Sandusky officials have Nuesse, Kline on their minds

SANDUSKY Sandusky commissioners have scheduled a closed-door meeting tonight to discuss fired police
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Sandusky commissioners have scheduled a closed-door meeting tonight to discuss fired police Chief Kim Nuesse's sexual harassment lawsuit.

The six-page document, filed in federal court last week, accuses city manager Matt Kline of making repeated inappropriate remarks and advances toward Nuesse during her tenure as police chief.

For complete coverage of the Nuesse saga, click HERE.

But some commissioners also said they would like to talk about Kline's apparent untruthfulness in the executive session tonight.

Commissioner Pervis Brown said Kline's lack of candor is a problem.

"We have to establish trust, and the only way to do that is to tell the truth," Brown said. "That'sdefinitely something that needsto be addressed."

Brown was specifically referring to last week's city commission meeting, when ex-officio mayor Craig Stahl said the city wouldn't approach the local unions to try to renegotiate their 2009 raises.

The unions would have to approach the city, and only then would the city engage in thatconversation, Stahl said.

Stahl then looked to Kline for confirmation, and Kline confirmed his statement.

But both Glenn Szatala,president of the firefighters' union, and Det. John Orzech, the union representative for the police, said the city'sthree unions talked with Klineprior to the meeting.

The city commission meeting took place on the night of Feb. 9, and Orzech said the unions spoke with Kline either during the day on Feb. 9 or the previous Friday, Feb. 6.

In fact, Orzech said he had spoken "a couple of times" with Kline earlier this month about renegotiating the raises. He even said the unions are meeting with their members this week to discuss the city's proposals, and they plan to speak with Kline again in the near future.

But as of Monday, none of the city commissioners knew about these developments, even though some have meetings this week regarding the budget.

Three commissioners said it's a "big deal" Kline didn't tell them about the union meetings.

"I think if he's working on something, he should tell the commission about it," commissioner Dan Kaman said.

The commissioners said Kline had ample opportunity to inform them about the union meetings, either during his city manager's report -- which he gives at every city commission meeting -- or when the union raises came up at last Monday's meeting.

Instead, they said, Kline acted like the union meetings never occurred, not even correcting Stahl when Stahl said those meetings hadn't happened.

Brown said he would bring up the incident at tonight's executive session.

"I think we should always be both honest and open," Brown said, referring to himself and other city leaders.

On Monday, however, three city commissioners -- mayor Stahl, Brett Fuqua and Julie Farrar -- said they still stood firmly behind Kline.

"I had full trust in Matt Kline a year ago, and I have full trust in Matt Kline today," Stahl said.

Commissioners Fuqua and Farrar both said they thought the lawsuit -- which claimed, among other things, that Kline massaged Nuesse's shoulders, touched her knee and called her "honey" -- was "retaliation" for Kline firing Nuesse.

Fuqua said he doesn't believe Nuesse because she didn't make the claims until March, after she was placed on administrative leave. He said he understands people don't always immediately come forward with sexual harassment claims, but Nuesse was chief of police, and "should have known the repercussions of not doing that immediately."

"If she would have done this immediately, I would have been the first one to say 'let's take action,'" Fuqua said.

According to the lawsuit, Nuesse tried to tell city law director Don Icsman about Kline's actions prior to being placed on administrative leave. But Paige Doster, Icsman's administrative secretary, told Nuesse "that (Icsman) was very busy and unable to meet with her."

Icsman said he always had a "very good working relationship" with Nuesse, but because he was both her lawyer and the city's lawyer, he had to distance himself from this issue.

Icsman is the city's law director, but also serves as legal counsel for all department heads, which would have included Nuesse before she was fired.

Most commissioners said they were taken aback by the allegations, even if they were expecting a lawsuit of some kind.

"I was shocked, of course," Brown said. "It's something I had no knowledge of whatsoever. It's just another set back for the city, but it's something we'll deal with."