BRIEFLY : Hawthorne: Council Votes to Fire City Manager

The Hawthorne City Council plans to fire City Manager James H. Mitsch.

The council voted 4 to 0 Tuesday to notify Mitsch of its intent to dismiss him by June 17. Councilman Steven Andersen was absent.

Mitsch, 55, was criticized by council members for the city's financial woes. In the past, Mitsch and the council have often cited the poor economy and state funding cuts as the main causes of budget problems.

"There were some basic hard times," said Mitsch, who has served as city manager since 1991. "When that happens, there's always a look for new blood."

Hawthorne faces a projected budget shortfall of $2 million this fiscal year. The city has operated without a budget since July. The problems forced the city to change its budget cycle from one year to two in March.

"I think the overall management of the city is in desperate need of change," Councilwoman Martha Bails said Tuesday.

Mitsch, who has been placed on paid leave, said he will request a hearing on the council's action.

If the council fires Mitsch, it is not clear who would succeed him.

The council has named Assistant City Manager Tim Brown as interim city manager. But Brown, who is weighing a job offer from another city, will only serve in the post until May 28.

Officials then plan to hire a temporary city manager until they find a replacement.

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