Former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara
  • Former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara
  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Approximately 500 parents, students, and teachers attended the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting on the evening of January 30. A cacophony of angry voices filled the Hilltop High School gymnasium.

Lauren McLennan, a representative of Occupy Sweetwater, attempted to serve board members Jim Cartmill, John McCann, and Arlie Ricasa with recall papers. According to McLennan, her organization has gone through the required process to begin the recall. (McLennan didn’t include trustees Bertha Lopez or Pearl Quiñones because they are up for reelection.)

For months, community activists have been demanding to know details about ex-superintendent Jesus Gandara's generous severance package. Activists have repeatedly asked the board if there was a second legal opinion obtained by the former board president, John McCann, that might have indicated Gandara could be fired for cause. If this second opinion existed, the district could have avoided paying Gandara's $500,000 buyout and retirement.

At the board meeting, Maty Adato, one of the community members who initially took Sweetwater concerns to the DA, told the crowded room that she had proof that a second legal opinion existed. Adato said she gained her proof through a public records request.

In a followup interview, Adato shared a letter from interim superintendent Brand. Brand's letter explains to Adato that the district cannot share the second opinion; at the same time, the letter confirms that there was an additional opinion received by boardmember McCann: “In addition, the second opinion received by Mr. McCann regarding the separation agreement entered into with Dr. Jesus Gandara also falls under the exemptions of attorney-client privilege and attorney work product.”

The biggest issue for all who attended the meeting was whether or not the legal fees, estimated to be over a million dollars, should be paid to the two boardmembers who have been indicted: Arlie Ricasa, Pearl Quiñones, and former boardmember Greg Sandoval. (Attorney fees for trustee Bertha Lopez had also been agendized; though not indicted, the district attorney did search Lopez’s house.)

Boardmember McCann voted early in the morning by robocall. Through the call, paid for by the Republican party, McCann told South Bay residents that he would not be voting to pay for attorney fees.

Although the boardmembers discussed the possibility of reimbursing attorney fees if a defendant was found innocent, reimbursement to Sandoval, Ricasa, and Quiñones died for lack of a motion. (Lopez withdrew her name from the list of those seeking attorney fees.)

The meeting did not end until after midnight. Near the end, Juan Carlos Hernandez from Otay Ranch High School spoke to everyone seated on the dais and said, “I shook Arlie Ricasa’s hand at my eighth-grade graduation. I don’t want to shake any of your hands at my senior graduation.”

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Comments

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

yes, why did john mccann withhold that information for the others on the board? what is/was mccann's agenda?

truth be told ricasa and quinones must be feeling pretty stupid - they voted for the golden parachute for 'the gandara' and now we the public we able to force the board to deny them legal fees paid for with our tax dollars. how could they be used in such a manner. john mccann and jim cartmill had no intentions of paying for the legal fees - hey, they are not up on felony charges YET.

the foundation for all of this corruption are the bond dollars. marston & marston given a $500.000.00 contract by seville without board approval and then there massive thousands upon thousands of dollars of campaign dollar donations to mccann, cartmill and ricasa. but marston & marston are not alone - there was seville, swinerton, bonny garcia's wife, and many others. look up the contractors given the business - all of the big boys - well they are documented on the registrar of voters as campaign donators.

john mccann is now out in full swing, attempting to intimidate all that he can - he wants the presses to stop reporting on this issue but mainly on him. the bloggers are ripping mccann apart for his juvenile, unbalanced actions at the last board meeting - i am hearing that the REPUBLICAN PARTY is not quite liking the association of mccann and they. so why would you pay for the Robo Call REPUBLICAN PARTY? you can not make a silk purse out of a sows ear -

mccann needs to step down, take some time to reflect honesty, and move on. politics are not in his future - hate to be the one of the many thousands that think that - but hopefully he will read this and take our advice.

cartmill, as well should go away. his time is over - he has lost the respect of the majority of taxpayers in the south bay. he is seen as an opportunist who has consistently been able to fly under the radar. but truth be told he is the worst of the bunch, while much smarter than mccann, ricasa, and definitely quinones, he received more contractor donations than any - so much in fact that he, CARTMILL, turned around and donated monies to his fellow board member campaigns. even members of a certain group he belongs to are talking behind his back. they have taken the time to look up the money on the registrar of voters, they believed him when he said they should back mccann - and now they realized it was a strategic move by cartmill to have his buddy join him on the board - a real easy yes vote for the contractors.

it is imperative that as many show up at the next board meeting, the RECALL must be successful - in one swoop we can take out mccann, ricasa, cartmill, and quinones. then 4 will be brought in with a clear message being delivered "we will be watching you as well, you mess up, you fall asleep at the wheel and you are gone - remember why you are there it is for the STUDENTS not personal gain".

0

redevilaboveground Feb. 1, 2012 @ 11:53 a.m.

Right on Annie and I wonder why the UT is not reporting the major conflict of interest Gandara/McCann/SGI/BG/Alevy/FOCUSCOM....maybe they are complicit with the Republican Party after Doug Manchester purchased the newspaper? Many questions remain to be answered we are fotunate to have Susan Luzzaro shed some light on the situation and bring light to those shadows on the cave walls!

0

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 12:06 p.m.

The Reader/Ms. Luzzaro's coverage of SUHSD is right on target. as well all know Ms. Luzzaro was right on target years ago when she first began to write about web at sweetwater and southwestern. she is a cracker jack writer - one of the best. while the UT has done a super job in the coverage, many in the Community continue to bring forth the issue of Party affiliation.

while i do not know Mr. Manchester i do know Mr. Lynch and find it hard to believe that ANYONE could make Mr. Lynch do anything - Party affiliation or not.

0

redevilaboveground Feb. 1, 2012 @ 12:22 p.m.

annie, coming from you that is comforting to know your feelings about Mr. Lynch. I don't know him at all!

0

joepublic Feb. 1, 2012 @ 11:39 a.m.

So now we learn that the school board was actually given two legal opinions regarding how to remove Dr. Gandara. We have to assume that the decision to buy him out which cost us about $500,000 plus lifetime retirement benefits (longer if he declared a beneficiary) was based on at least one of those opinions. Was that their only choice? Could that second opinion have concluded that Dr. Gandara be fired for cause, thus avoiding a costly buyout? We can't know unless the board releases or gives the public at least the gist of that second opinion. Until then, we'll have to assume that once again we’ve been duped and ripped off.

0

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 12:11 p.m.

Joepublic: you are absolutely right. the next task at hand must be to demand that the 'other legal opinion', the one johnny boy (mccann) kept from us, is made public.

the other question that needs to be raised is this - who brought dr. brand there that night. surely he did not just happen to decide to attend. one of the speakers monday night stated brand was brought there by john mccann, little man who wants to be king.

so lets think about this for a minute. mccann receives the 'other' legal opinion, reads it and then HE DECIDES TO KEEP IT FROM THE OTHER BOARD MEMBERS???????? he then personally approaches dr. brand before hand, before the meeting?, tells dr. brand what is going to happen and offers him the job as INTERIM. OH MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"HELLO, MS. DUMANIS - what are you going to do about this?"

0

savesweetwater Feb. 1, 2012 @ 2 p.m.

I think it comes down to the signs being held in the gym that night. They demonstrated a lack of trust in district leadership. By definition you can't lead if others aren't following. Although there is still a culture of fear and intimidation in the district, I hope that will start to fade as employees realize that they have the power. If they can't stand up to the leadership they can ask their neighbors to speak for them. If the community can keep the pressure on they will be able to bring about change.

RESIGN OR RECALL!!!

0

erupting Feb. 1, 2012 @ 2:51 p.m.

I'm also worried about the fact that the U.T. has not come out with any information on the fact that the second opinion was kept from the public. People are shocked that the coverage of the Vega report was limp. I don't want to believe that it' because it is a political issue. Oh well we get more of the facts from the reader. Good job Ms. Luzzaro and Reader staff.

0

redevilaboveground Feb. 1, 2012 @ 5:41 p.m.

I think that the UT is working on a story. Anyone with information and willing to talk should call Ashly McClone. Has anyone seen the second legal opinion letter and who wrote it?

0

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 9:20 p.m.

i understand that many are requesting it from brand as i type. if i could be so bold to ask all of you to send an email to brand asking for its release.

time to put the pressure on - we need to know what that second opinion said, and we need to know the details as to the HOWS and WHYS of brand showing up minutes after 'the gandara' was sent bye bye. WHO was at the bottom of that decision?

0

Wabbit Feb. 1, 2012 @ 8:01 p.m.

I don't understand how the Republican Party can legally gain access to home phone numbers of families in a school district.

0

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 9:22 p.m.

i am told that persons sent emails to brand asking that very question, i do not know about you but a robo call from mccann, grand standing is not one of my top ten desires. ESPECIALLY since it was a BROWN ACT violation.

0

Susan Luzzaro Feb. 1, 2012 @ 8:23 p.m.

Something that is germane to the discussion about many Sweetwater issues is how much of their business really needs to be conducted behind closed doors--away from public view. On the California First Amendment Coalition site there is an editorial from the Los Angeles Times about supervisors and excessive closed session meetings.

As I recall, Sweetwater's board agenda for the last closed session meeting does not even refer to the Vega report. How is the public to know what part of the public's business is being conducted?

0

anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 9:25 p.m.

unfortunately we had to piece things together one would have thought under the closed session agenda it would have been spelled out in black and white 'vega report' however NO clue was given that it would be discussed.

this nonsense has to stop - brand needs to start answering the parents questions - no more pussy footing around playing us for fools.

0

Susan Luzzaro Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:40 p.m.

Wabbit, you raise an interesting question--worth looking into.

0

Susan Luzzaro Feb. 1, 2012 @ 11:05 p.m.

anniej, you referred to Bonnie Dumanis--surely the DA is reading the Vega Report in additon to the trillion docs they already have. If you are investigating a district it would seem that election tampering would be part of the investigation. As they were looking at Gandara, this would be relevant.

0

anniej Feb. 2, 2012 @ 8:29 a.m.

with cut backs and limited funding i am beginning to wonder if the DA's office has the man power to look into the alleged election manipulation - time to place a call to the FEDS.

THE RIGHT TO THE VOTE - we will not tolerate them attempting to control this right. this is after all the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. remember attorney ruiz, bonny garcia's x partner is claiming that very thing in his law suit against garcia and calderon - he claims that firms funds were used (i have seen the law suit, a hum dinger)

many are surmising that it was mccann who kept the 2nd opinion from the rest of the board, since at the time he was the president, - hmmmmm, since he is the one stomping thru the south bay talking about protecting America thru his service. whoever it was, the rath of the south bay is building; what the taxpayers heard and SAW (mccann attempting to intimidate speakers by filming them) infuriated and repulsed them. this board is dysfunctional, no doubt about that. oh, and extremely manipulative.

0

villageram Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:55 a.m.

"Du man is" in control. And until the majority of San Diegans wake up and DEMAND justice in this fiasco the status quo will continue. And that hatchet-faced carpetbagger will stay in control and maybe the next mayor. It could happen. Keep going to the beach and sneaking your little beers and making yourself happy for an afternoon. You might wake up the next day and find Mayor "Du man is" selling your beach to Papa Doug!!

0

anniej Feb. 2, 2012 @ 10:24 a.m.

i am the eternal optimist, or so i am told -

regardless, public opinion regarding this board is as negative as it has ever been. we need to expose who was behind keeping the second opinion from the public - no matter if Ms. Dumanis chooses to do anything about it or not.

why is this important - well let us consider this - what if that second opinion stated that 'the gandara' could have been terminated for cause? that would equate to savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits not to mention the attorney Paul Pfingst, that our tax dollars are paying for.

while the board chose to NOT pay for the board members attorneys, the board had already voted to include legal representation for any future legal matters for 'the gandara'

take heed, THIS IS A HUGE ISSUE, we, the taxpayers simply can NOT let it die.

CALL TO ACTION - how many are willing to attend next board meeting and demand answers - WHO KEPT THAT SECOND OPINION FROM US, AND WHAT WAS THE SECOND OPINION?

just my opinion

0

cvres Feb. 2, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.

I have one remaining question about the second opinion. An earlier post said the other board members did not know about a second opinion. How can we be certain?

0

anniej Feb. 5, 2012 @ 1 p.m.

conjecture at best, but you raise an excellent point - perhaps someone might want too pose that exact question to all of the board members. if rumor is correct, and MCCANN, as board president was given the legal opinions we can be almost certain that at some time jim cartmill was made aware of the contents - they are bossom buddies, now serving as protection for each other.

0

bikecabber Feb. 6, 2012 @ 5:36 p.m.

I write as a lawyer that actually litigates cases vritually everyday. The Lawyer that Sweetwater hired to advise them (and Berta Lopez's husband at Otay Water District) not only has a conflict of interest but in my opinion, does not appear to be competent. Why is a second opinion needed and why would anyone be reluctanct to share that opinion? Because it was crappy advice in first place and it is damaging to reveal that you followed the crappy advice of the lawyer who may or may not be involved with a Sweetwater Board member. That same lawyer is offering advice on the legality of providing lifetime health insurance for otay water district employees AND their dependents. Then there are all the contracts for millions of dollars that Sweetwater School District is spending and the allegations of pay for play. The lawyer giving advice is obviously giving advice according to how the Unions dictate. It is time to clean house and provide true transparency to the parents, students, taxpayers, and the teachers that keep on getting bamboozled by the "admisinstrators" and the union heads. The Sweetwater District needs to get back to the basics and call a spade a spade. Pink slips for teachers while they pay for supplies the disctrict will not pay for while the "administrators" go on "training trips" to San Francisco and Monterery? When is the last time you heard of an actual count of the number of administrators (read union chronies) verses teachers. And what do "administrators actually do? Can they tell you? No. Their job seems to be to meet with the lawyer to tell him or her how the legal opinion will read, tell the teachers how to vote and how angry they should be at ... who again? I was at an explusion hearing the other day in which the most vile "retired administrator" was call the shots. There were no less than seven paid "administrators" and legal counsel there collecting our taxd dollars. Really? Whey do we need a retired administrator there in the first place - double dipping? Don't we have enough administrators? And what happened to the days when the principal and vice principal made the recommendation and the Board voted. Was that too cost effective for the Unions? Give me a break. I am a taxpayer and I look at all the waste and I am sick to my stomach. Let's get lean and mean and back to the basics. You want to litigate? I'm your man....if you really think there is something to litigate. It is time to hire people of principal that want to work and want to simplify. Otherwise, get out of our way because we are going broke both morally and fiscally with your hogwash.

0

bikecabber Feb. 6, 2012 @ 5:44 p.m.

22.I write as a lawyer that actually litigates cases vritually everyday. The Lawyer that Sweetwater hired to advise them (and Berta Lopez's husband at Otay Water District) not only has a conflict of interest but in my opinion, does not appear to be competent. Why is a second opinion needed and why would anyone be reluctanct to share that opinion? Because it was crappy advice in first place and it is damaging to reveal that you followed the crappy advice of the lawyer who may or may not be involved with a Sweetwater Board member. That same lawyer is offering advice on the legality of providing lifetime health insurance for otay water district employees AND their dependents. Then there are all the contracts for millions of dollars that Sweetwater School District is spending and the allegations of pay for play. The lawyer giving advice is obviously giving advice according to how the Unions dictate. It is time to clean house and provide true transparency to the parents, students, taxpayers, and the teachers that keep on getting bamboozled by the "admisinstrators" and the union heads. The Sweetwater District needs to get back to the basics and call a spade a spade. Pink slips for teachers while they pay for supplies the disctrict will not pay for while the "administrators" go on "training trips" to San Francisco and Monterery? When is the last time you heard of an actual count of the number of administrators (read union chronies) verses teachers. And what do "administrators actually do? Can they tell you? No. Their job seems to be to meet with the lawyer to tell him or her how the legal opinion will read, tell the teachers how to vote and how angry they should be at ... who again? I was at an explusion hearing the other day in which the most vile "retired administrator" was call the shots. There were no less than seven paid "administrators" and legal counsel there collecting our taxd dollars. Really? Whey do we need a retired administrator there in the first place - double dipping? Don't we have enough administrators? And what happened to the days when the principal and vice principal made the recommendation and the Board voted. Was that too cost effective for the Unions? Give me a break. I am a taxpayer and I look at all the waste and I am sick to my stomach. Let's get lean and mean and back to the basics. You want to litigate? I'm your man....if you really think there is something to litigate. It is time to hire people of principal that want to work and want to simplify. Otherwise, get out of our way because we are going broke both morally and fiscally with your hogwash.

By bikecabber 5:36 p.m., Feb 6, 2012 > Edit > Reply > Report it

0

anniej Feb. 6, 2012 @ 9:53 p.m.

and then there was the other attorney there at the podium, ann moore?, a friend of john mccann's from back in the days when he drove the chula vista city council crazy.

what experience or expertise is ms. moore bringing to the table? i am told she has no expertise in school board issues, yet, there they were voting on her to be added to the list of attorneys that suhsd would use. other than the fact that johnny boy needs someone he can trust i see no reason for her to have been added to the attorney list.

why did we need two attorneys at that board meeting? lets see the meeting lasted from 5ish to 1:30ish - in the world of attorneys that amounts to quite a few green backs.

the real question that needs to be answered is this: WHICH BOARD MEMBER KEPT THE ALLEGED SECOND OPINION FROM THE OTHER BOARD MEMBERS? I WANT THE FIRST GUESS SAYS ANNIEJ - MY MONEY IS ON THE little man who wants to be king - johnny the man (NOT) mccann. now why would he want to keep a legal opinion from his fellow board members? what was in it for him? and i ask, who the hell invited brand to that meeting the night 'the gandara' was retired? what '''little'''' birdie contacted him beforehand? again, anniej's opinion is none other that '''''''little'''''' johnny mccann.

folks, there is a recall in process, many will be needed to man the vons and the malls. it is time for mccann, cartmill and ricasa to go - perhaps it is time for the state to take over.

the Republicans are running scared, they are pulling out all of the stops, funding illegal (brown act violation) robo calls, pretending that little man mccann is the second coming. south county Republicans voters are speaking out and are greatly concerned that those in power may be throwing the upcoming election by clouding the Party's message by aligning with the 'little man mccann'.

the anti corruption, anti pay to play movement must continue - justice will prevail.

0

Sign in to comment