The city of Escondido is facing community backlash after a city employee with Cerebral Palsy who’s developed a reputation as a city ambassador was fired for something he did off the clock.
Dan Naylor, 31, says he was having a drink at a downtown restaurant after work with friends recently while still wearing his uniform. It’s an apparent policy violation for Escondido City employees, and he was terminated.
“I may have read it in the beginning, but I forgot about it,” Naylor said.
Several Escondido residents who have witnessed Dan’s kindness first hand showed their support for him Monday as he met with the city manager about reclaiming his job.
Dan’s meeting with City Manager Jeff Epp’s recorded and shared on social media. Epp said he was going to give Dan a second chance but changed his mind.
"I was going to sit down and say ‘I give you a second chance, buddy.’ Then I find out he's late because he's doing an interview and bringing a lawyer. So forget it,” he said.
Epp said since Dan has a lawyer he now needs to go through the City Attorney’s Office to try and get his job back.
The City of Escondido’s Rules and Regulations notes disciplinary action can be taken for “Improper political activity, campaigning while on duty or in a City uniform on or off duty,” But it doesn't mention drinking while off-duty in a uniform.
Patti Thompson is one of several in Escondido who are rallying behind “Dan The Man,” vouching for his character and fighting for his second chance.
“He should have a second chance based on the fact that we’re not sure if he had a job coach or understood that policy,” said Patti Thompson.
Beni Martinez called Dan’s termination “unbelievable.”
“Without you, the city just has no personality, no heart. You have a really good heart… Keep on fighting, don’t give up,” Martinez said to Dan.
Dan met many of the community members now at his side before he was hired by the city. He used to volunteer his time picking up trash around City Hall and Grape Day Park, waving signs supporting first responders, and trying to put smiles on people’s faces.
Dan called Escondido his heart and said he’d be crushed if he were unable to get his job back.