Sounding off: City employees are 'family'

Costa Mesa has been my home since 1955. My family, my siblings have grown up here. We went to school here. I bought my first home here, married here and raised my kids here.

I didn't realize it at the time, but when I got a job with the city in 1973, it would turn into a career of service to the city I loved, from which I retired after 35 years of service. I've lived and worked through many, many city councils and chains of command.

Living here in the early years with a population of about 16,000 was as good as it could get in a family of boys. Wide open spaces and a city dump at the end of 19th Street — now Newport Beach — was a boy's haven to bike in and onto the beach. We had Harbor Area Baseball, the Boys Club and were never short on outdoor activities.

In the 1970s, after graduating from Estancia High School with a Vietnam draft card lottery number, we were all uncertain what was next. After high school I got a part-time job in the Costa Mesa parks department.

In the 1970s, Costa Mesa reserved priority of some full-time jobs for Vietnam vets coming home. How great was that of our city? Has the city lost respect for those who serve?

Eventually I worked my way up to full-time positions in facilities at City Hall. It was a great job, working with so many people who lived in and loved this city.

All the relationships went beyond the workday. We were truly like a family and generally enjoyed city service jobs. We felt appreciated, organized United Way Campaigns, Help Thy Neighbor programs, sandbags for floods, and our schedules were arranged for 24/7 callout emergencies. Support was the base of our existence, directly and indirectly.

We were glad to have these jobs.

Life was good, raising kids who were flourishing in the public schools and enjoying all the great sports programs here. With four decades of service to this city, I looked forward to retirement.

Who would have guessed in the last year a city council with little regard to the people serving this great city so readily decided — with no options, no compassion and no plan of action on the outsourcing — to wipe out nearly half the employees? It has caused panic, distress and uncertainty for more than 200 great employees.

Huy Pham was an outstanding city employee. He was my co-worker and my friend, a bright, talented, journeyman construction building technician. He was a kindhearted, humble, hardworking, family-loving guy. What a shame to eliminate the job that was so important to him and to so many employees with no options.

Now, with great, deep sadness, my heart goes out to his family and all of the city employees on the termination list. I feel honored to have worked with Huy every day for our last four years together. He will be missed and never forgotten.

R.I.P., Huy Pham.

MIKE MORAN is a former 35-year Costa Mesa city employee. He has lived in the city since 1955.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World