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Ideal Grocery Fire

Lincoln firefighters use a ladder truck to hose down flare-ups after a four-alarm fire destroyed Ideal Grocery on May 19, 2016. The store's owners have decided not to rebuild, and the site is now for sale.

Lincoln Fire and Rescue shall now be called Lincoln Fire and Raubritter. "Raubritter" is an old German word for an unscrupulous feudal landowner who imposed high taxes and tolls, translated later into robber barron.

The current compensation of an LFR employee costs taxpayers, on average, $101,643 each. For comparison, the Lincoln Police Department is $79,399, and Lincoln Public Schools is $68,801. The Raubritters' share of the tax pie is growing relative to police officers and teachers.

The mayor’s 2019-20 budget has LFR jumping to $115,252, with LPD only going up to $83,946. Raubritters lead themselves in establishing staffing standards, working hours, equipment and compensation packages.

They lobby the Legislature for laws to protect their collective bargaining agreements. They rejected the trial use of alternative response vehicles that would save taxpayers money. They use their power to influence the mayor and City Council.

I am happy to pay taxes where I am getting a good return for my tax dollar, i.e. teachers and police officers. I cannot say the same about the firefighters; at some point, we are just burning money.

The leadership of LFR will say it wants to recruit and retain the best. If state law were changed and firefighters were only paid a teacher’s salary, would we have any trouble putting out the fires?

In the city budget, public safety is first priority, with roads being near the bottom. Next time you hit a pothole, be sure to thank the Raubritters, because the city ran short on road funding after paying their six-figure compensations.

Michael James, Lincoln

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