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Court of Appeals rules Ottawa Co. commissioners did not violate Open Meetings Act

Ottawa County Administration Building
Ottawa County Administration Building

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a group of Ottawa County commissioners did not violate the state’s Open Meetings Act by communicating with each other before they officially took office

A lawsuit filed by three Ottawa County residents in early 2023 claimed that commissioners who were elected in November of 2022 violated the Open Meetings Act, or OMA, by making decisions before being sworn into office in January of 2023. Those decisions included firing the county administrator, replacing the county’s corporate counsel, dismantling the county’s diversity office and attempting to fire the county health officer.

The majority of the current Ottawa County Board of Commissioners is affiliated with a conservative group known as Ottawa Impact.

The lawsuit that was brought against the group, referred to as the Ottawa 9, went to the state Court of Appeals after a lower-court judge ruled there was no violation of the OMA. The three-judge panel agreed with the lower-court’s decision, saying that the OMA did not apply to the nine Ottawa commissioners “before they were seated on January 3, 2023, because, up to that point, they did not constitute a public body for purposes of the OMA.”

A judge wrote, “Absent a delegation of power, they were neither a governing body nor a public body for purposes of the OMA.”

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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