Forwarded email below
Wanted to share some interesting information with you that highlights what Sheriff Ayub is up against in his bid for re-election. This email was written to the union president by one of my retired peers after the union president sent out a letter to membership telling them he had to refinance the union mortgage and was considering raising dues to pay the bills. There are links at the bottom of the email that back up almost everything he alleges.
The union got upset after the Sheriff told them no one too many times for their liking, and they found an ambitious, yet naive candidate to run against him. They’ve rallied all of the other police unions by telling them the majority of deputies support their position, despite refusing to poll any members even after they were asked by members for a poll.
I share this with you because in the last couple of months of this election cycle, you are going to hear things on radio and tv and see things in print that are paid for by the union’s Fryhoff for Sheriff PAC. They are not a credible organization, as evidenced by the information below, and their word should not be given much credence.
VCDSA President Odenath,
I appreciate the correspondence regarding the state of the Association’s finances. However, I have concerns about the VCDSA’s expenditures over the past few years and the purported reasons given for increasing the dues paid by the Association’s membership. I am also concerned about the lack of transparency in the management of the VCDSA in recent years that appears to be impacting the VCDSA’s finances. I am hoping you can address my concerns and answer a few questions. Since these matters affect the Association’s entire membership, I am copying them with this email.
So the members of the VCDSA understand why I have concerns, I think it’s important to start with full transparency by informing our members of some history. As you know, in 2017, the VCDSA hired Kasey Sirody as its Executive Director. Executive Director Sirody, along with a now-defunct law firm in which she previously worked, were removed from the panel of approved attorneys by the Legal Defense Fund of the Police Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) for alleged fraudulent billing practices and falsifying billing records. As reported in the press, the tactics of Executive Director Sirody’s prior law firm were highly questionable and included personally attacking and/or unduly pressuring decision makers or providing money and gifts and other things of value. It seems that some of those tactics may now be occurring at VCDSA which is having a financial impact on our members.
Since Executive Director Sirody’s hire, long term employees have reportedly been forced out and family members of the board have been hired. I understand she hired a person to design new computer systems and databases at the VCDSA and that person was also listed as her VCDSA emergency contact. In addition, the VCDSA’s long-time CPA suddenly quit last year and no reason was provided to our general membership as to the reason why. A recent public records request to Port Hueneme revealed Executive Director Sirody appears to have authorized Port Hueneme Police Chief Andrew Salinas to make purchases on behalf of VCDSA. There is nothing in the Board’s minutes reflecting any authorization for these purchases. More importantly, do the bylaws allow a non-VCDSA member to authorize purchases on behalf of the VCDSA? If so, I feel that is bad business and could easily lead to misuse of VCDSA funds.
While on the topic of Chief Salinas, I think our members need to know a possible reason why Chief Salinas has been allowed to authorize purchases on behalf of the VCDSA. Emails obtained through a public records request provide evidence that the candidate for Sheriff who Executive Director Sirody and you have chosen appears to have been promising people appointments to the Assistant Sheriff and Undersheriff positions in his proposed administration. Specifically, from these emails, it appears Port Hueneme Chief of Police Andrew Salinas has not only been promised an Assistant Sheriff position, but he has also been told he can be your candidate’s successor in 2027. In one email, Chief Salinas openly states he planned to run for Sheriff but has since decided to join forces with your candidate. Besides the emails, there are several people who state Chief Salinas has admitted that he was promised an Assistant Sheriff position in exchange for delivering the votes of Oxnard and Port Hueneme residents. It’s interesting to note that his decision to stop running for Sheriff and join your candidate’s campaign came around the same time Salinas went golfing with Executive Director Sirody. That golf trip was memorialized in a social media post which you can see below. In addition, the VCDSA has paid for Chief Salinas’ golf tournament fees. One wonders why the VCDSA members should be paying for these types of things. If the Board had a legitimate reason, the members have no way of knowing because it is another expenditure not reflected in meeting minutes.
I also think it’s more than a coincidence that, after the social media post, Chief Salinas appeared on a cannabis YouTube channel named “In My Grow Show” in which Chief Salinas boasted that Port Hueneme has one dispensary for every 1,700 residents while you, Mr President, begin accepting large amounts of money on behalf of the VCDSA from cannabis organizations. While certain forms of marijuana sales are legal, it seems that accepting large amounts of money from these groups, whose practices are questionable, does not reflect well on the Association.
As you know, we and other agencies still have restrictions on marijuana use due to the federal laws. Is it ethical for deputies to take money from the marijuana industry when we won’t hire their users? What message does that send to the community and especially our youth? Bad ethics and a lack of moral compass?
You receive a sizable stipend each month from VCDSA, which according to posted meeting minutes was increased more than 66% by the Board last year to $15,000 annually. This is in addition to the full salary you receive from the Sheriff’s Office, even though you only work 20 hours for the Sheriff’s Office and the other 20 hours for the VCDSA. If the Sheriff’s Office is paying you full pay to work for the VCDSA, why do you need any stipend from the Association, especially when finances are so tight?
I understand that a significant change to the Bylaws was made, but the revised Bylaws have not been published on the VCDSA’s website and I can find no mention of the change in the meeting minutes. The Bylaws were changed to require all executive board members to have at least a one year term of service before they can be elected to the executive board (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer). This essentially ensures that no outsider can challenge the current leadership. Why wasn’t this change to the Bylaws made widely known to the membership? It is incumbent on the Board to keep its members informed of the Board’s decisions. However, the poor and incomplete Board meeting records and the nonexistent communication on expenditures effectively keeps the membership in the dark. It makes one wonder whether this is being done intentionally. Securing jobs for only a very limited few could be construed as cronyism, or worse, indications of corruption.
In your letter to our members, you set forth the purported reasons that members’ dues may have to be increased. However, your letter contains several critical omissions and representations that are contradictory to the information I have. I’m hoping you can address these issues.
First, as far as the Alameda Decision, it is my understanding the defense of all County of Ventura retirement benefits was led by the CEO’s office. As a matter of fact, I was on the final ZOOM call where the county presented its case in favor of our county workers. I didn’t hear anything of note from an Association attorney. From reviewing meeting minutes, I see there was one entry on August 25, 2020, where you authorized expending $25,000 to hire legal representation for the Alameda Decision. That amount pales in comparison to the estimated $65,000 that’s being used to convert the VCDSA building to solar or installing perimeter fencing around the building, but those expenditures are not mentioned in your letter. I’m hoping you can explain to our members what it was we actually paid for in 2020 and 2021 and what we are expected to pay for in 2022.
Second, although our membership has fallen since 2018, so have the number of complaints against our deputies. In fact, there has been a 41% decrease in the number of officer complaints since 2019, which should correspond to a decrease in legal costs. From reviewing your published 990 forms for 2017, 2018 and 2019, there was a steady decrease in our legal defense premiums which I would assume continued in 2020, 2021 and into 2022. Are our legal costs increasing and, if so, why?
Third, in November of 2020, all Board members were emailed a new process for the Captain Promotional. Executive Director Sirody also received a personal phone call from the Sheriff notifying her of the change. The VCDSA said nothing until three months later when the names of the first three promoted captains were announced. Within a few days of the announcement, you sent an email to all general members insinuating these captains were promoted without merit. You demanded that the Sheriff demote the three individuals and you hired a law firm to help you rescind their promotions. The frivolousness of your actions was evident when the complaint filed with the California Public Employment Relations Board was rejected without so much as a hearing. There was no notice of the cost to our members. What was the actual cost of this mistake?
Fourth, the VCDSA is facing a lawsuit for allegedly wrongfully terminating long-time VCDSA employee Kathy Hart after she was interviewed about a complaint that Executive Director Sirody was creating a hostile work environment at the VCDSA. Kathy was a long-time loyal employee who was the face of the VCDSA to all who visited the office. I understand that you were personally notified of the hostile work environment created by Executive Director Sirody and did not investigate. After you ignored the complaint for months and the behavior continued, you were challenged for your lack of attention to the matter. Your response was to pass the responsibility off to another Board member. The other Board member finally hired a company to conduct an internal investigation. After the investigation was complete, Kathy was cruelly fired which has led to a wrongful termination claim. She had been with the VCDSA for decades and you did not even have the decency to announce her leaving in any way. The VCDSA is now in the untenable position of potentially paying significant six figures in damages. Were the legal defense costs and potential damages for this claim included in the increased legal defense costs you mentioned in your letter?
Fifth, you state you refinanced the VCDSA mortgage, and your meeting notes reflect a possible separate line of credit that may have to be involved. Can you explain exactly what was involved in the refinance process? Was money taken from the refinanced mortgage or line of credit used to help fund the operations of the Association?
Lastly, President Odenath, over the course of 13 months, the Board provided $100,000 to a charity in which you serve as an advisory board member. The charity serves a noble cause and is much needed by the first responder community. However, to avoid any conflict of interest you should have addressed the membership at large and disclosed any compensation you may or may not have received from the charity. At the very least, I would hope that you recused yourself from the Board’s discussions authorizing the donation, but since the Board’s minutes do not reflect this, the members are left to wonder.
The women and men of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Ventura County District Attorney Office are the most professional, well-trained and compassionate people I ever have met and I would hate to see their reputation stained by the fiscal mismanagement of the more than one million dollars the VCDSA takes in every year. I think it’s time for you to provide us with an independent detailed accounting of where our money is and has gone.
To our members, I ask that you read the below accompanying documents, so you are well informed as to what exactly is being kept from you and who is leading the VCDSA.