On April 5, 2013, the Mountain Democrat published on its front page a negative article about Fire Chief Bruce Lacher.
Fire Chief Bruce Lacher is not the problem. The roots of the fiscal problems EDC Fire District faces are: 1) The crash of the housing market and the spiraling of home prices lower and lower, which drove the property tax revenues in the district down; and 2) the firefighters union which campaigns to get its “friends” elected to the Fire Board in order to obtain salary and benefit increases. This unethical process has driven the costs of paying firefighters up and up so high that the district can no longer afford to pay them.
As county health officer for 19 years, I worked with the fire chiefs on the Western Slope and South Lake Tahoe. I was elected to the EDCFPD Board of Directors and served for 12 years. I worked very closely with Chief Bruce Lacher and the other fire chiefs on the paramedic ambulance services. I found Chief Lacher to be one of the best chiefs I have ever known. Both his fiscal management and personnel management were excellent. His integrity was of the highest caliber.
Why were false allegations made against Chief Lacher?
The Mountain Democrat article contained unfounded allegations. Having worked for two years in federal government, nine years in state government and 30 years in local government, I have had an opportunity to observe disgruntled employees’ behaviors. I have observed that often, when employees cannot get what they want through normal channels, they will attack their bosses behind their backs to try to achieve their ends. Not infrequently they will make false allegations about their bosses to whoever they can. The attacks on Chief Lacher began when he told the firefighters’ union that there would have to be cutbacks due to the decline in revenues. He told the firefighters that they would have to pay a portion of their retirement costs and to pay a portion of their health benefits. That triggered the series of attacks on Chief Lacher. My decade of experience with the firefighters union has been that their only concern is their salaries and benefits, and not what is in the best interest of the fire district or the people they serve. It is a shame that the union’s and others’ self-serving interests can damage a fire district and its competent leaders.
CURTIS E. WEIDMER, MD, MPH
Former Director of El Dorado County Health Services and County Health Officer (1974 – 1994)
Former Member of Board of Directors, El Dorado County Fire Protection District (1998 – 2010)