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Crowder, Manley ask for Hughson mayor’s resignation

Civil Grand Jury response approved

POSTED February 24, 2010 12:03 a.m.
Finger pointing reached a new level Monday night at the Hughson City Council meeting. The three council members, who were found to be in violation of several codes by the Civil Grand Jury, attempted to turn the tables on Hughson Mayor Ramon Bawanan.
“The mayor wants to point fingers while he does what he wants,” said Council member Doug Humphreys. “You (community members) need to scrutinize all of us up here.”
Council members Ben Manley and Thom Crowder asked Mayor Bawanan to resign because of Bawanan’s alleged illegal activities and lying to council members. Bawanan has continually lied to the council and overstepped his boundaries, Manley said.
Crowder accused the mayor of breaking the California Penal Code by conspiring with City of Hughson Management Analyst Dominique Spinale to commit a crime and for falsely reporting a crime.
Union representative Doug Gorman filed a grievance with the city against Bawanan and Spinale in November 2009. Gorman said that grievance was denied.
“Do the right thing,” he said. “Look at the grievance and rule on it.”  
Bawanan reminded the council members that he had already turned over the grievance to the Civil Grand Jury to investigate after it was presented at the Nov. 23, 2009 council meeting.  
“If I am guilty of anything, I am guilty of not having a hidden agenda,” Bawanan said. “I am guilty of playing by the rules.”
While the Civil Grand Jury has yet to release a finding on Bawanan’s actions, a Dec. 22, 2009 report found Crowder, Humphreys and Manley in violation of the Brown Act, Fair Political Practices and Regulations and the Hughson Municipal Code.
The City of Hughson is required to respond to the Civil Grand Jury findings within 90 days, giving them a March 18 deadline.
Bawanan drafted the response and it was discussed at Monday’s meeting. The council approved the drafted response with some changes.
Crowder’s main concern with the draft was to have the statement “the respondent agrees with the finding” removed.
“I don’t agree with the findings,” he said.
The draft stated that the city will have a special Brown Act training as well as seek outside sources to hire a city manager in the future, which they will do soon with City Manager Joe Donabed’s contract expiring this May.
Even though the City has responded to the findings of the Civil Grand Jury, the three council members are not off of the hook for their actions.
Despite the Civil Grand Jury’s recommendation that all three council members resign, they refuse to do so.
Since they are not planning to resign, Hughson residents have taken the matter into their own hands and have officially started a recall election.
The group Citizens for Better City Government has been spearheading the recall election, gathering signatures and supporters throughout the Hughson community.
Those interested in joining the fight for or against the recall election can contact the Citizens for Better City Government at ResignHughson3@yahoo.com.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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