Interim North Lincoln Fire & Rescue Chief Rob Dahlman came under fire Wednesday at a Board of Directors meeting over disparaging remarks he made last month in a Facebook post about three candidates running for open Board seats.
Passage of Automatic Mutual Aid was the major order of business at the meeting, where the Board voted to direct dispatch to notify both Depoe Bay and North Lincoln fire districts automatically in emergency situations rather than one or the other.
In his post, which Dahlman took down after receiving public criticism of his comments, the interim chief called the three candidates “negative people” who have “no business in public office, at any level.” He later admitted he had never met at least one of the candidates and didn’t even know who he was.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, George Blacketer, a volunteer lieutenant with Otis Station 1300 who is seeking the Board post held by Ron W. Woodard II, took issue and chastised Dahlman over his March 20 post:
“I took great exception to what was posted about myself and the other two members running for Board,” Blacketer said. “The reason I took exception to it is because, back in February, I was threatened to be put on leave of absence for posting on Facebook for something that had nothing to do with North Lincoln Fire.
“I didn’t mention anything going on or anybody. The next day, I received a phone call saying if I did not stop posting on Facebook, I was going to be put on leave of absence.
“The only thing I posted was #volunteersmatter,” he said. “I’m also the president of the Lincoln City Youth League, which is a volunteer position. I volunteer anywhere I possibly can. And the next day I’m threatened to be put on leave?
“I make it public that I’m running for Board of Directors, and all of a sudden I’m an evil person? I’m a negative person?”
Blacketer continued: “I have a letter written by another volunteer who had a conversation with Chief Dahlman and the letter states: ‘I was at Station 1600 attending Monday Night Drill and speaking with Chief Rob Dahlman regarding the new chain of command. As Dahlman went down the list, Lieutenant George Blacketer’s name came up. Dahlman’s whole demeanor changed and he became angry. Dahlman stated that George needs to calm down, and if George does not calm down, then George needs to take a six-month leave of absence.’ This was repeated several times.”
“All I did was put my name on the ballot, and now I’m being targeted for doing such. And, yes, I know as a volunteer I cannot be on the Board of Directors, and I know that, if elected, I have to resign. That is a decision I am willing to make.
“I don’t know how everybody else feels about the post. I know it went viral very quick. Our legal team said nothing could be done based on the formal complaint that was filed. But the question is, as a chief of any level, what’s the consequences for something like that? For me to be threatened with leave of absence over a simple statement. But then our chief — granted it was his personal page — attacks the three of us.”
Board member Danny Curler responded to Blacketer’s comments.
“I read the post and, legally, I think we all have the right to say whatever we feel,” he said. “Professionally, I didn’t approve of it. I thought it was out of line.”
A Board member asked Dahlman if he’d like to say anything and Dahlman declined.
Business owner and former volunteer firefighter Dan Stuebgen, who was also targeted in the post, also addressed the Board.
“I took exception to it as well,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever met Rob Dahlman. I thought it was inappropriate. What a great way to introduce yourself to a prospective Board member. I’ll be on the ballot.”
Stuebgen’s wife, Terri, had a more personal message for Dahlman.
“I’m the one who answered or rebutted what you said, and I ended it with ‘shame on you’ and that is true — shame on you for acting like a teenager and ranting all over Facebook,” she said. “That was very wrong … very, very, very wrong.
“You owe these guys an apology, definitely,” she added. “You don’t know them well enough to say anything like that.”
Roy Cabal, a Chinook Winds Casino Resort security guard, former emergency medical technician and NLFR lieutenant who is running for a Board seat, said, “I hope I get elected so I can restore integrity to the District.”
Woodard will be opposed on the May 21 ballot by Blacketer in Position 1; Tim J. Beatty by Cabal in Position 2; and Alan Lee by Stuebgen in Position 3. Jamie Wright in Position 4 and Curler in Position 5 will continue serving their terms.
Meanwhile, Dahlman, who is under a one-year contract as longtime Chief Doug Kerr’s replacement, gave his monthly report, which included urban renewal at Roads End and Nelscott and how it affects the department. He also spoke about how the City wants to purchase an emergency generator.
Dahlman said he received a special invitation to City Council so he “could show them that we’re there” and “that we have a seat at the table.”
“We want to be in the loop so that when they are improving stuff in the area, we have water systems that are adequate for fire suppression,” he said.
NLFR Board meetings are held at 4 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month at the Taft Fire Station, 4520 Highway 101.