Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Lacher article challenged

EDITOR:

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)

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 9 comments

  • SalemApril 08, 2013 - 2:56 pm

    I hear what you are saying Mr. Weidmer. I'm not convinced Chief Lacher is the problem either, however as a previous board member, you still have an obligation to to with hold your judgement towards both administration and union employees alike. I do appreciate your side of the story, and your commitment to this community.

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  • 1036-FrankApril 08, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    I heard this to for many years, I would call it a "justification-excuse" every time I heard a corrupt "employee" retired out at over 100k and a few nearly 200k a year that they weren't to blame, it was PERS fault for giving it to them, or the county's fault for letting them cash out huge chunks of stored up time. The fake promotions they gave their Gob's and themselves were not to be considered. It was always someone's fault, never their own. Let a good auditor into the books and a good investigator into the records and then see what really was going on, a sudden "injury" or retirement papers filed when the auditor is seen, usually is an indicator of something amiss, added to the use of a huge bank of sick leave to be paid in full pending retirement is always highly suspicious.

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  • J. OthersideApril 08, 2013 - 4:58 pm

    I think a better challenge, for both parties and the MD, would be to publish the numbers for the past 5 years. Compensation does not appear to be private or protected information according to these letters. So publish the salaries, the perks, the union dues, the rank and file pay, the whole shot and let the taxpayers decide who is zooming who.

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  • WilsonApril 08, 2013 - 10:52 pm

    Curtis Weidmer, your ignorance is laughable! Yo blame the unions and the firefighters? You believe their pay is part of the reason for the $1.6 million deficit? Since you were on the board for 12 years I think it's simple enough to blame YOU!! I don't think any of the union firefighters make $180,000/yr with deferred compensation paid monthly...but you signed a contract where Lacher does. If the housing market was at fault, how could you sign such a generous contract to the chiefs when you knew the revenue was down? Better yet, when you noticed the revenues where not meeting the expenditures, how could you not cut back on spending or increase on revenue ventures? And all this while increasing a Chiefs pay with a 5 yr contract at 30%. You said this started because Lacher asked for cuts...since you were off the board at that point it sounds like you're gullible to what Lacher told you. STOP DRINKING THE KOOL AID!! Answer me this Mr. Weidmer; how can a chief with such integrity try and go out on work comp stress when he is paid $180,000/yr to manage the fiscal state of a dept. only when he notices the $1.6 million deficit? It was his job! He failed! So now he's stressed and should get tax free retirement? Integrity?? Again, your ignorance is laughable!!

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  • Stephanie HApril 10, 2013 - 6:29 am

    I have read the majority, if not all of the recent articles surrounding Bruce Lacher and the Fire Dept. In the reading and the comments I see a common thread; the board never stood up to him and just agreed/ignored what was going on. This letter appears to defend Lacher. Maybe because the author is guilty as well...since he was on the board. Hmmmm. See folks, these are the problems with the corruption when large amounts of money is involved. People covering each others back. This author, Weidmer, can not find Lacher guilty because then he would be guilty as well. Keep this in mind!

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  • SandyApril 10, 2013 - 7:26 am

    I have to agree with Stephanie and Wilson. Wilson says "Curtis Weidmer, your ignorance is laughable!" It's very clear to me that Curtis has no idea what he's talking about. Maybe he joined in with the rest of them in Lachers home playing cards and making plans as to what to say next and how the heck their going to get out of this one. It's NOT the union! People believe what they read which in Dawns report is all true. The problem is all the information that wasn't printed. Dawn did a great job with what she could use. Things have to be substantiated and people have to be interviewed or she can't print it. NOT ONE "white shirt" was in her article. Maybe they weren't "available for comment." There are boat loads and boxes of information that would make you sick!!! Don't be fooled. CW and the rest of them are all good friends. Someone has to " defend " the group. No one else is because there is no defense. Not even Bill Wright who could simply say "no comment".

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  • Mr.OApril 10, 2013 - 10:19 am

    Absolute joke! Chief lacher use to attend union meetings often telling it's members to "Trust me until I give you a reason not to" Which was code for Don't ask question so that I may get away with it. It's funny how past and even current board members who were residing during Lachers reign are now asking quastions as why this has happened. Grab a mirror and look, there's your answer.Curtis Weidmer,you are an ignorant fool because you signed Lachers contract while revenues declined.You sat on the board nodding your head yes like a bobble head doll. Current Board member Johnson (Retired Chief) why would you rock the boat? Because Lacher took care of you too. Promoting you again after self resigning as Battalion Chief. Even today, right now the Chiefs have taken pay raises while the line personel saleries are cut. No leadership, no morals. Why would an Assistant Chief who just retired steal District property (Computer hard drives) and intentionally destroy it? What are you hiding? Everyone knows you only worked 3 days a week so what else was about to be exposed before you destroyed the evidence? The Chiefs for many years and still today have lined their pockets while watching the rank and file being cut. They have a private club with a secret password and that word is hypocrisy. The Chiefs ran a GOB's club for years and would reprimand anyone for questioning it, until now. You all have been and will continue to be exposed as more is being brought forward.

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  • ScottApril 10, 2013 - 11:06 am

    Holy smokes Mr. O!!! Well said. And how did the AC destroy his secret hard drive... Did he burn it. Did he water log it. Did he bury it. Did he shoot it??? Lacher really used the words "TRUST ME?" That's incredible. Problem was all the troops did at one time and look where it got them!!

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  • EvelynApril 10, 2013 - 11:21 am

    Knowing nothing about the truth in this particular case, I wish to make but two comments: (1) "Untrusting" is a word commonly used to stigmatize public skepticism; (2) Trashing hard drives to obliterate evidence of personal culpability is not uncommon.

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