McClung pulls no punches; blasts 'politics' in Nuesse hearing

SANDUSKY It may have been snowing outside, but things really heated up Friday at the Kim Nuesse Civi
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

It may have been snowing outside, but things really heated up Friday at the Kim Nuesse Civil Service hearing.

In almost three hours of blunt testimony, former Perkins police Chief Tim McClung said politics have blocked Sandusky and Erie County from making more progress.

For complete coverage of the Nuesse saga, click HERE.

He spoke, often abrasively, about many topics and Erie County officials, including acting police Chief Charlie Sams, Lt. Phil Frost, city manager Matt Kline, Erie County assistant prosecutor Mary Ann Barylski and the Erie County Drug Task Force, headed at different times by Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter and Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons.

McClung said he didn't know how to sugarcoat his opinions.

"I'm not a politician," he said. "I don't play the politics game."

Much of McClung's testimony centered on the potential joint dispatch system between Sandusky and Perkins.

McClung noted that city commissioners assigned fired police Chief Nuesse to look into the idea of a shared building, and later a joint dispatch system.

Furthermore, he said the two chiefs of police worked with the Police Partnership Committee for nearly a year.

Richard Brady was a member of that committee, which was composed of four members from Sandusky selected by city commissioners and four from Perkins Township selected by township trustees. Brady testified that the committee met 20-30 times to discuss the issue.

But even though city and township officials commissioned the plan, and even though McClung, Nuesse and the committee did their due diligence, the chiefs were vilified when the joint dispatch system became unpopular, McClung said.

"There were a lot of discussions. It wasn't just some evil plan hatched by Chief Nuesse and I," he said. "The people who pushed this idea as great ... Then all of the sudden it became a political football."

Both McClung and Brady testified the joint building was a good idea, especially in these times when both Perkins and Sandusky have tight budgets. With a joint building, they could share interview rooms, training rooms and other services and cut down costs.

They also said the joint dispatch system would have led to further regionalization, saving even more money.

"The people on the committee could put two and two together," Brady said. "Buying and maintaining one furnace would be cheaper than two. Buying and maintaining one roof would be cheaper than two."

McClung talked about a number of other issues other than the dispatch system, mostly without censorship. He called a part of city manager Kline's testimony "stupid," responding to Kline's fear that Nuesse might struggle if a shooter opened fire in Sandusky High School.

He also said he warned Nuesse about Sams and Frost when he heard rumblings that they and other officers weren't happy with her.

"I thought she would do the same for me," he said. "If someone was trying to undermine my authority, I think she would have told me. Now I will tell you this -- and this is the only shot I'll ever take at Kim -- when I tried to warn her, she said 'No, no, no. We're on the same page.' ... And when this all happened, I said, 'I hate to say I told you so, but I did.'"

The city didn't get to cross-examine McClung, but will Jan. 19.

The other major witness Friday was former Sandusky police Capt. Gary Frankowski.

Frankowski was present when Nuesse received her infamous parking ticket. He was the one who insisted it should be voided, saying the ticket "wasn't in the spirit of the law" because Nuesse's car wasn't protruding into traffic and was parked within the lines, even if it was a couple of inches too far from the curb.

He said Municipal Court Judge Erich O'Brien gave him permission to void it, and a police manual also gave Frankowski the authority if he had "just cause."

Sue Porter, the city's attorney, asked why Officer James Ommert wasn't disciplined for writing a ticket that wasn't in the spirit of the law and had just cause for being voided.

"Using poor judgment to write a ticket while following the letter of the law is not a cause for discipline," Frankowski said. "It's no different than if you were coming here going 26 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. I would be justified in giving you a ticket. You were speeding. However, I would hope my supervisor would dismiss that charge."

"But you will concede Officer Ommert was following the letter of the law?" Porter responded.

"Yes," Frankowski said.