HUGHSON — Three city councilmen will have the opportunity this evening to approve a letter agreeing with a Stanislaus County civil grand jury finding that they should quit.
The city has 90 days to respond to the grand jury's Dec. 23 report, which found that Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley broke the law by conspiring to fire City Manager Joe Donabed and should resign.
Mayor Ramon Bawanan wrote the city's response, which agrees with the grand jury's findings that the City Council needs more ethics training, the city needs to conduct its business in the open and that the three men should lose their seats.
"(Crowder, Humphreys and Manley) have been asked to resign and a claim to the Attorney General of the State of California has been filed by a group of Hughson citizens requesting a decision to force their resignations," the proposed letter reads.
Bawanan said he will continue asking the three men to resign at each regularly scheduled council meeting until they do so. Crowder, Humphreys and Manley said they won't quit.
The residents' group, the Citizens for Better City Government, is pressing forward with a recall election effort. Organizer Candice Steelman said 74 people came to a meeting last week.
Time is tight, because election law prohibits a recall within six months of the end of a council member's term. Crowder's term is up in November; Humphreys and Manley are in office until 2012.
Steelman said her group, which established an e-mail account — ResignHughson3@yahoo.com — believes it can get the recall under way within the next couple of weeks.
In other business, the council will consider hiring an outside information technology firm to look into whether personal information was accessed in a computer hacking incident last year. Public Works Director David Chase has been charged with deleting files, but the city's IT consultant said last month there was no indication employee or residential information was compromised.
Crowder said he didn't get a straight answer on the matter and wanted a second opinion. If approved, the contract will cost the city $12,000 to $23,000.
The Hughson City Council will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Community-Senior Center, 2307 Fourth St.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.