Buckeye Lake Village Hall was packed for the 8/27 council meeting. Many of us were waiting to hear from Mayor Rick Baker about his plan to improve BLFD staffing and response times. Last week, Baker told The Beacon he would address the issues at an 8/24 meeting with the fire chief, council safety committee chair and council president.
As we waited on the edge of our chairs to hear about the meeting, there was NOT ONE WORD about the BLFD! When it came time for the reports of the mayor and council president, the serious issues and allegations against the BLFD were totally ignored! What a missed opportunity! At a minimum, I would have expected Baker to say, “I take these issues very seriously and have instructed the fire chief to take corrective action. Be assured that we will do everything possible to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents.”
Since the mayor has chosen to be silent on the issue, I’ll tell you what I have heard.
Apparently, the 8/24 meeting was NOT productive because Fire Chief Pete Leindecker later laughingly told some fire department personnel, “The meeting was a joke!” I repeated Leindecker’s comment for the mayor’s benefit at the council meeting while Leindecker sat silently. Baker’s only response was to give Leindecker a disapproving scowl.
After the meeting was over, Leindecker made a scene by shouting and cursing in my face, claiming he didn’t even go to the station after the 8/24 meeting. It’s interesting that he didn’t object and declare his innocence during the council meeting. Of course, there were individuals present who could have confirmed the comment.
For some reason, Mayor Baker is single-minded about what he wants to accomplish in Buckeye Lake. He did warn us ahead of time—his sole campaign issue was all about tearing down old houses. Maybe he should have applied for the position of development director and let someone else be mayor. With his background, he should have known that a mayor’s job is much broader than an ongoing demolition project.
He seems to think the village can run itself! That may work with good department leadership. We all know that ain’t so. BLFD is “running amuck!” The village administration is a disaster – the leadership is not just weak, it’s nonexistent! Baker says he regrets that he ran for office. Leindecker never really wanted to be chief. If they don’t want to step up and do what’s right, they need to step aside.