[UPDATED: Union GM/Photographer Talks] City Employee Commits Suicide, Jumping Off Costa Mesa City Hall

Thumbnail image for Monahan-20110317.jpg
Mayor Gary Monahan on St. Patty's Day. Was this photo a set-up?
UPDATE, MARCH 21, 5:45 P.M.: The Weekly was able to speak with Nick Berardino while he was in a taxi on his way to catch a flight home from Sacramento. He had a good laugh about Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan's accusations of a union set-up, in regard to the photos Berardino leaked to the media.

"It's a politician running for cover, and politicians are great at running for cover," Berardino said. "I don't think there's anything new about that, in all of American history."

According to Berardino, nearly an hour and a half after Huy Pham's suicide, an Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) member informed him that Monahan was out front of his bar, Skosh Monahan's, dressed in a kilt and partaking in the St. Patrick's Day festitivies. Berardino, who's the general manager of the OCEA, decided he needed to see this for himself and headed there around 5 p.m.

When he arrived, he took a few photos of Monahan wearing his kilt, green bow-tie and matching headscarf before identifying himself as a member of OCEA. According to Berardino, Monahan's statements made it clear he already knew about the tragic incident before he started taking photos. 

Among the Monahan highlights, according to Berardino: 

"It's a tragedy, but I have a business to run," the mayor said, in regard to his choosing to remain at his place of business instead of going to City Hall, before Berardino ever mentioned Huy Pham.

And . . .

"I'm a businessman; I hire and fire people every day," as a response to Berardino's disbelief that the mayor would support laying off more than 200 city employees.
 

UPDATE, MARCH 21, 3:26 P.M.: Seeing as how he's the mayor of the most talked-about city in Orange County (and maybe California), and it was the same day that lay-off notices were going out to one-third of city employees, Mayor Gary Monahan​ probably should have made an appearance at City Hall. A city employee had committed suicide, and the city was in mourning. But Monahan never showed. Instead, he chose to wear a kilt and a smile and serve booze to his customers at his bar, Skosh Monahan's.

Monahan's whereabouts and attire were known due to a photo (right) that began circulating on Friday, courtesy of Nick Berardino

On Friday, Monahan released a statement blaming "the union" for shooting the photo before he knew of Pham's death. Berardino is general manager for the Orange County Employees Association.

Liberal OC was among the first to release the image on its website. The author of the post, Chris Prevatt, is a "steward" with OCEA, not a direct employee. When the image appeard on the website, it was not credited; Prevatt claims it was an oversight. According to Prevatt,
 Berardino was at City Hall for an hour before making his way to Monahan's bar. Which would discount the accusation from Monahan that he was set up.

Messages left by the Weekly for Monahan and Berardino have not been returned.

Shouldn't Monahan have been among the first to know when tragedy struck? Even if he were missing phone calls, text messages or Tweets, once he heard, shouldn't it have occurred to him to ditch the costume, put on a nice shirt and show his face at City Hall, along with all the other City Council members? A rational person would say "obviously." In this instance, Monahan wasn't rational.

Monahan's statement:

Yesterday was a heartbreaking day for all of us who call Costa Mesa home.

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. Our city lost one of its brethren, and it certainly will take some time for it to heal.

Before I was informed of yesterday's incident, the union decided to take despicable advantage of this tragic situation to advance their agenda.

Had I known what transpired, I never would have agreed to pose for photos or engage in any revelry.

I became informed of the situation and contacted two of my fellow council members, who were on the scene, and quickly brought me up to speed with the details of the situation.

After learning of the volatility of the situation, I realized that my presence could further inflame and escalate the situation, and decided not to visit City Hall.

I remained in constant communication with my council colleagues, and was kept informed as the rest of the day transpired.

I understand the anger and hurt surrounding these potential layoffs. I--and my council colleagues--have not made these decisions lightly, and we realize that our decisions are impacting families.

As Tom explained, we are working with staff to work through this very difficult situation, and I am hopeful that we can eliminate the politicization of this tragic incident, and work together to heal our great city.

Gary Monahan,
Mayor

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73 comments
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Brocko
Brocko

What about the unions? He had been giving money to the unions the whole time he had been working there. Why didn’t they use some of that money to help the dues paying members? Everyone knew lay off where happening. Where are the union supplied grief counselors, retraining specialist? People to help with transition to one of the new union positions in the out sourced departments? I thought the union was there to help the union members, not to just collect dues.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

It is apparent you know absolutely nothing about what unions do or do not do. A union is a contract negotiating and contract monitoring organization. Many unions have a lot of other benefits added to that such as apprenticeship and health & safety support, all things done by the unions are in a contract AKA MLA (Master Labor Agreement)

This whole outsourcing deal is nothing but one more assault on the working class! The same thing that the Tea Bag Governor of WI is trying to pull. Bust the unions and the working class have no one to rally for the upcoming battle. A group of employees can negotiate from strength, one by one negotiations net slaves as a workforce.

A person that does not stand for something, will fall for anything! great quote, I wish I knew who to attribute it to.

top_man
top_man

It's hard to believe this idiot is running the city.

Dwayne
Dwayne

A true Republican! Pro-life, but puts business ahead of someone's life. His idea of running a business? Hiring and firing people.

sweetpea
sweetpea

Sadly, this former employee was mentally unstable if he jumped because he lost his job as a janitor. People lose jobs every day; this is the great recession afterall.

Dwayne
Dwayne

Perhaps there were cultural or family pressures that made him jump. Perhaps, in his culture, losing a job is a source of shame. Who knows? I haven't heard anything about any mental instability. What I know from this mayor's own quotes is that when these politicians, or "bosses", make these decisions to fire people, they feel they're exercising their power because they're the boss, and they don't consider the human costs. If it wasn't a suicide, a firing could still result in domestic violence, homelessness, loss of self esteem, divorce, etc.

PV Dude
PV Dude

Well said. And yes, a job may not be a right, but treating a termed employee with dignity and respect should be a right. At least a moral right. And this clearly wasn't handeled in a sensitive, thoughtful manner by the City. I'm not blaming the City for this kid's death, but they suck for the way they treated him and the others who received notices.

sweetpea
sweetpea

Guess what, a job isn't a right. A job is something you are granted at the behest of the employer who has the ultimate right to terminate that relationship at any time.

If you want ultimate say in how long you are employed some where, start your own company. Otherwise, stop using excuses about suicide, domestic violence, self esteem or whatnot as a result of a job loss instead of a severe mental issue or lack of moral character. Again, this man obviously was mentally unstable if he took a jump because he didn't have a job. Sad situation but he should have sought help.

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Lovey
Lovey

90 minutes passed between a very public death and the union seeking out the Mayor, and the Mayor claims he didn't know? I guess he doesn't have a cell phone? Or a TV in his bar?

Richard Seph
Richard Seph

Prevatt is a Union Shill.

This guy was sick and instead of exploiting his death the Voice Of OC(EA) and The ShillOC ought to contribute something to the community. This guy, the mayor was ABSOLUTELY SET UP.

Why were'nt the crack reporters at the press conference or the vigil?? After all they have OCSD press credentials.

Meanwhile at the FFFF the uncovered a million dollars in wasted $$$ at the NOCCC.

Dwayne
Dwayne

How was he set up? He was out partying and putting his private business ahead of city business.

Lovey
Lovey

"Sir, one of your employees just killed himself.""You don't say? Hey, it's St Paddy's Day, how about another beer and a bump?""But sir, don't you think you should go to City Hall right now?""Why?""Sir, Councilman Mensinger and Councilwoman Leece are already there...""Well then, if they're both there, then I've time for another beer and a bump!"

Kanderson
Kanderson

Somethings got to be done to hold the city council accountable for their actions. Firing so many people without even having an alternative lined up. That is totally irresponsible management of our beloved city.

KathyF
KathyF

I haven't heard anything, but I would go for that. I am going to go The City Council Meeting on first Tuesday in April to see if anything is brewing. Everyone but Leece MUST GO. I think it would be funny if we all wore kilts.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I am sure Regheimer and his buddies have certain contractors in mind to fill the positions. the contractors that are lining the councils and the OC Repugnicant party pockets. Time and time again it is proven that cities contracting maintenance and other such services especially IT services get bad products for what usually ends up costing more money, just like the Republican controlled board of supervisors, they were in a big hurry to award a contract to re vamp the county IT system, from what I understand the out of state contractor is way past the completion date, and just received a $250,000 bonus a couple of months ago and now are asking for another $200,000 change order to extend the completion date again. and The county has a great IT department with experience and expertise to have done the job in the first place.

Kanderson
Kanderson

Is anyone considering organizing a recall of the Costa Mesa City Council for their irresponsible behavior? I would sure like to help in the effort. I have lived here for 60 years and never thought I'd see the day when a mobster and a bar joker would take control of our city.

cook
cook

why did he jump? I doubt it had to do with a job. What is the real scoop?

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Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

If nothing else, In this war against workers that started in 1933 and has recently been singling out civil servants as greedy union members that caused the financial woes of this nation. This Young Mans sacrifice has put a face of a human being on the public worker.

It is strange how all the talk about how "Union Workers" seem to only be teachers, police, firefighters and civil servants vs the Private sector, as if there are no private sector unions, believe it or not there ARE many private sector unions and we will be there to support our civil service brothers and sisters.

The Financial Woes of this nation have been caused by:1. almost 10 years of spending billions of dollars a day on wars, which have only benefited the wealthy manufacturers of the war machines. 2. reducing taxes on the wealthiest 1% (many of them profiting from the destruction and death in the 2 long term wars that will never succeed)3. Almost 30 years of de-regulating Financial Markets, which ultimately caused the meltdown. 4. The continuation of using the Stock Market, (particularly the fortune 500) as the primary indicator of the nations financial health. The Wall Street Casinos are NOT totally representative of the nations wealth or financial standing.

KathyF
KathyF

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the voice
the voice

way to go costa mesa. thank you for trying to save the city money. hopefully this guy jumped after he was fired so we don't have to pay benefits.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Sorry to disappoint you voice, as I understand, he was at home on sick leave, when city officials called him to report, they opened the city to the responsibility & liability for his death...

Rick Seph
Rick Seph

I read over at the Voice of OC(EA) and the SHILEBERALOC that Pham cried out for help.

But the officials ran to the Animal Shelter insted of the roof, because they thought he said:"Help Me I am on the WOOF". What a shame.

Seriously, this guy was sick. This has NOTHING to do with politics and to watch the extremes battle it out is disgusting and shameful.

rick is a stupid prick
rick is a stupid prick

HEY RICK youre a fuckwad too ! Congrats, your twin ended up in your mama's asshole.No wonder you're so full of disgusting shit and hatred.

Terminator
Terminator

The Mayor of CM certainly displayed his lack of class! Perhaps, he just committed his own suicide to re-election.

Lovey
Lovey

Hey, he's the one who said, when informed of the death, "I fire and hire people every day."

Yeah, so do we with the ELECTED officials.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

or maybe to a recall, Pink Slips to the City Council members except Wendy Leece. Taking action to outsource city workers without any backup with only one council meeting allotted for public hearing? that was the one meeting it was announced at.

PV Dude
PV Dude

Dude was a 29 year-old janitor, right? And losing his job, which required no commitment of effort, time and money for a formal education, and while at an age where he certainly had years to recover, was enough to cause him to jump? Oh well. Darwinism at work.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

where did it say janitor Astroturf bot... the article said Maintenance Worker.

PV Dude
PV Dude

Truth be told, this kid's death is the fault of his co-workers. Surely they saw, or should have seen, that he was fighting mental illness. But they did nothing to help, Just collected from the public trough and went home at 5:00 sharp. Shame on his co-workers for standing idly by while this kid's suffering reached the point that it became intolerable for him.

KathyF
KathyF

Every time you post you sound more stupid. Go Darwinism!!

Krlovesem
Krlovesem

Hey PV where can I find you? Because I know some co-workers/friends of the departed that would like to meet you.

Dumbbiker
Dumbbiker

Huy was a skilled plumber, carpenter, electrician working his way through college while providing for his sick mother. I'm surprised YOU can even spell Darwinism.

PVdude
PVdude

Sounds like he had a bright future, and could have found another job. Why kill himself and leave his dependant mother alone to fend for herself? Thank god he dien't have kids to abandon as well. GO DARWIN!!!!

p.s., this kid obviously had a lot of problems that had little to do with his job. While I feel for him, it's not the Cty's fault. RIP kid.

KathyF
KathyF

Are you honestly glad this kid killed himself? What kind of a monster are you? There is a ball stool with your name on it at Skoosh Monahan's. Actually, I think there is a bar stool with your name on it in any and all bars.

pray for the departed
pray for the departed

PV Dude you are a completely depraved individual.Thank God your twin ended up in your mother's mouth. On behalf of the caring and compassionate people of this county GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!!!!!!

SoSad
SoSad

It is illegal to fire someone when he/she is on sick leave.

PV Dude
PV Dude

No, although that seems to be what public employees feeding off the public trough would like to think, or would like you to believe, including the agenda being pushed by the union thugs.

The only excpetion to that is if an employee is disabled as defined by statute, an employer could be liable for wrongful ternination, but the disability need to have been the employer's reason for termination before the employer could be found liable.

But illegal to fire when someone is at home with a boo-boo? No way Jose.

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