WESTERHOLD: Here's my testimony

The city's legal team in the Nuessegate civil service hearings is ready to fight and fight hard for the witch-hunt agenda. I was a l
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010

The city's legal team in the Nuessegate civil service hearings is ready to fight and fight hard for the witch-hunt agenda. I was a last-minute addition to their witness list on Monday, which effectively barred me from attending the hearings until after I testify.

That's OK. We were always going to have a reporter at the hearings for as long as they take, and it looks like the city's hired legal team will be able to drag this out until after the first of the year. That's called hitting a jackpot -- billable hours -- which is far more important than truth for this out-of-county legal team led by attorney Margaret Cannon. Cannon must have learned how to play this game so well from her extensive experience as a bureaucrat law director for several Cuyahoga County communities.

The Good Old Boys made up a story about secretly recorded telephone calls with city commissioners I allegedly made and then allowed police Chief Kim Nuesse to hear. Cannon's lead attorney told the hearing officer, Judge Joseph Cirigliano, that my testimony about the fictitious tape recordings will be valuable to their case, pretending that new information was just discovered (made up) over the weekend. The judge went along with the last-minute addition to the witness list -- surprise, surprise -- despite the months this team has had to prepare for the hearings, and the delays in getting them started that they caused.

The GOB has several different versions of the secret tape recordings story floating, so I think maybe the city's legal team hasn't yet decided which version they like best. That must have been what kept them busy over the weekend.

I never made any such recordings, and therefore could not have shared them with Nuesse. But truth is not what Cannon seeks. The entire case against Nuesse is built on hearsay and rumor, half-truths and lies, and fictitious tape recordings. The GOB elite command -- Phil Frost and Charlie Sams -- contend Nuesse told them about secret recordings. They get to make up her lies in this twisted tale of bad government.

What a bunch of ...

Here's what happened: I received news tips from more than one source after the Feb. 26 "ambush meeting," where city commissioners Dennis Murray Jr., Craig Stahl and Brian Crandall, along with city manager Matt Kline, law director Don Icsman, fire chief Mike Meinzer and others gathered to accuse Nuesse of lying about dispatch services. Assistant chief Charlie Sams also attended and was ready to play his part in getting the ball rolling. The ambush meeting took place on a Tuesday. I left several messages for Nuesse that evening and the next day, but she did not return any calls until two days later. She initially said she would not talk. I offered to go off-the-record, and she finally agreed to have a conversation with me if I could come to her home. It was the first and only time I've ever been to Nuesse's home, and her husband was there with their children.

I asked Nuesse if I could bring a reporter with me, but she refused and said she might talk on the record later. Reporter Jennifer Grathwol was in the newsroom calling city commissioners trying to get information about what had happened while I was at Nuesse's home. She also was standing by in case Nuesse agreed to go on the record.

I was at Nuesse's house for an hour, give or take 10 minutes. She declined to provide any real information for most of that meeting, but finally opened up just a bit about the ambush meeting.

"I'm angry at the injustice of a commissioner going off on a witch hunt," she said, referring to then-city commissioner Crandall.

She agreed to allow that comment to be used on the record. Before I left I again urged her to talk with a reporter. I went back to the newsroom, gave Nuesse's quote to Grathwol and told her to call the chief for more, which she did. Nuesse returned Grathwol's call that evening and the first Nuessegate story appeared in the Register the next day.

"It became apparent the situation was intolerable," Sams testified Tuesday. "There were just so many untruths."

Yes. Yes, indeed.