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Booze Flows In The Middle Of The Day -- On A Tuesday -- At Holiday Party For LA City Employees

MONTEREY PARK ( — Hennessy, margaritas and rum.

Those were but a few of the libations on offer at a recent holiday party for some employees of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation — in the middle of the day.

CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein arrived at a party for city trash collectors on a Tuesday and found that many of the city employees spent hours drinking and eating inside Luminaria's Restaurant in Monterey Park, an upscale Mexican restaurant with expansive views of the city, before returning to work.

About 70 city employees attended the event. Some arrived in vehicles bearing the logo of the sanitation bureau, starting at around 11 a.m.

Each attendee paid $35 for buffet food. But many of the employees broke out their wallets and bellied up to the bar, too.

"Do you have frozen margaritas?" one partygoer wearing a city ID badge asked.

"Can I have a rum and Coke, please?" asked another.

The party lasted into the early afternoon. Some workers left the venue after 3 p.m.

Khalil Gharios, a sanitation division manager who made nearly $175,000 last year, was seen on camera during the party toasting over a shot at the bar. As he left the restaurant, he could be seen heading for a city car, keys in hand.

When he was greeted by Goldstein, Gharios appeared to reconsider getting behind the wheel and gave his keys to a woman he said was his designated driver.

Asked whether city employees were allowed to spend hours at a party in the middle of a workday, sanitation officials said some but not all of the 70 employees who attended took a few hours of vacation time to attend. Some were also "off duty," the department said, although no paperwork was provided to substantiate that claim.

Sanitation department officials were invited to the party, but appeared to receive an invitation listing an event running 90 minutes shorter than the 4-hour affair that took place.

Some workers went right back to work after partying for hours, and that didn't raise any red flags at the sanitation department.

"As long as they were not impaired, there's nothing prohibiting that," an official said.

Kris Vosburgh of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association said he has concerns, especially since the cars do not have breathalyzers to verify that the employees are sober when they return to work.

"That's a strange policy for a taxpayer-supported institution to have," he said.

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