The Kim Nuesse civil service hearing finally began Monday, and the city's attorneys came out swinging.
Swinging and connecting, however, are two different things.
Sue Porter, one of the city's attorneys, grilled fired police Chief Nuesse for almost five hours Monday, but Sandusky's first female police chief never stumbled or hesitated with her responses and refuted almost every charge levied against her.
"I thought she was one of the best witnesses I have ever seen," said K. Ronald Bailey, Nuesse's attorney.
But Margaret Cannon, the city's lead attorney, said Sandusky laid the groundwork for a good case.
In her opening statements, she listed the four issues of the hearing -- a voided parking ticket; law enforcement grants; dispatch service; and lack of cooperation with other city leaders -- and said Nuesse committed "Category 3" offenses in each of these cases. "Category 3" offenses are grounds for termination.
Cannon's partner, Porter, then spent significant time interrogating Nuesse about all four issues.
"This is a long process," Cannon said. "This is just Day 1."
Just getting to Day 1 was a long process. Nuesse was fired June 17 and appealed the firing June 24. The civil service hearing was delayed twice.
Even on Monday, it took time to get going. Although the hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m., Joseph Cirigliano, the former appellate court judge overseeing the hearing, conducted closed-door meetings with both parties to rule on pending motions.
Those began at 8:53 a.m., and although principal participants emerged a few times during the next hour, the hearing did not actually commence until 9:56 a.m.
Finally, however, the city read its opening statement and called Nuesse to the stand -- its first of 14 scheduled witnesses.
Porter quickly tried to paint the fired police chief as a hypocrite -- a crusader for honesty who didn't practice what she preached. In one instance, she said Nuesse issued a directive that Sandusky police officers could no longer accept free coffee or other gifts from local merchants. Nuesse confirmed this was true.
But Porter said Nuesse did the exact opposite -- accepting free tickets to Cedar Point and Soak City for her family.
"Those weren't from a local business," Nuesse said, explaining they were a gift from a fellow police chief. "Those were from a peer."
Porter didn't refute this; she just moved onto the next topic. And so it went: the city attorney throwing punches, and Nuesse counterpunching.
The city did have its moments. At one point, Porter got Nuesse to admit she was late filing quarterly finance reports for grants -- a minor offense.
Round 2 begins Tuesday.