Endorsements pile up for fired Sandusky police chief

SANDUSKY Fired police Chief Kim Nuesse received several strong endorsements at Wednesday's Civil Ser
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Fired police Chief Kim Nuesse received several strong endorsements at Wednesday's Civil Service hearing, and witnesses continued to question the motives and honesty of Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter.

Baxter was one of thecity's key witnesses, and according to the city'sattorneys, Nuesse was fired in part because she couldn't cooperate with him and other local officials.

For complete coverage of the Nuesse saga, click HERE.

But a handful of witnesses testified that Nuesse consistently worked to improve cooperation in the city, the county and beyond.

Among those witnesses were Perkins police Lt. Al Matthews, Ottawa County Sheriff Robert Bratton, former Perkins police Chief Tim McClung and Ohio Veterans Home police Chief Gabe Ferencz.

"She seemed to want to work with everybody," said Matthews. "I don't know her not wanting to get along with anybody."

The witnesses cited initiatives like the Firelands Chiefs Association, which allowed officials from neighboring counties to share resources and information.

They also said Nuesse helped coordinate regional SWAT team training and set up Homeland Security training, inviting all local law enforcement agencies.

In cross examinations, the city's attorney, Sue Porter, pointed to a warrant sweep executed by the Sandusky Police Department, Perkins Police Department and the U.S. Marshals as evidence that Nuesse didn't cooperate with local officials.

She said neither of the chiefs, nor the U.S. Marshals, told Baxter or Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons they were making the arrests. Consequently, Lyons' didn't have enough room for all the criminals.

Porter asked McClung if there was a law that prevented any of them from calling Baxter or Lyons ahead of time to inform them of the sweep.

"I've never called the Erie County Prosecutor's office in 13 years to ask permission to make arrests, or the sheriff's office," McClung replied. "I don't know why I would have started on that day."

Lt. Matthews said he thought the warrant sweep angered Baxter.

Soon after the warrant sweep, McClung, Matthews, Nuesse, U.S. Attorney Greg White and U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot had a meeting to discuss it.

Matthews said he thought Baxter called the meeting "to teach Chief Nuesse and Chief McClung a lesson."

"But basically, when Greg White and Pete Elliot realized what the meeting was about, it kind of took a different spin," he said. "They both made comments about how this has to do with local fights (and) local politics, and we're not going to have anything to do with it."

In the Murman report, Baxter said the meeting was called to "educate" Nuesse.

Matthews said that wasn't true at all. U.S. Marshal Elliot has also said Nuesse was not the subject of that meeting.

Sandusky Register managing editor Matt Westerhold also testified and challenged Baxter's truthfulness.

He said Baxter still hasn't given an explanation for all his "inaccuracies" in the Murman report.

He questioned aloud -- while sitting just feet from Judge Joseph Cirigliano -- whether Cirigliano could be impartial in this case, given his past ties to Baxter.

In the 1990s, Cirigliano ruled in favor of Kevin Baxter in a controversial case over his family's estate.

Westerhold said Cirigliano could possibly rule fairly, but the city should have chosen a different hearing officer to ensure "the appearance of impartiality."

He said given the criticism surrounding the Murman report -- three city commissioners voted to discard it, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance said it was "fundamentally unfair" and many witnesses quoted in the report said the report was inaccurate -- the city should have selected a judge with no ties to anyone in the case.

Consequently, Cirigliano was a poor choice, he said.

"I think it's a show trial," Westerhold said. "I think it's a show trial, and horrible waste of taxpayers' money."