Bustamante Scandal Sends Another Top Official Packing

Indications are that Orange County Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis is the latest high-level official heading out the door in the wake of the Carlos Bustamante sex crimes scandal.

And Drakodaidis has left behind a scathing letter that could rock the foundation of the county government.

On Monday, Orange County Public Works Director Jess Carbajal was fired with cause for failing in his role as a supervisor to Bustamante, who stands accused by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of committing 12 felonies against at least seven women over an eight-year period while a manager at Public Works.

Rackauckas has publicly stated that he will continue his probe of county government to determine who knew what and when.

It seems Drakodaidis, the deputy CEO for infrastructure, might know plenty.

After Carbajal was fired, Drakodaidis, who supervised both Carbajal and Bustamante, abruptly left her post. By midweek, officials had received a letter from Drakodaidis' attorney advising them that she is on a medical leave until Aug. 30, according to several sources that have seen the letter.

Drakodaidis’ letter levels a host of accusations against members of the county Board of Supervisors for interfering with hiring and contracts as well as conducting questionable campaign finance practices.

It also accuses Rackauckas of using the Bustamante scandal as revenge against CEO Tom Mauk for firing Public Administrator John Williams earlier this year over what officials have described as incompetence.

County officials have declined to immediately comply with a Voice of OC public records request for the attorney’s letter, which has been distributed to the supervisors.

County lawyers are reviewing the Voice of OC request “but are not certain when their review will be completed,” a county spokesman said.

Terry Francke, general counsel for the First Amendment advocacy group Californian’s Aware and an open-records consultant for Voice of OC, says there’s no doubt that the county bureaucracy and supervisors are simply stalling. He said the public has an immediate right to see that letter.

The California Public Records Act allows agencies 10 days to review records requests for legal confidentiality, but there is no way the county should be able to keep Drakodaidis' letter from the public, Francke said.

“There’s no conceivable exemption in the California Public Records Act that would apply to a claim or to a comparable accusatory letter received by an attorney,” Francke said.

“If true, [the allegations] would signify a serious breach of duty, and the public needs to know that even the accusation is being made. If the public doesn’t know what the accusation is, then they’ll never know what was done about it.”

According to several sources that have read the letter, Drakodaidis takes direct aim at several county supervisors for interfering in county contract administration.

She specifically criticizes County Supervisor Pat Bates for placing one of her aides, Brian Probolsky (also a board member of the Moulton Niguel Water District) in a position inside the Orange County Community Resources Department. She also criticizes Bates over campaign finance issues, the sources say.

And she alleges that Rackauckas’ investigators went hard on her during the Bustamante investigation because Rackauckas is angry at CEO Tom Mauk over the removal of Public Adminstrator John Williams in the wake of the 2010 scandal that erupted after Rackauckas fired Deputy District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

Drakodaidis has been on the hot seat since supervisors reviewed a controversial audit of the Human Resources Department last year that found top executives were giving themselves questionable raises. Drakodaidis had her salary cut by 13 percent following the audit, and sources said supervisors had been questioning her performance ever since.

Drakodaidis also was the deputy CEO in charge of Public Works, where Carbajal and Bustamante worked.

Sources indicate that within weeks the leaders of a special county investigation, spearheaded by a host of former Public Works officials, will present a critical report on how the department was managed.

Drakodaidis came to the county in 2004 as the chief deputy director of the Social Services Agency after more than 15 years as a top official for Los Angeles County. She took over as deputy CEO for infrastructure in 2007.

Please contact Norberto Santana Jr. directly at nsantana@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/norbertosanana.

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