Murray asks ministers to investigate investigation

SANDUSKY More city leaders may soon be under the microscope of an investigation. Comm
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

More city leaders may soon be under the microscope of an investigation.

Commission president Dennis Murray Jr. said he will ask his fellow commissioners to request the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance conduct an analytical investigation of the motives behind the investigation of Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse.

"I think it's very important for public confidence," he said.

Murray said that conversations he had with alliance members and other commissioners on Tuesday prompted him to make the request.

He said many residents expressed concerns over city policy that may or may not have been followed since the investigation was launched. Murray said that an outside analysis of the investigation is necessary and appropriate.

Murray said that while the alliance investigation is ongoing, Kline will not be able to take any action against Nuesse without consulting the commission in an executive session.

Murray suggested that no other city employees be put on paid leave while the alliance conducts its investigation.

Nuesse has been on paid administrative leave since March 10. City manager Matt Kline said the entire police department made a complaint that Nuesse created a hostile work environment. Kline said that Nuesse's "relationship to the truth" and decision-making skills had also been called into question.

"We feel there is an injustice that has been done to our police chief," said Rev. Tom Darden, former city commissioner, ex officio mayor and political chairman for the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

On Monday, the alliance announced it's seeking to recall city commissioners Dennis Murray Jr., Craig Stahl and Brian Crandall. The group also called for the immediate reinstatement of Nuesse, who has been on paid administrative leave since March 10. It also asked for an outside investigation into the motives and actions behind the city's investigation of Nuesse.

The group hosted a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the State Theatre to declare its support for Nuesse and detail its plan to pursue a recall. A heated, hour-long debate ensued. Commissioners Murray, Stahl and Julie Farrar were pelted with questions about the investigation and the February meeting at the Sandusky fire station that Nuesse characterized as an "inquisition."

Murray said that if the commission supports his motion to request an investigation by the alliance, it would be up to the commission to take action on the alliance's report.

"We're determined to get this issue resolved by whatever means necessary," Darden said on Tuesday.

He also said Tuesday that the alliance will not begin a recall petition at this time in the hopes that city leaders will resolve the situation.

According to the city charter, a recall petition must be signed by 10 percent of the total number of voters in the last municipal election and must also include a statement of the grounds on which the recall is demanded.

In this case, each petition will require 724 valid signatures, according to Jennifer Ferback, deputy director of the Erie County Board of Elections.

For the signatures to be valid, the signers must be registered voters in Erie County and both the signature and address must match the most recent records on file at the board of elections.

If the commissioner designated by the petition does not offer his or her resignation within five days after the petition and signatures have been validated, the city charter mandates a recall election be set within 30-60 days to take place at the same time as any other general or special election within that time frame. The recall vote will then determine if the commissioner will be removed from office.