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Hughson city audit latest casualty of 'chaos'
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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 in Monday's Hughson City Council meeting when additional funds were requested by an outside firm trying to complete a financial audit.

Hughson Finance director Deborah Paul said the political flaps in Hughson are making it difficult for people to concentrate and focus on their jobs and that many are not happy in their positions.

Macias, Gini & O'Connell, a firm hired to audit the city's finances, requested an additional $7,960 to complete the 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. The city had budgeted $50,000 for the audit.

"Some information wasn't complete and mistakes were made," said Paul who noted the audit is delayed because employees are late in supplying loan documents and related support, various 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," commented 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, 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 refused to resign.

A recall was launched in February as a result. 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."