The 13 lifeguards and one pool manager fired over making a “Gangnam Style” spoof at El Monte City Aquatic Center want their jobs back, and they're headed to the City Council tonight to plead their case: The YouTube video with nearly 1.5 million views was made on their free time.
But it's not so simple. The Weekly has learned that the lifeguards were already in hot water, and the video was just the last nail in their coffin:
El Monte spokesman Robert Alaniz told us that this group of lifeguards had been warned twice previously about other issues, beginning in early 2012, and that they had been told in June to read and sign an employee handbook that lays down the rules:
They were brought in as a group and made to review the employee handbook.
The video was made and uploaded in August. Alaniz:
There were additional issues leading up to the termination, which we can't discuss. It culminated with the video.
Are these bad little boys and girls?
Alaniz made it sound like this bikini bunch didn't have much of a chance, but that would ultimately be up to the City Council.
The group plans to use the council's open comment period to bring its case to the body, but a councilmember would have to put an item on the agenda to bring it to a formal vote. And that seems unlikely:
The council already held a special session Friday to get the facts of the matter.
We were made to understand that the firings were made collectively, after the video was reviewed and “city resources and uniforms” were spotted on-tape, by interim city manager Dayle Keller, human resources director Amelia Ayala and the aquatics director.
If a vote was made, it would be in “closed session,” away from the public, because it's a personnel matter.
The city has one large aquatics facility, and the lifeguards were part-time and seasonal, with many expressing plans to leave when college starts in fall, Alaniz said. The season ended in August.
Psy, the South Korean pop star behind the hit “Gangnam Style,” has asked that the guards be given their jobs back, and they have started a petition drive on Change.org that has added up to nearly 13,000 supporters so far.
… We welcome everyone to come join us at the next city council meeting where former lifeguards and members of the community will be speaking during “public comments.” Each individual can speak for a maximum of 3 minutes.