Ottawa County Board once again trying to remove public health administrator
Ongoing feud between Chair Joe Moss and Pubic Health Officer Adeline Hambley continues as hearing set for October
One day after the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners made significant cuts to the Department of Public Health's budget for the next fiscal year, chair Joe Moss announced Tuesday a hearing has been scheduled to consider terminating Public Health Administrator Adeline Hambley from her job.
In a press release sent to WGVU, Moss alleged Hambley had “demonstrated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty by making false public representations about budgetary scenarios, falsely claiming that she was not included in the budget process, failing to cooperate in the budget process, and making false claims that encouraged and caused confusion, anxiety, fear, and panic in the community.”
During public health budget negotiations, Officer Hambley had told multiple outlets including WGVU, that reducing the county's public health funding would limit her staff's ability to provide “adequate care to county residents while forcing the department to close its doors in a matter of three weeks.”
Her claims came after Chair Moss had originally proposed cutting the health department's funding from $6.4 million last year to $2.5 million. The budget passed Tuesday is north of that, but still a significant reduction at around $4.9 million for the next fiscal year.
Both Moss and Ottawa County Administrator John Gibbs say the cuts to public health are merely restoring the department's funding back to “pre-pandemic levels.”
Meanwhile, Hambley says the current leadership in Ottawa County is playing “retaliatory politics” as punishment for government ordered mask mandates and COVID vaccine requirements during the pandemic.
Shortly after being sworn in last January, Moss, the co-founder of the ultra-conservative political action committee known as “Ottawa Impact” voted to terminate Hambley from her position as the Health Department's top administrator. That effort failed, as Hambley filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, which is still pending in court.
The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2023, at 8 a.m.