Sandusky commissioners should try to get along

Register
Jun 9, 2013

This editorial is not meant to be an attack on any city commissioners. Rather it is a plea for effectiveness. 

Each of the seven ran for a commission seat for the same reason — because they thought they could make a difference. 

During their tenures, each has spearheaded or acted as backup on projects that have fostered positive change. Still the commission is often at odds. Their scattered agendas and harsh words for each other have hogtied the Seven. It has caused them to act independently in a way that locks out the exchange of ideas needed for advancement. The focus on city improvement has been lost in a jumble of hurtful accusations among them. 

The Huron Park mini-project deemed too expensive on Monday was completed with little fanfare on Tuesday. (Click this link to read related article.) 

The offer by the county to use the building at Columbus Avenue and West Washington Row for a new city building died for lack of response. No public discussion, pro or con; no "Let's see what we can work out"; no "Thanks, but no thanks." (Click here to read related article.)

Nothing. 

The residents of Sandusky have come to expect nothing from City Manager Nicole Ard, but commissioners as a group are her superiors. "As a group" are the key words in the above sentence. While no commissioner should try to coerce or bully Ard into making changes, "as a group" they could guide her to effectiveness. (Click here for related article.)

Instead, criticism by the newspaper or the public in general of Ard's accomplishments — or lack thereof — is looked upon as attacks. So rather than working on being a cohesive unit for the betterment of the community, certain commission members and Ard herself prefer to stonewall the newspaper. By perceiving the media as the bad guys, they seek to draw attention from Ard's shortcomings. 

One commissioner has even chosen to keep the public informed of his version of commission news via Facebook. Certainly, he has that right. It's called freedom of expression. Newspapers use it every day. 

Ard and all the commissioners should put aside their differences and try being straight shooters instead of constantly shooting the messenger. 

In the words of Rodney King, a man whose life was altered by divisiveness, "Can't we all just get along?" (Click here for a video.)

Comments

gene44870

well just from the headlines , its telling me that if they got along , they would actually get things done that should have been done a long time ago

margaritaville88

Wow, wish I could have a nice house that taxpayers paid for... http://erie.iviewauditor.com/Dat...

sandtown born a...

To many HUGE EGOS with personal agendas not enough looking out for the good of Sandusky and its citizens.

Julie R.

Same thing can be said about the county public officials, more than including the county courts --- too many narcissistic personalities with personal agendas.

margaritaville88

Agree...

Brick Hamland

Way to work Rodney King in there... This article reminds me of high school when kids challenge each other to a fight at the park after school to settle the matter. City Commissioners vs. Newspaper people central park after school gets out...?

gene44870

lol My money is on the register winning that one

Julie R.

Sandusky city commissioners but nary a word about the elected county public officials ...... with the exception of the former Clerk of Court Barb Johnson.

donutshopguy

I don't necessarily want my public officials to agree on everything. A difference of opinion is a great vetting process to obtain a correct decision.

But, I do expect them to act professional in their communication between each other.

Nemesis

Excellent point. Why does the register think there are 7 commissioners instead of one municipal kingpin? For checks and balances - so that differing positions being openly debated can lead to hopefully choosing the best option.

Divided government is a good thing. That's why the Founders created three branches and two houses of the legislature. About the only thing all politicians agree on is their own lust for more power, so every time they all get on the same page, we lose liberty and they gain power.

It's really humorous to see the Register so disappointed with Ard. When she was chosen, the Register did a pretty good job of uncritically parroting the positively messianic excitement about her. Those of us who called the outcome correctly were dismissed as haters.

Darkhorse

The Facebook commissioner needs to clean up his act and rise above it all. Mr. Facebook is using his platform to bully and harass fellow commissioners and other people who do not think the way he does. All of this is coming from a commissioner who was the top vote getter. It is disappointing and we should expect more from our commissioners.

twosenseworth

Speaking of parks, didn't the city just agree to a multi-year priority use contract with the Amvets in exchange for them maintaining the ballpark? I've got news for you, that park looks terrible this morning. Ohio Bike Week organizers have more savvy than to ever allow a mess like this to exist, if it's within their control. Somebody involved with that agreement needs to get active by picking up all the trash and making that portion of town look respectable. And I don't mean just today, that's 24/7 because someone is supposed to be responsible for the park's upkeep. It's not up to government to step in and fix this problem, it's on the shoulders of the primary users of the property, so get busy already!

kURTje

Posters 2&3 pretty much summed up America as a whole. Most value self & or agendas. People don't matter.

Julie R.

They might all value self & or agendas and think the people don't matter, but there's a big difference between the city commissioners and the county public officials. City commissioners don't have the power to assist in fraud like the county public officials do.

Nemesis

Look out, Julie's on her nut again.

Julie R.

Better than the ones at the Erie County courthouse being on their nut again. Some of those clowns can't even make up a half-way intelligent fake law!

Nemesis

Poor, poor Julie....

Julie R.

What's worse? City commissioners that don't get along ....... or county officials that assist in fraud? It's not only Sandusky that has turned into a joke, the entire county is!

Nemesis

You poor dear, bless your heart.

sanduskymom

Without a doubt, I believe the Register IS the problem with our community's leadership struggle, and the responsibility to fix it rests squarely on their shoulders. Why? Because the current editor is more interested in CREATING news instead of REPORTING it. He befriends and promotes those who will feed him information (namely two commissioners) and those who have unpopular ideas or personal motives (like the Waterfront Watchdog Gang.) He provides them with a platform of barrels of newspaper ink in exchange for information, which he uses to create headlines of controversy. He believes this will sell newspapers, but instead what he is really doing is preventing true leadership from stepping forward to help Sandusky. I know of many people who are smart, educated successful business owners or operators who SHOULD be running for City commission, but instead would never put themselves on a ballot knowing how the Register would drag them through the mud. It's just not worth it! Instead, we have commissioners on welfare or commissioners with absolutely no leadership or business skills running the City. And sadly, these commissioners are the ones who befriend the local media and provide him with the information he needs to create the news. It's sad.

SamAdams

CYou're not wrong, but it's even more than that. Have you ever been to a City Commission meeting? It doesn't matter whether there's some agenda item you particularly want to speak about or monitor. My point is that you quite literally will often not recognize the meeting you actually attended when you read about it later in the paper. You'll be shocked, I'm sure, when you see the difference between the reality and the reporting!

Why is that? I don't honestly know if it's reporter inexperience, reporter bias, or editorial agenda. Perhaps it's some combination of the three. Regardless, the best way to know what's going on in the City is to attend a meeting so you can draw your OWN conclusions rather than have them filtered through the newspaper — or frankly a sitting Commissioner who may very well have as much of an agenda as does any given reporter on any given day!

No, I'm not a Commissioner (and have no desire to be one in no small part for the reasons you list). But I've attended meetings in the past, and then read about them later. What an eye opener THAT proved to be! There were a few times I wondered if the reporter had even been in the same room as me!

So, how about it, Register? Any chance anytime soon for more accurate and less biased Commission reporting? Interested in correcting errors if you're told about them? Or is sanduskymom right on ALL counts? I won't argue against the accusations of personal agendas on behalf of at least some of the Commissioners, but that doesn't make the Register's obvious agenda any more palatable!

Matt Westerhold

Thanks SamAdams.

FYI, the Register carefully reviews every notification to us that a potential error occurred in reporting and publishes a correction if one is warranted. We publish corrections on Page A2, and are never reluctant to do that if a correction is warranted.

We do not write corrections when no correction is warranted, or when an individual requesting a review cannot provide specifics or details as to what they believe might have been inaccurate. It's difficult to respond to your complaint because you didn't provide any specifics or detail about your concerns.

Reporters and editors carefully vet the information they receive and it usually goes deeper than statements made at public meetings. Government documents — police reports, minutes, annual reports, statistics and data — all give different and oftentimes deeper and more reliable insight beyond public statements made at public meetings.

If you, or anyone else, has a specific concern about any past reporting, however, or if any concerns should arise in the future, you can call me directly at 419-609-5866. 

Also, city commission meetings often last three hours or more, so it's difficult to reflect everything that occurs in one 15-inch news story. The coverage is often divided up over several news articles over several days of research. Some aspects of a meeting don't get reported because there isn't any news value or credible reason to report those parts. 

And, really, do you think many people run out and buy the newspaper because they want to read about the Sandusky city government. There are hundreds of things we write about and publish — every day — that are more interesting to more readers than city government. Where else do you get your news about it? 

gene44870

Matt well thats not true . I know this maybe a little off topic , but this has to do with Bike week and what your paper stated , and that is that you will carry live coverage of bike week and the fact of the matter is , that you only showed pictures and a couple stories , How in the world can you call it live coveage ? in my book is misleading and a down right lie , The register never had a camaraman and a reporter out in the field doing interviews at the time that they take place , anything else short of this in my book is a lie and a way not mislead the public

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for your comment Sanduskymom. I'm not sure if we ever met but my guess is we haven't. If you were objective enough I doubt you would say the things you've stated here unless your son or daughter, or other loved-one serves on commission, or works for the city in some capacity and feels threatened by the open lines of communication the Register attempts to foster. 

Leaders do sometimes use the media to get their messages out. People who have not developed leadership or communication skills are more likely to complain, make speeches and posts at social media sites, decorating their shallow pronouncements with American flags.

You give me too much credit, and you have attributed motives to me that are simply inaccurate and a bit offensive. Perhaps you did not vote for commissioner Cole, but enough residents did to elect her and she has a right to a seat at that table. Every other commissioner, and almost everyone else, also has a right to call the editor of the newspaper. 

Cole provided information to the Register previously when the majority coalition on commission was satisfied with the police chief search committee's recommendations despite knowing at least two of the candidates selected could not be lawfully appointed chief. Her objections led to a course correction of that process and that very important decision. That, in my opinion, served residents. The majority coalition's response to it was not leaderly, and the process potentially could have resulted in disaster if it had gone unchecked. 

The same is true for the ball field at Huron Park. The majority coalition said cleaning up the field simply could not be done because there was no money. But the field got cleaned up in an hour or so despite the excuses, the government poverty pleas and condescending comments. Cleaning the field did not result in any layoffs and the ball park is safer now for the kids who play there. If Cole used the media to get that done, more power to her.

Some commissioners seem to focus their message on what they see as the Register's shortcomings, or the editor's, or the reporter's, or the shortcomings of their colleagues. Cole, and commissioner Wes Poole, both seem to have a better focus. At least some things get done because they speak out. 

Thanks again Sanduskymom for sharing your thoughts. Please feel free to call me at 419-609-5866 if you'd like to talk. 

asitwasstated

the problem with your statement is that you don't always provide ALL information given to you! I know that for a FACT! If you feel so compelled to do the right thing...THEN DO IT!!

asitwasstated

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained A duplicate post.

T. A. Schwanger

###

Perhaps a change in the number of commission seats is in order.

There are two ways to change the City's Charter (laws). One is by commission recommendation and vote to place the proposed change on the ballot for public vote. The other is via a citizen generated Initiative Petition.

One of Commissioner Smith's campaign ideas was to reduce the number of Commissioner seats from 7 back down to 5. With the continuing decline in Sandusky's population, perhaps Smith will make a move to place this issue on the November ballot with the help of his supporters?

margaritaville88

Sorry, but have to comment. First of all, the "city manager" is non-existent and just collects a taxpayer check for doing nothing !! Is not commission her boss?? And the current commission stinks and will never see eye to eye. You have a business person and one on metro and one that cut the city's grass and was arrested..not gonna work, EVER! Wake up people, quit paying taxes for leaders that are hiding behind closed doors and ripping us ALL OFF!! GEE WHIZ...

asitwasstated

I could not agree with you MORE!! Sandusky Register has A LOT to be culpable for ....but they stand behind their shield!! COWARDS!!

SamAdams

Sorry, Register, but you couldn't be more wrong.

Oh, I DO agree that Commissioners should behave like adults, and that disagreements shouldn't ever involve personal attacks, back stabbing, "the silent treatment," or the like. But it's the repeated compromise of principles that have led politicians at ALL levels directly toward corruption or ineffectiveness.

In theory, at least, we vote for elected officials to represent our interests. We vote for those men and women who seem to have principles similar to our own. And the LAST thing we want (or need) is to see those principles watered down or set aside in favor of "getting along" or used in exchange for some yet-to-be-named compromise down the road.

A Commissioner might be right, or s/he might be wrong. But when an issue is relatively black and white, to compromise is an act of cowardice at best, and malfeasance in its usual form. If somebody PROVES you're wrong, by all means, be grown up enough to acknowledge it publicly and modify your stance accordingly. But to back down because "it's the best I can get," or because "I can't win this fight," or because the local newspaper is criticizing you yet again makes you not only a poor representative for those who elected you, but an even WORSE manager for the public trust.

Explain your positions? Absolutely. Admit it when you're wrong? Yes, and TELL us what changed your mind! Maybe we'll change ours, too, and can at least respect you gave the matter some rational thought. But getting along to get things done? There's a reason that a "good" compromise is often defined as a solution that makes NOBODY happy! And that's REALLY what you want, Sandusky Register? REALLY?

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