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Hughson council to address concerns at special meeting

POSTED July 30, 2010 10:41 p.m.

At a special meeting of the Hughson City Council Friday night, citizens voiced concerns about the process of hiring a new city manager. The special meeting, which was called to deal with clerical matters according to the present council members, turned into a public discussion about possible back-door politics taking place.

About 30 Hughson residents voiced their fears about the potential reasons why the council called the special meeting on Friday.

“Tonight I am concerned,” said Dianne David, member of the Citizens for Better City Government — a group of Hughson residents pushing for the recall of council members Humphreys, Ben Manley and Thom Crowder after they were found in violation of the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices and Regulations in a Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury finding in December 2009.

Her concerns were that Humphreys, Manley and Crowder were the only members in attendance, she said. Mayor Ramon Bawanan was at a previously planned family event, Councilman Matt Beekman and Interim City Manager Thom Clark were absent and City Attorney Dan Schroeder was late due to traffic.

“I know that the three of you can appoint anyone you want tonight and get away with it,” David said. “There will be an upheaval in this town if this relates to Dave Whiteside.”

Other Hughson residents shared the same fears.

“Here we are again — secret politics,” said George Carr, member of the Citizens for Better City Government and a candidate in the recall election set for Aug. 24.

Bawanan voiced his concerns in a letter he wrote prior to his absence asking the council not to make any decisions without a full council present.

His concerns were raised after Crowder voiced a complaint at the July 26 regularly scheduled council meeting. The complaint was about a candidate who applied for a position as city manager and was denied an interview because of extra “baggage,” Crowder stated at the July 26 meeting.

Hughson residents fear that candidate was Whiteside, as David mentioned at Friday’s meeting.

Bawanan stated in his letter that if they must give an opportunity to that specific candidate, they must give an opportunity to everyone who has applied for the city manager position to be fair and steer clear from law suits.

“Please do not poison the recruitment process,” Bawanan stated in his letter.

No action was taken in Friday’s closed session special meeting, but Schroeder did say the council discussed complaints that have been voiced about the hiring process of the city manager to council members and the consultant who is recruiting candidates for the city manager position.

Council members decided to call another special meeting for Monday to discuss complaints about the process of hiring a new city manager.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. on Monday at Samaritan Village to interview some of the candidates for the city manager position in closed session. After the interviews, the council will meet at 8 p.m. in Hughson City Hall for another special meeting.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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