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Stepping down is the noble thing for three on Hughson City Council
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Things have never been nastier in Hughson, politically speaking. It's really too bad because Hughson is such a nice, quiet small town enjoyed by lots of good people. It's too bad that the elected leadership can't seem to get along.

The political drama that has unfolded there really could be remedied by the resignations of three councilmembers - Thomas Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley - who have stirred the angst of the people. In fact, three recall petitions were submitted last month and the whole matter appears headed to an election. The three are sticking to their, "Hell no, we won't go" mantra so it appears the voters are going to drag them kicking and screaming to the political woodshed where it appears they will receive a thrashing with a willow switch.

There used to be a time in this country when politicians who were found falling short actually did the right thing and resigned. Say what you may about Richard Nixon, at least he resigned from office when it appeared he was headed toward impeachment in 1974. And when Gary Hart was caught messing around with Donna Rice, he dropped out of the 1984 presidential race. Since Clinton, the new politics is have no shame and stick to your office no matter what. Clinton refused to quit after found lying under oath. Condit also refused to quit when political turmoil swirled about him. Rod Blagojevich refused to quit as governor of Illinois after found to be selling Obama's Senate seat but was finally impeached. Then there's South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, caught using state tax funds to have a trip to have an affair. He's still in office.

Hughson Interm City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar delivered the recall petitions to the Modesto office on March 31. Lundrigan's office ascertained that as of Thursday that there were enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Of the 1,007 signatures gathered on the petition to recall Crowder, Lundrigan's staff declared that 856 were found sufficient. Of the 983 signers on the Humphreys petition, 848 were found sufficient. A total of 978 signatures appear on the Manley recall petition, of which 847 were declared okay.

Those are significant numbers to be reckoned with and cannot be dismissed.

The basis for the recall is that the Civil Grand Jury looked into alleged improprieties about the three in violation of the Brown Act, Fair Political Practices and Regulations and the Hughson Municipal Code. The grand jury stated in their report that the Brown Act was violated through numerous e-mails exchanged between the three council members, the city manager, the mayor and the city attorney.

The Brown Act was passed by the California State Legislature in 1953 to guarantee the public the right to participate in and attend meetings held by local legislative bodies.

Crowder has also been accused of violating the FPPC through an e-mail from Crowder to a competing ambulance company on Oct. 6 requesting a position with them.

Crowder and Humphreys are accused of violating the Hughson Municipal Code which states that it is the duty of the city manager to investigate matters involving city administration. The two were heard on a Jan. 12 recording expressing their criticism of the city clerk and city engineer along with referring to Manley as he has already discussed plans for the city.

Of course, the three say they did nothing wrong. I disagree. Besides violating law, they have given a very nice town a black eye. Instead of being known as an all-American place to live, people will know Hughson as the town of nasty politics who care more about their names than the people they serve. The air at Hughson City Hall is rancid, the spirit of the community has been harmed and there's an unrest inflicted by Crowder, Manley and Humphreys staying put and bickering. The sniping is getting in the way of doing business.

I happen to agree with Mayor Bawanan who said last January, "If you put your personal interests first, you must resign immediately. You forgot that as a member of the City Council you work for the residents, not the other way around. You forgot that you serve the public, not the other way around."

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at