El Monte officials vote to rehire 'Gangnam' video lifeguards
A divided El Monte City Council voted to return 14 city lifeguards to the jobs they lost last month after shooting a video spoof using the city pool and wearing city-issued uniforms without permission, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
The council voted 3-2 to approve Mayor Andre Quintero's recommendation to direct the interim city manager, Dayle Keller, to rehire the lifeguards, the Tribune reported.
Joining Quintero were council members Bart Patel and Norma Macias. Voting against were Victoria Martinez and Juventino Gomez, the newspaper reported.
Quintero has said that if the fired workers were rehired, they would be more likely to cooperate with an independent review into several accusations that have been made about the management of the city's Aquatic Center.
The lifeguards -- 13 college-age students and their manager -- parodied "Gangnam Style," a South Korean pop video that has drawn nearly 360 million views on the Internet, becoming the most-liked song on YouTube. They were fired in September after their video, called "Lifeguard Style," surfaced on the Internet.
The lifeguards drew local and global support through their Facebook page, with more than 17,000 fans. Nearly 300 people packed a council meeting earlier this month, demanding that the guards be rehired.
At that meeting, Quintero said Keller has hired a contractor to review the steps leading to their termination "and as we do the investigation, we need them to cooperate" but that the lifeguards "can't do that if they're not employed."
"This is more than just about a video," he said, noting the need for a "deeper look at the management" of the aquatic center.
The mayor said he wondered "how can 14 people put together a video and no one from management knew what was going on?"
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-- Sam Quinones