Kline reading report; ministers mull next move

SANDUSKY While city manager Matt Kline reads the investigation report about police Chief Kim Nuesse, the Interdenominational
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

While city manager Matt Kline reads the investigation report about police Chief Kim Nuesse, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance will discuss its next move.

City manager Matt Kline said Friday afternoon that he received the full investigation report from Murman and Associates in the middle of the week. He said he is the only one with a copy of the report and it will likely remain that way until "everything is finished."

Kline said he estimated the report to be about 250 pages.

"The next step is for me to read everything," Kline said, explaining he has no set timetable.

Nuesse has been on paid administrative leave since March 10 pending the results of an investigation into allegations that she created a hostile work environment. Her "relationship to the truth" and decision-making skills have also been called into question. According to recent city records, the investigation bills total more than $20,000, to be paid from police department funds.

On Thursday, Kline and Interim police Chief Charlie Sams spoke about changes being made within the police department in Nuesse's absence.

Lt. Chris Hofacker -- who wrote an e-mail to everyone within the police department early in Nuesse's leave reminding officers she was still the chief -- will move from patrol division commander to training coordinator for the department. Lt. Max Jarrett will move from being in charge of a patrol shift to patrol division commander. Lt. Mike Campbell will move from the detective bureau to head a patrol shift. Detective Sgt. John Orzech will be the senior supervisor in the detective bureau.

Sams said the changes were necessary for the understaffed department to continue functioning and "responding to the needs of citizens."

"We had some areas of concern," he said. "For instance we had nobody assigned to work on our training program. We were behind on a number of training issues and it was an area that definitely needed to get addressed."

Sams said during weekly meetings, the command staff brought up issues of concern and ideas for possible changes. He said the moves are all lateral and nobody was demoted or disciplined.

Kline said he's going on the recommendations of Sams and the rest of the command staff.

"It doesn't have anything to do with Nuesse," he said.

Kline said that this shifting of responsibilities does not mean he has made a decision regarding Nuesse's future.

Nuesse's attorney, K. Ronald Bailey of Sandusky, characterized the situation as "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

The Rev. Tom Darden, political chairman of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, returned to town Friday and said he was somewhat concerned about recent actions at the police department.

On May 5, the Alliance announced it is 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 on May 6 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."

At their May 12 meeting, Sandusky City Commissioners voted 6-0 to request the Alliance, in conjunction with the Ohio Attorney General's office, conduct an analysis of the motives behind the current police department investigation at the conclusion of the ongoing investigation. Commissioner Brian Crandall, who has already announced his plans to resign, was absent from the meeting.

"Now that I'm back, I'll be making some phone calls," Darden said late Friday afternoon. He said he needed to speak with members of the Alliance to see if a special meeting should be called.

Darden said he believes some commissioners are taking the concerns of the alliance too lightly. He said that are not trying usurp or disrespect any city leaders. Darden said that elected officials simply need to be held accountable to the voting public.

"We're very serious about what we're doing," Darden said. "We plan to see it through to whatever the conclusion may be."