Darden: City racist, sexist in firing of Ard

“As you publish the notice for a new city manager and you list the requirements, you should also include in it: ‘Women and blacks need not apply. We’re taking the city in a different direction,’”
Andy Ouriel
Apr 15, 2014
A prominent local leader blasted Sandusky commissioners Monday for their recent controversial decision to oust city manager Nicole Ard.

The Rev. Thomas Darden, a black man, told commissioners he believes they fired Ard, a black woman, simply based on her race and sex.

“As you publish the notice for a new city manager and you list the requirements, you should also include in it: ‘Women and blacks need not apply. We’re taking the city in a different direction,’” Darden said.

About 40 people attended Monday’s public meeting, with the majority of them black and supporting Darden’s statements.   

Darden’s criticism stems from a late March decision in which commissioners voted 4-3 to fire Ard. Three of the four commissioners who voted to fire Ard — ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr., Dick Brady and Naomi Twine — just began their four-year terms in January.

Monday marked the first public meeting commissioners convened since firing Ard.

“Some of you campaigned the citizens of Sandusky … you presented your platform, and we believed in you and elected you, not knowing you had a hidden agenda” Darden said. “You had in mind that you were (going) to fire the city manager”

Murray responded to Darden by politely disagreeing with his comments.

“I respect your opinions” Murray said. “But I do categorically reject that the decision was based on race and gender. That had no part of my decision or any part of the other three commissioners”

The four commissioners collectively contend they voted to fire Ard solely based on her performance.

Her firing came two months after commissioners gave her a last-chance agreement to either shape up or get shipped out.

In a nutshell, the last-chance agreement outlined many of the deficiencies commissioners perceived in Ard’s performance. If she didn’t show significant improvement in 60 days, commissioners threatened to fire her. They immediately did so once the 60-day period expired.

Darden, a respected area pastor who previously served on commission, believes the city didn’t give Ard a fair shot at succeeding.

He blamed a good portion of Ard’s downfall on commissioners not providing her a secretary. Ard, however, adamantly refused an administrative assistant when commissioners previously wanted to give her one.

In an interview after Monday’s public meeting, Twine — a black woman who voted to fire Ard — dismissed Darden’s viewpoint and said his opinion of commissioners displaying racism and sexism toward Ard “couldn’t be any further from the truth”

“I based my vote on 24 years of public administration experience,” said Twine, a full-time executive assistant to the Ohio Veterans Home superintendent.

The four commissioners who voted to fire Ard: Murray, Brady, Twine and Wes Poole, a black man.

The three commissioners who wanted to keep her are all white: Julie Farrar, a woman, Scott Schell and Jeff Smith.

Commissioners are moving forward in their quest to find a new city manager. It’s unknown when they’ll hire one.

With a salary of about $129,000 a year, Ard was the city’s highest-paid employee.

Comments

DGMutley

I didn't catch that. He can't change the Charter without putting it on the ballot. Eliminate term limits? No way.

Darkhorse

Darden was a little off his game when he pulled the race card. The commissioners had to make a difficult decision that should have been made a long time ago. The city had to be very careful that everything was documented and to make sure no lawsuit would stick if one should be filed. The early signs were there and some citizens just refused to recognize them.

DGMutley

Maybe. Maybe not. If anything the Commission have put themselves into a predicament with their "last-chance agreement". The problem is the very one you bring up: They didn't document why they fired her.

so.....

My husband is a city employee who saw her ineptness firsthand. Needing her signature to conduct business but unable to find her and nobody at her office had a clue where she was or when she'd be back. She wasn't held accountable by anyone. This was a justified firing. Now we'll sit back and await the lawsuit that is sure to follow. I truly believe this was her plan all along.

Julie R.

Just because Ms. Ard's signature was needed to conduct business and nobody could find her doesn't mean she was inept at her job. I mean, it's not like she was running to hide or anything like your snakes in the county do, was she?

DGMutley

so.....,

Justified on what?

God Of Thunder

Really??? She was fired because of her race and gender?? Come on.. Enough with trying to segregate the community. There is nothing fishy or racist about this. Her performance was horrible. If they would start hiring more locally, for someone who actually has some roots in the community, it might actually work well. Look at how well things went when Mike Will was city manager.

Retiredfirefighter

Does Mr. Darden realize she was not doing her job and cost the city money and jobs. I think the city commission was way to easy on her for her lack of planning and action.

T. A. Schwanger

###

@ Retiredfirefighter

I always look forward to your input.

I'm curious what your opinion is on how there will not be layoffs in the fire department and station # 7 will only close occasionally instead of permanently. And if a station must close occasionally, why not # 3 on Cedar Point Drive? Is it possible the panic was created to gage public support for an income tax increase and based on anti-tax increase feedback from the community all is now good?

What do you think?

DGMutley

I think that is a good point!

Little Giant

Just curious..... anybody know how many whites attend Rev. Darden's Church?

santown419

Does it matter how many whites attend his church. That's like asking how many blacks are in your family or how many blacks compared to whites you have been with.

Little Giant

Yes it does matter how many whites attend his church. The firing of Ard was not a racial issue and Mr. Darden is trying to make it into one. It would server Mr. Darden good to read Matthew 7:3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

DGMutley

How do you know that? It smacks of it.

GoBigLex2001

Another race baiting Reverend. You should be ashamed sir and should be defrocked. Gotta love how thats a black persons and liberals "go-to" move..play the race card when you cant do anything else.

BIGHAWK

Unfortunately its not about race, its about performance and expensive errors/decisions that cost the residents of sandusky hundreds of thousands and lack of growth. A real man of God would not live by the perceived race injustice and act or attempt to destroy and be a negative influence, but be a builder and know the facts before attempting to lynch the city commission.

Stop It

Speak like that fills the tithing/pass around contribution basket to his higher standard of living.....in the black community. Just like Jesse and Al.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

The next time you hear somebody cry racist or play the racism card laugh laugh until they walk away. LOL…

JERRY from SANDUSKY

I think the black community needs to look at how many illegal Mexicans in this country that's going to take your jobs and I'm not talking just about fieldhands they are going to grow into all the jobs, Sooner or later you all have to go to work…

Just a passing thought…

JERRY from SANDUSKY

t-schwanger

Hey were talking about Darden not about the fire stations

OSUBuckeye59

The following URL is the City Manager Job Posting in Monster: http://jobview.monster.com/City-...

And here is the body of the text:
"CITY OF SANDUSKY, OHIO WANTED City Manager with a passion for community pride, growth and success PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS The ability to develop and grow professional and collaborative relationships with the City Commissioners, citizens, business community, civic organizations, community leaders and the public in general is critical. Must be accessible and a strong and persuasive leader. Desired strengths include organizational development, personnel management, budgeting, economic development, finance, employee and labor relations, community relations and customer service. Relevant graduate degree strongly preferred. DESIRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE Previous executive experience in government and/or business, excellent communication and writing skills, strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work with ethnically and economically diverse population. Must be able to prioritize and manage multiple projects and deadlines with grace and produce high-quality results. Must have a positive attitude, be energetic, a self-starter, reliable and have the ability to work both independently and as a member of a team. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER The City of Sandusky is an Equal Opportunity Employer and as such, considers all applicants for positions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, age, mental or physical disabilities or Veteran/Reserve/ National Guard or any other similarly protected status. We also comply with all applicable laws governing employment practices and do not discriminate on the basis of any unlawful criteria. SALARY RANGE $84,936 - $127,404 "

Babo

Her firing does not appear to be based on race but gender may be another issue. Rev. Darden recognized sexism on Commission while Murray was a Commissioner in the firing of another female Sandusky City leader. Wish he would leave race out of it and focus on the gender issue because several City leaders do have a history of misogyny and not protecting women's rights.

I see this as reflective of the privileged political class "Just Us" system versus the rest of us. The political class wants to ensure they have a city manager they can control and who will do their bidding.

By the way did anyone else catch the sale of property by Pervis Brown to Cedar Fair? Is he part of the search committee for the new City Manager? Should he be?

Julie R.

According to the auditor's records, there are 18 properties in Sandusky listed under the name of Pervis Brown, so which one did he sell to Cedar Fair?

BTW, it says in 2002 Brown bought 2 properties on Fourth Street under a commissioners deed. Other than sheriff sale deeds or quitclaims deeds, most of the time the auditor's online records leave the DEED TYPE blank. That's the first time I've ever seen a commissioners deed.

Babo

Here's the information on the recent transfer: $20,000 for lot at 553 Third Street

(DEED) DEED

Record Date : 4/1/2014 2:10:46 PM

Grantor: BROWN PERVIS D JR
BROWN SANDRA L

Grantee: CEDAR FAIR LP

Book Type: OR

# of Pages: 2
Consideration: 20,000.00

Legal: SANDUSKY BUSINESS MEN ASSOC #1 SANB 1 SUBDIVISION SECOND WARD PB 06 PG 37-38 LOT 553 THIRD STREET LOCKWOOD SUB

Previous Related Docs:
8885 - 27/27

OSUBuckeye59

When I read the the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) developed & delivered to Ms. Ard earlier this year, I found it very well articulated and definitive. I've written several such documents for employees were for whatever reason weren't performing to expectations. The purpose of a CAP is to hopefully course-correct and retain a valuable employee. My experience has been those employees who are either going through a rough patch in their personal lives or for whatever other reason have had a lapse in performance, those employees embrace the CAP and turn around their lackluster performance. But that, unfortunately, is usually the exception. The overwhelming majority of employees I've had to deliver a CAP to do not turn around their performance, and it's evident in the first two weeks after delivering the CAP that the 60 or 90 day CAP period will not end well for them.

Again, with Ms. Ard's CAP, the duties she needed to perform to be successful were clear, concise and what one should expect as the deliverable expectations of a City Manager. Regardless of what any of the Commissioners might think privately, their management of Ms. Ard with the CAP were professional, legal and consistent with what I have experienced in the private sector.

DGMutley

Nobody knows why Ms. Ard was fired because the Commissioners aren't talking. It appears that she was NOT fired because she did not live up to the "last-chance agreement" but because of her work record up to the point of the "last-chance agreement".

It appears that the "last-chance agreement" was just a ruse to get rid of her.

OSUBuckeye59

The "last-chance agreement" was not "just a ruse to get rid of her". Ms. Ard was not performing to expectations in her role. The previous Commissioners failed in their responsibility to performance manage Ms. Ard. The new Commission correctly executed performance management by providing Ms. Ard the opportunity to turn around her performance and start performing to expectations through a Corrective Action Plan. What the new Commissioners did is standard performance management POR practiced in the private sector.

Bogtrotter

Did the previous commission fail in its responsibility to performance manage Ms. Ard, or was the previous commission satisfied with Ms. Ard's performance? If Dick Brady, who hired Nicole Ard, wasn't satisfied with her performance, did he campaign on implementing a "last-chance agreement" for Ms. Ard, or did he remain silent on that issue? How did the new commission so quickly arrive at the decision that Ms. Ard was not performing to expectations?

Your comments suggest that in your experience, Ms. Ard was doomed from the moment she was presented the last chance agreement. How long had the new commission been in office at that point? In that context, Mr. Darden's conclusion that at least some of the commissioners who voted to fire Ms. Ard had made that decision before the election, but remained silent, seems credible.

The ex officio mayor, who is seeking to consolidate his power by reducing the size of the commission, was one of the instigators of the Nuesse fiasco. He has now set the ball rolling on the Ard fiasco with his statement that he doesn't believe that the new commission is bound by the terms of the severance agreement Ard entered with the old commission. He was also supporter of the money-losing transient marina. And let's not forget his use of emergency powers to push through a deal to build condos on city-owned waterfront property with a developer who didn't have any money. Yet he receives only hosannas from the press. Meanwhile, Ms. Ard, who apparently routinely worked late because the commission didn't see fit to provide with secretarial help, is frequently vilified for conduct that is the equivalent of not keeping the pencils on her desk sharp enough. Is that because of racism? Mr. Darden expressed his view. If you think that his view is outrageous ask yourself: Would a 50-year-old white male with an address on the Chaussee been treated the same way? Really?

OSUBuckeye59

Bogtrotter, did you read Ms. Ard's CAP? If yes, do you agree with the CM expectations as written and have you reviewed Ms. Ard's performance against the expectations as set forth in the CAP? This is what I did, and that's where I surmised her past performance did not meet expectations. But since I'm not a commissioner, I guess my personal opinion of Ms. Ard's performance as measured against the defined role & responsibility of a City Manager is just that: my personal opinion. As for Dick Brady's campaigning, I can only guess he was thinking that maybe discussing Ms. Ard's performance might not have been in his best "electable" interests.

Rev. Darden's conclusion that at least some of the commissioners who voted to terminate Ms. Ard had made that decision before the election yet remained silent has, IMHO, true merit. So was she doomed by this? Only if the commissioners were truly planning to terminate her instead of giving her the opportunity to start performing per expectations of a CM. I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. With every CAP I've written in the past, when I delivered it to the employee I really was hopeful the employee could turn their performance around. To that effect, I held weekly 1:1's w/the employee to track where they were in meeting the requirements in the CAP. That's why within 2 weeks of starting the CAP there was always a clear trend as to an eventual outcome. Given Ms. Ard's CAP truly was well written & did give her an opportunity to start performing to expectations, did the Commissioners sit down each week w/Ms. Ard to determine her progress? If the commissioners did not have these weekly meetings w/Ms. Ard, then I would state the goal was indeed to terminate her.

For the ex officio mayor to publicly state he doesn't believe the new commission should be bound by the terms of the previous commission is, again IMHO, a public statement directly aimed at Ms. Ard that has a translation of, "Don't even think of taking us to Court. Not only will we vigorously defend our firing you, we'll go the extra mile to negate your severance."

As for the commission not seeing "fit to provide (Ms. Ard) with secretarial help", as has already been noted, the commission did offer secretarial help but Ms. Ard declined.

Regarding your question of "If you think that his (Rev. Darden's) view is outrageous...", I hope the question was directed out to all and not just me as I can't remember writing that I thought Rev. Darden's view as being outrageous. I don't agree with Rev. Darden's statements, but I don't call them outrageous.

kURTje

Q. Rev. Darden, what colour is God? A. It doesn't matter.

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