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Hughson council member Ben Manley resigns

POSTED August 3, 2010 10:43 p.m.

Just 22 days short of the Hughson recall election, council member Ben Manley — one of the three council members up for recall — announced his resignation at Monday’s special council meeting.

“It is with heavy heart that I must resign my position as a City Council member,” Manley stated. “With the continued attacks my wife and I have suffered both emotionally and physically; I have made a decision to step away from the abuse we have been suffering at the hands of this small group.”

Manley said his resignation was effective immediately.

With numerous requests and pleas for council members Doug Humphreys, Thom Crowder and Manley to resign over the past seven months, members of the Citizens for Better City Government said that they feel Manley’s resignation is “irresponsible.” The group is made up of concerned Hughson residents who support the recall election.

“If Mr. Manley had resigned before the recall election, as he was asked to do on multiple occasions, he could have saved Hughson taxpayers both time and money,” said Josh Whitfield, spokesperson for the Citizens for Better City Government. “Instead we all have been given another example of reckless leadership by one of our opponents.”

Manley’s name is already on the ballot for the recall election that will take place on Aug. 24. His resignation will not affect the election, said Dan Schroeder, Hughson city attorney. The two candidates running for his seat, Jill Ferriera Silva and Billie Gonzales, will run against each other to serve the remainder of Manley’s term.

The recall election was set after numerous requests for Humphreys, Crowder and Manley were made for them to step down after the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury found them in violation of the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices and Regulations in December 2009.

Crowder and Manley both stated at previous council meetings the reason behind their violations was to reveal the truth behind employee mistreatment in City Hall.

“I am glad I did not give in and helped expose the bad activities at City Hall,” Manley said. “I believe everything the staff stated; and it has been one of the worst working conditions that I have ever seen. The truth will come out one day.”

Manley delivered his resignation speech to about 10 Hughson residents who came to monitor the council after they called their second special meeting within three days. Both special meetings were called to discuss more than one complaint that the council and hiring recruiter have received about the city manager hiring process, said Mayor Ramon Bawanan.  Citizens voiced concerns at both special meetings about the potential of bringing in former city manager Dave Whiteside during the hiring process.

After discussing the complaints, Bawanan said “the process has been fair and we will make no changes.”

With no changes in the hiring process made, the ad-hoc committee who interviewed candidates on Monday has changed.

Hughson Elementary School Principal Brenda Vaca has stepped down from her position on the ad-hoc committee.

Bawanan stated that Vaca felt like the selection was creating controversy and she didn’t want to be known for any wrong doing. Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa will take her spot on the committee.

Interviews for city manager were held on Monday and there will be another round of interviews on Friday.  

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

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