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Suspension of Official Called Likely

July 27, 1986|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

HAWTHORNE — City Manager Kenneth Jue said last week that he will "more than likely" give a maximum 30-day suspension to his second-in-command, James H. Mitsch, for disobeying a 1983 order to get rid a private surveying firm that Mitsch owned.

Jue said he knew early this year that Mitsch had not followed his order.

He said he decided to act now, after publication of an article in The Times last week about Mitsch's involvement in Centinela Valley Engineering Co. Jue said the article "maybe . . . just hastened what I should have done in the first place."

Grand Jury Report

In the early summer of 1983, Jue ordered Mitsch to end his connection with Centinela Valley Engineering, after the Los Angeles County Grand Jury in a report on Hawthorne city government criticized Mitsch's role in the firm as a possible conflict of interest.

The city manager said the proposed punishment does not deal with what he called indications that Mitsch's firm had done surveying work in Hawthorne, which Jue said would be a conflict of interest. Mitsch, as city engineer, approves construction projects.

The reason for the proposed penalty "is basically disobedience. I am not doing anything about any criminal charges that may or may not be pressing," he said.

City Atty. Michael Adamson said the city would refer any possible conflict of interest to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Mitsch said, "I really don't have a reaction to (Jue's statement) yet. . . . I am a little taken aback by it."

Survey Work

Jue said in an earlier interview, after examining material gathered by The Times, that he was concerned about indications that Mitsch's firm had performed surveys in the city in conjunction with surveyor Kevin Smith and intended to question Mitsch about the matter.

Mitsch and Smith have said in separate interviews that Smith only worked for Centinela Valley Engineering on jobs outside of Hawthorne. Centinela Valley Engineering refers developers requesting surveys in the city to Smith, who does them on his own without involving Mitsch's firm, the two men said. Jue said disciplinary proceedings will take place "soon."

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