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South Bay Digest

Hawthorne : No. 2 Official Suspended

August 07, 1986

James Mitsch, the second-ranking official in Hawthorne, has been suspended for 30 days, the maximum period, without pay.

City Manager Kenneth Jue said he imposed the penalty but declined to provide the reasons, saying that to do so would be an invasion of Mitsch's privacy.

In an earlier interview, however, Jue said it was "more than likely" that he would give Mitsch a 30-day suspension because Mitsch had been insubordinate. Jue said that Mitsch, the city's director of general services and public works, had disobeyed a 1983 order sever his connection with Centinela Valley Engineering Co., a surveying firm that Mitsch owned. In 1983, a Los Angeles County grand jury had criticized Mitsch's role in the company as a possible conflict of interest.

Mitsch, who has acknowledged he did not shut down his firm until this spring when he was again ordered to do so, has denied that Centinela Valley Engineering did any surveys in Hawthorne.

Jue said earlier that there were indications that Mitsch's firm had conducted surveys in the city, which he said would be a conflict. He referred the matter to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which announced last week that it is being reviewed.

Jue said Mitsch will lose the use of his city car during his suspension and will stay away from City Hall except for what Jue termed "high-level" meetings with developers.

Clinton Smith, assistant city engineer, will take over Mitsch's other duties until Aug. 30 when he will return, Jue said. Smith is the father of Kevin Smith, a surveyor listed in a state form as a member of Mitsch's firm, Centinela Valley Engineering.

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