Nov 8, 2010

Hawthorne's messy politics get messier

Sandy Mazza at the Daily Breeze has followed up on a Fox 11 News report that linked the firing of Hawthorne's city manage and finance director to a 2009 incident at the Wild Goose strip club and found a more complicated political battle simmering under the surface.

The Daily Breeze report calls into question the allegation that former City Manager Jag Pathirana and former Finance Director Louis Escobar claimed to be cops when confronted by deputies at the Wild Goose, as Fox 11 reported, and whether the allegation served a basis for their being fired from the city. After the Fox 11 story aired last month, Pathirana was fired from his job as chief financial officer in Inglewood.

According to the Breeze, the Fox 11 learned of the Wild Goose incident from a report put together by a private investigator who had been hired by current Hawthorne City Manager Jim Mitsch. Mitsch refused to tell the Breeze why he hired the private investigator (perhaps it was an attempt to stop Pathirana or Escobar from suing the city) and the investigator, Edward Ortega, appears to have his own baggage. According to the Breeze story, Ortega told the city that he worked for a Big Bear-based firm that no longer employed him; and the firm's owner called Ortega unethical.

A law firm representing municipal employees sent a letter to city leaders telling them they needed to stop Ortega from conducting interview, the Breeze reports:
"Mr. Edward Ortega has represented himself to be an agent of the city, has used city resources and spaces to conduct his interrogations, and has told employees that his interrogations are being directed by the city," a May 14 letter from the firm states. "The handling of this entire matter was highly improper." 
All of this seems to stem from a regime change at City Hall, with the old guard reluctant to move on and the new guard happy to tap city resources to push them out. Hopefully more stories are coming to clarify what's behind this nasty squabble and exactly how it benefits the residents of Hawthorne.


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Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary for blogging this. I'm working on story #2 now.

Anonymous said...

as a former Hawthorne resident unimpressed by the nonexistent city services, I can say, wha?