Hughson's year of upheaval

December 22, 2009 

Jan. 5: Thom Crowder, a longtime fixture of Hughson politics, is appointed to the City Council on a 3-1 vote.

Jan. 12: Crowder and Councilman Doug Humphreys are recorded in City Hall discussing city employees. Crowder says he wants to "rehire employees that, that I have confidence in, that I used to work with here."

April 22: Crowder e-mails City Manager Joe Donabed and his four colleagues on the council to signal his plans to investigate the city administration. Communicating with a majority of council members about city business outside of a public meeting violates the Brown Act.

June 19: Crowder e-mails the four other council members to complain about a street improvement plan and says he wants curbs, gutters and sidewalks installed in front of a Charles Street business. Humphreys also e-mails the four other council members about the project. The e-mails violate the Brown Act. Crowder owns property within 500 feet of the project, which represents a conflict of interest that bars him from using his office to lobby for it, according to state law.

June 30: The council holds a special meeting to discuss the city's administration.

July 2: Crowder e-mails the city attorney and the four other council members, arguing to take action against Donabed and to sanction Mayor Ramon Bawanan. This is a Brown Act violation.

Oct. 6: Crowder, owner of Hughson Paramedic Ambulance Co., applies for a job with another ambulance company that does business with Stanislaus County. His e-mail with the company implies that his political work would benefit the firm, a potential violation of the state Political Reform Act.

Oct. 19: Crowder, Humphreys and Manley vote to initiate a process that would result in Donabed's firing.

Nov. 5: Crowder, Humphreys and Manley vote to hire former City Manager Dave Whiteside as a temporary city manager.

Nov. 9: Whiteside turns down the offer.

Nov. 16: Manley e-mails all of his colleagues on the council to express his opinions about how to hire a new city manager, another Brown Act violation.

Nov. 23: The council, under threat of a lawsuit from Donabed, votes unanimously to bring back Donabed.

Source: Stanislaus County civil grand jury

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