In the current economy hundreds, if not thousands, of workers are laid off every day. The laid of workers come from both the public and private sectors, and from all occupations. Being laid off rarely leads to suicide, and can rarely be specified as the sole cause of a person’s choice to end their own life. School Boards, and City Councils have made such decisions before Costa Mesa’s council did, and I am certain that similar decisions will be made in the future.
For the most part the decision to layoff workers is made after detailed and lengthy consideration, and as a last resort. Such careful consideration did not occur in this case, and the callous disregard for the impact of those decisions on the city and its employees by the Costa Mesa City Council majority is without excuse.
The Voice of Orange County reported last night:
A Costa Mesa employee jumped to his death from the roof of City Hall Thursday, the day he and more than 200 other city workers were issued layoff notices.
The victim was identified as 29-year-old Huy Pham, a maintenance worker who had been with the city for more than four years. Two witnesses, who were not city employees, saw Pham jump and called police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pham was one of 213 employees issued layoff notices Thursday by the city as part of a massive outsourcing effort in response to a $1.4 million budget deficit.
Huy Pham ended his life at around 3:30 in the afternoon. What was going through his head at that point in his brief life we will never know.
But what we do know is what Mayor Gary Monahan was doing a couple hours later. From the Voice of OC:
Monahan was interviewed about Pham’s death by a Voice of OC reporter Thursday evening outside his bar, “Skosh Monahan’s,” in Costa Mesa.
As the reporter approached, Monahan laughed and said “next,” having just finished an interview with another reporter. Then the mayor, who was dressed in folksy Irish attire, yelled “woo-hoo — it’s St. Patricks Day!”
Monahan had not visited City Hall after learning of Pham’s suicide. He was too busy getting dressed up in his spiffy green kilt, bow tie, and head scarf to be bothered with such unpleasantries. Orange County Employee’s Association General Manager Nick Berardino paid Monahan a visit at his pub to see why he wasn’t at city hall.
Berardino asked Monahan if he was aware that one of his city employees had committed suicide a couple hours earlier after receiving his layoff notice. Monahan said he was.
Then Berardino asked why he had not paid a visit to city hall? Monahan’s callous response says a lot about the character of Costa Mesa’s Mayor.
“I’m a businessman. I hire and fire people every day,”Monahan told Berardino.
In addition to the Voice of Orange County coverage HERE, the Orange County Register reported additional details HERE of council members Jim Righeimer and Stephen Mensinger being escorted off of City Hall premises for their own safety. It should be noted, that Councilwoman Wendy Leece was the only member of the Council to stay to console employees and speak with reporters the entire afternoon, leaving after 7 p.m. The Voice of OC reported:
Leece, the only council member to vote against the outsourcing, said she had implored her fellow council members to delay action on the notices. She said the city did not have anywhere near the preparations necessary for a layoff this size adding it was not handled in a professional manner.
“This was way too fast, I’ve been saying this for weeks,” she said. “We didn’t need to do this.”
Pham’s suicide, she said, is a clear signal that the City Council should slow the process down. “I hope they rescind the pink slips and come back and do their homework.”
Mayor Monahan did tell the Voice of OC reporter “My heart goes out to the family. It’s tragic — I don’t know how to express more sympathy.”
Somehow, I just don’t believe he was really sincere.
Anaheim Council member Lorri Galloway sent us this statement: “The city employee’s tragic suicide in Costa Mesa is a stark reminder that budget cuts made by city officials are attached to human lives. Balancing budgets, however necessary, should include the respect and dignity owed to those whose jobs are ones of service, not wealth. While we, as elected officials, are making tough decisions each day throughout this country, It is important to remember that in getting to the bottom line, the black and white, we should not forget the color of life, the real bottom line.”