Sandusky city commission should vote on Ard review

Matt Westerhold
Mar 16, 2013


It seems apparent that both Diedre Cole and Wes Poole want to assure that Sandusky city commissioners follow through with the Novak Consulting Group contract with the city and provide the performance evaluation for city manager Nicole Ard. 

What's not known is why there was no follow through from the other five commissioners.

In 2011, then city commissioner Dick Brady spearheaded the effort to hire a city manager and commissioners voted to hire the Novak Group to advertise for candidates and vet them down to a manageable list for commissioners from which they could choose the new city leader. The firm also assisted the city in establishing 12 specific goals for 2012 for the city manager and commissioners, then, approved that list.

The goals and the contract successfully defined and reflected expectations of the city commission and residents, but it appears those expectation have fallen by the wayside. A Register report in early January showed that none of the goals had been achieved. Neither Ard, nor any other city official, has refuted the report or provided any information contrary to it or suggesting the goals had been accomplished. 

Poole and Cole are the only commissioners supporting follow through from Novak. Commissioners Julie Farrar, Pervis Brown and ex officio mayor John Hamilton all previously supported the goals and job expectations but now don't appear willing, or concerned, whether there is any follow through on it. They, along with newbie commissioners Smith and Grohe, have stymied the plan and all but killed it.

A lot gets stymied by the majority coalition.

It makes no sense to let the valuable work of past commissioners — Dan Kaman, Dave Waddington and Brady — and present commissioners Cole, Farrar, Brown and Hamilton, who successfully built a super-majority coalition — unanimous — in 2011 to vote in support of the Novak contract, the goals and the performance evaluation for the city manager the firm helped to hire.    
Take a vote on the Novak review if need be. There's no reason to discard an already paid for professional service for that work that began two years ago, or if there is, commissioners opposed to a timely and professional assessment can state what those reasons might be in a public discussion. Taxpayers deserve follow through from commissioners, not stubborn, stone silence on important issues and not bullying or arrogant refusal to debate what matters.  
Take a vote. 



Matt should run for city commission.


Well, someone has to give this commission a boot up. Where are the rest of the citizens on this subject? Are you all going to sit back and be complacent?The leadership is failing us badly. The leadership needs to give some kind of direction or allow Ms Ard to do her job. Come November, some changes need to be made.


There is absolutely no excuse for NOT following through on a performance review for Ard and all other city employees in management positions. If Novak was paid to do this they should be obligated to follow through and complete their assignment. Come on Commissioners, do your job.


There is a whole section 12 in Ms. Ard's contract that spells out performance evaluation.

To quote from that section, "The Commission, individually and collectively, shall refer in a timely manner all substantive criticisms, complaints, and suggestions called to the Commission's attention to the Employee [Ms. Ard] for study and/or appropriate action, and Employee shall refer the matter(s) to the appropriate City employee or shall investigate such matter(s) and inform Employer of the results of such efforts."

This makes it pretty clear that the commission can evaluate and address any issues at anytime for which Ms. Ard is responsible.

The section goes on to state, "The Employer will endeavor to annually review the performance of the Employee subject to a process, form, criteria, and format for the evaluation which shall be mutually agreed upon by the Employer and Employee at or near Employee's anniversary date. ..." This sentence uses the words "endeavor" and "mutually agreed upon" which means that annual review is not guaranteed and that the format must be agreeable to both parties.

We keep hearing about this terrible job that Ms. Ard is doing for the city but no one seems to be able to spell it out. Unfortunately, the Register's "analysis" published in January is not available online for review.

I can't find the Novak Consulting Group's contract that Ms. Cole is concerned about. Maybe the Register can post it online.

As far as Ms. Cole calling for some kind of full-fledged, blown-out investigation of Ms. Ard, I say, "Yeah, right we need to spend at least 20 grand on this?". Ms. Cole just wants to go out in a blaze of glory in her last 9 months in office.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment DGMutley. The Register has not received any information that Commissioner Cole asked for an investigation, however. It's our understanding that she merely asked for follow through on the planned performance review. 


Ahem, from the March 12, 2013 Register article:

"At least two Sandusky city commissioners and some residents want a full-blown evaluation of the city's top official's job performance.

"It can't be done at a cocktail party or standing on the corner," Sandusky city commissioner Diedre Cole responded Monday after a resident asked about the contract with the Novak Consulting Group, the firm hired in 2011 to spearhead the search for a city manager. Novak was paid more than $20,000 for its work."...

btw, Thanks for the reply.


We haven't heard anything more about the Scott Miller Termination. This seemed to be an unpopular decision upon Ms. Ard's part and I agreed at the time that her decision may not have been a proper one. There is one thing that I think needs to be mentioned about this decision which wasn't brought out at the time.

In her termination letter to Mr. Miller, Ms. Ard speaks of Mr. Miller's conduct in addition to his misdeeds. In my mind this alludes to and adds up to insubordination. If this is the case then his termination was justified.


The contract also states that Ard's evaluation will be kept confidential. It really doesn't matter if she has an evaluation or not because no one will ever know the results but the commissioners.

Matt Westerhold

Wow, Darkhorse, the review will be kept confidential? That's interesting, but my guess is it's an unlawful provision because parties to a contract likely cannot reach an agreement that is in violation of the Ohio Revised Code. It will be interesting to cross that bridge when the time comes.