Michigan health official sues county over $4 million resignation letter

The top health official in one of Michigan’s largest counties is asking a judge to uphold a $4 million settlement in exchange for his resignation.

LANSING, MI — The top health official in one of Michigan’s largest counties has asked a judge to resign after months of conflict with local conservative leaders elected to combat the coronavirus. In exchange, they are asking for support for a $4 million settlement. limit.

Ottawa County leaders tried to fire Adeline Hambley in January after taking control of the county commission. Determined that she was unable to do so, the board opted to offer her $4 million, a quarter of the Department of Health’s fiscal year 2024 budget, in exchange for her resignation. She would also have had to drop her lawsuit against the county.

The board withdrew the offer, saying it was only a “tentative settlement agreement.” “There was never an agreement for the board to accept $4 million. There was discussion,” county general counsel David Kallman told The Associated Press.

However, Hanbly’s attorneys filed a motion Thursday to enforce the settlement, which is expected to go before a judge on Nov. 27.

“The parties have agreed to resolve this matter on November 6, 2023. The defendants are now remorseful and wish to exit the agreement,” Hanbury’s attorney Sarah Riley said. Howard said in the filing.

During the pandemic, public health officials and local health departments across the country became political targets due to lockdowns and restrictions.

The Ottawa County Health Department serves 300,000 residents in the western part of the province. Earlier this year, county commissioners voted to cut the department’s future budget by nearly $4 million. The board has suggested further cuts, and Hambly took to social media to protest.

The county’s 11-member board last year replaced incumbent challengers with close ties to a group known as Ottawa Impact, which was formed in 2021 as part of the county’s response to mandatory mask-wearing. Eight members were defeated, and the situation changed.

Hanbly sued the commissioners earlier this year, accusing them of “termination in violation of public policy.” In October, a state appeals court ruled that Hanbly could only be fired for “just cause.”

But at the Nov. 6 meeting, after nearly eight hours of closed-door deliberation, commissioners voted to “accept the recommendations of counsel regarding litigation and settlement activities” regarding Hanbly. It was later revealed that the settlement was $4 million in exchange for Hanbury’s resignation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hambly will work until at least November 30th and at the latest December 15th.

Nathaniel Kelly, a safety manager for an HVAC company, has no public health experience but is a candidate to take over the county health department.

The county asked the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for approval to serve as acting health officer, but the state does not allow counties to appoint a health officer until a vacancy is filled, a department spokesperson said. It is said that he was notified.

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