Advertisement

Costa Mesa Outsourcing Debate: It's time to take back Costa Mesa

March 29, 2011|By Geoff West

Editor's note: The Daily Pilot has decided to publish opposing commentaries on Costa Mesa's outsourcing plans. Wednesday's print edition features arguments against the proposal from Geoff West, publisher of A Bubbling Cauldron , a local blog. Thursday's print edition will feature arguments in favor of the plan from Councilman Steve Mensinger. Both pieces can be read together on DailyPilot.com.

In the more than 37 years that I've lived in Costa Mesa — more than half my life — I can confidently say that I've never seen such a sad and contentious couple of weeks than those we've had recently.

Although the city has been in turmoil since the new City Council was seated in January — with the specter of losing their jobs hanging over the heads of almost all city employees and the very obvious intent of the majority on the council to ignore public input on virtually every decision they made — it all came to a head March 17.

Advertisement

In direct opposition to then-City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow's opinion, no analysis had been done of units within the city government that might be candidates for outsourcing, and on St. Patrick's Day six-month layoff notices were to be distributed to more than 200 employees, including the entire Fire Department.

Among those scheduled to receive a notice was 29-year-old Huy Pham, a maintenance worker who had been with the city a little more than four years. Pham, an avid hiker, was at home that day, recuperating from an injured foot. He was called into work to receive his notice along with his peers.

Instead of going to his work site at the Corporation Yard he went to City Hall, made his way to the roof and, shortly after 3 p.m., leaped to his death, landing near the eastside employee entrance. On a day that had already filled City Hall with apprehension and despair, his death was a final, cruel exclamation point — one that has launched a chain of events unseen before in our city.

Following a telephone call from a friend, I arrived at City Hall that day about 15 minutes after Pham died. I spent the next few hours talking with and consoling friends who worked for the city and observing the immediate aftermath of this tragedy. I saw the police and fire staff performing their duties flawlessly and professionally. I watched as Police Chaplain Mike Decker, in the building at the time by coincidence, console senior staff members and help coordinate a team of crisis counselors to help the city staff deal with this event.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|