Fired Sandusky worker asks commissioners to help clear his name

City manager Nicole Ard fired a department head for allegedly deceiving colleagues and showing dishonesty when buying sand from his brother’s company.
Andy Ouriel
Feb 13, 2013

But Scott Miller, a 21-year city employee with a flawless work history, contends Ard axed him for one honest mistake totaling $900.

Now Miller — the former general services superintendent previously supervising streets, parks and recreation — said he might be forced to file a lawsuit against the city to reclaim his job.

“The allegations are not supported by any verifiable facts,” Miller wrote in a letter to city commissioners delivered to them Monday just prior to a commission meeting.

“I never attempted to deceive anyone or act dishonestly or even inappropriately at any time.”

In mid-January Ard called upon police officers to escort Miller from his office. She placed him on administrative leave after learning he purchased sand from his brother’s company, Monroeville-based Miller Farms and Trucking.

See PDFs related to the investigation and Miller's plea for help below.

For more on this story, pick a copy of Wednesday's Register.

 

Comments

mikel

very interesting reading! i say take it to judge judy!!!! really though, it will be intersting to follow this through and hopefully the SR will publish just the facts and not their "spin".

The Answer Person

The first (?) nail in Ard's coffin...?

wiredmama222

Nope, one of the good old boys just found out what will happen if they get caught, I think. Not fun for them. Not nails for her. More like nails in their coffins.

fanatic

Now he knows what it feels like to be fired by City government.

HunterDude

And when will Ard be fired for her dishonesty? As previously stated she prematurely posted half of his departments to a City Engineer job that was posted BEFORE this sand issue ever existed. She trumped up these allegations attacking his character so that she could look good since she is failing at her job. This is an even bigger fail of hers. She cost the city more money in these last three weeks having him on leave over a clerical error and will cost us taxpayers even more over a lawsuit for something so much smaller than real issues at hand.She is making Sandusky look like a joke.

wiredmama222

Did the cops investigating this make him look bad too? Did you read the officers reports or are you just going on what you think of her? I read the entire report. I suggest you read it before saying anything else.

I don't think she made him look bad, he did a pretty good job of that all on his own. And I don't think the cops were in it with her either.

HunterDude

Her report and the police report have descrepancies. She states things that are opposite of what the police state. Isn't this why a police officer is currently getting his job back? Because she terminated him with with false documetation in the termination? Here goes another one.

wiredmama222

It doesn't appear that her statements and the police report are different at all when I read them here. Falsification of documentation is falsification no matter how you slice it. She even gave him a second chance to correct his statements and bring her proof of what was going on. Instead he tried to circumvent her by presenting the things through different channels than to her. No, if I had been in her shoes he would be out too. You don't lie on reports. Not if you want to keep your job. He screwed up and got caught. She isn't to blame here, he is.

BW1's picture
BW1

The "report" is rambling jumble of semi-literate, incoherent fragments. It doesn't constitute a sound basis for any conclusion. I wouldn't allow a seventh grader to turn in written work like that.

wiredmama222

When an city employee does business with family, it better be documented somewhere in his personnel file. He/she should also have it be publically known for all to hear and see.

In this case, it is pretty clear that Scott Miller falsified documents, changed bids and was hiding something to do everything he could to hide what should have been public knowledge. NEVER, EVER LIE TO THE BOSS. Not if you want to get caught. Telling Ard the truth should have been the best thing this guy could have done, he wouldn't be getting the axe.

Sending a letter to the commissioners won't help, either. Not if he wanted to get his job back. They can't help him. He got caught, pure, plain and simple. When you have vendors from town that are lessor moneies (having read that entire investigation report) and you "guess" instead of write down the REAL thing, you only look stupid in the end.

Sorry, folks. When you roll the dice, this is what happens. You cannot take 21 years of cheating and expect to say "hey, look, I did this all along, why now?". You got caught, the city manager and her girls caught you. Too bad. Start looking around for another job. Perhaps your brother can help find you one. This one looks good and gone to me.

Darkhorse

Ard happened to catch this where the previous City Manager completely missed what was going on. Lack of proper procedures are lacking at City Hall. Who is responsbile for signing documents and what is the procedure? Miller admits he did wrong and he still doesn't recognize that it was improper. The evidence is stacked against Miller after reading the evidence. I can't believe the paper is taking Miller's side in all this. The checks and balances are not working and need to be reviewed as to who should be authorized to sign off on documents.

wiredmama222

Exactly right. To say nothing of falsifying documents, and other sundry problems. This was bound to happen. I will give her credit.

It isn't so much that the SR is leaning toward HIM they are criticizing HER. They think she is wrong. That is the difference. Except she isn't wrong this time. That is what is amazing about this entire thing. She isn't wrong.

pavedparadise

Let's talk about dishonesty. As you can see below, the City Manager, attempting to take the heat off herself, flamboozled the Commission into approving an expenditure to a former City Commissioner--a violation of Ohio Ethics and City Law. The amount was under $10,000 so Commission approval was not needed.

CITY OF SANDUSKY COMMISSIONERS - REGULAR SESSION June 11, 2012 P A G E | 4

Nicole Ard asked the commission to consider making payment to Brady Electric in the amount of $6,900 for design work for the Cedar Point waterways/navigational sign.

Upon motion of Julie Farrar and second of Pervis Brown, the commission voted to authorize the city manager to make payment to Brady Electric in the amount of $6,900 for design work for the navigational sign.
Discussion: Wesley Poole asked the limits for expenditures requiring city commission approval. Nicole Ard said given the nature of this item, she would like some direction from the city commission.

wiredmama222

How is that dishonest? She asked for directon for the city commission about this. He was no longer a city commissioner and his company did work for the city. So what is the problem? She asked them to CONSIDER making the payment, she brought it up to the commissioners and asked them about making the payment. What is so dishonest about this matter? Are you looking for reasons to make her look bad and you cannot find anything else or is this the best you can do?

I would think that people would be more impressed that she asked and that the commission DISCUSSED it before anything. So explain how this is dishonest if you can even do so?

pavedparadise

Wiredmama222 lets put on our thinking caps here.

The City Manager has been on the job for over a year. Do you recall any-other time she has come to the City Commission with a request to spend under $10,000 (see Charter). If you answer any way besides no you would be wrong.

Obviously she was attempting to deceive the City Commission by placing the expenditure on the Commission's shoulders clearing her of any Ohio Ethics and Charter violations. Need verification? I let you do your own research.

The Commissioner in question threatened to sue the City---he got paid--and several weeks later gave the money to charity to take Ethics heat off him.

wiredmama222

@paved....only someone with an axe to grind against her would try and justify THIS as anything remotely as being wrong.

She ASKED the commission about it. SO WHAT???? You say it is Ethically wrong.

Then you must blame the ENTIRE COMMISSION, should you not???? They ok'd it. Is that not true?

So why single her out??????? Because you and your counterparts want her gone and you will try anything to get her gone.

So please do not try and use trumped up things such as this to play that game with me. It will not work. Unless you are prepared to blame the ENTIRE commission along with her, which you will have to do, then you are out of gas.

Nice try though.

pavedparadise

I say tomato you say tomayto. I say potato you say potayto.

I have to think the next time the City Manager comes to the Commission for approval of an expenditure of under $10,000 they will ask more questions or vote no.

SamAdams

Okay, Wiredmama, I read the paperwork, too. And here's what I'M getting out of it: Somebody is lying. Whether it's Ard or Miller remains to be seen, but since there's an argument about it, it seems entirely proper to involve the Commission here.

The various claims and accusations should be simple enough to prove. Ard says the police say one thing, Miller another. So talk to the investigator! Miller says the City's been buying sand from his brother since long before he could authorize such a purchase. That'll be in the records, too.

I'm sorry, but Miller's explanations for the "falsified" documents are pretty plausible (in fairness to those here who are jumping on Miller, when all I'd read was the Ard letter, I was prepared to jump on his case, too!). Again, it's a question here of what's true and what isn't.

When the Commission finds out who lied, that person should be fired. And I double down on that if it's Ard! Meanwhile, if there's a decent lawyer who will take the Miller case, that's just another bit of evidence that perhaps Ard DID jump the gun and is now trying to cover her own tracks. Either way, the City stands to lose money over this one, but I'd rather it lose an employee no matter WHO it is than lose another big lawsuit, wouldn't you?

wiredmama222

I am talking about what the police found out. Who changed all those figures that came in from those bids? It sure was not Ard! It seems that it must be either Miller or his second in command. That is falisification right there. It's pretty obvious from the report by the police investigator that someone from that department played fast and loose with the bids and changed them to make it look as those his brother's firm was the low bid. Next, he has been there for 21 years. How long has the city been doing business with his brother? I would love to know if it is longer than 21 years or if it has just been since he has been in charge? But either way, he still should have told SOMEONE he was going to have a conflict of interest or a problem....all this could have been avoided.

Let me remind you that it was someone else who brought this to Ms Ard's attention. Which means that Ms Ard did not find this out alone. She was told about it by two others who caught the mistake and told her about it. Nice catch by the way. Someone was doing their job down there for a change.

Next, it seems that falsification of paperwork doesn't mean much to some people, but to others it means a great deal. If there was nothing to hide, why didn't he just sign the documents and be done with it instead of trying to "hide" something? It would never have drawn such a mess as this. Then, when given the chance (a second chance, I might add) to make up for all of it, did he chose to go around Ms Ard and as she put it, "circumvent her authority" and try and pull a fast one on her?

After that sort of thing, I don't blame her for letting him go. How many chances does this guy get before lowering the boom on him? I don't see where any lies on her part come in. I do, however see a man who got caught with his knickers bunched and now he is crying to his councilmen and women in hopes of getting out of the mess he created for himself. I think that wrong and in many ways disingenous.

Ms Ard may have made many mistakes so far in her tenure as City Manager but I don't think this is one of them. If she lied about anything, I would love to know where anyone thinks that is. I just plain don't see it after reading what the police investigation said and what her letter said. After reading HIS letter it is pretty self-serving.

I do have one question. Why isn't Straub being fired as well. He is just as guilty as Miller is as far as I am concerned.

Please tell me where I am wrong about Miller?

trafficman

Miller should have been replimanded, not terminated. The amount of money involved is small. City hall wastes much more money everyday.

wiredmama222

@trafficman....when you are dealing with this kind of problem, termination is the ONLY solution. You do not reprimand, you do not caution, you do not give second chances. My question is....how many other things or times has this man done things that are similar in nature in the 21 years he has been there that DIDN'T get caught? No, she did the right thing.

DGMutley

Termination for what? Bad conduct that she caused? He didn't violate anything.

pavedparadise

I totally agree

BW1's picture
BW1

"Who changed all those figures that came in from those bids?"

Possibly no one. There are formal faxed quotes, and forms filled out based on recollections of casual phone conversations. I've called Huron Cement, tossed around some estimated amounts, and gotten one loose figure, then subsequently sat down with them in their office with paper and calculators and gotten a more formal quote that was different.

I see no reason why Miller should be expected to produce written work that is any more coherent and organized than the investigation report.

DGMutley

SamAdams,
An employee cannot be allowed to use the threat of litigation to hold the city hostage. Also, the Commission shouldn't be allowed to micro-manage the city manager's job. That being said, if this purchase is thought to be illegal then the remedy is for the Commission to void it under the terms of the Charter. That is as far as this issue should proceed.

wiredmama222

I agree with the purchase being voided, but it is a little late now. And the man responsible has done far more than what is allowable by law. His termination is absolutely correct. No question. She is right.

BW1's picture
BW1

"An employee cannot be allowed to use the threat of litigation to hold the city hostage."

So, we are to do away with the right to use the courts to remedy violations of people's rights? What a novel idea.

"Also, the Commission shouldn't be allowed to micro-manage the city manager's job."

Why not? They can hire or fire the manager. They are the only democratically elected part of city government. Did you forget that she works for them, and they work for us?

DGMutley

You're absolutely right. I'm wrong with my statements. The Commission needs to consider Scott Millers' appeal.

pavedparadise

Now here is an interesting question.

If this has been going on for 4 years, the year Mr. Miller was promoted, someone in the upper tier had to know? Enter page 4 of Ards termination paper which reads::

" you should have indicated you were considering a purchase from your family and should have sought council from me (Ard) or the Law Director. In fact, Law Director and former Interim City Manager Don Icsman indicated he was not aware that these purchases had occured (sound familiar)
......however all purchase orders require two parties to sign them (purchase orders) the City Manager and Finance Director".

Did Ard stumble upon this on her own, or did a disgruntled subordinate of Miller's turn states evidence on him? I'd say the latter.

wiredmama222

Had you read he entire police investigation report you would have found it to be one of the ladies in the office who found it. Not a subordinate.

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