Year in review: Ard fails to meet goals

A year ago, Sandusky commissioners assured residents they found a new leader, experienced and ready for the top spot.
Andy Ouriel
Jan 6, 2013


"I'm going to give it my all," city manager Nicole Ard said upon being hired in October 2011. Ard was in her city office at the start of January after numerous delays negotiating a contract with the city that pays her about $126,000 a year.

Fast forward to January 2013, and Sandusky's most pressing problems from 15 months ago remain just as pressing.

In fact, Ard's achieved arguably little-to-no progress helping advance Sandusky as a premier destination for both residential living and for tourists.

Pick up a copy of Sunday's Register for:
• An analysis of Ard's performance based on goals set for her to complete in 2012.
• A timeline outlining the city's shortcomings in 2012.
• A Q & A with past city commissioners.

Click below for a copy of Ard's contract with the city of Sandusky.



The City Manager is only as good as her majority collective bosses--the City Commission. If they are misguided, she/he will be misguided.

Can't wait for the "Rose Colored Glass" crowd to start commenting on this article.


We don't often see eye to eye, but on this one, you are totally correct. The Commissioners are far from doing their jobs...because they are far from focused. If they stopped underminding her at every turn, perhaps something would get done. But that cannot happen when she has to watch her back every day in fear. Nothing gets done and nothing will as long as the commissioners don't do their jobs.


A good deal of responsibility belongs with the leadership. Where were the elected officials when all the missed deadlines were being missed? Evidently, Ms Ard needs more then one evaluation a year to keep her focused. The to-do-list has piled up and may cost the city a lot of money in the long run and possibility leaving us wide open for liability running the city without an engineer.


I must agree with the two first comments. The City Commissioners haven't given much leadership at all, but notice in the article in the SR, they had plenty to say. (Cole and Brady both). What a shame they don't have anything to say in sessions. Why is it that Cole has nothing constructive to say in a session but plenty to say to the SR in an interview. Brady is interviewed and isn't a commsissioner as Kaman isn't any longer, but he was one that OK'D her hiring?

Is the view better from the "cheap seats" now that some are not in the control room? Just wondering how much they all would have to say if they were on the commission still? It is interesting to hear from people who could do something about all this and yet do not. Who had the chance to do something but didn't.

Its sad really. But that is how this city is run. The don't do's and the haven't dones always have some excuse of why they didn't get anything done now or then. Why didn't they just DO instead of making excuses and blaming it on the City Managers of both past and present?

It seems to me that was their JOBS and IS their job to work WITH, not try to get RID of every manager who comes to town. What do the commissioners want? A rubber stamp leader or someone so strong they cannot push them around? I would love to know the answer to that one? I know why some of it is like this. They have no structure on that commission. It is like a hodge podge of mixed nuts. If it were more structured they would get something done.

As far as Cole is concerned....she and Poole caused the police debacle and it takes nerve to blame Ard for that one...especially in print. Someone should get rid of her. Oh, wait. She is up for reelection this November. Maybe the citizens will do just that. Goodness, I hope so.

I would love to see a score card done on ALL the commissioners. One that is FAIR and not baised by the SR, for each commissioner. Perhaps one written by a citizen instead of just one of the SR reporters (not saying their are unfair) and presented to the SR for publications. That would be a fair assessment of the council of Sandusky by citizens and the SR.

Perhaps that might get some heat under their bottoms to do their jobs, at least until Novemeber.

T. A. Schwanger

As always, I respect your opinion Wiredmama222. But to be honest, Commissioners Poole and Cole should be commended for bringing the Police Chief Search Charter violations to light. The Charter is not a bendable or breakable document. It is forthright and is not compromisable.

I have spoken with Ms. Cole personally (I suggest you do the same if you have not already) and accusations and claims of statements made by her came at a time when she was away from Sandusky with family issues.


I have talked to Ms. Cole personally and each time I wept for this city. We deserve better.


@ Mr. Schwanger....Far from being commended Mr. Schwanger. How in the world, after sitting right next to me at that meeting, can you say they should be commended when you heard what I did? They complained because of Perkins Twp people not being considered. It had NOTHING to do with the Charter, sir. Nothing at all. Not until Ms Cole went on BTL a week later, did she say a word about the charter.

I am being brutally honest about it. She had a fit about not seeing Al Mathews name on the final list and had a fit. Then the screaming match and that tale about the phone calls without any back up proof supposedly from Perkins people, and the fight was on. Oh, please. There is little wrong with my memory, sir.

I was at the meeting when she made statements (you know that) and then heard her when she was on BTL. Please do not try to tell me that she wasn't selling a bill of goods to those listening to BTL, when what she said at the meeting was entirely different.

You say that she now claim statements supposedly made by her were NOT made by her as she was "out of town" at the time? REALLY???? So three people on the commission are "lying" and she is the only truthful one? I find that hard to believe. You see how the story keeps changing here.

Nope, she changed her tune completely from one thing to the next. Would talking to her give me a third story? How about a fourth or a fifth. I would give her far more credit if she came right out and said, "yes, I said it. So what?". Instead of changing these stories every time she is spoken to, it makes her look like a huge liar. She isn't consistent at all in the telling of the stories she does tell. Either a person has the strength of conviction or she doesn't. I believe she does not have conviction Mr. Schwanger. I believe she got caught and she has tried to lie her way out of it ever since. That is NOT a quality I am found of in anyone, let alone a leader of a community. So talking to her isn't high on my priorty list. Had there been ONE ounce of her coming forward and stating a truth, it might have been worth it, but when someone tells so many different versions of the same story, no one believes you anymore.

Sorry, it doesn't wash with me, or several others with whom I have spoken. She was indignant and was so sure that an injustice was done to those from Perkins Twsp at the meeting and suddenly that changed so something entirely different on BTL....they were not following the a coaching job or something went on. I don't know who changed her dial, but someone did.

She cannot have it both ways. That just isn't right for the people of Sandusky to keep us guessing which way the wind will blow her next.

G George I du kno

What do you expect when you hire someone who has never ran a city on their own and especially one with the problems Sandusky has. If you look at her resume she wont be around long!


That's what Sandusky needs. A revolving door. Stability is overrated.


and a couple of the city commissioners will see to it. They are trying their hardest to do just that...get rid of her. Perhaps if Ard didn't have to spend so much time watching her back, she might get something done.

I don't know if you still work, but imagine if you do, going to work each day and having to watch EVERYTHING you think, do and say because two people, perhaps three, are out to get you fired and will not assist you despite your asking more than once? How would YOU feel?

I would start looking for another job immediately. I give her credit for hanging on as long as she has.

And the commissioners are to be her bosses, but since THEY have little to no direction, how can they direct HER?


$126,000 a year in this town?


Where can I sign up for that job?
I'll outbid her.
I'll take $120,000 for doing nothing.


Nothing stopped you from applying in the first place. Throw up your resume. Should be able to tell if you are worth consideration.


Mr. Blowfish

Well of course I'm worth consideration, so are you, so is anybody.
All you have to do is to be able to do nothing.

Erie Countian

This is what Sanduskians get (deserve) when they elect a bunch of incompetents for commissioners.

Horace Mann

Really? What better choices were there on the ballot? If YOU didn't run, either explain why, or admit that you couldn't do any better yourself.


HAHAHA the contract states...
Upon completion of six months of employment, Mrs. Ard is eligible for a 5% increase on her 127,000 dollar salary.

LMFAO... any reason this lady is making nearly as much as Hillary Clinton(secretary of state) a year?


Most of Hillary's staff make more than her.


City needs to use eminent domain to their advantage. It a little dirty but you should be able to wrestle property from neglectful owners and resale to developers who have resources.

BW1's picture

Yeah, right, because the way to encourage investment is to make people fear their investments being arbitrarily taken from them to be handed over to some politician's cronies.

Strong protection of property rights drives investment. The last thing the city needs is more fascism and collectivism.

dorothy gale

The salary and the perks Ms. Ard receives for doing nothing is simply unconscionable! I am inexperienced as well but I will do nothing as City Manager for HALF what we are paying Ms. Ard, as well as half the vacation and sick time!


I called this one. Keep hiring these unknowns from out of the Area. Most of you continue to support the City and the Education yet, when it comes time to hire someone they look for people from out of the Area. You might as well try and stock Salt Water fish in Sandusky Bay. You haven't learned that it's not the job they want, it's the pay. All you need to do is ask yourself, 126,000 for this Job, with such an insane wage how can you expect any common sense from those responsible in determining the qualifications?


I know someone INSIDE the community who would be qualified to take on this job and it isn't the person everyone thinks....its a MAN.

If this job opens up, he will put his name in. I know it. But he won't take a lot of guff and he will get the jobs done that needs to be done. He won't wait for the commissioners to tell him what to do...he's a self starter. He will work with people and get things done on time. He is organized, responsible and dependable.

So if they think they can just swish Haag in there, she will have some competition for sure.

Horace Mann

Oh, right - the local yokels do SO much better. If Ard was a bad hire, locals did it. Narrow-minded, inbred thinking is the PROBLEM, not the solution.


Wait, Horace, he lives here now, but he wasn't BORN here. So he has that in his favor. He is an educated man, so you need not worry. Highly travelled, and hardly inbred.

Your problem is, YOU think with too narrow a thought process. It is highly likely that someone can live here and still be far smarter than that for which you are giving them credit.

Take a deep breath and relax. Obviously an outsider didn't do so well this time did they? Maybe someone with a bit of a "MIX" will.

I don't know if you are from Sandusky or not, but that insult of being a bunch of "inbreds" not being able to "rule" is sure a slap in the face to the people of Sandusky. Very insulting indeed. Not everyone here is ignorant.

Julie R.

Why not do a score card on the COUNTY public officials? How about the judges that took over for Ann Maschari? What kind of job are they doing? How about the new auditor and the recorder? Even better, how about the former auditors going all the way back to Jude Hammond and the former recorder, Trish Fraley? What kind of job did they do before they left office?


That's what I mentioned....lets see a score card on commissioners, and lets add county public officials, judges, auditors, and recorders while we are at it! Why just score ONE official, lets do them all.

J. Hartman

While I usually don't read these comments, muchless leave a comment, I felt compeled to at least throw in my 2 cents. Without commenting who I believe has done a good job or not, there has been one common denominator with just about everything I have seen or heard in regards to OUR city of Sandusky since I returned in 2008. That would be negativity! I also believe the SR contributes a GREAT deal to the negative mindset. Look, if you disagree with the way things are being handled, become part of the solution! Sandusky truely is a great place, she just needs a big hug! That would be the citizens working with each other and not against each other. There are a lot of things I think could be approached in a more efficiant and economic manner. However, please remember if someone is trying to make OUR city a better place and what they are doing is positive, please extend your support because it is positive. Don't try to discredit or attack their character at every turn. There are some great minds inside this cities walls, but unfortunately most of those remain silient because of the previously mentioned fear of the possible scrutiny. Not saying you have to agree with everything and my comments may be a bit off topic, but as a community WE must find a way to come together and I believe as a whole, WE are making that dream more difficult than it needs to be. I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. S.M.I.L.E.


@J are correct in some of what you say. There is some animosity fueled by what is written in the paper. That is true. But they are in the business of selling papers. Many papers do what the SR does, they find something and blow it up to make a story out of it and milk it for all it is worth. Every media: TV, radio and paper in the country do it. That is what sells.

There are some trying to make Sandusky better, but those people are few and far between and they get little to no help from others who have nothing better to do than gripe like mad. Sad but true fact. I don't know why they are so bitter but they are. You cannot please some people unless you stand on your head and spit gold coins. Another sad but true fact.

The truth is, the city commissioners just don't always do what the entire city would like them to do. We don't see a lot of action. I have my own theory about that. It isn't a character assassination but a hard cold fact. You would see more people rally behind them if they didn't fight so much and there were more progress.

But what hurts is that even that could change if they had leaders on council. They all want to lead, but no one wants to follow. They cannot all lead. That too is true. You cannot win with that mix. Some of them just need to go. And they eventually will. I hope those replacing them will be better. The problem is, those coming in need to work harder than those leaving.

Dreams can come true if everyone is working in the same direction.

I have said this time and again. You have to have a dream in your heart and a plan in your head, otherwise you fail. I just hope the next group gets that. I sincerely do.

As a citizen, I am MORE than willing to work with them if they get that much right. I read your thoughts with a great deal of interest. You certainly have the right idea. Smile right back at ya.

J. Hartman

@ wiredmama222, I appreciate your honesty and I agree with most of what said. As for the SR, I understand they need to sell papers and that's how the game is played. I just wish they would take the positive stories and continuously beat them as they do the negative ones. I even have an idea/challenge for them. If they are that confident and proud of all the awards they win and are not shy about reminding us of them, why not prove they can still win the same amount of awards by being different than the norm? Lets say they make a few enhancements. Maybe stop making the daily log into a stand up comedy act and do away with it? Replace it with a daily volunteer/good deed log? They could make sure that anything about local students having success is placed on one of the first two pages instead of near the back. Maybe even attempt to keep all negative stories off the front page? Those can start on page 2. Lets say they try something along those lines for 60 days and at the end of those 60 days they are still selling the same amount or even better they are selling more papers. You don't think larger market papers wouldn't take notice and start recruiting SR staff? Just some thoughts and wishful thinking. By the way, S.M.I.L.E. stands for Small Miracles In Loving Everyone!


Why don't you contact the SR and see what they say? The worst they can do is say NO. Interesting idea. And I have heard the acroynm before. God bless you.

J. Hartman

I did give them the suggestion 2 1/2 years ago. Where do you think their 5 things to do this weekend articles came from?

BW1's picture

It's called the marketplace. Producers offer what the customers demand. People are more interested in reading about scandal and controversy.

In any event, we don't need the media to tell us when a politician does something good - the politician will do it for them.



Are you basing your impressions of Sandusky on the city only or the surrounding community? If it's only Sandusky you might want to take off your rose colored glasses.

Seven murders in 2012. The acknowledgement of gangs by our police department. Over 75% of the home are rentals. Over 85% of the children on free or reduced breakfasts and lunches. A mass exit from the Sandusky School system. A majority of county entitlement is distributed within the city limits.

Where would you like to start? Based on your comments, "Hug a Thug". I got an idea. How about people taking personal responsibility for themselves. It's a old concept that still has merit in the surrounding area of the county.

Pastor Ron

Who negotiated for the city of Sandusky? When the job was posted the range was from 85 - 127K. So they gave Ms. Ard 50% more than the minimum? Why pay top dollar for a person who never held the position that they are apply to? If she didn't want the job at the low end it should have been offered to one of the other people who applied. To add insult to injury......6 months into the job she was elgible for a 5% pay raise (Over 6K)! The people of Sandusky deserve to know who is responsible for this travesty!


It's called T-H-E C-I-T-Y C-O-M-M-I-S-S-I-O-N.


She has failed us - Like the Browns --it is time for a new search. Sandusky is duped again..


AND take the commissioners who were responsible for her hiring right along with her since they put her there. That seems only fair.


Yep, Sandusky is duped again.

It's like we wear a sign that says Kick Me.


I would like to add that if the commission was run right to begin with, none of this would be happening at all and the Managers job wouldn't be such a nightmare.

The City Commissioners run around like chickens with their heads cut off duplicating jobs and letting other things alone because there are no special assignments to any one thing. If that were to stop, things MIGHT get done.

If each commissioner were given a specific task to do, then you might see some improvements happening.

Most smaller cities work that way, but not here....its every man for himself and that is why nothing gets done around here. What a shame.


I personally got a kick out of the hard copy article version where Brady donated the proceeds from holding the City hostage for the Cedar Point Causeway sign. I wonder if he realized his conflict of interest and the trouble he could face when a blog commentor brought it to light in another online article.


You lost me on that one, enlighten us please?


June 2012:::City pays Brady for 'stolen' sign concept


Wed, 06/20/2012 - 11:17am

How can Dick Brady be a member of the City Commission and less than a year later extort $7,000.00 from the city for violating the Ethics Commission regulations? ? This proposal was made while he was a City Commissioner. Erie County can not afford such back door closed smoke filled room deals with $130,000,000.00 of debt. Remember this incident when you go to the polls in November. The Good ol' Boys need to go!!.


I was going to say that mama - I thought that Brady was right with his argument. And that is over and done with anyway - why continue to argue about the past when there is so much to do for the future.


You know, its time to move forward. Every time someone looks back, they lose seconds. That turns into minutes and eventually you lose hours. What good does it do?

You cannot continue to live in a past when you are trying to work in the present to make things better for a future. It just doesn't work. But you have to be organized and fundemental in your work. If not, you have a huge problem. That is what you need to do with the commission. Its so simple, and they are making it far too hard. If everyone is jumping around and no one has their eye on the ball, or on one thing in particular, nothing gets done. In other words....each commissioner takes a portion of something to do within the city and works on just that.

It works very well. Things get done and everything moves forward. It isn't hard to figure out.

T. A. Schwanger


Sounds like what you are explaining and supporting is a Ward System form of City Commission government. There may be an effort in the makings to change the Charter to this form. Perhaps you would be interested in joining this effort if it moves forward.

And remember:::Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


I heard the same rumor about the Mayor Ward possibly coming back up again.