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‘Chaos and dysfunction’ reign at Hughson City Hall

POSTED March 23, 2010 11:20 p.m.
Recent finger-pointing and calls for resignations between Hughson City Council members and the mayor have had a negative affect on City employees. This disrupted work environment was made apparent at Monday’s Hughson City Council meeting when additional funds were requested by an outside auditing firm to complete their work.
There is a lot of activity going on in the City of Hughson that is making it difficult for people to concentrate and focus on their work, said Deborah Paul, City of Hughson Director of Finance. There are a lot of people that are not happy in their positions, she said.
Macias, Gini & O’Connell, an outside firm hired to audit the city’s finances, requested an additional $7,960 to complete their work because “audit delays and additional areas of audit risk have caused significantly more time than previously estimated,” according to a letter sent to the City Council from the firm. The City had budgeted a total of $50,000 for the audit services.
“Some information wasn’t complete and mistakes were made,” Paul said.
In a letter from Macias Gini & O’Connell requesting the additional $7,960, the company states the reason for the extra costs is because of “delays receiving audit information including loan documents and related support, executed City Council Resolutions, completed capital asset inventory, reports with the related journal entries and year-end payroll reconciliation support.”
“The staff has been slow to give information,” said Matt Beekman, Hughson council member. “This shows the level of chaos and dysfunction in City Hall.”
The audit was supposed to be completed by the end of December, but the auditors are still working on the City’s finances, he said. Beekman said along with the lack of information being provided to the auditors, the Civil Grand Jury findings could be slowing down the process because it sends up “red flags.”
All the chaos began when the Civil Grand Jury found in December that Hughson council members Thom Crowder, Ben Manley and Doug Humphreys were in violation of the Brown Act, Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices Commission Code. The three council members have refused to resign since the findings have been released.
At the Feb. 8 City Council meeting, the Citizens for Better City Government, a group of concerned Hughson residents, announced they have started a recall election to remove Crowder, Manley and Humphreys from office.
“How much time and money must we dedicate to this witch hunt?” asked Peter Sugia, member of the Citizens for Better City Government.
Crowder announced at Monday’s meeting that if someone could send him the e-mails that he was accused of sending in which he was found in violation of the Brown Act, he would resign.
“I will resign if someone provides me credible information proving me wrong,” Crowder said.
Ending the night, Beekman told Crowder that “if we can confirm you did something wrong, you need to resign.”
Crowder reassured the public that he would stick by his word and referred to Beekman as “shameful.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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