It's Official (Again) - Huy Pham Jumped
Jon Cassidy, in the Orange County Register this afternoon, reports, HERE, that the investigation by Talon Executive Services into the death of Costa Mesa maintenance worker Huy Pham on St. Patrick's Day this year confirmed that it was, in fact, a suicide.
CORONER CONFIRMS LEAP, NOT PUSH
According to Cassidy, the twenty-two page report quotes Dr. Sean Enloe of the Orange County Coroner's Office as stating that Pham did, indeed, either took a running start or dove from a standing position. He concluded that Pham had not been pushed from the roof of City Hall because he would have landed closer to the building.
DIDN'T REPORT TO WORK
You will recall that Pham was called to work to receive his six-month layoff notice while he was home recuperating from an injured foot caused by a non-work related accident. Pham never reported to work, but went directly to the roof of City Hall using keys provided as part of his job and leaped to his death shortly after 3:00 on March 17, 2011, landing adjacent to the east side employee entrance.
EXCLAMATION POINT ON A TERRIBLE DAY
That event was the exclamation point on what may have been the single darkest day in Costa Mesa City history, with more than 200 employees receiving notice that their jobs may be going away due to outsourcing in six months. The turmoil that has been pervasive throughout City Hall and other employee venues since that date has been palpable.
MONEY OVER COMPASSION
The heavy-handedness of that day was further amplified when Mayor Gary Monahan, rather than come to City Hall to oversee the handling of that tragic situation, instead chose to remain in his kilt at his pub and pull beer taps on what he described as "the biggest day of my life". Sadly, it was the last day of Pham's life. It is very possible that Monahan may have greased the skids to the end of his political career in this city with his insensitivity and callous disregard for the seriousness of the moment.
HIS LIFE RIPPED OPEN
Unfortunately, as you read Cassidy's report you will find that the investigation ripped open Pham's life for all to see. It includes references to interviews conducted by management staff which address performance problems that seem to contradict earlier reports about his stellar performance as an employee. It also paints a picture, in my view, of a troubled young man. There is no indication in the Register report that Pham sought the counseling suggested by members of management.
COCAINE USE ALLEGED
Sadly, the toxicology report issued earlier indicated that Pham had residue of cocaine in his system at the time of his death although reports at the time indicated he was not a drug user.
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE
One sentence of note in the Register article says, "After the suspension last fall , Pham was switched off a four-day, 10-hour schedule; no more incidents are noted in his personnel file." This will only add fuel to the fire already ablaze on the City Council to shift every employee to a 5-day, 8-hour schedule because "that's how businesses do it" - regardless of how that might negatively impact service to the public.
LET HIM FINALLY REST IN PEACE
Let's now hope that Pham can rest in peace and that his family and friends can move forward with their lives with some closure about how he died. It's just a shame that the city, the employees, his family and friends had to be put through more months of questioning and uncertainty unnecessarily.
DISTRUST AND A BUNKER MENTALITY
It's a shame, too, that this City Council has such distrust in the Costa Mesa Police Department - a fact affirmed by CEO Tom Hatch during a meeting with members of the CMPD a couple months ago - that they felt compelled to retain Talon Executive Services for this expensive, tumultuous and apparently unnecessary investigation. Whether or not there are plans underway to create a de facto bunker on the 5th floor of City Hall, as has been widely rumored recently, this council has created a bunker mentality in the City and we, the residents, are not being well served by it.