For Sandusky supervisor it's one strike, you're out

Matt Westerhold
Feb 13, 2013

 

Scott Miller, the city worker fired by city manager Nicole Ard for alleged "dishonesty" after 21 years with the city with an unblemished record, thinks he got a raw deal.

He did, in my opinion.

The city manager, who has been on job for about 14 months and has apparently failed to achieve every job goal she was assigned, took this small mistake and blew it up way out of proportion.

Scott Miller has a record as a good employee that spans more than two decades. He's the employee who turned in another city worker who was stealing gas from the city for his personal vehicle. Miller did not turn a blind eye to that incident. 

Ard would better serve the city if she'd focus on her own job goals and try to keep things in perspective. The city's anticipated $500,000 deficit budget for this year seems to be a much higher priority  than documenting a mistake that cost the city less than $900. And city commissioners would better serve the city by holding her to those worthy goals.

Remember how self-righteous city manager Matt Kline was when he fired former Sandusky police chief Kim Nuesse for her "alleged dishonesty." In Register editorials and in this blog/column, we suggested from the very beginning that Kline was not providing an accurate description of his motives and of what had occurred to prompt him to fire Nuesse. It took city commissioners a year or more, however, before they saw the serious flaws in Kline's performance and fired him by a unanimous vote.

Of course taxpayers spent upwards of $1 million to defend Kline's actions before they fired him.

This situation is much different than that debacle, but does anyone have Judge Joseph Cirigliano's phone number? 

Comments

God Of Thunder

I guess I missed the article that explained this whole incident and why he got fired, then maybe I'd understand what you're talking about.. I didn't see anything in the paper or here on the website.. Last thing I read about was whether they were considering criminal charges..

Could the Register fill us in please??

Matt Westerhold

Thanks God of Thunder. Pick up a copy of today's Register at a newsstand near you or click here for the e*Paper to read the front-page story "Fired worker threatens lawsuit."

Here's a link to a previous story. I believe documents related to the firing of Scott Miller also are scheduled to be posted here at sr.com later today, so check back for more info. 

Thanks again for the comment. 

 

Factitious

OK, but now that you've run your oped online, would you consider making article containing the facts to back it up available online, too?

Perkins2060

Fire the people who hired Ard.

JohnDorian12

I completely agree with you on this Matt, she also hired a police officer who lied several times in the interview process (a female) so where exactly is her moral values at there???

fanatic's picture
fanatic

Nobody at City Hall, including Mr. Miller, has a spotless record. City Hall is not going to tell you the real reason he got fired. And the fact that he's considering a lawsuit tells me that he's going to spend some time trying to find out if there's anyone out there that is going to hinder his chances of winning. He should, for good reason, be very careful.

Swamp Fox

Ms. Ard is not on the Register A list, yet another example of a public official that falls victim to the bias of this newspaper.....

If the public lose trust in a free and unbiased press, they no longer process a free press.

Darkhorse

Section 43 of the City Charter: No empolyee of the City shall directly or indirectly be interested in any contract, job, work, or service with or for the City. When Scott became a supervisor, he should have brought to the attention of the legal department that he may have a conflict because his brother supplies the City and asked for legal advice to exclude himself from the his brother's situation. It is plain and simple in the Charter. You don't have to be directly profiting. It is only common sense to go to the legal department to ask for advice on a potential conflict of interest or at least bring it to the attention of his supervisor to make a ruling. Better to be safe then sorry later on. It doesn't matter if Scott has a clean record, he made a mistake by not telling his bosses what kind of relationship he had with one of the vendors that supplies the city. It is a shame this happened, but every employee should know what the Charter states.

reserved

A supervisor would have approved the purchase (City Engineer), in addition to the finance director and guess who...the City Manager who sign the checks!!! Scott Miller does have an impeccable record at the City. He is the reason that so much work can be done with fewer people. He has taken on responsibility after responsibility for the City. Maybe the real reason he was fired was because Ms. Ard didn't appreciate his concern or questioning of her that an Engineer has STILL not been hired!!! Wake up people...this is typical City protocol...get rid of anyone who questions authority. It has been going on for years and will never stop until a PROFESSIONAL city manager is hired and the Commissioners learn their jobs - legislation, NOT administration.

HunterDude

Agreed! He must have also questioned why she posted some of his departments to the City Engineers job description too. FIRE ARD and her empty report cARD!

gbi

While I agree with Darkhorse that employees should be aware of what the charter states, surely there are stages of discipline, such as a letter of reprimand or a couple days off without pay. This is not even close to an offense that would warrant termination. I hope he wins his lawsuit and gets his job, seniority and full benefits back. This city seems to waste money on frivolous things without thinking things through.

Julie R.

"This situation is much different then that debacle, but does anyone have Judge Joseph Cirigliano's phone number?"

That was tooooo funny! Thanks for the laugh.

Darkhorse

Maybe the bosses okayed the purchase but Miller is a common name and the bosses may not have known about the relationship between the two people involved and Miller certainly wasn't and didn't reveal that information? There is zero tolerance to Section 43 and there are no second chances. An example needs to be set very quickly for other employees that there are no second chances. Check out Cuyahoga and then tell us all that it is okay to give second chances.

reserved

I think a comparison between $ 900 worth of sand to Vegas trips, house remodels and loads of other perks is a bit extreme. So, no second chances for a great employee with zero blemishes to his record? Wow...seems like everyone else gets second chances except the guy trying to do a good job. If this is the City's new attempt at totalitarian administration, then they better start looking at the real wastes and abuses...wonder what $900 of time on facebook while on City time? How about $ 900 worth of doing children's schoolwork on City time? How many 45 minute "breaks" equal $900? But no, what am I thinking... this is way more important to go get the guy buying sand to keep the roads safe. That'll keep the City efficient.

T. A. Schwanger

I dealt with Mr. Miller on several occasions primarily improving public waterfront access areas. He may be a bit of a maverick, but he always got the job done or gave us the ok to do what we needed to do to make improvements.

I have not read the article at this time, but if he is getting the royal shaft, I, as well as others I'm sure, wish him the best of luck getting his job back or moving on.

Centauri

Tim, Sometimes the powers that be will throw somebody under the bus to keep the spotlight away from themselves.

Larry

Whats next are we going to fire someone for stealing pencils ? I think Ms Ard should get her priorities in order and start doing the job she was hired to do.
I'm not suggesting that these type of issues should be overlooked, however the punishment is not appropriate for the offense that was reported.

Unassumer

I have never worked with anyone that was completely honest. No person exists that is always totally honest. People are made up of good and bad and especially at work, the bad side comes out more often than not. Two-faced people are the majority I'm afraid.

fanatic's picture
fanatic

If you look back at the recent history of fired City employees, you will see that Mr. Miller has fallen victim to the same dirty tricks that the City has used to dispose of people that had personality conflicts with someone in power, maybe Ard, but doubt it. The City is always looking at the budget and watching everyone with a sharp eye. The employees could be much more productive if they didn't have to answer to the almighty government gods for every thing they say or do. They will get any City employee on any charge they legally can in their desperation to save money. Miller is getting close to retirement and made more money than his job demanded. He can fight to get his job back, but if he wins, he will never be comfortable there. It's time for him to move on.

HunterDude

Director/Supervisor of General Services--Parks and Recreation, Streets, Cemetery, Golf Course, Boat Ramp, Grounds Maintenance, City Tree Commission, Rec Board, must attend all Commissioner Meetings and many other duties such as on call 24/7, writing grants, etc?? Really, I say they were getting a deal at $70,000. Served our country and our city and now probably won't even be eligible for unemployment. WOW. God Bless the USA.

HunterDude

"Dishonesty" that is defamation of charachter. Additionally, several of Scott's departments are listed under a current job posting for a City Engineer. That position was posted long before the "sand" issue. How did she know Scott's departments would be available for another? Talk about dishonesty. She was already trying to get him out of there by going so far as to post part of his job description to someone else. She wasn't honest with him when she posted his departments to another position. She had an agenda and this paperwork mistake was a convenient way to get rid of him. Paid him for 3 weeks of administrative leave (thousands of dollars) all for $900 purchase that NEVER even happened. WOW this is who the city spent thousands of dollars to hire? I want my money back!

lor70

Nicole Ard has a "holier than thou" attitude! She is probably the only person in the world who has never told a lie!! >.<

pavedparadise

Where is the "Elected City Manager" radicals when you need them?

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

I will ask again.....just how is this considered to be dishonest? Since you were once on commission, I suggest you explain this to the rest of us who were not.

Dutigas

I have known Scott Miller for years and all I can say is the City is getting rid one fine man. I think ard is just trying to make a name for her self, well I have one for her. ard should do the job that she was hired to do, but no, she wants to make someone's life miserable. Looks like another law-suit that the City don't need. Take ard down Scott, for your a good man, don't let ard destroy you.

DGMutley

Edited. Poof gone.
DG 2-13-13 8.39pm
---------------------------
After reading the investigative pdf, I'm reposting my previous comment.

Restored 2-14-13 4.45am DG
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This sounds like a conflict of personalities rather than a conflict of interests. With Scott Millers' expertise and track record it is in Ms. Ard's and our best interest to get past this bump in the road.

Scott Miller hasn't shown any pattern of corruption he merely made a purchase from an apparently approved vendor. If this purchase was illegal then the remedy is for the City Commissioners to void it under the terms of the Charter. There are no grounds here for Ms. Ard to fire Scott Miller. Section 43 in the Charter wasn't violated and doesn't apply in my opinion.

---------------------------

It turns out that Miller Farms was an approved vendor before Scott Miller was promoted to supervisor. It turns out that Miller Farms was actually probably the best area source for the sand as far as price and quality.

Darkhorse

Matt, Do you know more then what is being said? I cannot believe after seeing all the evidence, that you are taking the side of the employee. All of a sudden you have become silent. You assumed before checking out the facts, which is pretty strong. No matter what you think of Ard, you have to admit she was right in terminating. The problem is that it has always been done this way and no one was paying attention up until now.

wiredmama222

Everyone should go read the investigation paperwork that the police did before they say another word. It is VERY enlightening. Perhaps this man does a good job. But I have to agree with the fact that he was EXTREMELY dishonest in this matter. He falsified documents, then lied about it more than once. He did everything he could to cover his tracks. He tried to circumvent HIS boss (Ms Ard), knowing full well that he was told to report to her....showing he has no respect for authority...even after 21 years of working for this city. He would do anything to "get past" his superiors as long as he can get his brothers company their work, he has been doing it a long time even though he had lower bids right here in Sandusky (they are from Monroeville): violation of City charter, and the list goes on.

Now before you jump all over me, I don't think the Police officers are in cahoots with the City Manager on this. He got caught by three women who are watching the City funds pretty closely and the rest is history. The SR would have you believe this is nothing, that Mr. Miller didn't do anything that wrong. Read it all for yourself.

I, for one, don't like liars, people who twist the truth even a 'little bit' to make it sound different than it is or those who want to live by symantics. Its wrong. Either tell the truth or lie. You cannot have it both ways. And when you decide to take the low road, such as happened here, you deserve to be fired.

He was given a huge chance to redeem himself by Ms Ard and he blew his SECOND chance. That is when he got fired. I do not blame her. She did the right thing. It isn't like he got fired right off the bat at all. He had the second chance in his hand and he blew that chance as well.

It was like he said to her..."No woman is going to tell me what to do, especially you". And he blew it. The good ole boys of yesterday can no longer afford to live like that. They learn the hard way and it is a shame. This one was given TWO chances despite what we read in stories.

IMHO, he is reaping what he sowed. A firing. And when he couldn't believe that, he went crying to the commissioners for help. Too bad, sir.

Your two chances are up.

HunterDude

There were no second chances- no disciplinary hearing, no proper process--just an escort out then 3 weeks later "you are fired". The paperwork does not prove anything other than quick sloppy work by two or three people who in the past have had any errors kicked back for corrections by finance. Everyone makes errors, maybe even you once or twice in your life-maybe not. Either way the punishment does not fit the crime and sadly Sandusky will pay for hasty decisions made without the commissioners or even the law director knowing.

wiredmama222

How do you know who knows what? I believe the Law director was informed. I haven't read the report since this morning, but I believe he was informed of what was going on. It isn't as if this was a one time thing. And it isn't over ONE load of sand either. It goes much deeper. There are taped depositions from people who had given bids he changed, paperwork he falsified and other things he did. How many other times has he done this so his brother's business could get the work? How many times did he falsify records and have someone else sign for it? You just do not do things like that to hide it. You call that a fine upstanding person? I don't. He may be a nice guy. But when it comes to his job, he cut corners, lied to his superiors and gave his brother work, when in fact, that work should have gone to people in this town, not from VERMILION. He broke rules he full well knew he needed to follow. He wasn't stupid, he just broke them. He was asked one simple question. Did you ever notify the City of Sandusky that this was your brother's company so they could put it in your personnel file? He said no. That would have made everything ok. He CHOSE to hide that one simple fact. Why is that?

If you go to work and break rules, lie, disrespect your boss, circumvent what you were told to do and simply ignore the chance you are given to make it right, what do YOU think is going to happen to you? A second chance? Heck no, you get fired. They walk you out the door.

In this day and age there are 20 people waiting for every one working. No boss cares how long you worked there or what you THINK you did. They care if you do your job, follow the rules and are honest and upstanding and don't screw up. I don't know what job you do, but I do know that now, with work being what it is NO ONE can afford the luxury of being a smart mouth, a screw up or a know it all when it comes to work. And Heaven forbid if you are sneaky, underhanded or a rule breaker. Because the first time you get caught is the last day you work. Most employers have a zero tolerance for that kind of employee. Those days are over for good.

Sorry, but it is what it is. This man may be the salt of the earth in every way possible. But this one thing just cost him his job.

Frankly, I am surprised that Ms Ard isn't firing the other guy right along with him. He deserves to go as well. He signed his name and I am wondering if that was allowed or not?

fanatic's picture
fanatic

Very well said, wiredmama222.

wiredmama222

Thanks

Darkhorse

Ethics doesn't get a second chance, ethics is serious business. Had Ard given a second chance, it would have been sending a bad signal to the rest of the employees. Have the taxpayers gotten so complacent about ethics? Our society just cannot tell the difference anymore between what is right and what is wrong. Ard is in charge and I am sure firing an employee is a difficult of which no one wants to do but it is part of the job and the city always must weigh the legality of it all becuase no one wants to get sued.

wiredmama222

Exactly....well said

OSUBuckeye59

Based on my experience in the private sector with employee conduct, or rather, misconduct, and again, this is just my opinion based on my experiences over the past 25+ years, Mr. Miller would have been given a written warning. There's plenty of "red flag" issues in the written documentation .pdf files. One in particular is the 'Conclusion/Opinion' section written by Sgt. Dana Newell,
"Mr. Miller knew that doing these acts were not proper, and by doing these acts, Scott Miller was trying, for some reason, to deceive the city of Sandusky." is only fact if somewhere in the report Sgt. Newell it reads that Mr. Miller was asked if he knew performing the acts was not proper, and that Mr. Miller answered in the affirmative that he did indeed know it was not proper. But I didn't read that in Sgt. Newell's report. And Sgt. Newell stating Mr. Miller "...was trying for some reason, to deceive..." is pure speculation, opinion and personal bias on the part of Sgt. Newell.

There is much information in the investigation, and unless I somehow missed it, I did not read anywhere in the report that Mr. Miller agreed-to or admitted knowingly or willingly violating city policy. This doesn't mean I agree with what Mr. Miller did. Everything points to him violating 'conflict of interest' by awarding a city service to a family member, but the investigation is fraught with errors.