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Costa Mesa mourns city worker who killed himself after getting layoff notice

March 21, 2011 |  8:41 am

Officer Cristina Goodfellow of the Costa Mesa Police Department kneels beside a memorial for city maintenance worker Huy Pham at Costa Mesa City Hall on Friday. Pham, 29, jumped to his death from the roof of City Hall the day before.

Hundreds are expected to encircle Costa Mesa City Hall on Monday to remember a city worker who committed suicide last week after learning he might be laid off.

City maintenance worker Huy Pham jumped to his death from atop City Hall on Thursday, hours after the city announced it had sent layoff notices to nearly half of its workers.

Costa Mesa is making the cuts in an effort to reduce pension costs and contract out more city services to private firms.

On Friday, some employees flew into a rage as City Council members arrived at the scene of Pham's death. One man had to be held back by co-workers, and another cursed at Chief Executive Tom Hatch in the City Hall lobby, witnesses said.

"I feel as if the council and their quick-acting decisions pushed [Pham] over the edge," Daniel Jojola, who worked alongside Pham, said Friday as friends and co-workers gathered for a lunch next to a makeshift memorial for Pham.

Noticeably absent from City Hall in the hours after Pham's death was Mayor Gary Monahan, who was working the St. Patrick's Day night shift at his bar, Skosh Monahan's, about two miles away on Newport Boulevard.

He released a statement expressing sadness at Pham's death but also struck a defiant note against people who had criticized him for posing for pictures in St. Patrick's Day garb outside his restaurant.

"What is lost in all of the rhetoric is the fact that this is a tragic incident in the midst of a very difficult situation," Monahan wrote.

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-- Joseph Serna, Daily Pilot / Times Community News

Photo: Officer Cristina Goodfellow of the Costa Mesa Police Department kneels beside a memorial for city maintenance worker Huy Pham at Costa Mesa City Hall on Friday. Pham, 29, jumped to his death from the roof of City Hall the day before. Credit: Kent Treptow / Times Community News

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