown name, put your name out here. I have read the comments you have made over the last few months. You seem to have an ax to grind with someone or something. You have got to be kidding me, the man has worked for Brentwood and its citizens for 50 years. If that cant put a smile on your face, what will? He has earned his salary and pension. Obviously you fail to understand how the city operates. Please try to read the letter again, and maybe, you will understand what is really going on. Matthew McClure
Chillidan September 27, 2011 at 03:41 AM
So because he worked for Brentwood for 50 years that justifies creating, approving and managing an overtime scandal and stealing 28,000 in tax dollars? Just because he didn't get caught doesn't mean that he was not at fault. I guess I'm not as naive and easily entertained as you because I sure as hell am not smiling. I feel sorry for your kids...
Laura Richardson September 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Thank you Mr. McClure! Chillidan is not only missing the point, but he is angry and afraid to use his name; he must be very bitter about his life in Brentwood! Chillidan - I am Betty Rick Dilthey's daughter, and perhaps you should be worried how she raised me; I am a strong, independent woman who chooses to live in Brentwood. I choose to support the good people in life, and choose to defend the truth. I am educated, respectful of others, but intolerant of liars, ignorant and rude behavior and cowards. The purpose of my mother's letter is to once again call out the injustice from City Hall on creating a scapegoat out of the Chief rather than admitting poor accounting practices that have allowed a situation to continue for years unchecked. Removing a man from office, demoting others while protecting another and rewarding him with a created position? Insulting. Chillidan, perhaps you would smile more in life if you stood up in public and defended what you knew to be right! If you really know the Chief, you would not be attempting to call him a thief. It is you I feel sorry for, for not knowing such a terrific man as Chief Niemeyer! Laura (Dilthey) Richardson
J. Davis September 27, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Does anyone think it's ironic that Niemeyer and the firefighters get a slap on the wrist and Seemayer is facing jail time for taking the same amount of money (or less)?
Jack Bock September 27, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Is it true, people who do not use their real name (Chillidan, The Voice), are hiding from the LAW or Fear of the Unknown ?
Chillidan September 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM
People like us don't suck up to the law unlike cowards like you
Chillidan September 27, 2011 at 10:47 PM
@LauraRichardson I met chief Niemeyer and he seems like a nice guy, but that doesn't change cold hard facts. I'm just not a Naive as you.
Laura Richardson September 28, 2011 at 01:00 AM
Chillidan, Obviously our opinions differ. I do wonder though, what are your thoughts about City Hall? Don't you find it strange that accounting practices have gone unchecked for years allowing the fire department overtime to go unquestioned? How about the former City Administrator stealing (no other words to describe his gambling debts) without being caught because of no one watching the books? What about allowing a city employee to be dismissed from one position, draw the pension and move into another position? These issues are very concerning to me. We work hard for our money, and don't make anywhere near the salaries of some of Brentwood's employees, and yes, it is my tax dollars being squandered away in some of these cases. So Chillidan, I ask you, don't you think we need more answers from City Hall? Maybe a whole new Board of Aldermen and someone new in the Mayor's office.... it sure is a shame the people of this city voted to extend the terms of office.... We should all be ashamed of this outcome. Laura Richardson
Chillidan September 28, 2011 at 03:38 AM
I never said that those weren't problems, but at least the former city administator is being rightfully convicted. It was the firefighters who created and managed the program for all these years and your favorite ex fire chief who managed the whole thing, the fire department was behind it all.
Jack Bock September 28, 2011 at 04:14 AM
I'm not mentioning any names, but there may be some folk that are upset they didn't get a personal invitation to the Chief's Retirement Party last Friday evening. I'm glad it was not at City Hall, but rather on private property, paid for by personal monies. Thanks, the Mrs. and I enjoyed ourselves very much.
Laura Richardson September 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM
Chillidan, I think this shall be my last entry to this banter, but you are giving the Fire Chief too much power - he did not cut the checks and sign the checks, he did not approve policy. The former Administrator physically withdrew monies he was not entitled to for his own personal use --- that is the difference. And again, I ask why the Asst. Chief was removed from his position, then quietly (?) escorted across the street to a made up position? What qualifications does he have to take over this new job? If his former co-workers and the members of the fire department had a no-confidence vote for him, why should the rest of the city be confident of his ability? Just sayin...... So Chillidan, as I close, I will just ask again, why are you so against Chief Niemeyer and why are you so convinced he alone is the bad guy? I think you need to look deeper, or as my mother suggested in her letter, look higher up City Hall.
Chillidan September 28, 2011 at 06:45 PM
I guess it just makes me sick to my stomach we have a fire department that doesnt put out fires.
Jack Bock September 28, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Chillidan, I too as Laura Richardson am dropping out of this banter after this last entry. I will pray for you tonight that you have no life threatening ilness that requires our Paramedics to come to your home and transport you to a hospital in order to save your life. I will also pray for you that your home remains safe from fire. I have seen Brentwood firefighters run into burning homes to save people from a horrible death. Each and every time the fire apparatus or ambulance leaves the fire house their life is in danger on the way to an emergency. Every once in a while, you will see on the news that civilians have failed to yield to emergency vehicles. There is an accident, people are injured, the equipment doesn't get to the fire, or the ambulance does not get to the heart attack victum because someone did not yield to the emergency vehicle. One last thing. Do you have a medal for saving someones life. Chief Niemeyer does. He went into a house fire, crawled on his hands and knees to find a baby. He rescued that child with the childs baby bottle melted to the face of the child due to the heat of the fire. God bless Chief Bob Niemeyer and his wife Lois and their family.
Chillidan September 29, 2011 at 05:09 AM
Thats a load. My grandma lived down the street from that house when it caught on fire, there was no baby bottle molded to the childs face, there was hardly a fire. All he did was walk upstairs and pick up the baby and come outside. Quit making up stories and kissing up to the authorities you coward.
Pat Wilken Maloney September 29, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Yes, Jack.....I agree that's a great letter, Betty.....I grew up and went to school with the Niemeyers and the Lotts. (His wife Lois's maiden name). They came from good families, and anyone who devotes his whole life to the city he has lived in, his whole life, deserves all the praise he gets. I guess it is easier for some people, in your city, to blame the firefighters and the chiefs. They don't have the intelligence to figure out who really is to blame. Enjoy your retirement Chief, and tell Lois that she should too....(she'll remember me).
Pat Wilken Maloney September 29, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Laura and Jack......Glad you both quit responding to Chillidan. He is a sad person, who loves to respond to people, and just thrives on it, when someone talks back to him...I told him he needs to get a life, and I also have quit responding to him......and hope and pray he never has need for a fireman or paramedic.
Brentwood Fire Fighter October 01, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Chillidan continues to show his ignorance and lack of knowledge concerning this story.Keep up the good work chillidan, the more you comment the less anyone else needs to. I hope you figure out the true story here in Brentwood, because you obviously don't have a clue.
Jeff October 11, 2011 at 02:10 AM
The letter by Mrs. Dilthey is a complete CROCK! What is happening in this city is criminal. Literally! What we supposed to think when the firemen that are hired to protect us claim to work overtime that they did not work? By the way, this fraud went on for over two decades! The firemen that defrauded the city are liars and thieves. That is an ugly characterization, but what else fits? Chief Niemeyer was either completely incompetent or criminally culpable. There simply is NO OTHER CONCLUSION! In fact, the chief, the asst and the firefighters that stole from the city, should be fired and stripped of thier pensions. These firemen are the highest paid in the entire county, yet they still feel that they need to steal from the citizens they are sworn to serve. Jeff Harrison Brentwood, MO
Jeff October 11, 2011 at 02:11 AM
I do think that there is plenty of scorn to go around. The rank and file firemen who lied and defrauded the city are criminals. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent fo the law. The higher officers are to blame for signing time sheets that they either knew were fraudulent or were not up to the job of supervising the department. The assistant chief is just as culpable as the chief, but the buck should have stopped with the chief. With that said, the fact that the asst chief get a new city job for $86K, while he draws his a retirement of $92K/year for LIFE is disgusting! This man either signed off on defrauding the city or is criminally negligent and gets punished by making $178K! I find it comical that Mrs. Dilthey holds the city council and mayors office as much or more responsible than the man that was supposed to be running the department. Has she ever considered that the city council and mayors office trusted the chief to run his department without fraud and theft? Jeff Harrison Brentwood, MO
Jeff October 11, 2011 at 02:12 AM
The entire city council and mayors office is also criminally negligent. They should have had better oversight and checks in place. Apparently, they just trusted the firemen to self-report the overtime hours they worked. Obviously, they are not worthy of such trust. This city is a mess! Mayor Kelly's can't find $400K in TIF funding. So Brentwood had to borrow the money to pay the loan off that was called in early because of the missing funds. The development company sued the city and Brentwood spent $200K on legal fees. We also have the city manager prosecuted and found guilty of fraud and theft. Mr. Seemeyer is being sentenced this week. I see no difference in what he did and what the firemen did. They both broke the public trust and stole from the city they were sworn to serve. I think that the state of Missouri has scheduled a full audit of the city. I can't wait to see what that turns up. One thing that I think that Mrs. Dithney is correct on is that more citizens need to get involved in the city and taking a hand in city governance. That is a suggesting that I will take. Jeff Harrison Brentwood, MO
Chillidan October 12, 2011 at 03:09 PM
^what this gentleman said^ By the way Jeff, I would consider not using your real name. People will try and call us cowards but the truth is this entire fire department has already proven themselves to be unmoral people. I wouldn't trust them to save my life after everything that I've said.
Jeff October 22, 2011 at 04:01 AM
BTW, I met a very nice lady at last weeks city council meeting. She is the daughter of Mrs. Dilthey. She was very nice to me and just said that I didn't know chief Neimeyer and that he didn't have a mean/corrupt bone is his body. That very well may be. However, that doesn't change the FACT that it was his department. He was the head of it and was responsible for it. If he didn't know what was going on or didn't think it was wrong, he is not competent enough to run that department. In what circumstance is it proper or legitimate for individuals to lie about the amount of overtime that they work and turn that in to the city to be paid? There is NO way to justify that. None. So, it is either corruption or midmanagement/incompetence on the part of our departed chief. Jeff Harrison Brentwood, MO
Brentwood Fire Fighter October 22, 2011 at 01:26 PM
I would encourage everyone and anyone to visit the Brentwood firehouse,talk to the fire fighters and find out for yourself the truth and circumstances of this situation. I know you will leave with a different opinion of the fire fighters.
Ryan Martin (Editor) October 22, 2011 at 05:23 PM
If anything has been misreported (or if something is missing), I'd love to hear from you. My cell phone number is 314-943-2134 and my email address is ryan.martin@patch.com. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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