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Ottawa County Administrator John Gibbs promises legal action against county if removed

Ottawa County Administrative Building
Ottawa County
Ottawa County
Ottawa County Administrative Building

Ottawa County Administrator John Gibbs’ lawyer sent a letter this week to county board Chair Joe Moss threatening potential legal action against the board if the board removes Gibbs.

The letter was sent one day before a Tuesday meeting at which the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners agreed on a motion to enter mediation with Ryan Kimball, who alleges Gibbs engaged in age discrimination in a hiring decision.

Kimball is suing Ottawa County, alleging that Gibbs selected a younger, less-qualified candidate for the role of executive aide.

Gibbs’ lawyer, Aaron Davis of Butzel Long, said sent a letter to Moss warning him about terminating Gibbs. “Should the Board's scheduled meeting involve any discussion of changing Mr. Gibbs' employment status with Ottawa County, know that it is our intention to ensure that the provisions of my client's employment contract are followed.”

Davis said there's no cause for ending Gibbs' contract.

“There is no scenario where the Board's adverse conduct against Mr. Gibbs is not put under a microscope by a court of competent jurisdiction if it does not regain its senses and begin treating Mr. Gibbs with dignity,” Davis said.

Gibbs was hired in 2023. He was supported by the board’s conservative Ottawa Impact group, which won a majority of seats. The group did not respond to a request for a comment, nor did Moss, the county commissioner and leader of Ottawa Impact.

Gibbs' contract runs until 2026. Davis, his lawyer, said Gibbs “will continue to perform his duties to the best of his ability, pursuant to his binding employment contract.

Davis said his letter “speaks for itself” and he had nothing further to say in answer to a request for comment.

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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