COSTA MESA (AP) — Police on Friday probed the last hours of a city worker who jumped to his death from the roof of the Civic Center after he received notice that he was going to be laid off, as those who knew the man struggled to understand why he took his own life.

Investigators were talking to people who may have had contact with Huy Pham before his apparent suicide, Lt. Bryan Glass said.

Pham, 27, plunged from the roof of the five-story center on Thursday about an hour after he was called in to work to receive the pink slip. His brother and others have said that he did not appear to be suicidal in recent weeks.

“We’re trying to understand the circumstances that led to it,” Glass said.

Pham was one of 213 city employees — nearly half the city’s work force of 472 — who were to be notified of layoffs on Thursday. His death heightened the strain over the City Council’s decision earlier this month to outsource 18 city services to other government or private agencies.

Meanwhile, Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan upset city workers by not making an appearance after Pham died Thursday.

Monahan was just a couple of miles away, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at his Irish pub, Monahans.

The Mayor didn’t show up most of Friday, either, as other city employees, who work in the Civic Center and knew Pham, mourned his death.

Monahan made an appearance at a news conference at City Hall. He said it was a sad day in the city’s history. He refused to answer any questions.

When asked why he didn’t come by Thursday when Pham committed suicide he responded, “No comment”.

Costa Mesa’s CEO said city officials have established a fund for Pham’s family.

Crisis counselors were brought in to help Pham’s co-workers deal with their shock, and a makeshift shrine of candles and flowers appeared at the spot where he died.

Retired city worker Mike Moran, 57, was among those who showed up at the site on Friday.

He worked with Pham for more than four years and said he never saw any signs of depression in his fellow building technician.

“He loved life. He loved his family. I don’t get it,” Moran said.

Pham had been off work for three weeks with a broken ankle he suffered while training to fulfill a dream of climbing Mt. Everest, Moran said.

Pham also had received his contractor’s license and had future plans of entering the building trade.

His city job “was just a stepping stone for him,” Moran said. “He was preparing himself to move on.”

Moran said he could not imagine Pham’s feelings but speculated that the loss of his job and poor prospects in private industry might have affected him.

“You know, it’s bad times and construction is down and then you get your pink slip … what’s waiting for you, you know?” Moran asked.

However, the Fountain Valley man seemed normal in the days before his death, his brother, John Pham, told the Register.

“When layoffs were coming, he thought he was probably going to be rehired” by the new contractor, he said.

Other cities have wrung concessions from their workers as they struggle with budget gaps and huge future costs for pensions.

However, Costa Mesa, which currently spends about $15 million on retirement benefits, decided to outsource firefighting and some maintenance and clerical jobs in order to deal with a current $1.4
million budget deficit.

Some city workers accused the council of not even attempting to work with employees to bring down costs.

“Obviously, it’s a charged atmosphere,” Councilman Stephen Mensinger told the Register on Friday, calling Pham’s death “heartbreaking.”

Efforts by state and local governments to stop budget bleeding have sparked job fears among thousands of public workers.

School districts in California have issued at least 19,000 layoff notices to teachers and other employees, according to the California Teachers Association.

Cost-cutting efforts have sparked angry fights in several places, most notably in Wisconsin, where a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state’s new law that strips most public workers of nearly all their collective-bargaining rights.

The measure was approved last week only after a three-week stalemate during which Senate Democrats fled the state to prevent a vote and tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (25)
  1. Dan says:

    God, it’s annoying when this website auto refresh!

    1. c says:

      Yeah, type fast or have a short comment!!!

    2. Josh Butts says:

      I hate it too. I’ve complained but I guess they just don’t care what we think. If something is streaming then don’t bother watching it here.

  2. Tom says:

    Politician always get fat pay check , they are blood sucker.

    1. Thor Investment says:

      The unions are bigger blood suckers .

  3. James says:

    Really? You’re going to blame Obama for this unfortunate incident? I think you should consider following in the footsteps of Mr. Pham.

    1. johny says:

      I don’t see Obama mentioned here at all.

  4. Robear says:

    The POTUS is struggling to fix the mess left by 8 years of Bush-Cheney economics. leave him out of this tragedy.

    1. Wally Wharton says:

      What ‘s a “POTUS?” Is that a black name like “Festus” or “Otis?”

  5. Jeff says:

    “However, Costa Mesa, which currently spends about $15 million on retirement benefits, decided to outsource firefighting and some maintenance and clerical jobs in order to deal with a current $1.4million budget deficit.”

    The most important part of the story. It’s time CA revisits its gov’t employee benefit policies.

    1. proud private sector employee says:

      Thank you there are to many fat lazy government employees, private sector will change that. It’s time to really hit the lazy folk

  6. Moe says:

    any elected official who says “no comment” is not to be trusted and should have “no job”.

  7. Moe says:

    2nd comment but forgot to mention that Monahan, like the mayor of City of Bell, belongs to the board of directors of several city councils. I’m leary of elected officials these days and wonder how a mayor of a city has the time to be on several boards? What makes him an expert in these boards? I just don’t like that he was partying at his bar (how does he find time to run that when he’s running a city and sitting on all those boards?).

  8. Linda says:

    Monahan should be investigated!!

    1. johny says:


  9. Spud says:

    Two things wrong here… the Mayor should have showed up, as this was one of the workers he voted to cut from the city payroll. Secondly… Gary Monahan is what we call…. a “Plastic Paddy”. He celebrates St. Patrick’s Day dressed in Scottish attire.. Tartan kilt and the headress he wore is about as Irish as Pizza. He does not represent the Irish community in Costa Mesa and never will. The guy is fake!

  10. Anthony says:

    Monahan should resign. Vote him out of the office. He not a deserve to be a Mayor of the people of costa Mesa. How can a Mayor didn’t know the serious even and told the press ” No comment”. Is he guilty of anything? Is he? They should vote him out of the office. He should get the pink slip from the city.

    1. johny says:

      And what country are you here illegally from?

  11. Ghadaffi says:

    Monahan is another Rizzo
    Bell South Gate Lynwood
    Dozens of other cities put themselves in this situation

  12. JW says:

    Really, how hard is this to understand? The man was fired. He was upset. He felt like a failure. He felt despair. He didn’t know how he was going to be able to support his family. He felt like he had no future. He had no hope. I feel very sorry for him and his family and friends. I am angry at the City of Costa Mesa for creating the situation that caused this man to feel the only thing he could do was take his own life. Good going Costa Mesa. I hope you’re more careful with the rest of the people you’re going to fire.

    1. Wanda says:

      He was single and lived alone (support his family?) Also he hadn’t worked in a month and half because he hurt his foot away from work while rock climbing. People get laid off…….only the greedy city workers are trying to link this to the lay-off notices. He didn’t even receive a lay-off notice before he jumped.

      We need to strip the power from the politicians and city/county/state/federal workers and start over. You’re all fired!

      1. johny says:

        Thank you! Finally someone with common sense. A rarity here.

  13. Angelika Walker says:

    Once u realize that u are only a Number , you will stop trying , The fat Idiots at the Top will always win,\.At least in this Life.But OH BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYY wait for Payday.

  14. REV.GREG says:

    government workers finally get a taste of what the private sector has been doing for 3 years while having to pay for the government workers better salary and benefits.

  15. MB man says:

    Anyone catch Moran the 57 year old RETIRED city worker? Retired at 57 and no doubt with full benefits. An example of the sweet union deals that bankrupt the city. Phams blood is on their hands

    Btw potus = president of the united states

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