Ottawa County Board of Commissioners moves to void hiring of health officer over clerical error
Facing a wrongful termination lawsuit, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday invalidated the hiring of its public health officer.
Back in January, the newly elected Ottawa County Board of Commissioners shocked a number of locally officials, when the newly sworn-in members voted to make sweeping changes to county leadership; one of them being the termination of public health officer Adeline Hambley.
Hambley, in turn, filed a lawsuit against the board, alleging her ousting was unlawful, and political payback from the group made up of mostly far-right leaning members who disagreed with public health mandates during the pandemic such as mask requirements.
On Tuesday, the Board then countered the lawsuit by voting to revise a resolution passed by the previous commission that hired Hambley as leader of the Health Department; labeling her appointment as null and void, because a vote by the County Commission had never occurred.
Commissioner Sylvia Rhodea on Tuesday defended the move.
“I will be voting to approve this because I think it’s entirely appropriate,” she said.
Ottawa County Commissioner Jacob Bonnema, who voted against the idea, said however, that even if the move is legal, it’s “crossing the line” to correct the minutes or resolutions of a previous sitting county commission.
“At the end of the day when I think about what we’re doing here, I want to walk away tonight knowing that we truthfully represented the will of the prior commissioners out of respect to them,” he said. “I don’t want to be seen as misleading the public.”
Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel publicly admonished the behavior of certain board members for their lack of transparency, and said they had “violated the trust placed in them as elected officials by their constituents, however, “had not broken any laws.”