Pictured: Scott Alevy
from EastCountyChamber.org video
  • Pictured: Scott Alevy from EastCountyChamber.org video
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At the January 30 Sweetwater Union High School board meeting, the Vega report was released. Parents, teachers, and students have been demanding the report for months. It appears their suspicions had substance.

Attorney Greg Vega was commissioned by the board in May of 2011 to look into work done by public relations professional Scott Alevy, who had been hired by the district’s former counsel — Garcia, Calderon and Ruiz — to assist with union relations. However, a Union-Tribune investigation of the invoice submitted to the district by Alevy suggested that some of the meetings billed by him did not take place.

A more serious part of the investigation pertained to the allegation of election tampering. Many of Alevy’s meetings occurred shortly before the November 2010 election, when Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa were reelected and John McCann was first elected to the Sweetwater board.

According to the Vega report, Alevy had a number of meetings with McCann in the months prior to his election. On June 13, 2010, Alevy billed the district for a discussion with a Chula Vista City Council member. Alevy identified the individual as McCann (and his wife).

On July 1, 2010, Alevy met with McCann over lunch. Alevy explained to the investigator that “McCann initiated the meeting and that [McCann] wanted to run some ideas by Alevy. At the time of the meeting, Alevy believed that McCann had announced or decided that he was going to run for the board.”

The report also tells us that “Alevy stated during his interview that he told John McCann, both before he was elected to the Board and after, that he was a consultant being paid by the District to do public relations work. Alevy had many conversations with McCann ‘bringing him up to speed’ on District issues.”

Alevy reported back to Garcia, the district’s counsel. Alevy told the investigator “that McCann absolutely knew that Alevy was a consultant working with [Garcia, Calderon and Ruiz] and he agreed that McCann was one of the people he believed he could trust to keep his engagement confidential.”

“On August 17, 2010, Alevy billed the district for a strategic meeting with John McCann and Garcia.” Alevy told the investigator that McCann set up the meeting so that he “could gather information about district issues necessary to be a better candidate for the board.”

McCann’s memory is different than Alevy’s. In the report, McCann said he didn’t know that Alevy was a consultant and “did not specifically recall discussing political strategy with Alevy but would not be surprised if it was discussed.”

The report goes on to say that “On September 24, 2010, Alevy billed the district for a ‘campaign issues discussion’ with two school board candidates. Alevy believed that he had a discussion that day with Cartmill and McCann. Both candidates knew that he was a consultant working with [Garcia, Calderon and Ruiz].”

Attorney Garcia remembered having a meeting with Alevy and McCann and giving McCann “the lay of the land.”

Did all of the boardmembers know that Alevy was hired by the district?

The document states: “Alevy was asked if he believed he was obligated to tell Board members he was working with the District. Alevy stated he believed that each Board member had a fiduciary obligation to raise the issue with the Board in closed or open session. It was Alevy’s assumption that Cartmill or Ricasa had been told Alevy had been hired….and it was their obligation to tell the board….”

There is a curious inconsistency about Alevy’s actions regarding boardmember Bertha Lopez. In the report, Alevy “stated he asked Lopez about her feelings on the District and its issues. He did not tell her that he was working for the district because he did not want to jeopardize the confidential nature of the engagement.”

A cursory read of the report shows that former attorneys hired, for the district, a public consultant to consolidate and promote favored candidates, among other things. It also appears that only some boardmembers were aware of the nature of Alevy’s work; some may not have known that the district hired him.

The Vega report concludes with five findings. The fourth “find” is that “Alevy billed the district for meetings and discussions with potential and actual board candidates in possible violation of California election laws.”

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Comments

joepublic Jan. 31, 2012 @ 1:46 p.m.

So this is why McCann kept the Vega report from the public for so long. What's disgusting is how at the last minute, when public pressure had built to explosive dimensions, he pretended to want it released. Shouldn't we expect a more in depth investigation into what the report calls "possible California election law violations"? I don't think McCann and Cartmill are out of the woods just yet. As far as Alevy goes, he'd better realize that just because they paid him to do his job doesn't mean it's legal.

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Alex_Anguiano Jan. 31, 2012 @ 2:40 p.m.

The Vega Report appears to be a work in progress. Why did it not go important steps further? The invoices were approved by the district's HR and Finance departments. The district knew exactly what they were paying for. They paid to influence the election results of the school board election of 2010. Resignations and more criminal charges are in order.

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redevilaboveground Jan. 31, 2012 @ 4:26 p.m.

Alex, there are many unanswered questions and you have raised some very important ones. Where is the investigation on FOCUSCOM and their contract with BG/DIstrict? Where is the investigation/audit on the Sweetwater Foundation? Weren't individuals being paid alot of money that should have gone to scholarships? Did McCann when he was President of the Board keep a legal opinion expressing cause for firing Supt. Gandara away from the other Board members? If Gandara had been terminated for cause he wouldn't and shouldn't have been given a sweetheart severance agreement costing us a least $500,000 plus lifetime health benefits. Not only that, his departure was extended for enough time to get him vested in the State retirement system. Who has access to the second legal opinion? Why did they go with BG's legal opinion that there was not enough cause for firing the Supt.? Who was the captain of the ship when the deal was cut for Gandara to leave?...and isn't this the same person who got a $20,000 political contribution from Gandara's long distance call from Mexico to a SGI? If this dosen't smell like PLAY FOR PAY, I don't know what does?

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anniej Jan. 31, 2012 @ 7:53 p.m.

Redevilaboveground: boy that is a hard name to type, ha ha

hopefully john mccann's 'little man who wants to be king' little stunt in keeping that information away from the board will get the press it surely deserves.

it will expose him for the small person he truly is. while he is a Republican, that has nothing to do with his childish, obviously unbalanced antics. taping certain speakers at the meeting last night, refusing you to stop when called out on it - these are not the actions of someone who belongs on a school board.

mccann simply does not get it, he is suppose to be a professional - yet consistently gets caught acting out as if he is a juvenile. today he went on am radio painting himself out to be the savior of the district, when in fact he has done absolutely NOTHING for the students.

the students of the sweetwater district obviously deserve far better than what they are receiving. hopefully with each scandal they will continue to dig themselves into a hole so deep they will not be able to get out of. then we will simply kick the dirt it on top of them and walk away - gone and forgotten.

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cvres Jan. 31, 2012 @ 6:47 p.m.

So does election tampering carry any consequences? Will the district be at fault or...where does this Vega report go? Is this the end of the road for the investigation?

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anniej Jan. 31, 2012 @ 7:45 p.m.

john mccann, 'little man who wants to be king' really showed his true colors last evening. in my opinion - he is a juvenile, obviously unbalanced emotional politician. there he sat writing something fanatically on a piece of paper - refusing to even look at the speakers. then, he decides to attempt to intimidate the speakers so he uses his cell phone to film 'certain' speakers. when asked about it, confronted on it, and challenged he sat there with his infamous 'howdy doody' smile. sort of like the chucky doll.

then today he goes on talk radio and takes credit for it all. takes credit for the meeting being held in public, takes credit for the vega report, takes credit for bringing the rest down. ah, ms. ricasa, ms. quinones - can you hear us now????? you trusted this person? you voted with him??? and now he is not only throwing you under the bus, but then, he is running jumping onto his tricycle and running you over again.

interesting, 'the gandara' is receiving free legal representation and you all are paying for your own - do you feel like fools now that YOU voted to give him that retirement package?

the robo call, paid for the Republican Party yesterday, made by johnny boy, was sent out to all parents, now why would the district allow his access to this information when he was going to use it to commit a Brown Act violation? I am wondering if the REAL REPUBLICAN PARTY is truly aware of these shenanigans? someone tell them they are not. surely there is some one with values and integrity that would better serve this party.

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Visduh Jan. 31, 2012 @ 8:58 p.m.

Again, one can only wonder where the prosecutors are in all this. How about the DA? How about our state attorney general? Isn't election tampering a huge no-no for both of those? And then there's the FBI which should be all over this "like flies on stink." Where are they?

Yesterday's board meeting should have looked like something from an Abbott and Costello movie with plenty of facial exercise, shrugs, non-verbal protests and maybe even a dash of the Three Stooges. Here they were, appearing in public after being charged with felonies, voting on things that affected their criminal defenses. Hey folks, it doesn't get much stranger than that! For those of you who are living this, just keep in mind that history is being made there by the hour. Some of this will set precedence for reform of school governance. It would not be surprising to see all five of those who were charged, and plenty of others, to be heading off to prison soon. The question is if three of the board members have to relinquish their seats due to criminal convictions, how does the board, how does the district function? Who calls elections? This all could test the system for continuing governance of the district. Maybe the state steps in? We shall see.

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Susan Luzzaro Jan. 31, 2012 @ 10:03 p.m.

Visduh, That's a very optimistic statement you have written--that out of the South Bay school district turbulence some governance reform will come. I do know Southwestern College is likely to go forward with campaign donation limits.

One worries, however, that donations will simply take a new form.

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Visduh Feb. 1, 2012 @ 8:38 a.m.

Perhaps I am being overly optimistic. Somewhere, sometime in this state there has been massive corruption, election tampering, and obstruction in a school district, but I don't know where or when. There is no precedent for this sort of thing in this county in the more-than-forty years I've lived here. Nothing even close! It is hard to believe that nothing will come of this. There are too many laws involved both at state and federal level. This makes the SD city council stripper scandal of a few years ago that cost Zucchet his seat and that is sending Inzunza to the slammer look totally tame.

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anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 9:53 a.m.

the ENTIRE south bay needs to contact the DA and demand to know WHY, WHY, WHY the election tampering, manipulation is not being paid attention to.

the vega report indicates clearly that our district used the contractors monies to help mccann, ricasa, and cartmill win their seats.

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joepublic Jan. 31, 2012 @ 10:30 p.m.

anniej: About McCann trying to intimidate speakers by filming them selectively with his cell phone.... Do you happen to know if what he was doing is legal? It certainly goes against the board's policy of encouraging public input.

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 31, 2012 @ 10:40 p.m.

It is a public meeting, in a public place, you can be filmed. Same goes for the public filming the guy filming the speakers-two way street-don't want to be filmed then don't speak. I would say FILM ME, all you want, what is the guy going to do post it on youtube? Who cares, take a stand for what you believe in.

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anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 8:39 a.m.

according to HIM, since it was a public meeting he had the right to do so. the most troublesome part about this whole scenario is this, even when called out about it by members of the community he smirked that goofy smirk of his and continued to do so. he, and his juvenile actions were the talk of the crowd - people were laughing at him, actually laughing at him.

john mccann, truly does NOT belong in public office. i have been watching him for over a year now and i truly believe that he has some emotional problems. i have seen him actually throw a temper tantrum at one of his first meetings, actually turning off other board members microphones. he continues, no matter how many people challenge him on it, to bring up his military service - at the board member a very concerned community member who happens to be a Commander stood up and challenged him about his service, basically told him to shut the hell up and stop using his being called up as a Reserve and serving as a supply man to paint himself as a hero. the Commander was, well you might call it irate - and good for the Commander. how many of us know OTHERS who have proudly served yet never USE their gallant service for personal gain - 99.9% of us i am sure.

there was much talk in the audience regarding him and his blatant disrespect to speakers, he was either texting, filming, or madly writing. then the issue of the REPUBLICAN paid Robo Call came up. an off duty police officer i spoke to could not believe his ears, "is that true"" he asked? "yes, i am afraid it is". "Wow has my party sunk that low down here?" was his reply

the Robo Call was a Brown Act violation, he actually cast his vote to the public prior to the meeting. WHY?, well you see mccann is looking to move on in the political world and is wanting to portray himself as the savior of all that is wrong with SUHSD - but what he is forgetting is this his campaign donators - all of those contractors and BONNY GARCIA's wife monies are listed on the registrar of voters - all of his votes in line with ricasa, quinones, and cartmill in favor of the contractors and seville, are public record.

if one reads the vega report it is clearly evident that he was in 'negotiations' with the district prior to being elected - why would the district (the gandara and bonny garcia) seek this little man out - because that is what he is a little man who could be manipulated. mccann failed to run a grass roots campaign - he chose instead to take thousands from contractors - now why did they choose 'little man mccann' vs a qualified candidate?

in his radio interview he threw the others board members under the bus. called out quinones in her inability to run a board meeting; but what he failed to share is the fact that HE, john mccann, ran his board meetings the same way - he was an inept president - always forgetting things, always having to be reminded of protocol. not one meeting was held by him that he did not flub.

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joepublic Feb. 1, 2012 @ 9:18 a.m.

SurfPuppy: I agree, but I'd take it a step further and televise the meetings on the public channel, and like you, I would have no problem speaking my mind publicly. However, in this case only certain individuals were being filmed by a single board member, and it appeared that McCann was only taping those who were criticizing the board. While it's probably legal, it might feel a bit intimidating to someone not as bold as you or me, and especially to someone who might be addressing the board for the first time. Don't forget, this is a district where retaliation has been a standard operational procedure for some time.

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anniej Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:01 a.m.

Joepublic: it is time for all to step out of their comfort zone - time for all to show up and speak up. at this point there are so many of us on mccann's (and the others) radar that there is no way he can retaliate.

many wonder why i focus on mccann, well it is because HE is the man who promised many, while he stood in their living rooms, TO CLEAN UP THE DISTRICT. all the while he was receiving those campaign donations from seville, bonny garcia's wife, and other contractors/vendors.

if we all join together we can bring about change, but it will take a united effort. those at the board meeting on monday night, newbies, were appalled at what they saw. mccann was the number one topic of discussion - his mental instability apparent to all - the audience simply could not believe what they were observing. they had heard of his past antics, but monday evening they saw for themselves.

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erupting Feb. 1, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

Sounds like tampering to me. If anyone wantst he D.A.'s hotline number 619-513-4000. I believe we as citizens better find out what's going on and make our voices be heard.

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bikecabber Feb. 6, 2012 @ 6:12 p.m.

Wow! Board members indicted on felonies and barely a mention. Union hiring "consultants" to "help" with the elections? Pay to play involving millions of dollars. Health benefits and severence packages to porn surfing idiots running the show? What in the Sam Hill is going on in South Bay District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis? Are we the forgotten in San Diego? The Unforgiven and Unforsaken? You are not out of office yet. Let's clean this place up in a hurry, there is not a moment to waste. We might as well be in Chicago with the way the Unions run "Chula-Juana" and the Mark Wattons of South Bay stomp on the tax and water/utility payers. This is disgusting and I am mad as hell. It is time D.S.Dumanis.....now!

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