Okay, let’s start with a basic fact: I’m male.
Therefore, when it comes to sexism, more specifically, misogyny, I am not always able to perceive subtleties. For example, when Jill Miller Zimon, of Writes Like She Talks, complained how a photograph of Hillary Rodham Clinton was used on a magazine cover, I just didn’t get it. I think Scott Piepho correctly assessed the situation at Pho’s Norka Pages. If I was perplexed about what JMZ was driving at, when referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton, I was further perplexed at what was in-bounds and what was in foul territory after JMZ ridiculed Sarah Palin mercilessly in the run-up to the November elections.
But here’s one more basic fact to consider: I was born in Sandusky, Ohio.
In Sandusky, Ohio, one doesn’t have to sift through nuance and subltety to find instances of sexism. No. In Sandusky, the Good Old Boys’ tastes in misogyny trend more toward sexism that’s blatant and overt. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t discern the nuances that JMZ expounded upon, because I was raised in an environment of stark contrasts.
When I make mention of a smackdown on women in Sandusky in the title of this blog entry, I’m not talking about a one-time event. The “S” in “Smackdown” in the title is capitalized only because it is the first word in the title, not because it’s a proper noun signifying a singular event. No . . . smackdown of women by the Good Old Boys happens in Sandusky every day of every year. It is commonplace. So, it is “smackdown” with a lower-case “s” that I’m writing about here. Though I hope someday to illustrate the point with my own Sandusky workplace observations, this blog entry will be lengthy enough just to tell the tale of the woman who was once Sandusky’s police chief, Kim Nuesse.
Marc Dann and his ilk might be from Youngstown, but I think he’d feel just as safe and protected if he lived in Sandusky.
The local newspaper, the Sandusky Register, has devoted tons (I think literally) of ink to the story of Kim Nuesse, former police chief of Sandusky. The truth has been slow in coming, so I’ve been reluctant to comment about it up to this point in time, but I believe it is fundamentally about misogyny, and I believe that men in elected office, from recently elected State Rep Dennis Murray (formerly on the Sandusky City Commission) to County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter, to those who serve on the Sandusky City Commission, and then on to unelected but powerful men, like some of the men in blue in the FOP, and especially some men in city administration, like City Manager Matt Kline, are cut from the same cloth as Marc Dann and associates.
By the way, if you think Sandusky is a Republican backwater, think again. It may be a backwater, but Democrats predominate in Sandusky, much like in the Marc Dann case. Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette is a Republican, but nearly all of the other principals in the Nuesse dissmissal narrative are Democrats. ODP Chair Chris Redfern sought sanctions against Marc Dann. Chris Redfern, as Dennis Murray’s predecessor as state rep, knows many of the principals involved in the current sexist witchhunt, so perhaps he’d do well to put his foot down once more.
One year ago, Sandusky City Manager Matt Kline announced that Police Chief Kim Nuesse was being placed on paid leave and that a third-party investigation would be forthcoming. Details weren’t spelled out at the time. Even the courts have not been quite so ready to furnish facts.
One year later, details are still sparse, and subject to debate. The murky tale that emerges is that the Sandusky City Commission was second-guessing Kim Nuesse’s decisions on upgrading software for dispatch operations. Squabbles about a Cedar Point ticket and a parking ticket don’t resonate at all as the motivations behind the dismissal. Despite the fact that Nuesse was fired a few months later, there’s no public record of any misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance to justify her dismissal.
However, also a year ago, Nuesse and her lawyer, K. Ronald Bailey, outlined sexual harassment complaints against City Manager Matt Kline. Though hearings were held subsequent to Nuesse’s dismissal, the judge ruled that the subject of the sexual harassment complaints could not be introduced during the dismissal hearings, because they were irrelevant to the dismissal hearings. I think the judge was incorrect. I don’t think the dismissal hearings make much sense without that piece of the puzzle.
Another piece of the puzzle is whose reputations would be tarnished if Nuesse prevails.
A piece of that puzzle rests with the conduct of Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray rebuffed attempts to make past records of Baxter transparent to the public. Considering that Cordray now sits in Marc Dann’s old office, shouldn’t he rethink his decision in the interest of transparency and let the chips fall where they may?
Which pieces of the puzzle are at the heart of the matter? My own instincts tell me this is the most relevant stuff:
“Matt Kline needs Kim Nuesse gone to cover up his own misconduct,” Bailey added.
Kline said he has done everything properly.
“We’ve done everything professionally and above board,” Kline said.
Bailey said he found it interesting that a local psychologist, Dr. Wayne Morse, told investigators certain city police officers wouldn’t take orders from a woman.
According to the report, Morse told investigators that one of his clients, who was in law enforcement, told the Morse that he had heard from officers in the Sandusky police department that when Nuesse was first hired they wouldn’t take orders from a woman. Morse would not identify the individual because he was a client.
In my opinion, skeletons in politician’s closets, sexual harassment by Kline, and sexist attitudes by some of those within Sandusky’s police force are really what this is all about.
And the Good Old Boys don’t care what the cost to the city is for drumming Nuesse out on trumped up charges, which really signals how desperate the Good Old Boys are to keep their reputations intact. This is not about what was paid or not paid for dispatch software upgrades, because a cost-benefit analysis wouldn’t support such an expensive witchhunt. The Good Old Boys can’t affix a price tag to keeping reputations from being tattered. Reputations are priceless. If a reputation must be ruined, then let it be a woman’s.
It wouldn’t be the first time in Erie County history that politicians had ulterior motives and dismissed a woman from her job without cause and without concern for what the wrongful dismissal hearings would cost.
Politically speaking, I don’t often agree with local columnist Rufus G. W. Sanders, but I wholeheartedly agree with every sentiment expressed in this recent column. It’s well past time for City Manager Matt Kline to depart, and he probably ought to have some company headed out the door with him, like city Law Director Don Icsman, and County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter.
Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Sandusky’s sexist smackdowns. I’ve been witness to much more.