Right now, there’s probably no hotter viral video than PSY’s “Gangnam Style.”
The K-pop horse dance is sweeping the nation, which may be why so many people have come up with their own parodies and covers. However, one particular lip dub is causing quite the controversy right here in El Monte.
Several lifeguards from the El Monte Aquatic Center created what they thought was a fun and harmless video showcasing their pool, but city officials didn’t see it that way. They responded by firing 14 of the facility’s employees!
And the lifeguards are not the only ones who are questioning the decision. When PSY himself visited the morning show last week, he called the incident a “tragedy” and added that the city officials were “taking things too seriously.”
Carson couldn’t believe it either, so he called up one of the fired lifeguards, Michael Roa, to get his side of the story.
The 22-year-old has worked at the El Monte Aquatic Center for seven years and despite this being the first time he says he’s ever been reprimanded for anything, he’s still out of a job.
Roa told Carson the reason he and his co-workers were terminated is because they used the facility for private use and personal gain and for wearing their uniforms in public while off-duty. He also alleged that some of those fired weren’t even taking part in the making of the viral video whatsoever.
“Not all 14 of us made [the video],” Roa explained to Carson this morning. “Only a few of us made it and some people were fired just because they knew about the video and they didn’t even appear in the video. And other people who were caught in the background of my camera were also fired even though they didn’t willingly participate.”
The crew was brought into a meeting where they were told that the city manager “found the video disgusting and an embarrassment to City of El Monte,” but after the group did some further investigation, they’re not even sure who exactly made the decision, according to Roa.
“We were called into this meeting on September 5 and our old city manager just ended his job and it was the new city manager’s first day, September 5, so we don’t know exactly if it was even the city manager who decided to call this,” Roa said.
Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for the city of El Monte, released this statement in regards to the termination of the 13 part-time seasonal lifeguards and a pool manager:
“While the City of El Monte cannot comment on the specifics of this situation because it involves personnel issues, we can say that each of the employees dismissed were either part-time and/or seasonal at-will employees, who upon their employment, were each required to acknowledge and sign an Acknowledgement that states that they would ‘under no circumstances use any city property for his/her own private use or benefit. Such unauthorized use shall be cause for disciplinary action.’ There was a clear unauthorized use of city resources and property, including the use of city-issued uniforms during the making of this unauthorized video. The City maintains that it holds all employees to a higher standard.”
Carson was flabbergasted by the city’s decision. He believes that if the city had just embraced the video from the get-go, the aquatic center would have received a ton of positive press as a result. Heck! Carson bought a swagger wagon just because he thought the video was funny.
Roa agreed saying, “We’ve been getting a lot of comments on Facebook and YouTube that people didn’t even though there was an aquatic center and now they know.”
The group’s Facebook page, Bring Back The 14 El Monte Lifeguards, already has nearly 13,000 fans and earlier this week, councilman Bart Partel came out in support of the lifeguards and is calling upon the city to reinstate them. The mostly college-age lifeguards plan to attend the next city council meeting to get their voices heard.
For more information, check out their Facebook page and their online petition. You can also head out to the city council meeting with them. It’s all going down on Tuesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. at El Monte City Hall. Any individual can speak for up to three minutes during the public comments portion of the evening.
Listen to Carson’s entire interview with fired lifeguard Michael Roa below: