Legend says Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned, would be an excellent symbol for Contra Costa County — a county within which there is a history of doling out huge and unnecessary payments to fire chiefs.
The 2011 winner of the Nero Award should go to Daryl Louder, the Contra Costa fire chief. According to the Contra Costa Times, Louder “quietly billed the county $11,200 for the tuition to a prestigious three-week . . . program at Harvard University.”
Other winners of the Nero Award should be the government officials who, in 2009, gave a lifetime annual pension of $284,000 to Craig Bowen, the fire chief of San Ramon. Bowen was 51 years old at the time.
Another winner should be the paymasters of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, who foolishly, in 2009, doled out a yearly pension of $241,000 to Pete Nowicki, the district’s former fire chief. Nowicki was 50.
As for Chief Louder, who was at Harvard on the eve of a contract vote that would cut pay for front-line firefighters and dispatchers, a special set of words should be reserved for him. The words contain the letters “f-i-r-e” in them. The special words should be: “You’re fired.”