Alisa Drakodaidis, the Orange County deputy CEO who in July sent a politically explosive letter that alleged corruption among county supervisors, has been placed on administrative leave.
Drakodaidis went on stress leave after sending the letter, and while other top county officials were being either fired or forced into retirement in the wake of the Carlos Bustamante sex crimes scandal, she was scheduled to return to work last week.
Yet given the severity of her allegations, few observers expected to see Drakodaidis come back to the county Hall of Administration.
Drakodaidis went on medical leave on the same day that county Public Works Director Jess Carbajal, whom she supervised, was fired. Days later, her attorney, Joel Baruch, sent the letter, which, among other accusations, claimed that she felt threatened by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ investigation into Bustamante, who was a Public Works executive.
The letter goes on to say that she was unfairly targeted because she looked into efforts by county Supervisors Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen to help place their political aides into county jobs. Drakodaidis also accused Bates of attempting to “change” a sex offender ordinance to help the son of a friend, among other issues.
Bates has not responded to several calls seeking comment.
The letter was kept secret until Voice of OC filed suit under the California Public Records Act to force disclosure.
The county responded to Drakodaidis’ claim by issuing an official response by then-CEO Tom Mauk stating “there is very little substance” to her accusations and that she was “attacking” members of the Board of Supervisors.
According to a letter to Drakodaidis, which was made public by Baruch, Interim County CEO Bob Franz placed her on administrative leave effective Sept. 20.
County spokeswoman Jessica Good declined comment on the situation, saying, “We are unable to provide any information because this is a personnel matter.”
In the Sept. 20 letter, Franz advised that Drakodaidis is on leave with pay “until further notice.”
Franz further advised Drakodaidis to remain available by phone during normal business hours while on leave and has prohibited her from entering any county facilities, parking lots or other “County Government business locations.”
Drakodaidis is also prohibited from “contacting any other County Executive Office employees.”
Baruch said the letter signals that the county “is setting her up for termination in retaliation for a number of things.”
He issued the following statement on Sept. 21:
Alisa Drakodaidis was medically cleared to return to work on Friday, September 21, 2012. On Thursday, September 20, 2012, acting CEO Bob Franz placed her on involuntary administrative leave with pay, placed her under “house arrest” during work hours, and forbid her from frequenting County facilities.
This is an adverse employment action which was taken by the County in retaliation for Alisa making her own official gender discrimination complaint about mistreatment of women in County government, for making an EEO [equal employment opportunity] complaint about discrimination, nepotism, waste, and misuse of County resources, and for helping provide the DA with material information in the Carlos Bustamante criminal investigation.
Baruch’s response letter to Franz all but signals the start of a lawsuit by noting:
Most distressingly, the negative implication of the employment action you have taken today has further impacted my client’s health, future employment opportunities, and earnings. It appears the County is continuing to unfairly retaliate against Ms. Drakodaidis and I am convinced that a reasonable jury of Ms. Drakodaidis’ peers may see it that way as well.
He concluded by warning county officials to “reconsider your placement of Ms. Drakodaidis on administrative leave before positions become solidified.”