Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch sent an email to all city employees Sunday, telling them that while efforts to outsource the city are moving forward, so are talks with unions.

The email also referenced the weekend memorial services for Huy Pham, the 29-year-old maintenance worker who jumped to his death from City Hall on March 17. Union members have blamed Pham’s suicide on the city’s plan to outsource nearly half of the services it provides, and in doing so lay off as many as 213 employees.

Hatch’s email was clearly an attempt to turn the heat down on a situation that has become a national flash point for the battle between the Republican Party and public sector unions.

From the email:

My goal is to give you as much information as I can to eliminate some of the uncertainty. We reached out to leaders of the employee associations this week (next week as well) and talked very informally. Nothing to report but there was good healthy, frank conversations. As we all would expect that with so much uncertainty, some distrust, some anger and with everything moving so quickly, further cooperative solutions may be extremely difficult but always worth talking about.

Costa Mesa’s interim Communications Director Bill Lobdell said employees should expect more such communiqués from Hatch.

“Tom wants to communicate as thoroughly as he can with employees during this critical time,” Lobdell said. “And to that end, he’s going to be writing emails to the employees as frequently as need be and as detailed as possible to let them know where the process stands.”

In his email, Hatch also informed employees that the city had fundraised $3,000 for Pham’s family. Hatch mentioned that the city fundraiser for the Pham family would continue until next week.

In addition, Hatch mentioned that the city is now hiring a finance director, Larry Hurst, who was most recently with the City of Brea.

Hatch also said that the city’s budget deficit for the next fiscal year will be at least $5 million, but would likely be as high as $15 million because the new city council wants to see more deferred maintenance needs addressed by next year.

Over the next month, Hatch said, requests for proposals would start coming back to be analyzed.

Meanwhile, a community group — Repair Costa Mesa — partnered with the Orange County Employees Association on Monday with the airing of an attack ad on local television criticizing Mayor Gary Monahan for his inaction that day.


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