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Ottawa County Public Health Officer rightfully appointed, says Michigan Court of Appeals

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Judges reject attorney's argument that hiring vote had never taken place.

The Michigan Court of Appeals Thursday ruled that embattled Health Officer Adeline Hambley had been rightfully appointed, and will keep her job, for now.

The newly elected board of Ottawa County Board of Commissioners had attempted to terminate Public Health Officer Adeline Hambley back in January. She in turn filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Attorneys for the current county board argued to the Michigan Court of Appeals, that the previously elected board never actually voted to hire Adeline Hambley, but rather, had only voted to approve the hiring conditions, therefore making her employment null and void.

During the hearing, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Yates was skeptical of that argument.

"What you're suggesting is the equivalent of digging back into legislative history or comments made during the course of a debate on the floor to override what the ultimate act is when the legislature, for example, passes a bill. And I don't see why we would accept that invitation to create chaos," he said.

The ruling means that the wrongful termination lawsuit will move forward. However, the elected board of commissioners are making attempts to have Hambley fired through other channels.

A planned removal hearing is scheduled for later this month where county commissioners will consider terminating Hambley on separate charges.

Chair Joe Moss has accused Hambley of incompetence, misconduct and neglect of duty for speaking with the media after Ottawa County Administrator John Gibbs demanded she make dramatic cuts to the Health Department’s budget.