95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Lawsuit against Ottawa Co. board alleges open meetings act violation

 Ottawa County Administration Building
Ottawa County Administration Building

After newly elected members of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners made sweeping changes to leadership back in January, a group has now filed a civil lawsuit accusing the group of violating the open meetings act

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners are currently made up of 11 members; nine of which were endorsed in last November’s election by the far-right leaning PAC group known as Ottawa Impact.

The board sent shock waves across Ottawa County on January 3rd after voting to fire Ottawa County Administrator John Shay and replace him with former congressional candidate John Gibbs. The group also voted to fire public health officer Adeline Hambely, permanently shut down the county’s department of diversity, equity and inclusion, while changing the county slogan from “Where You Belong” to “Where Freedom Rings.” Decisions, all of which, were made, moments after being sworn in.

Angry residents cried “foul” noting that none of these proposals were made public on the agenda prior to the meeting, and the group had clearly met in private before January 3rd and had made these decisions in secret.

Four weeks ago, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel publicly admonished the board for their lack of transparency, and said that while they had violated the trust placed in them as elected officials they had not broken any laws.

Now a group known as Progress Michigan, however, through Freedom of Information Act requests of Ottawa County Board documents, alleges it can prove that the commissioners did not have the legal authority to make those decisions, and has filed a civil complaint in return.

Related Content