The 13 city lifeguards and one pool manager fired for making a “Gangnam Style” video spoof on El Monte taxpayer property seem to dispute officials' contention that they had already been warned twice about their behavior on-the-job.
One in the group, Michael Roa, told the Weekly that a city spokesman's claim that the entire crew was put on notice twice for previous on-the-job transgressions before the video was posted is “fabricated.”
City spokesman Robert Alaniz told us earlier this week that there was more to the story than just firing the 14 over the making of the video at their workplace — the El Monte Aquatic Center — while they wore their city uniforms.
He said they had been warned about behavioral issues early in the year and then again in June and that the Aug. 26 video, which has racked up about 1.5 million views on YouTube, was the last straw:
There were additional issues leading up to the termination, which we can't discuss. It culminated with the video.
Additionally, he said, most of those fired were part-timers whose summer season was already coming to a close in August anyway.
In any case, the 14 employees have made a national cause of the firings, with much of the news coverage depicting El Monte City Hall as a place of fun-hating grinches. The South Korean artist behind the global smash hit, Psy, has even pleaded for their jobs.
Last night the crew went to the City Council to plead for its jobs: The mayor, Andre Quintero, called for an independent review of the firings.
Roa, who posted the video, says he's worked there for seven years and that he's “never been suspended, never been written up, and never been asked to fix any behavioral issues at work:”
One lifeguard was previously reprimanded for tardiness this summer. Other than that, there have been no warnings or write-ups given this past summer. I cannot say that I know all 14 individuals' full background, but to my knowledge, there have been no issues within the last year.
Roa adds, “This video was my first and last offense.”
We'll be watching.