L.A. Council Upholds Firing of Gardener

After a lengthy debate, the Los Angeles City Council has upheld the firing of a gardener accused of using city time and equipment to work at a private residence in San Pedro.

The council's 12-3 decision Tuesday will be challenged in court by an attorney and union representing Camilo Mandac, a six-year city employee who has denied the city's charges.

Last September, the Recreation and Parks Department fired Mandac, 44, on grounds that he performed gardening work, with a day laborer, at the home of a private customer. The department also found that he used a city truck to drop off his daughter at school and buy gloves at a local store.

But Mandac insisted that he was at the home on his lunch hour to search for a missing ring. Further, he said, he needed the gloves for work and dropped his daughter off in a city truck on only one occasion and because she was being threatened by fellow students.

After hearing his defense, the council unanimously agreed that Mandac had improperly used city equipment but disagreed over the fairness of firing the employee, whose work record was otherwise sound. Nevertheless, the council opted to stand by the parks department's decision.

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