City requests 'opinion' on Nuesse-gate

SANDUSKY Opinion vs. Independent Investigation. Which should have been asked of the O
MIKE FITZPATRICK
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Opinion vs. Independent Investigation.

Which should have been asked of the Ohio Attorney General's office in regards to the city's handling of former police Chief Kim Nuesse?

That's the question to be debated between the city law director, who asked the attorney general's office for an "opinion," and the city commissioners who agreed to ask the attorney general to have an investigator look into thesituation.

In a letter sent to the attorney general's opinion section, city law director Don Icsman requested the opinion on "the appropriateness of the initiation of an independent investigation" of Nuesse that led to her being fired.

Icsman's request for an opinion, however, is not what the commissioners wanted. The commissioners wanted the attorney general to provide an investigator to review the investigation, according to a city commissioner and a video of the commission meeting when the request was made.

"I want an investigation of how we got to this point," said city commissioner Dan Kaman. "From the fire station to (Nuesse) being placed on administrative leave."

Icsman wrote in the letter to the attorney general: "The City Commissioners of Sandusky wish to know if the Attorney General's Office would issue an opinion regarding the appropriateness of the initiation of an independent investigation of the City's Chief of Police."

The commissioners requested the attorney general's assistance in response to "certain members of the community" questioning the city conducting an independent investigation of the chief, Icsman writes in the letter.

Sandusky city manager Matt Kline fired Nuesse on June 17, citing her alleged dishonesty. She has appealed that firing with the Civil Service Commission and also has an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint pending.

Kaman requested the attorney general's office provide an investigator to assist the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance in its investigation of the Murman report -- the city's more than $22,000 investigation of Nuesse -- at the May 13 commission meeting.

Kaman has not yet read Icsman's letter to the attorney general's office, he said, but did plan to go over the letter at a commission meeting.

Icsman said he was following the city commission's direction when he wrote his letter to Kevin McIver, the chief of the attorney general's opinions section.

"I did what I was told to do," Icsman said.

The attorney general's office will likely not issue an opinion for the city on the question asked, McIver said.

"I don't know whether that is something we would address in a formal opinion," he said. "I'll have to think about that, but initial thinking is it wouldn't be something we would do in way of a formal opinion."

Icsman's letter asks for the attorney general's office to judge whether the investigation was appropriate, McIver said, and that is not a function of the attorney general's office.

"It asks us to act as a court of law would in overseeing this investigation and we're not a court of law," McIver said.

He said the "appropriateness" of the city initiating an independent investigation would be best answered by the civil service commission.