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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

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 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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