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San Diego County Digest

San Diego

December 11, 1987

Ben Montijo, ousted as executive director of the San Diego Housing Commission six months ago amid allegations that he showed favoritism to developers renovating a housing project, is threatening to file sue the city, claiming "wrongful termination."

A statement was distributed at City Hall Wednesday in behalf of Montijo. It said he will file a lawsuit this month because "only a court of law can refute the critics, expose those several unsavory politicians, and drive those several newspaper and television sharks from the shallows of sensationalized, inaccurate and biased reporting."

Montijo's statement is not specific about which agencies he intends to sue.

"I am filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination and other related unlawful acts against those certain organizations and individuals involved," it says. Council members, sitting as the Housing Authority, voted 6-0 on Feb. 27 not to renew Montijo's contract.

The move came after The Times reported possible irregularities in how Montijo and his staff handled the renovation of a 122-unit apartment complex in Southeast San Diego under a federal program. The Times story led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the matter.

Results of the federal investigation are still pending. An internal investigation by the commission, released in February, found that the agency committed a number of irregularities and gave "extraordinary assistance" to developers of the 122-unit Island Gardens Apartments.

Elizabeth Morris, acting executive director of the commission, said that Montijo's threat is "most unfortunate.

"All we know at this point is he is stating his intent to sue. There's nothing to discuss until that eventuality comes to be," Morris said.

Montijo was appointed executive director of the Housing Commission in Kansas City, Mo., in September.

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