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 By Dennis Richardson


January 16, 2010 (Lakeside) -- The Lakeside Fire Board fired our Chief for doing his job far above the expectations. The rushed lynching of Chief Mark Baker was not announced or publicized to the public by the Fire Board.


This firing was done with the hearing room filled with his supporters who all voiced their heart-filled opinions to keep him; standing room only. The board went against the public outcry to keep Chief Baker.


Mark:  When things are going well, we don’t appreciate what we have. When things are done well, we recognize the consequences of the great leadership, and give credit to the person in charge who was responsible for all the good things.


I know some great things you have done for Lakeside, which was outside of the Fire Department's typical duty, including your proactive approach to your leadership in the Lakeside Fire Department, which benefited our community… For those of us who live and work in Lakeside, we will feel the pain of your departure.


I am part of the Lakeside Public Safety Committee. Your proactive work with the Lakeside Public Safety Committee and the Fire Department, working with the Sheriff Department, has reduced the crime in Lakeside and eliminating hundreds of emergency response calls by the Fire Department and Sheriff Department.  This is very much appreciated by Lakeside. It is far and above the call of duty and is to be commended. Lakeside is a better place because of it.

Thank you for your service.  Happy trails ahead.


Dennis Richardson
Life Time Lakeside Resident

The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

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Andy Parr is confirmed as new Fire Chief

Yes miriamg, this is correct. It was on the agenda as a closed session item. (item B. Public Employee Appointment-Title: Fire Chief) For the second time actually, it was also on the agenda for the last meeting but they returned with "no reportable action" then. It was in fact announced when they returned from the closed session this time.

Lynching of a fire chief?

Dennis, you are sorely wrong in your guest commentary regarding the dismissal of Fire Chief Mark Baker. This should have not have been any surprise to someone who has attended the fire board meetings on a regular basis. Mark Baker was the WORST fire chief this district has ever had. I don't expect the public to understand the damage he has done to the department or the community without having knowledge of the fire service and his poor management. Mark Baker can tell you all the great things he has done for the district and community, but they are spun lies. If he was a great fire chief and had the respect of ANYONE in the fire service it would have shown at the board meeting when he was dismissed. You stated the huge public support for him but not one person from anywhere (local fire departments)in the fire service was there to speak on his behalf because he in fact alienated those people by his poor interpersonal skills and management style. Located on the Lakeside First website is a list of all of Mark Baker's accomplishments, these of course are his exaggerated lies. I would individually refute them if there were enough time and type space for any reader to care to read about. I will include one current accolade of his for your enjoyment. His (Mark Baker) selection for the future site of Fire Station 2 was one of seven proposed sites near the base of the Eucalyptus Hills community. He chose, and convinced the Fire Board, the only site on a hill side, the rest were all flat parcels of land that were in the near vicinity along Riverside Drive / Lakeside Ave. This great purchase he made, after paying well above market value for one of the homes on the proposed site, will cost $2 million to grade. That is a waste of taxpayer dollars if I have ever seen. This money could have been spent on developing a state of the art public building with design elements like energy saving solar panels. It appears now that there isn't enough money to install a system capable of making the fire station self sufficient like it could have been. But I'm sure Mark is a nice guy and that's what's important to Dennis and his friends at Lakeside First. After all, it's only (your) money.

We all know what opinions are like!

"local firefighter," How is it that you justify saying that Mr.Richardsons "opinion" is wrong? (I see you have no problem expressing your own "opinion")By definition it is his "opinion." So his opinion differs from yours, isn't it great that we have our "first ammendment rights?" (those same rights SOMEONE recently expressed (vehemently) were his "right to excersise" in a LFPD board meeting)And where in Richardson's "opinion" does he mention "his friends at Lakeside First?" Are you getting your battles confused here? Are all of Mark Baker's accomplishments listed on the "firefacts" website exaggerated lies too? (yes, I know they don't give him credit on that site, sadly, such is the way of politics)And how exactly did Mark Baker "convince" what must have been the majority of the board to vote for this parcel if there was not a sound strategic reason behind his suggestion of it over the other 6 available? (Were there issues you don't mention perhaps? For instance property owner resistance, appropriate size, access/egress, or impacts to the development.) Maybe even more importantly, how did YOU vote on that one?

Baker will be missed!

Chief Mark Baker brought in an attitude of real concern for the citizens of Lakeside. He cannot be replaced by Parr, who has already angered folks with his actions in the Cedar Fire. The three individuals who seemed to have violated the Brown Act by planning this ouster will find that the ripple effect is severe. Bravo to the Chief, Happy Trails indeed. Know that the citizens of this community appreciate and respect you. You leave us better off that when you came. Thank you for all of your hard work! As for those 3 who highjacked the Board, they have lost all respect.