Ingrid Fermin, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, is undergoing a review of her job performance, according to the chairman of the board.
Richard Shapiro, responding Oct. 10 to inquiries about Fermin’s status, said in a statement: “The board is conducting a review, as it is coming up on the third anniversary (of her appointment). We have no comment at this time. It is a personnel matter.”
Shapiro did not return phone messages left Oct. 9-10. Fermin did not respond to a message left on her cell phone.
Fermin, 65, began her challenging tenure as the board’s executive director in January 2005. Her salary was $108,860 for 2006-07.
The notice of the CHRB’s next meeting Oct. 18 at Arcadia City Hall includes an agenda item under closed session: “Consideration of conditions or terms of employment of CHRB’s executive director as authorized by Government Code section 1126, subdivision (a).” That section reads: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent a state body from holding closed sessions during a regular or special meeting to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against that employee by another person or employee unless the employee requests a public hearing.”
Fermin’s tenure has included many challenges: a board mandate to convert dirt surfaces at the state’s major Thoroughbred tracks to synthetic surfaces, the pending closure of Bay Meadows, TCO2 and out-of-competition testing, and the standardization of drug-enforcement policies.
But it has also been marked by rancor and division within the agency and with various elements of the state’s Thoroughbred industry. She has been subject to accusations of favoritism in her contracts and appointments. During her administration, she has continued to live at her residence in Del Mar while making occasional trips to CHRB headquarters in Sacramento almost 500 miles north.
Fermin was a surprise choice by the commission to replace Roy Wood, who resigned in 2004. She became the first female steward in the state in 1981.