WESTERHOLD: Have puppy, will travel -- and never mind the kids

After getting a couple of calls Feb. 13 from parents of students in the Perkins school district, we learned that, yes, indeed, there
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010


After getting a couple of calls Feb. 13 from parents of students in the Perkins school district, we learned that, yes, indeed, there had been a lockdown at Perkins High School and another at Briar Middle School on Thursday. I don't think police and school officials intended to let the media know about the police action after it happened, but the parents who contacted me were a bit ticked.

Both of the parents told me their children were "huddled" in their classroom and kept there past the normal change in classes without any explanation. One parent told me he felt like the school district treated them "like mushrooms, kept in the dark and covered with (excrement)." The parent of the other student said the Sandusky Police Department now had a canine unit and by God they were going to use that puppy.

I expected a predictable response from police after we began asking questions, and sure enough that's what we got. Acting Perkins police chief Lt. Robb Parthemore said the sweep was routine and schools superintendent Jim Gunner said, "It's just a way for us to be proactive to help keep our kids off the drugs."

OK. We've asked for the police reports on those previous routine sweeps, but didn't get any back last week. Maybe next week. But I just don't understand why students were "huddled," as the parents described. If you're being proactive to keep kids off drugs then why on earth would you not tell them that's what you were doing when you brought police dogs into the school halls? There was no need to give an advance notice of the sweep, but why frighten kids needlessly after the officers and the dogs were there? Why keep them in the dark?

I appreciate the work school professionals do every day, and I understand that sometimes mistakes are made. But if there was a breakdown in communication that led to students being "huddled," that doesn't sound too routine to me. And the leaderless law enforcement community in Erie County has shown itself to be untrustworthy, in my opinion, so it's difficult to simply accept the information that has been provided by the PPD.

I wish it weren't so. But I think police never intended to let the public know about the action at the two schools after finishing up the sweep. They might have told us -- if there had been any arrests or any drugs found -- but that didn't happen. It's troubling to be so suspicious, but that suspicion is well-earned. I understand the code of silence that exists in some communities when it comes to cooperating with police.

And because no drugs were found in the sweep, did the school district celebrate that fact and let the students know they did good? Who knows?

Fuqua can't be bothered

Sandusky city commissioner Brett Fuqua came out pretty strong against fired police Chief Kim Nuesse after she filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month. He said he doesn't believe Nuesse because she didn't make the claims of sexual harassment until March, after she was placed on administrative leave.

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

Sure you would have, Brett. Sure.

Had he read the lawsuit, Fuqua would have known that Nuesse contends she was trying to do just that before she was placed on administrative leave, and before the infamous Feb. 26, 2008, "ambush meeting" led by the ever-loving former city commissioner Brian "Shut Up Already" Crandall.

It's interesting Fuqua can form an opinion so quickly without reading the available material. He didn't seem to mind it, at the beginning of this fiasco, when there were no written complaints against Nuesse that led to her suspension.

Get real, Brett. Try to be fair. Just try, big guy. Just try. You can never be a Good Old Boy. They won't let you in the club, but they will let you do their dirty work.

Same goes for city commissioner Julie Farrar.

The best reforms inside the Sandusky Police Department in a generation occurred between August 2006 and March 2008. That's what this is all about. Change is hard, and the "elite commanders" inside the SPD, and Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter, hoped they would be much more comfortable after forcing Nuesse out.

If they are ultimately successful in that effort, they will win back their comfort, and residents will lose. All around.

The way music should be

Recently I've discovered jango.com, a commercial-free radio station online. It's the best.

I was watching the TV series, "House" one night, and there was a theme song for that episode called "Are You Alright?" by Lucinda Williams. The song reminded me of a woman I know, so I YouTubed it, as it were, a trick my 12-year-old daughter taught me. At about that same time, a friend told me how great jango.com was.

This is the way music was always meant to be discovered, I think. I quickly became an all-out Lucinda Williams fan, but jango.com automatically provides music similar to the favorites you program on your personal radio station. If you're a music fan I suggest you try this. It's better than WMMS in its heyday.

And "House" is also a pretty darn good television series.