Thursday, March 17, 2011

Suicide At City Hall

How do I begin this one.... there's no easy way to start what I have to say, so I'll just take a deep breath, give you the facts and my views and let you sort it out.
Early this afternoon a 29 year-old maintenance worker, identified this evening as Huy Pham of Fountain Valley, who had reportedly been with the City of Costa Mesa for a little over 4 years, leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall. He apparently had been called into work from home, where he had been recuperating from an injured foot, to receive a 6-month outsourcing layoff notice. He never received the notice, choosing to take his life instead. 

A friend called me shortly after this happened and told me something terrible had happened at City Hall and that I needed to come over immediately. I had no idea what awaited me when I pulled into the parking lot. 

When I arrived I found the entire east side of the building taped off and no fewer than fifteen police officers stationed at strategic points. Near the rear of the east side of the building was a makeshift shelter and a tent covering the site where the young man landed when he jumped from the roof. He was still there and his body would not be removed by the coroner until more than two hours later.

Shortly after I arrived Public Services Director Peter Naghavi, who had been at the Maintenance Yard delivering the layoff notices, came to a screeching stop beside me and sprinted under the tape to the site. He had not yet delivered the layoff notice to the young man - his was the last one in Naghavi's stack when he received a call from City Hall. I spoke with Peter several times over the next couple hours as he sought out his staff and did his best to console them. 

I went into City Hall to console some of my many friends who work there. As I spoke with different people their moods shifted from extreme grief and despair at this tragic situation to almost uncontrollable anger at what they felt was the reason. This attitude grew as the afternoon passed. Without exception, the employees I spoke with blamed the death of their friend on the current elected leadership of our city for the pace at which they seem to be trying to deconstruct the city

I walked around outside to a vantage point where I could view the scene. I saw Les Gogerty - who recently stepped away from his temporary job as interim police chief - with Steve Staveley - who was just named to that position this week - along with Tim Starn, the commander of the about-to-be-defunct ABLE helicopter program, all providing leadership on this tragedy. 


I saw new Chief Executive of the City Tom Hatch being consoled and later spoke with him briefly. There really are no words for this kind of a situation. Hatch was trying to manage this situation the best he could.

MENSINGER AND RIGHEIMER Later I saw Councilman Steve Mensinger arrive, followed shortly by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. They stood with the command staff and were apparently briefed - we were 30 yards away. As they left and tried to enter City Hall they were accosted by an angry city employee and the taunts of at least one other. The angry employee had to be restrained from attacking Righeimer and Mensinger. That was the last I saw of them for the afternoon. The word floating around outside was that they were going to be given a police escort home later in the evening.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece arrived and immediately began consoling distraught employees. She remained outside with them for quite awhile - at least an hour before I finally left just before 6 p.m. She also gave interviews to the media. 

Former councilwoman Katrina Foley arrived in tears and also consoled employees outside. 

Councilman Eric Bever was nowhere in sight.

The media was everywhere. There were at least 4 television crews plus radio and print representatives. Fox News dispatched it's helicopter for an aerial view of the scene.

Nick Beradino, head of the Orange County Employees Association, was on the scene with some of his associates. Sadly, he chose to politicize this tragedy. Taking a page right from Rahm Emanuel's playbook, he found himself in the midst of a crisis too good to waste. When he heard that Mayor Gary Monahan was at his pub dressed as a leprechaun he apparently dispatched someone to snap a photo of him in that regalia, then shared the cell phone photo with the assembled media. I just saw it on KCAL 9 news.

Monahan had not shown up at the scene during the time I was there, but a very brief press release was issued shortly before 7 p.m. tonight with this statement attributed to him. "Our hearts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers during this tragic time. In addition, crisis counselors have been brought in immediately to provide support to the City Hall family and will continue to be on-site for as long as needed." I have no illusions that he actually wrote that message and understand why he didn't show up at City Hall. Today is the biggest day of the year at his pub and the last thing anyone in the city needed was a guy dressed in a leprechaun suit wandering around the scene of this tragedy - even if he was sober. 


Several times earlier in the day I thought about my many friends at City Hall because today was the day of the distribution of the layoff notices. I worried for them and the impact of simply receiving these slips of paper. Even though there is a lot of analysis to be done before outsourcing would actually happen, the pace with which this process was jammed through has made every city employee anxious - understandably so. This would have gone down as one of the darkest days in the history of this city. Now it will stand alone. 

I understand the anger and despair I saw at City Hall today. Employees, and many of us observing recent events, thought the new City Council majority was moving much too fast in their attempts to re-organize the city. The focus of most of the anger was at Righeimer and his pal, Mensinger. I cannot repeat some of the epithets I heard about those two men today, when emotions were highest. There was also anger reserved for Monahan, too, because he has been a willing accomplice in this new re-structuring - and because he failed to show up at City Hall today. He's shown the employees very clearly where his priorities lay.

I don't know what lays ahead for our city in light of this tragedy. How CEO Tom Hatch handles this situation and how he guides the city through it will tell us much about the man. Today he was clearly distraught. As mentioned in Monahan's memo, crisis counselors are on site and were working hard with staff members all afternoon. I suspect they will be at City Hall tomorrow, too. 

I wonder, too, how this event will affect Righeimer, and Mensinger. I watched both of them today for the half hour or so they were outside. I saw no signs of emotion from either of them. Mensinger was preoccupied with his cell phone, texting most of the time before they went inside. For some people this kind of an event is life-changing. It causes some to step back and re-assess their priorities. I know that Righeimer lost a young daughter, so he knows the pain the employees are feeling right now. My question is, how will he and Mensinger react to this tragedy.

In my view, Gary Monahan has doomed his political future in this city with his callous disregard for for the feelings of the employees of our city at their time of need. You find out about leaders when the chips are down. We found out about Monahan today. 

I feel tremendous sadness for the employees of the City of Costa Mesa. The double-whammy they received today of the layoff notices followed by the suicide of their friend and co-worker is going to be difficult to handle. I encourage them to use this time to grieve for their friend and to try to push the anger they are feeling aside - at least for the time being. One never knows what is in a person's mind when they take their own life. From all reports this young man had a bright future, was a hard worker with many friends and a loving family. I hope his friends will take the time now to console each other for his loss and reach out to his family to give them the support they certainly need at this time. As I type this the news on television behind me shows images of employees gathered at City Hall for a candlelight vigil. 

As I drove home from City Hall today many thoughts swirled through my head. I worried for the future of our city. I wondered what I would write when I got home, filled with the emotion of the past couple hours. I arrived to find dozens of emails and many voice mail messages from friends and strangers, wanting to be sure that I'd heard the bad news and to offer their condolences. I answered the emails and returned the calls, hearing the wisdom I've become accustomed to with my friends and sat down here to capture my thoughts. 

Tomorrow will be another difficult day for my friends at City Hall. I hope they all know that the residents of this city feel the pain they are all sharing right now. I hope they know we want to support them at this time. Short of giving every one of them a big hug, those hollow words are the best I can do under the circumstances. 

I close this tonight wondering if this terrible tragedy will be the trigger to finally get some complacent residents off their collective couches and begin to pay attention to what's going on in this city. Will those more than 100,000 people Jim Righeimer thinks support his plans finally step up and say STOP!? Will he and his majority step back and realize that their actions have consequences? And, most of all, will cooler heads prevail in the wake of this horrendous event? Time will tell.

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Anonymous Total Buzzkill said...

"Gonadhand" fail, "Rigsheister" fail, "Massengail" fail, Stuffed "Bever" fail, Leece prevail....

Wendy is such a class act. I really wish she was our Mayor representing the City. Oh well.....

3/17/2011 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Rig bever Mensinger must go said...


If every employee and every citizen don't take every step possible to recall these idiots I will be surprised.

That employee is dead because of a political agenda. ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER REASON. Was it worth it Righeimer? How much is your soul worth?


Prayers for the family....

and disgust for Righeimer/ Mensinger / Bever ( does this guy ever show up to anything )

3/18/2011 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Judy Lindsay said...

I am saddened, shocked, and appalled at this tradegy. My concerns have been expressed to friends, co workers, and city council as have those of many Costa Mesa Citizens, yet the men on the council ignore us all. I thought a city council represented the citizens of the city, these guys need to wake up and hear the pleas of the majority of citizens and not the words they speak to thenselves.

3/18/2011 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Kelly Benjamin said...

Katrina Foley is asking for donations of food for the employees at city hall to be taken to city hall lobby. Bringing lunch is the least we can do for our friends at city hall and city yard.

3/18/2011 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous BostonGI said...

How much will this police escort cost the tax payers?

Why do they not outsource the job to some security guards and save the city some money?

Would it not be the equivalent of a care ambulance hack trying to save your life?

3/18/2011 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous oc to oc said...

Folks this didn't have to happen. I spoke with Huy's brother tonight and this guy was a family man. Do not believe the hype that some people are posting that this man had mental illness. This man was under pressure to provide for his family. You all would probably being feeling the same emotions that every city employee is feeling right now if you too were given a pink slip. Folks I am a city employee, it's time that everyone wakes up. We are not multi-millionaires as council wants you to believe. A lot of us have at least two jobs to make ends meet. We are middle class as many other Americans are. A lot of employees decided to stick with the city because we believe in it. But council is slowly breaking the spirit of all of us. This town consists of a little more than a 100,000 people. I truly hope that all of you attend the next council meeting in April. As I recall the United States of America is a democracy, not a dictatorship.

3/18/2011 02:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did the city manager let the council handle the outsourcing this way? Isn't the city manager in charge? Why have we let the City Council have this much influence? They should only "help" guide the city and the bottom line comes from the city manager. Lets all remind ourselves that politicians come and go but the city manager can do over 30 years...This City Council is running this city into the ground and someone needs to step up and stop them!

3/18/2011 03:22:00 AM  
Anonymous A sad employee who can't cry anymore.. said...

I am shamed and disappointed with our leadership at City Hall. This death should not have happened. PERIOD. I am ashamed of Mayor Monahan, very clearly his priorities were with himself (as usual)- I knew Huy. I knew his smile. What is sad is this tragedy didnot have to happen. I blame as most employees do the City Council. This can be debated by all the naysayers.. but fact is fact. HUY is gone.. GONE FOREVER AND it is their fault. I won't write much more because I am so angry I am not sure Geoff would print all the expletives I have in my heart.
But let this be a lesson- THE EMPLOYEES WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT THE CITY COUNCIL FORCED HUY to do yesterday. My heart breaks and will continue to shatter for us all.

3/18/2011 04:44:00 AM  
Anonymous I don't trust this new council said...

God Speed to the City Workers and their families.
I can't begin to wrap my head around the trough of motives this new council (minus Wendy) is feeding from. However their very public display of insensitivity to the people they supposedly serve sure reminds me of another self-serving group of thieves across the street.

3/18/2011 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger G. Ridge Studio said...

We need to really support the city staff workers right now. They are completely devastated. If you could drop off snack, drinks, cards, flowers, at the corporate yard or city hall, it will be something. Last night , after six, I went to light a candle at the city hall. There were many people there.Wendy, Sandy, Katrina, Many workers and friends, Perry Valantine with his wife, and many others. The NB Rib Co. donated food and set up tables to try and do something. It was people coming together and trying to come to grasp of what has happened to this city. The depth of shock and sadness is overwhelming.

3/18/2011 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous mike m said...

As much as I would like to pin this entirely on our city's leadership (they blood on their hands, etc.), I don't think we can beyond the fact that they created the atmosphere that led to this. My IMMENSE dislike of Monahan and Bever, and the tactics brought in by Righeimer and Mensinger have created a divisiveness that will be tough to bridge. Somebody commented recently in here about Mensinger lurking about city hall looking over shoulders, etc. - if anything, maybe the employees could sue somehow for being subjected to a hostile work environment.

That said, as someone who was laid off from a private sector job a few years ago, right after having bought a bigger house and having a second baby, I know how tough it is out there. It took me nearly a year to find a job that paid 60% of what I used to make, and even then it took another year to become permanent and get benefits, etc., but I had a family to support and they kept me going in turn. Life is short and crazy and a wild ride, but a layoff notice shouldn't be viewed as a death sentence.

I grieve for the Huy Pham and his family, but at the same time there must have been other things going on in his life to drive him to this. The notice delivered by these hardliners was the final straw. What a terrible tragedy this has all resulted in, and now it's going to get even uglier, with the accusations that will fly back and forth as this gets politicized.

So here I go. Righeimier, Mensinger and their followers all talk about how it was the people that were previously running the city that put us in this whole. What they always fail to mention is that two of them - Monahan and Bever - were part of that regime that got us into this mess to begin with. The fact Bever DIDN'T EVEN SHOW UP, again, and Monahan was too busy pouring drinks, speaks volumes. So much for leadership, which is more than just a word. Actions, or lack thereof, speak much louder.

I'm just glad I can look in the mirror and say I never voted for ANY of them, EVER!

3/18/2011 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Progressive said...

Have to take exception with your comment that Nick Berardino tried to politicize this.

Nick is a former Marine, and he lost one of his brothers in arms.

Riggy, Mensinger, and the leprechaun have declared war on public employees, and this was the first fatality.

Do you really expect him to be civil?

3/18/2011 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous We've got to make this city better said...

I agree with Mike M., that we can't wholly place the blame directly on the Council for this very tragic incident. However, at the very least it's very clear they created this atmosphere, and that THEY DO NOT CARE about anything/anyone other than their dogmatic agenda (which btw, is just being handed down to them from the OC GOP and others above them).

Aside from any immediate comfort we might be able to provide the city employees, what is the process to begin a recall? What is required to start that process? If it's every going to happen, now is the time!

It's criminal that Bever hasn't been engaged to do the job that he was elected and WE ARE PAYING HIM to do!! Righeimer, Mensinger are heartless and are NOT looking out for this City. Monohan should be totally ashamed of himself for being lead around by these bozos! And, where was Hatch in all of this?? I doubt Roederer would have happened things this way.

3/18/2011 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Weak leadership at the helm is bending any way the Council winds blow and these hot winds are blowing directly from the OC GOP in blaming employee unions for the mismanagement of the city for decades. Allan Roeder left the city crumbling around him, with no finance director or direction to be seen. And the plaid-skirted, dancing Leprechaun who was too busy serving beer to show up at city hall should be banned from ever stepping foot inside city hall and should hope to not be run out on a rail! REMEMBER ALL CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES - THEY TOO GET BENEFITS AND LIFE TIME RETIREMENTS - JUST LIKE THE CITY EMPLOYEES THEY ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT. ARE THEY DIMINISHING THEIR OWN PERSONAL BENEFITS? I DON'T THINK SO!

3/18/2011 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous moe said...

don't feel sorry for Naghavi. rumor has it that during last year's layoffs he essentially told this kid that he was at the bottom of the totem pole and he didn't matter so too bad for you. PN is a wreck because of the guilt.

3/18/2011 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous A Costa Mesa Resident said...

First of all, there is not yet a speck of evidence that the city employee's suicide was in any way related to the potential layoff notices. He had not even received a notice.

Anyone who commits suicide is mentally ill to start with. The fact that no one else committed suicide is indicative that this particular employee was unstable and may have committed suicide for other reasons. He was young, and certainly capable of getting another job if he was laid off. The other 202 employees apparently accepted their "potential layoff notices" without incident. I'm fairly certain they weren't happy about the potential layoffs, but then none of them have even been laid off yet. The notices were nothing more than a courtesy, that virtually no employee in the private sector ever receives.

Any person who uses this man's death to further his/her own, personal, political cause is a worthless human being. Any city employee grand standing on this man's death, in an effort to force the hand of the city council, should be fired. Using a public tragedy to further enrich a person's pocketbook, is a despicable thing to do.

I hope the rest of the city hall employees, and their union leaders, will let Huy Pham rest in peace. No one made him jump off that building. It was his choice, and his doing. God bless his soul.

3/18/2011 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger JD said...

First of all my heartfelt sympathies go out to Pham’s family and friends in the wake of this sorrowful and tragic event. Geoff, your accounting in this post is both thorough and thoughtful. Good job.

As expected, the emotions and rhetoric are running high with much of casting aspersions on the 4 members of the City Council who voted to outsource. I’d like to offer a different perspective.

I don't think it’s at all reasonable to cast blame for this on the decision of the City Council. Was this really something they should have seen coming? In the OCR article, his brother even states Pham expected to be hired by the contractor that will outsource his services. And if we insist on blaming someone, do we target the council members who were elected by people like me to do exactly what they are doing? I voted for Jim Righeimer because of his commitment to restore some fiscal sanity to our city. And he was clearly elected with that mandate.

So how did we end up here? One critical event was Wendy Leece’s flip-flop on the budget vote the week before the election. Contrary to your spin on that event, she was given financial support by OCGOP in her 2010 campaign. Their support of her in 2006 is irrelevant given there was no financial crisis. The budget was the determinative issue in the 2010 election - the firefighters threw the tax payers a crumb and she jumped on it.

Here’s the simply truth - if Leece had voted the way she committed to when she recieved the support of the OCGOP, the decision to outsource would not have been necessary.

Righeimer and the other fiscal conservatives could have demanded, and most likely recieved, siginificantly greater financial considerations from the City’s unions if Leece had not taken this cowardly and duplicitious action a week before the election. (Had she done it a month before the election she may have lost her seat.) But because of her vote, that was no longer an option.

That’s why the City Council, which no longer had the option to negotiate, pursued the option to outsource. Their hands were tied when they took office but they still had to deal with the issue. Unlike Leece and the other previous members who continued to give the unions what they asked for and buried their heads in the sand as the crisis developed, the current council is actually doing their jobs. You may not like it, but that’s why we elected them.


PS - I’m in 100% agreement of your analysis of Monahan’s political future. The word that comes to mind to describe him the wake of this tragic event? How about “Douchebag”?

3/18/2011 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous MAD AS HELL said...

Oh I was one who got a pink slip and there is much I want to do- but my hands are tied. I AM so angry and upset. Why don't we do more? BECAUSE WE are told we can't... the blame.. the blame is on MENSINGER.. do you know that he egged one employee on to fight him.. .YES... egged an employee who got a pink slip.. he dared him.. YES, that's leadership for ya.. Fing NOT

3/18/2011 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Moe, I can't believe you'd try to trash someone's reputation at a time like this based on "rumor." I know Peter Naghavi, and what you describe does not begin to fit this caring man. If one were to believe rumors, one would think "Moe" is a pen name for Righeimer, Mensigner, or Monahan. Shame on you!

3/18/2011 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Brumbaugh said...

To moe: I really doubt Naghavi told Huy he didn't matter. You may not agree with what Peter had to do but he is not a cold hearted person and I would bet his words to Huy were more compassionate that what you assume. We all need to work toward getting this city back on the positive path. Way too much negative publicity in the media anymore!Lets work together not against one another.

3/18/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

valen2, please email me at the address on my profile page...

3/18/2011 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Work together said...

This is a horrible tragedy that will only be made worse by politicizing it.

Now is the time for the City family to come together, and that includes the City Council. The best way to solve the very real fiscal crisis the City faces is for the associations to come forward with real solutions to the pension issue and prove to Council and citizens that their employees (OUR employees) really are the best people with the most professionalism and experience for the job.

Mr. Pham's death is an unspeakable tragedy, but he chose the path he took, a path which millions of Americans did not take when faced with far worse situations.

Blaming the City Council is absolutely wrong and totally outrageous. Do not compound this tragedy by further tearing the City apart - get to work and show why the current City workforce is the best, most cost-effective and most experienced one for the job.

3/18/2011 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OC Progressive, take all the exception you wish, but I was there and - in my view - it was the wrong place to be politicizing this situation. We were almost within arms-reach of Pham's body, for goodness sake. Yes, I do understand the emotion of the moment - I saw Nick go after Hatch. You KNOW that I've been a critic of the current regime in Costa Mesa. Yesterday was a time that cried out for leadership - on all sides. In my view, Nick chose the wrong path.

moe, I spent quite a bit of time with Naghavi yesterday over a 3 hour period. Yes, he was a wreck, as almost every other person was over there. I don't for one second believe that he told Pham that he didn't matter. thanks to valan2 and Michael S. for also coming to his defense. Peter is a good man, carrying a tremendous burden this morning.

3/18/2011 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry Peterson said...

These comments make me ill. Who blames someone for a suicide? Tragic. You people ought to be ashamed. There's no decency left in some of the folks who post here. Any blame is on the folks who stolk the flames of this on a daily basis. Sleep with that at night.

I'm thinking of Mr. Pham and his family right now, nothing else

3/18/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

@ a costa Mesa Resident- pretty easy to be so bold when your hiding behind a keyboard.
First off, this is a tragedy, and my prayers go out to all involved. I am sure the fab 4 are also in a euphoric awe right now and my prayers go to them.
Am I happy with the pace, process, disregard for citizens and employees and some of the arrogance during this process. NO!!! Do I want to see the city save money, yes. So when the employees come to the table to WORK WITH the CC to try to make right, yet the CC just ignores the employees this irritates me. I hope Mr. Pham's death gets the CC to actually see that they are dealing with real people, not just dollar signs or political careers.

I hope that more than 200 people will show up to the next CC meeting, more like 10,000. I dont care if they support the CC or are in support of the Employees. Let the CC know that we are watching.

3/18/2011 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Employees ban together said...

As a City Employee we have all been under stress and now to lose a beloved co-worker is like losing a member of our family. We are all beside ourselves with grief and not understanding why this had to happen.

Mensinger, Righeimer Beaver and Monahan have got to go! I beg the citizens of Costa Mesa to come forward and start a recall on these men. They are responsible for our co-workers death! They have no plan, no fiscal information, but yet they didn't care and decided to pink slip an entire city. Chances are these idiots may have never outsourced Huy job and he would still be here today. You don't screw with peoples lives without the data to support if in fact an outsourced will occur.

But mostly as a City Employee, I hold Tom Hatch responsible for this mess. He has allowed these men to bully him and has bow down to them all for the sake of his pension which is higher than the entire city employees. Practice what you preach! Stand up and defend your employees. Stop being these men's puppets don't you have any pride? You took an oath to this city and to your employees.

I hope that all my fellow city employees will ban together and demand Tom Hatch resignation!! I hope all our Costa Mesa residence will ban together and demand his resignation. He is clearly not the man for the job. He lacks what it takes for the job he is way in over his head.

He never should have been allowed to step in Allan shoes. He has brought this city literally to it knees in less than a month he has been in charge.

How many more employees do we have to lose before they will stop? How can the residences of Costa Mesa allow the beloved city we have worked and cared for be destroyed?

Speak now or forever hold your peace. I will not suffer in silence anymore. I will stand up to these bullies and I will no longer allow them to bully me What do I have to lose? Nothing they have already taken my job!


God bless Wendy Leece the only official who has recognized what this City needs and has supported all of us and is concerned for the residences as well as the employees who still want to serve this fine city it once was.

3/18/2011 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm quite certain that Pham's family would like to know why all of you insensitive people felt a need to run to the scene to gawk, comment, and hug. The display of misplaced compassion was definitely disturbing to the rest of the city that chose to give the dead man some dignity. Would you want everyone staring at your broken, dead, body under such circumstances?

If EVER there was a time for privacy, that was it!

3/18/2011 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

My prayers go out to this young man's family and friends, I know what they are going through; the sadness, guilt and question of "Why didn't we see this coming?" will linger in their minds for a long time.

About blame? As sad and incomprehensible the choice of this young man's actions yesterday to end his life can, in no way, be placed on the shoulders of ANYONE other than this young man himself.

As most know, I have little respect for these four council members and how they are manipulating the system to force their agenda on we citizens of Costa Mesa; but blaming Hatch (my God, he just got the job) and these fools is just wrong.

There has yet been proof that the pink slip issue was the sole reason for this young man's choice and to use this sad incident to further YOUR agenda make you no better than the Marx Brothers.

Now, how the actions of our Mayor and Manny, Moe and Jack reacted afterward is fair game; if you recall Monahan was made Mayor over Leese because Reeeemer told us all that, "We need someone in this position with experience and the courage to do what is needed for our City." GREAT CHOICE!

Cut-backs and layoffs were inevitable given the state our countries economy is in. Just because you are a public employee doesn't and shouldn't make you immune to the effects of an economic downturn, to think otherwise can be viewed as a sense of entitlement, just like the Farcy Foursome.

3/18/2011 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Roger Ebberson said...

At the risk of being unpopular, layoffs happen every day. Why are City employees somehow immune from the economy that we all are suffering through? Are these lifetime positions? I've been laid-off several times. I get back up. It is clear this young man had issues in his life and these issues compelled him to take his life. Somehow connecting this tragedy to the idea that we simply can't layoff any City employee is lunacy. Seperate the issues. Our employees on this blog are advocating a world where they can never be laid-off. That's not America. Sure, it's difficult, but we will all get through this. I'm disappointed at the extreme views of entitlement from some of these folks!

3/18/2011 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous The Taxpayers said...

Employees ban together:

The only thing Tom Hatch should do is to fire you and other like minded city employees!

The taxpayers demanded change, and we are going to get it!

3/18/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous almostdone said...

Roger E... I've held off on commenting about this tragedy because everything is being said. Some of it thoughtful and some not.

I want to make something clear to you though, because I've heard your comment being repeated.

It's not about guarantees of never being layed off. To say that public employees feel entitled is BS.
It's about being layed off in a capricious manor for political gain.

Pension funding is being used as the focus for this.
If you want to know the truth about these pensions, look to PERS, not Republican politicians for honest answers.

PERS is a 200 billion dollar investing machine that serves one purpose. Funding their pensions.

On the other hand, these little politicians also serve one purpose... the party agenda and their positions in that machine.

To take a snapshot of PERS funding at the low point in the economic rollercoaster is just as misleading as using the high point five years ago would be.
Think about it... use your brain!

In five to ten years from now PERS could be funded and returning contributions back to the cities just as they were 5 years ago.

Back then they were telling cities like Costa Mesa to save it for when they will need it. We all know what they did with that advice.

The point is... Yes there are some pension systems in this country that are truly wacked. CALPERS is not one of them and for this agenda to be pushed forward in the manor it has in Costa Mesa is not necessary. It is based on lies.

These guys are destroying these employees jobs for an agenda that is for their personal gain and that of their handlers.

Everybody should be ENTITLED to protection from that!

3/18/2011 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous sixtysix92 said...

Two months after Camden, NJ, laid off 160 police officers, city prosecutors have released a sobering report showing a dramatic rise in violent crime in the drug-and-crime-ridden city of 80,000 residents.


3/18/2011 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous City employees ban together said...

Just to be clear, as a city employee I don't feel I should be immune to a lay off. I have been layed off before. I know it happens. I'm referring to the manner in which they choose to do the lay offs.

They are in violation of the Brown act. They should have facts and figures and maybe even gotten bids on cost to outsource a department before giving a pink slip.

They never had a meet and confer with the employees who were willing to work on the fiscal budget
Remember we took a 5 percent pay cut and pay more into our pension for the last year. Brown act states they
must meet and confer for a fiscal budget. They broke a state law by not doing so and now the law suits will begin.
Again, they were in a rush and didn't want to consider other options. they said screw the laws we will do what we


If outsourcing is necessary then so be it. But don't do it half-ass and screw with people lives on a chance that oh wait it does cost more to outsource..oh never mind. Damage is done and in the mean time lost experienced valued employees who will be welcomed at any other city.

In the end you do get what you pay for.

3/18/2011 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

What's at issue here is not a pink slip or pending lay-off itself. As stated previously in other responses to this post; people all across the country have been laid off. The downsizing of companies and jobs in the private sector has been ongoing.
The issue here is the ongoing villainization of public sector workers. It's not that the public sector is immune from the consequences of the poor economy. Quite to the contrary. However, how many people in the private sector have been constantly blamed (across the country, not just here) for the poor economy prior to being laid off? Public sector workers are, and have been under a constant barrage across this country. The rhetoric has been cutting and non-stop.
It is the ongoing villainization that has taken the "human factor" away from the public employees and they have just become "Them". "Them" who have become parasites of the taxpayer, "Them" who have "bloated salaries", pick your pejorative. It is that constant and ongoing dialogue that sets the public employee apart. It is that dialogue that adds the added hopelessness and lack of self worth when faced with potentially life changing events (such as losing a career).
When you work hard, yet have the constant depiction of public workers as "overpaid” and “underworked”, or have folks forming councils, coalitions and associations to discuss your "bloated pension" or "outrageous salary", the attacks begin to feel personal. It’s hard NOT to feel that you are under siege from all sides.
In the wake of this tragedy, it’s less important to assign blame and the focus needs to be that there are real people involved.

3/18/2011 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Marquis said...

Welcome to the city of apathy, where 10,000 votes out of a population of 110,000 is considered so strong a mandate that no further listening or consideration of options is required by the ideologues, puppets, and flat-out useless fools we allow to get elected in this city. How wonderful that the other 100,000 people don't care enough to prevent their city from being used as a lab for GOP extremism. Recall? Suuuure, that'll happen in the city without a spine. Other than the people on this blog, only a very few people in this city will bat an eyelash.

I'm in the outsourcing business. So far, absolutely everything the council has done is wrong, wrong, wrong. These guys are hack amateurs without a clue, but that is no barrier at all to just slamming through an agenda based on no facts.

There have been no analyses at all available to the public showing any kind of comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for the outsourced positions. That's where any outsourcing proposal STARTS, not what you do after you've already made up your mind. Ready, fire, aim!

"This has been coming on for a long time, and we're coming to a point that's rock bottom," Mayor Gary Monahan told city employees at a recent meeting.

Added Councilman Eric Bever: "We're going to run out of money sometime this year if nothing changes."

The oozing hypocrisy of those statements makes my blood boil. Monahan, for whom term limits are merely an inconvenience to using "mayor" as marketing leverage for his leprechaun act, has been in charge for over 10 years. Every contract and employee deal now in force came about on his watch(es). Bever's also had numerous opportunities to make substantive changes to what is now such a massive problem.

And wasn't it Allan Roeder's responsibility to always be vigilant about how city funds were spent vs. the alternatives?

Why didn't it ever dawn on these geniuses before that maybe they could get the payroll done outside (like about 90% of other businesses) or maybe somebody else could maintain the parkways for less? They could have eased these things out over a period of years, but failed to do anything at all until they one day decide that the sky is falling, at which point they take meat axes to a problem they don't understand at all.

It's pretty obvious that these guys have no idea what they're doing, but here's my prediction - nothing will change their direction. Not logic, process, death, real financial analysis, and certainly not sensitivity. As long as the other 100,000 of us don't vote or get involved they have nothing to fear.

Lastly there's one thing I don't get here (or in Wisconsin). Why don't the unions actually fight back? They have the power to shut down the city (or state). The apathetic and silent majority will do nothing until inconvenienced directly, yet the unions moan and protest while keeping the one weapon they have holstered. If they're so aggrieved and outraged, why aren't they on strike today?

3/18/2011 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Homey the clown said...

@BostonGI: It's not only the escorts, but now the undercover CMPD officers that are on overtime to watch over their homes. Money is no object when it meets the want or needs of the four.

3/18/2011 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous east side phil said...

@ OCLonghair - Good post and well said. To blame members of the council for this man's decision is wrong. We do not know exactly why he did what he did but in the end he alone made the decision. It saddens me to see someone get to the point where they see no other option than to take their own life - regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness. My thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends and coworkers. May we all ban together in this difficult time to help one another and make sure something like this never happens again.
What I do think we can comment on is how the leaders in this city responded to such a tragic event. It says a lot when Wendy Leece and Katrina Foley spend hours outside city hall comforting and consoling those affected, while other members of our city leadership were hiding in City Hall, waiting to be whisked out the back door and escorted home by police. And then our mayor chooses to stay at his bar and give interviews dressed as a leprechaun while no one hears from Bever. It is at times like these that people show who they really are...

3/18/2011 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry p said...

3/18/2011 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous when you tease the dog said...

I see no difference in this situation than in the school bullying situations where kids are committing suicide as a direct result of the abuse. This employee, all Costa Mesa employees, have been constantly attacked and villified by these council members. This is why they have culpability here. You cannot treat people like garbage and then be surprised when they react to their treatment. It is no different than teasing a pitbull; eventually it will snap.
I am sorry this young man died, but I am even sorrier that this death has brought out all of Jim Righeimer's monikers and minnows as he has again proven himself to be a reprehensible human being.

3/18/2011 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous remember when said...

So Riggy got an escort home and the police guarded his house all night long.
I wonder if Riggy's wife trusts the police now since during the election she told the cops she was scared of them and didn't think they would protect her.
Where's your apology lady? Oh, no answer? Typical of you and your hack husband; you say and do whatever you please and don't care who gets hurt in the process. Scum.

3/18/2011 05:13:00 PM  
Anonymous kelly benjamin said...

Thank you to the many community members who brought out food and showed their support for the grieving employees at city hall today. It is nice to be reminded that people in the community actually do care.

3/18/2011 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

Has the city fired anyone from this round of pink slips? I thought they were going to use the six months to study outsourcing and then decide. The employees may not like this hanging over their heads for six months to find out but at least they have six months to plan and save. In private sector you just find out one Friday that you are gone and you need to clean out your desk. No six months to plan. I would even bet it was the union who got the six months notice negoiated into a contract somewhere back in time. I follow the council discussions and have yet to see the employees denigrated as Wendy says. The unions outnegotiated the city for years and killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Unions: use this six months to work hard, show your worth, open up negotiations and save your jobs !! And to those who are attacking Mr. Hatch: The council is his boss. I am not sure who else the council oversees, perhaps the police chief and fire chief since they hire those positions but the point is the council has one to three employees, period. Those employees then run the city if you do not have a micromanaging council who does not understand good governance. Mr. Hatch has to follow orders, same as Mr. Roeder had to. The current council needs to build up some designated funds for capital improvements and community services, a rainy day fund, and be able to service the pensions. They are looking at outsourcing, they are required to give six months notice. If they study the outsourcing without the clock ticking on the outsourcing too much time will pass without action. They can and should do both simultaneously. Again unions step up and take your cuts and save your jobs. Private sector employees are just as good as you but you act like they are not. They pay your salaries so quit insulting them. This is a bad situation. If you think the OCGOP and the 4 councilmen have blood on their hands go to the DA and have them indicted for murder or whatever. Good luck proving that.

3/18/2011 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous shineMEbuckles said...

Ya check your six everything you said... oh but wait the notices are illegal. How about that, and while I doubt the DA will be filing any criminal charges against his fellow GOP insiders I am pretty sure there will be a large lawsuit over this death. This is like the OJ Simpson thing where we all knew he did it, but he got off in criminal court but he got raped in civil court. I hear it is easy to rape people who wear kilts; easy access and all. Who knows maybe the pot of gold is under that mystery kilt.

3/18/2011 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous MSC Esq. said...

Checkyoursix, the whole "blood on the hands" is not a criminal matter to take to the DA. It would be a civil matter if the family chose to pursue it. It would be a negligent death. Wouldn't take much to prove it actually. The council chose to denigrate the employees (even verified by one of their own members), failed to do their due diligence on whether their outsourcing scheme would amount to any savings (as verified by their staff report- "Fiscal Impact: Unknown"), then hastily put their plan into action, without thinking forward to have counselors, EAP or anyone else on hand prior to putting out notice. Often in the private sector, when the lay-offs are of this magnitude, EAP and outplacement counselors are available upon noticing the employees.
It’s not that these employees are any more immune to the lay-off process. It is the way in which it was handled by the city. So, again a case could be made. You are not doing yourself or those whom you support on council any favors by taunting Mr. Pham’s family or any of the other employees to pursue litigation. In fact you are actually helping them prove their case.

3/18/2011 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Sal Del Mundo said...

We live in a democracy. Who is responsible, ultimately, for what has happened to our city? Anyone who was fool enough to vote for Righeimer. Of course most of those who voted for him aren't going to want to admit it. Kind of a bust, though, if like my unemployment-collecting Republican neighbor, you put a Righeimer sign on your front lawn-You know who you are! I'm pissed enough now to take our city back from these carpet-bagging, tea-bagging douchebags! See you at the next city council meeting.

3/20/2011 09:42:00 PM  

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