Interim Health Director Adeline Hambley was issued a Notice of Hearing for her removal
Published September 28, 2023
Written by Henry
Photography by Simply American
“Ms. Hambley has demonstrated repeated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty in violation of MCL 46.11(n).” —Board Chair Joe Moss, Press Release, September 27, 2023
On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Commissioner Joe Moss scheduled a meeting with a Notice of Hearing and charges to remove Adeline Hambley from the position of Interim Health Director. The hearing will take place on October 19, 2023 at 8:00am.
There are four charges in the 23-page notice. The notice was accompanied by 72 pages of exhibits and evidence of incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty.
1. Ms. Hambley demonstrated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty by making false public representations about budgetary scenarios.
2. Ms. Hambley demonstrated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty by falsely claiming that she was not included in the budget process.
3. Ms. Hambley demonstrated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty by failing to cooperate in the budget process.
4. Ms. Hambley demonstrated incompetence, misconduct, and neglect of duty by making false claims that encouraged and caused confusion, anxiety, fear, and panic in the community.
MCL 46.11 is the Michigan State Law that explains the “Powers of county board of commissioners.” MCL 46.11(n) gives directive on what a board can do with a director.
“ …remove an officer or agent appointed by the board if, in the board’s opinion, the officer or agent is incompetent to execute properly the duties of the office or if, on charges and evidence, the board is satisfied that the officer or agent is guilty of official misconduct, or habitual or willful neglect of duty, and if the misconduct or neglect is a sufficient cause for removal. However, an officer or agent shall not be removed for that misconduct or neglect unless charges of misconduct or neglect are presented to the county board of commissioners or the chairperson of the county board of commissioners, notice of the hearing, with a copy of the charges, is delivered to the officer or agent, and a full opportunity is given the officer or agent to be heard, either in person or by counsel.”
Ever since January 3, 2023, Ottawa County has been inundated with misinformation by local activist media. The misinformation has been detrimental to citizens who look to the media for facts and truth.
Ottawa County citizens have been led to believe that the Board has no power to remove or fire the Health Director. When in truth, it is within their power, as confirmed in statute by MCL 46.11(n).
On December 6, 2021, during the previous board term, Judge Jon Hulsing stated:
“Can a local health officer abuse his or her authority? Absolutely! What can be done? County board hired her, county board can fire her.”
Hulsing went on to say, “One can think of a number of situations where a local health officer could exceed his or her ground of common sense. Fire the officer [or change state] law.”
On June 6, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals vacated the injunction order that prevented the Board from firing Ms. Hambley, recognizing the Board’s authority according to Michigan Law.
On September 27, 2023, Ms. Hambley’s lawyer, Sarah Riley Howard, filed a request with the Michigan Court of Appeals for an emergency order to stay, or delay, the termination hearing. In the filing, Howard said that both parties were warned to not take action prior to the Court of Appeals court date.
The Court of Appeals did not tell the parties to “not take action” at all.
On September 5, 2023, the Court of Appeals submitted an order that states: “All the parties are cautioned, however, that they proceed at their own peril.”
According to MCL 46.11(n), in the first step of the process, “charges need to be presented to the county board or chairperson of the board of commissioners.” In the second step, “notice of the hearing, with a copy of the charges, is delivered to the officer or agent.”
Both steps are now completed.
On October 19, 2023, Ms. Hambley will be given her “full opportunity” to be heard.
The job of the Board will be to decide if, “in the Board’s opinion,” the charges are sufficient for her removal. The Board will vote whether to remove Ms. Hambley.
For the past few weeks, multiple news sources have interviewed and shared statements from Ms. Hambley that are causing fear and anxiety in some residents of Ottawa County.
It is the Interim Health Officer’s duty to keep the public informed. It is not her duty to cause fear and panic in the community.
The Notice of Hearing outlines a few examples of Ms. Hambley’s statements:
September 5, 2023 (Finance Committee Meeting):
Hambley said, “In some instances you are literally taking services out of the mouths of children.”
September 5, 2023 (Holland Sentinel):
The Sentinel reported: “Hambley said [the budget] would ‘continue to put all public health services at risk.’”
August 30, 2023 (Holland Sentinel):
The Sentinel reported: “Hambley told the Sentinel and other media outlets last week that Moss’ demands to slash her budget next year by nearly $4 million could violate her state-mandated duties to protect public health, and potentially close the health department altogether.”
August 30, 2023 (Fox 17):
Fox 17 reported that Hambley said, “[T]his would force the department to close within a matter of weeks.”
August 30, 2023 (Fox 17):
Fox 17 reported that Hambley said, “If they’re proposing a cut, and every single line item for public health, you would be looking at significant time increases, or turning away of people for programs, or you look at significant time increases for inspections, permit issuance, or things like that…”
August 30, 2023 (Holland Sentinel):
The Sentinel reported that Hambley said: “And to me, this is a threat to the foundations of the public health and the health and safety of the community.”
August 22, 2023 (Facebook post):
Hambley wrote, “Proposed budget reductions of this size will significantly impair, and likely eliminate, various public health services and the Health Department’s ability to maintain public health and safety.”
“These are merely a sample of the fear and terror that Ms. Hambley inflicted on the community… For the reasons set forth above, Ms. Hambley is incompetent, engaging in misconduct and habitual or willful neglect of duty.” —Notice of Hearing, September 27, 2023
According to Michigan Law, a county board can hire and a county board can fire.
On September 26, 2023, concluding a lengthy and transparent budget process, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners allocated $14.39 million to the Department of Public Health for FY2024, the second highest adopted budget in over a decade.