NATIONAL NEWS

Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules

Feb 27, 2024, 3:46 PM | Updated: 4:38 pm

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (AP) — An embattled public health officer in Michigan will get to keep her job, after a lengthy legal fight with county commissioners over pandemic-era mask mandates concluded Tuesday with the board bowing to the will of a court-ordered arbitrator.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted 11-0 Monday to retain Adeline Hambley as county health officer, part of a settlement to end her lawsuit against the board.

The commissioners first tried to fire Hambley in January 2023 after conflict over COVID-19 restrictions.

But when they were unable to, they offered her a $4 million settlement in return for her resignation, then rescinded the offer, saying it was only a tentative settlement agreement.

Hambley sued the commissioners over her “termination in violation of public policy.” The state’s appeals court ruled in October that Hambley could be fired only for “just cause.”

Instead, the matter would be decided by an arbitration panel consisting of three members: one chosen by Hambley, another by the county and a third by a mediator.

After more than 12 hours of mediation, the two sides agreed on a settlement in which Hambley would keep her job. It included a section stating that if the board tries to fire Hambley again before January 2025, the board would not have the power to do so.

“It was absolutely a priority,” said Sarah Howard, Hambley’s attorney. “There’s no predicting what’s going to happen in the future. … My client has wanted nothing more than to stay and lead this department.”

“Today, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners came to a mutual agreement, subject to court approval, to end all litigation involving the health officer,” Board Chair Joe Moss posted on social media following the meeting. “All legal issues between the parties will be resolved, and Ms. Hambley will continue in her role as health officer, as previously decided by the Appeals Court.

Public health officers are responsible for setting local public health policy. Officials who usually worked behind the scenes managing immunizations and water quality inspections found themselves center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic, as elected officials and members of the public who were frustrated with lockdowns and safety restrictions turned public health workers into politicized punching bags.

National News

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men stepped in and drew firearms, according to a statement from St. Louis police. The man who died likely was in his mid-twenties and […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pursuing a stolen vehicle in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while pursing a suspected stolen vehicle in Detroit, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said Sunday. Bradley J. Reckling, who was on duty in an unmarked car, was following a 2022 Chevy Equinox Saturday evening after the vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the day […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities search in rural Colorado for suspect in shooting that left 1 dead, 2 injured

ALAMOSA, Colorado (AP) — Officers went door to door in a rural area of southern Colorado on Sunday as aircraft searched overhead for a man suspected of shooting three people, killing one, and then fleeing on foot into farmland after a failed carjacking. Suspect Henry Corral, 44, should be considered armed and dangerous, said police […]

7 hours ago

Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules