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Hughson mayor, employee exonerated by Civil Grand Jury

POSTED March 12, 2010 10:12 p.m.
A new chapter in the on-going drama that is the Hughson City Council was released earlier this week when the Civil Grand Jury found that Mayor Ramon Bawanan and Management Analyst Dominque Spinale were not guilty of “wrongdoing.”
A grievance was filed with the Civil Grand Jury by the Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 focusing on the actions of Mayor Bawanan and Spinale.
The report was made after Union Representative Doug Gorman filed a grievance with the city on Nov. 10, 2009, against Bawanan and Spinale for “serious wrongdoings” and actions that were “criminal in nature.” Bawanan turned over the grievance to the Civil Grand Jury to investigate his own actions in question at the Nov. 23, 2009 council meeting.  
“If I am guilty of anything, I am guilty of not having a hidden agenda,” Bawanan said at the Feb. 23 City Council meeting. “I am guilty of playing by the rules.”
In their report released on Thursday, the Civil Grand Jury found that Bawanan and Spinale did nothing illegal nor acted improperly.
The union accused Bawanan and Spinale of seven instances of wrongdoing including filing a false police report, overstepping their boundaries by changing city building locks and refusing to provide the union with requested information.
During their investigation, the Civil Grand Jury reviewed documents provided by the City of Hughson and interviewed city staff, Bawanan and other persons of interest under oath, according to the Civil Grand Jury report.
The Civil Grand Jury reported on six findings, all of which found Bawanan and Spinale innocent of all seven charges alleged in the grievance filed by the union.
Hughson City Council member Thom Crowder said he believes the Civil Grand Jury — who found himself, council member Doug Humphreys and council member Ben Manley guilty of violating the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices Code — is part of a conspiracy.
“There is a conspiracy and it’s not with Humphreys, Manley or myself,” Crowder said. “I’m here to protect the community.”
Crowder said he wasn’t surprised with the results of the second Civil Grand Jury findings that focused on Bawanan and Spinale. He went on to say believes the reason why the Civil Grand Jury had no findings on the two is because Bawanan works for the District Attorney’s Office.
“The grand jury is unconstitutional,” Crowder said. “They have little credibility and they did a bad job of investigating.”
Crowder said he provided the Civil Grand Jury with documents supporting sexual harassment claims committed by City Manager Joe Donabed, violations by Hughson Public Works Director David Chase and documentation of John Doe checks addressed to the city.
“There is nothing fishy going on in the city,” Crowder said. “It is factual. It is all backed up with documentation.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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