Penny wise and pound foolish

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


Bob and Ruth Haag, owners of Haag Environmental, were hired by the City of Sandusky to revive the stalled brownfields program throughout the city.  Along the way, the city asked them to manage the construction of the public walkway around the Chesapeake Condos, which was not started until the Haags pushed it forward.  It was because of Bob and Ruth Haag that Sandusky did not have to return millions of dollars in grant money to the Ohio Department of Development due to the city’s lack of progress. 

text-autospace:none">In their work on these projects, the Haags have provided the public with proof that they are exceptional in their ability to communicate to the citizens, exceptional in their ability to communicate substantive information at city commission meetings; and they have proven to be exceptional at overseeing contractors and meeting deadlines.   How do I know this?  The jobs that have been sitting and gathering dust, until the Haags were hired, have either made sufficient progress or are completed without the city having to return one dime of the “at-risk” grant money.  Kudos to you, Bob and Ruth Haag!

text-autospace:none">The Haags are also outstanding in their follow-up with those they are working with. They practiced a “trust, but verify approach,” which as a tax-paying citizen I appreciate and admire.  Probably the most valuable professional trait that they demonstrate is the professional and personal courage to be forthcoming with information when it’s in the public’s best interest – but not in the Haags’ best interest.  What a rarity it is when a city can find two professionals who have such a high standard of ethical behavior.  They are worth their weight in gold.

text-autospace:none">It was the Haags who let the public know that there is a coal tar plume in the Sandusky Bay.  It was Bob and Ruth Haag who recommend that the City of Sandusky err on the side of caution, and drill three more holes to verify the coal tar is not seeping into Sandusky Bay.   Well, on Monday night, the Haag’s reaped their reward for placing the public’s best interests before any personal agenda of continued employment with the City of Sandusky.  The Haags, who were supposed to be working on city projects until November, had their contract terminated.  Why?   The city commissioners wanted the remaining $17,000 to be placed in the kitty to cover the cost of paying for the city’s new 30-hour-a-week city engineer – Mr. John Hancock. (Mr. Hancock was hired at a salary of 90,000 per year.)

text-autospace:none">Mark my words…This was another governance decision that will reap short-term gains, and long-term losses. 




The downfall for the Haags was their ethics and honesty and the ability to have open communication with the public, something the city knows nothing about.  Maybe the city thought the Haags  exposed a little bit too much with the Coal Tar plume.  The city made a big thing out of where they were going to get the money to pay their contract while all the while negotiating behind closed doors the Hancock deal and never mind where we are going to get the money to pay for his salary.   The Haags saved the city more than once on errors caught and now the city is on their own.  What a way to treat someone who volunteered a lot of their time to the City of Sandusky, who went over and above their contract.  Thank you to the Haags for all you have done and I hope you don't let this sour you on our city because of what a few have done.  We hope come November our city starts to turn a corner in the right direction to more open ethical government.