Ard ducks questions

City manager isn't offering explanation for 'no show' at finance meeting
Register
Jun 27, 2013

Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard ducked a finance committee meeting last week and continues to duck questions about the city's tenuous budget and other issues.  

Commissioners Diedre Cole and Wes Poole both raised questions Monday but got little response from Ard before being shot down by the commission majority. 

“I would probably refer you to a closed section in my contract,” Ard said, responding to questions from Cole and Poole about missing the finance meeting. 

Commissioner Pervis Brown upended the discussion during the public meeting Monday but offered additional response Wednesday in an email. He suggested other members of the finance committee were at fault for expressing concerns that Ard missed the finance meeting. 

"If the city commission wants to change the rules for this committee, or any other board or commission, they must be changed at a public meeting," Brown wrote. "Hopefully the members of the Audit/Finance Committee will direct all future inquiries directly to the city commissioners and let us deal with our responsibilities to the citizens."

Ard is a member of the finance committee and presumably fills the role to inform commission, so it's not clear what point Brown is making, or what rules he believes need to be changed. 

Brown offered a similar, disconnected explanation last year when Cole raised concerns about the police chief search Brown led. 

"If you're not comfortable with the process, change the charter," Brown snapped back at Cole during a commission meeting Aug. 13, calling her inquiry about the search "reprehensible." Brown twice blocked the committee from placing then-Sandusky police Lt. John Orzech's name on the short list of recommended candidates and the search process was later determined to have been unlawful. 

Orzech was named chief in April, a year after Brown was appointed to lead the search. The search cost taxpayers about $33,000. 

Cole said she intends to make sure members of the finance committee get the opportunity to fully inform commission on the 2013 budget and funding cuts that are imminent despite whatever rift exists between the committee and Ard. She expressed "irritation" when asked about Ard's tepid response to her questions on Monday. 

"The finance committee members are experts on the city's budget," Cole said. "I'm not an expert and neither is any other member of city commission, or Ms. Ard. The committee members volunteer their professional services and we need to listen to them. Let's do that and move on." 

The finance committee members are: Brent Gardner; Dave Hoffman, CPA; Al Nickles, CPA; Jim Ruthsatz, CPA; Brian Allen; former city commissioner and ex officio mayor Craig Stahl; and ex officio mayor John Hamilton. 

Hamilton also did not attend the finance committee meeting and did not inform the committee he would be absent. Brown serves as Hamilton's alternate to the committee, but he also did not attend or inform committee members. 

Ard has not clarified what she meant by the "closed section" of her contract that she referred to on Monday, and commissioners don't seem to know either. 

"It's a public contract," Cole said. "I don't see anything in it that would stop her from answering simple questions. The city's budget is a top priority for commissioners." 

Commissioner Poole also seems unclear what the majority coalition on commission wants. 

"The (finance) committee has been diligent and effective in their service to the community," Poole responded to Brown's email. "What is your point?"

Ard and other commissioners declined to respond to questions. 

Ard suggested discussions about the budget with the finance committee should be between the committee and the commission and not involve the public. 

"The nature of the questions you ask are for discussion by the Commission or between the Committee and Commission liaison," Ard wrote in response to an inquiry from the Register.

She also repeated that she would provide more information later. 

"As I noted last week, you will have a letter this week," Ard wrote in the email on Wednesday.

 

Comments

Sunshine1121

I feel like I have seen this same pict like 200 times... Can't we get a new pict of the lady!

dorothy gale

Can't get a new pic because she hides from the press.

Brick Hamland

They set up a photo shoot for a new picture but she didn't show up... its in a closed part of her contract

OSUBuckeye59

Brick, that is funny!!

LifeIsCrazy

Ha! This is GREAT!

richrs

Hopefully the letter she (Ard) writes is a letter of resignation as city manager.

OSUBuckeye59

After reading the details in Ard's contract, I'd be surprised if she'd resign as her severance package includes 6 month salary pay, meaning it'd be more lucrative to her to be fired for non-performance, if legal advice to Commissioners was they have a documentation trail supporting that option. But the track record with most cities is they don't have good HR personnel, and folks like Ard typically end up officially resigning yet have negotiated to receive their full severance package at best, and an enhanced severance package at worst.

Cowboy

I'm tellin ya she was probably havin lunch with Yost!

sandusky2012

I say let those professionals whom volunteered their time to just stop doing this and let the city go to the dumps and see what ard will say then . along with the commissioners!

2kids

Then we shouldn't have to give her an explanation when she is shown the door.

The Answer Person

Better idea: She probably couldn't STAND another gathering nor "pooling of ignorance", as Mrs. Burris, Perkins Speech Class teacher used to say!

pavedparadise

Lived in this area most of my life and I must say I've never seen a Sandusky City Manager quite like this. Arrogant toward City Commission, the public and the newspaper. Or maybe it's just ineptitude.

A google search reveals her job was eliminated the last two titles she held.

Julie R.

"The arrogance toward City Commission, the public and the newspaper."

Sort of reminds me of the arrogance Cirigliano showed when he told a Register reporter that "it was none of his business" in reference to the question ~ 'was it legal for him (Cirigliano) to have the city of Sandusky's Cleveland attorneys type up his recommendation in the Nuesse case that Nuesse should stay fired.'

Darkhorse

The majority of commissioners are not going to take any action towards Ard so she continues to get away with what she is doing. Ard states that her discussion about the budget should be with the committee and the commission only and it doesn't involve the public. Excuse me, but the public is the one shouldering the tax dollars. How dare the city manager say such a thing! How much longer can the taxpayers continue to excuse this kind of conduct coming from the city manager? Let's try to change this by voting new commissioners in come November.

four

City Manager is another word for Queen she answers to no commoner.She is royalty.

YoMamma

Mr. Brown must have slept through all the meetings like he did the county water sewer meeting a few years back. The rules of the committee clearly state that the manager is part of the committee! What an idiot!

OSUBuckeye59

YoMamma, now I see the potential loophole Ard might use...the rules of the committee indeed clearly state the City manager is part of the committee, to which most intelligent, common-sense capable human beings would then surmise by default, being a committee members requires mandatory attendance at any & all committee meetings. *BUT* if it doesn't explicitly state language to that effect, Ard "might" use that in her defense, that even though she is indeed a committee member, there is no explicit requirement she be present for all committee meetings.

Not saying this is the route Ard will take, but I could see her using an argument such as that, followed by stating she was "away on a family emergency and was not able to pre-warn committee memebers"...or words to that effect.

I'll once again assert the city is overpaying their City Manager by no less than $100,000.00.

JohnDorian12

He rarely looks awake at meetings...

LifeIsCrazy

Want a new picture of her? Go to Sandusky Berardi's after 7pm - she eats there ALL THE TIME. Just saying.

OSUBuckeye59

So it's really the Finance Committee's fault for Ard's no-show. They should've scheduled the meeting to be held at Berardi's...after 7pm.

LifeIsCrazy

Exactly! Ha!

LifeIsCrazy

And she started at a base salary of $127,000 - with a 5% increase after 1 year and subsequent yearly raises of an undisclosed amount. So she is making AT LEAST $133,350/year to NOT show up at meetings? Wow.
http://ci.sandusky.oh.us/city-co...

tiredofthecrap

look at her. she looks like a real go-getter. not!

doggie mom

Is Cole THE ONLY ONE WHO TALKS TO THE PRESS consistently???

God Of Thunder

Cole is the only one with all the free time she wants...

rezzy

I'm not surprised by Nicole's inaction and unwillingness to suckle on the taxpayer money in the amount of $127,000 annually (wow). I am more concerned with the fact that SHE WASN'T VETTED WELL ENOUGH BY OUR COMMISSIONERS!!! You would assume they would respect the fact that they are privileged enough (yes, privileged)enough by us taxpayers to appoint a mayor for us imcompetent citizens. Did I say mayor? I meant manager (lol). Give the responsibility back to the citizens and let us vote for our mayor, that's what democracies do.

SamAdams

Rezzy,

Take a really, REALLY good look at those Commissioners you're criticizing (and rightfully so, in my opinion). Spend just a moment going over the list of incompetencies and idiocies committed by the Commission and the Commissioners. And then remember each and every one of them was elected by votes cast by Sandusky residents.

I know you were being sarcastic, but "incompetent citizens" isn't far off the mark when you're talking the majority of voters these days. Are you SURE we ought to elect a Mayor? REALLY? Or couldn't we just hope to one day have an intelligent, experienced, honorable majority on the Commission so as to get a REAL City Manager hired one of these days?

rezzy

Good point Sam Adams! It seems voters are uninformed and vote the way pop culture wants them to. Many simply don't have the intellect to see that there is more to America than social issues and programs and that the U.S. has to interact with the civilized world and our economy depends on the global market. Case in point, China and Russia both have refused to turn over the guy who leaked NSA secrets. Putin (Russia) actually referred to Obama as the modern day leader of Sodom and Gamorrah. That is the reputation we need worldwide. Uninformed voters put him there too. Back to my point, I doubt we're getting $127,000 worth of work from Ard and our commissioners need to take ownership.

JohnDorian12

She's a disaster, why can't sandusky ever get right??

OSUBuckeye59

Perhaps the Commissioners should reconsider what experience they're looking for in a Resume/CV. Perhaps individuals from the private sector with experience & skills that could translate to potential success as a City Manager should be considered. I would suggest Commissioners agree on the Goals needing to achieved by a City Manager, then look at potential candidates with an eye on past performance in delivering results. Here's an example:

If I were a Commissioner, I'd set simple, high-level goals similar to the following: 1) Lead & Manage City Budget Planning and Execution, 2) Attract, Grow and Maintain New & Existing Businesses, 3) Grow and Maintain Jobs, 4) Be Visible and Be Viewed as Valued in the Community, & 5) Build, Execute and Maintain a Strategic Growth & Vision Plan for the City.

I would suggest to Commissioners in the future they also consider personnel from the private sector who have consistent, measurable successes in positions such as Operations Management, where responsibilities for Budget planning/execution & Strategic planning/execution, to name two, are very similar in scope & responsibility. At the level of compensation the city of Sandusky is offering for a City Manager, any and all seriously-considered candidates should have a verifiable history of proven, deliverable success, be it in the public sector or similar scope/responsibility private sector roles.

What successes and experience in Ard's resume indicated she was the right City Manager candidate? How many candidates were interviewed? What was the vetting process? Was she chosen because she was the best candidate for the position, or simply the best candidate out of those who had applied? I've experienced situations where several candidates were interviewed, one was selected as the "best" candidate from that interview pool, but consensus agreement was there was at least 1 critical skill lacking and therefore we would keep looking. Key message is this: don't settle for the best of those currently available.

IMHO, Ard's performance is not commensurate with her compensation. She is being woefully overpaid. Again, my opinion.

Also my opinion is that Ard should not only have been present at the Finance Committee meetings, but she should have been LEADING the meetings. Citizens need to see and believe they have a City Manager that's truly "managing" the City, and that absolutely includes the City's Budget. The city of Sandusky deserves better . . . WAY better.

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