“We would love as much dirt as we can get for all our athletic fields," stated a Southwest High employee in an email.
  • “We would love as much dirt as we can get for all our athletic fields," stated a Southwest High employee in an email.
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Sweetwater Union High School District’s dirt story continues to be significant. Potentially contaminated soil dumped at Southwest High School poses questions that many would like to have answered: Why have district leaders sought to mislead the public about the estimated 10,000 tons of dirt dumped on the campus?  Who is looking out for the Southwest High School students’ well-being?

On June 18, 10News first reported on the Southwest dirt pile and stated that soil testing revealed the dirt was contaminated. Interim school-district superintendent Ed Brand told 10News that he had inherited the problem from former superintendent Jesus Gandara — who has been indicted for bribery and other charges connected with the district. Brand told 10News, “I can’t tell you specifically where it came from. I believe it was a group of volunteers that brought the dirt in.”

On July 13, the district continued to prevaricate. 10News spoke to district administrator Ramon Leyba, who reportedly “wouldn’t tell 10News where the dirt came from or why it was brought here.”

But a public record request submitted by Kevin O’Neill, a member of Sweetwater’s Proposition O Bond Oversight Committee, yielded what O’Neill believes is “the smoking gun” of the dirt-pile controversy.

According to the public record request, on March 22, 2012, Gary Gauger, maintenance manager for the district, wrote in an email to a Southwest High teacher:

“As Lee [a former Southwest principal] and the previous principal can tell you, I am all too familiar with this debacle. I was called to the site a year ago when the first unapproved load was dumped. I tried, along with my immediate supervisor, to stop the remainder of the 100,000 yards from being brought to the site. As you can see, we were not successful. I was well aware a year ago that this day would come, it would present a safety issue if not addressed, and that, by proxy, my department would be left holding the bag. I also told the previous administration and the offending contractor that they were covering the only property drain at the southeast part of the school and that it would affect our neighbors eventually.

“Currently, we are still trying to locate a contractor in Southern California that will remove the dirt. I’ve already informed Dr. Brand, Dianne Russo, and Mr. Romero of our continued efforts to do so. We have been turned down, or laughed at, at every attempt. We have another contractor out there today assessing the work. Again, we are hoping this one will take the job. The soil has to be tested before any can be removed….

“The track itself was scheduled to be graded last week (before the rains) for the season. Like the football field that was rendered useless by the same act, the track is now unsafe and will most likely re-flood with the coming rains. I’m not telling you anything you do not already know. Our efforts to dig a drainage swale behind the mound has been thwarted by the same rains and soggy soil.”

Gauger was contacted on July 26. On July 27 an assistant returned the call and said to speak to district communications, per protocol.

O’Neill’s public record request also garnered an April 29, 2011, Craiglist posting for “Free Fill Dirt” — and a reply by a Southwest employee saying: “We would love as much dirt as we can get for all our athletic fields — can you deliver to Southwest high School?”

Included in O’Neill’s public record sweep was a contract signed April 29, 2011, by Southwest High’s principal, Maria Armstrong, giving permission to Southland Paving, Inc., to deposit the dirt.

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Comments

cvres July 29, 2012 @ 9:21 a.m.

So Brand and Russo knew in March that this was impacting the safety of the fields and impacting the kids.

This mirrors the callous decision taken by the board (recommended by Brand?) to cut bus routes without considering safety issues.

4

erupting July 29, 2012 @ 9:43 a.m.

Well well it appears that this dirt story shows that Dr Brand is a dirty liar. Sorry for the puns but the deception this whole time has only made people angry. This article adds more clarity to what happened. Mr. O'Niell you've proven your bravery by releasing this information. Dr. Brand will be coming for you. Watch your back. Too bad the district couldn't have been honest from the start,it would not have been as big of a deal. When is This board going to get rid of Dr. Deception or are they going to go down with him.

4

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 10:10 a.m.

arllie ricasa and jim cartmill brought us 'the gandara' who lied to us and failed to put our students first.

john mccann brought us brand - who now it appears lied to channel 10 about the soil.

now ABOUT THE TRACK - bonita vista high athletes run on a dirt track with clumps of grass cropping up - southwest's track not usable BUT....................... otay ranch high is getting a new state of the art track at a cost of 1 million dollars. now before i am lam blasted let me make it clear - i do NOT begrudge the athletes at otay ranch their new track. however issues such as this is why parents want to send their to other than their home school.

brand will defend the new track by saying they are using mello roos funds just like he defended using mello roos to pay for the infamous IPADS. you see according to brand since east side students (who parents are paying mello roos) are transferring to west side schools (where i do not believe there are any mello roos) he is allowed to use mello roos funds for west side students IPADS. i am sure some reading this will think i got my east and west side mixed up I DID NOT.

east side west side - i use this adjectives simply to paint the stories picture to give an accurate accounting of what is going on. in truth students are students, and all students and their parents should have the confidence that all students are receiving the same education, have similar facilities and the same benefits NO MATTER WHAT SIDE OF THE 805 YOU LIVE ON.

here we are being lied to by those charged with protecting our children, where are john mccann, jim cartmill and arlie ricasa? why aren't they answering to these messes. word has it the board president is calling for a board meeting this week - so start calling tomorrow asking when it will be - remember special board meetings only require a 24 hr notice.

in closing, think about it, think about the MASSIVE, i mean MASSIVE amount of tax dollars i.e. prop bb, prop o, and mello roos that this district has been given fiduciary responsibility over - now ask yourselves have we gotten what we paid for - NO, NOT BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION.

i will echo what many of you have more succinctly stated - until the majority of our board members are gone it will continue to do be business as ususal - bertha lopez can NOT do it alone.

3

eastlaker July 29, 2012 @ 12:04 p.m.

Really? Eastside students transferring to westside schools? Is there any proof of that? I'd love to see any proof of that. Just another crop of lies eminating from the well of deception that is Ed Brand and Associates. This alleged human being/corporation has outdone himself in creating rationalizations for his actions. What a poor excuse for a superintendent, and what a sorry day it was when he decided to enter the field of 'education'.

3

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 1:17 p.m.

Eastlaker: those in attendance at that board meeting sat there in disbelief, no facts or data to prove his statement were provided. but then silly me, when are they?

3

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 10:25 a.m.

Erupting: Mr. O'Neill needs to worry about john mccann the 'little man who wants to be king' - the rath of mccann will surely be unleashed. mccann is known to act irrationally in situations such as this. he allegedly goes after those who speak out. having said that, my money is on Mr. O'Neill - he, a most respected, most knowledgeable professional who has entered the fray simply wanting what is best for the students and taxpayers of the south bay. mccann entered the mess of sweetwater with one intent "how will this help me become king (mayor)"?

mccann is at the end of his suicide mission,his political career over. he would never admit that he has been brought down by his own hand.

3

Jmbrickley July 29, 2012 @ 12:22 p.m.

On June 18, 10News first reported on the Southwest dirt pile and stated that soil testing revealed the dirt was contaminated. Interim school-district superintendent Ed Brand told 10News that he had inherited the problem from former superintendent Jesus Gandara — who has been indicted for bribery and other charges connected with the district. Brand told 10News, “I can’t tell you specifically where it came from. I believe it was a group of volunteers that brought the dirt in.”

Really, Dr. Brand? You expect us to believe that this was a problem with overzealous volunteers?

The paper trail comes to a completely different conclusion.

On April 29, 2011, then Principal, Maria Armstrong signs a Permission to Deposit Dirt form, giving Southland Paving, Inc. permission to dump dirt on Southwest High School's property. (ref. PtDD Form)

This dirt is dumped by numerous DUMP TRUCKS. (ref. Resolution 4121, Mar.12,2012)

In a letter to Lora Duzyk, Assistant Superintendent, SDCOE, dated January 27, 2012, Dianne Russo, Interim Deputy Superintendent, SUHSD states, "Last year, without notifying the district or obtaining district approval from either Planning or Maintenance Departments, the Southwest High School administration had an enormous amount of free, untested soil placed on the edge of the football field." (ref. as stated, Letter signed by both Dianne Russo and Dr. Brand)

SDCOE replies in a letter dated February 28, 2012, sent specifically to Dr. Brand granting an emergency waiver to deal with the dirt. The letter states "The site staff had the free, untested soil placed at the school without obtaining appropriate district approval but was unaware that it contained large rocks and stones and was dumped over the main drain." (ref. as stated)

On March 12, 2012, at the regular board meeting, Item R-9 specifically states "... the Southwest High School administration had an enormous amount of untested soil placed on the edge of the football field. Southwest High School received the untested soil for free, but did not obtain the required approval from either maintenance or planning departments prior to having the soil unloaded." (ref. Resolution 4121)

Sometime prior to July 17, 2012, some of the dirt had been hauled. However, hauling was ceased on that date after 1,771 TONS of dirt had been hauled. (ref. Letter from Dianne Russo to Larry Moore, Branch Manager, Advanced Chemical Transport, Inc.)

4

Jmbrickley July 29, 2012 @ 12:27 p.m.

Sounds to me like there were a lot of dump trucks involved in the volunteered work. When he gave his interview to Channel 10, Dr. Brand knew the scope of this "dirt dumping." He knew the WHO, the WHEN, the HOW, the AMOUNT, and just about everything there was to know about the problem, with possibably the exception of where the dirt actually came from. After reading some of the soil testing reports, I have some serious reservations as to the toxic levels of various substances. Not because of what the various pages state, but rather by the huge number of pages redacted. It appears to me, we only recieved the "feel good" pages.

4

Jmbrickley July 29, 2012 @ 12:33 p.m.

One additional thing. Can anyone provide us with the further career exploits of Maria Armstrong, ex-principal of Southwest High School, the very person who created this mess? Can anyone shed any light on what Dr. Brand's leadership and direction in this matter were? What did Dr. Brand do about this serious breach in district protocal?

4

dbdriver July 29, 2012 @ 12:55 p.m.

Armstrong has been stationed with the Director of Curriculum's department as a Principal on Special Assignment, since her replacement from Southwest. In recent Boarddoc records show her being reclassified as of 7/1/12 to a Teacher (STBD) (Site to be determined?)

4

joepublic July 29, 2012 @ 12:40 p.m.

Mr. Gauger, who tried to stop this debacle and warned higher-ups of safety issues related to the dirt, could have explained the mysterious pile of dirt right from the beginning. But instead, it took a public records request and the San Diego Reader to inform the public. I wonder if when contacted by the reporter, Mr. Gauger was ordered to keep his mouth shut, or was simply afraid of retaliation from a district known for its vindictiveness towards employees who speak up and expose problems? In either case, the public is, once again, ill-served. Thanks once again to the Reader, for keeping us informed.

By the way, erupting, this story is a punster's heaven; "soiled reputations", "dirt swept under the rug".........

3

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 1:31 p.m.

Joepublic: i understand your thoughts, however, i believe it is important to remember that Mr. Gauger, like the many others reporting to brand and the board has a family. these people are put in a difficult situation - if they talk they are fired if they don't -------------. for the record i would hate to be in that position, and can not honestly say what i would do. i would probably be one of those who are doing what they can do and still keep their jobs - providing the truth - without authoring it.

when a member of the Bond Oversight Committee asks for information and is told by the CFO to provide a Public Records Request for said information it is clear that brand, the majority of the board, and those in power are attempting to hide the truth.

let us only hope that this board realizes that we the tax paying public have had enough of the lies. surely they will not bring brand's name forward to fill the superintendent position - if they were to even contemplate it i believe we would have another hilltop high board meeting on our hands.

the sleeping giant called the south bay is awakening, IT IS ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

2

Susan Luzzaro July 29, 2012 @ 1:42 p.m.

Mr. Brickley, It sounds as if you have some documents I have not had the opportunity to see. Perhaps if there is an early board meeting as some bloggers have mentioned you might let me have a look at them.

joepublic, anniej, it does appear Gauger was attempting to protect the ground and the students under both administrations.

1

joepublic July 29, 2012 @ 1:45 p.m.

anniej and Susan: I agree. Mr. Gauger and his immediate supervisor deserve credit for trying to protect the public's safety. It is Brand and Co., that didn't listen to them, who must take the blame.

2

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 2:21 p.m.

Joepublic: we must keep our eyes open and ears to the ground. IF THIS DISTRICT ATTEMPTS TO ''''REACT'''''' to Mr. Gauger's efforts in ANY we should be there speaking out against such an attempt.

in truth i believe Mr. Gauger is indicative of the majority of district employees - people who truly care about the students, ALL OF THE STUDENTS.

3

oskidoll July 29, 2012 @ 2:33 p.m.

HMMMMMM. This post by Brickley is intriguing for many reasons. Take a look at this statement: "SDCOE replies in a letter dated February 28, 2012, sent specifically to Dr. Brand granting an emergency waiver to deal with the dirt. The letter states "The site staff had the free, untested soil placed at the school without obtaining appropriate district approval but was unaware that it contained large rocks and stones and was dumped over the main drain." (ref. as stated) "

So, despite the SDCOE assertions to the contrary, that body DOES have oversight of the SUHSD? What oversight power gives them the authority to waive something?... and why did Brand and Russo think it was necessary to so inform the SDCOE about the dirt in the first place?. Either you DO, or you DO NOT, have oversight authority!

It seems that they just might be responsible for oversight after all.

3

Jmbrickley July 29, 2012 @ 8:01 p.m.

oskidoll... The Emergency Waiver Request for contracts to remove untested soil at Southwest High School was submitted to the Business Services Division of the San Diego County Office of Education on January 27, 2012. (This is the statement written on Resolution 4121)

The resolution also states "Staff deemed it critical to make these safety adjustments on order to avoid what could be a catastrophic accident." So, in January of 2012, Dr. Brand states we possibably have a "catastrophic accident" waiting to happen, and by June, 2012, he says "It's a pile of dirt."

Since Mr. Gauger says," We have been turned down, or laughed at, at every attempt," in SUHSD's attempt to have the dirt removed, I am of the opinion that there is more to the dirt than the district is telling. If the dirt is clean, then why all the trouble removing it? If the dirt is clean, then why redact all the pages from the soil test report?

3

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 3:34 p.m.

Oskidoll: sweetwater has done a superb job in exposing the inefficiency in many - we can now add SDCOE to the list.

3

mko July 29, 2012 @ 3:46 p.m.

SDCOE was asked to provide an emergency waiver from public solicitation for bids to remove the dirt pile. At that point the cost was thought to "possibly exceed $100K. The dirt was impounding water on the field and a health hazard due to the creation of mosquito breeding habitat. It also made the track and field unusable. The SDCOE approval was limited to waiving the formal (Competitive) bidding process. All of that was rendered moot once the soil tests, necesary to remove the soil, showed slightly elevated levels of hydrocarbons, pesticides, and lead. At some point the District decided to treat the soil as contaminated in spite of the fact that the lab tests found "quantified values are below regulatory health risk guidlines" and the costs jumped to $500K. The 25 May 2011 minutes of the Southwest FAC meeting 3.2 b reflect the following; "Coach Esposito is trying to beautify our football field. This measure was approved last July by central office. All dirt was donated..."

2

oskidoll July 29, 2012 @ 3:53 p.m.

Any 'waiver' by the SDCOE to allow SUHSD do something, on its face, implies that SDCOE has oversight authority over something that the SUHSD is doing....which directly contradicts the SDCOE claim that they have no authority over SUHSD.

3

oskidoll July 29, 2012 @ 3:47 p.m.

Well, I think 'inefficiency' lets everyone off the hook way too easily.
Rather, 'derelection of duty' might be a better characterization of both public agencies, each of which is governed by elected officials and who are subject at the very least to recall, if not charges of negligence or worse.

3

anniej July 30, 2012 @ 10:22 a.m.

Oskidoll: i must have been in a generous state of mind - your description is far better than mine.

1

Visduh July 29, 2012 @ 3:54 p.m.

A whole host of people and agencies that do have some oversight of this school district and its operation need to step up. The DA, the attorney general, the SDCOE, the state board of education, the state superintendent of schools, and there must be a few others, all have a role in insuring that a school district is following the law. In everyday operations, when there are mistakes made and a district strays from the proper path they should be dealt with locally. But this district and the things that it does, along with the things it does not do, warrant some outside intervention. And yes, does the SDCOE have oversight or not? If it does not, then why is it involved at all in this matter?

On a more sweeping note, since there are matters in the district that may involve the breaking of federal laws (and since the feds pay for many things, they have a role), the FBI could and probably should be looking hard and long as they feed information to the United States Attorney. What I'm saying is that virtually every county, state and federal agency and law enforcement entity has a stake in this. So, where are they? Where are the subpoenas, the raids, the arrests, the indictments? This is far beyond anything the DA has done to date, and far beyond anything she appears willing to do.

3

eastlaker July 29, 2012 @ 5:26 p.m.

Exactly. All the questionable decisions, all the lies, all the deliberate misdirections that have become a part of the public record having to do with the 'big dump' at Southwestern High School are a three dimensional representation of how SUHS Board of Trustees and Ed Brand/E.B. & A. work. Take this situation, add the huge mess from the cafeteria debacle, all the attorney overbilling, all the bribery/graft regarding construction contracts, the enormous unknowns when it comes to financial matters (8 - 10 years of Sweetwater operating with no oversight from the county, although by law the county is responsible)...then we have the recent stupidities/attempted bribery of students with 7th graders receiving IPads coupled with the severe reduction of bus routes, followed by the reinstatement of bus routes...grade changes, testing abnormalities, committee recommendations being ignored...and teachers and staff fearing to speak out because so many have been pink-slipped already. Talk about a reign of terror, except you would have to add "and amorality" to it for the complete picture. Yes, I'd think the FBI might be interested--especially when it comes to people being paid to take English proficiency exams for those who are not English speakers, so that the non-English speakers (who have an inside track via family or friendships) are then hired. Why do we have to put up with this nonsense--there are many people who are out of work who want to work at honest jobs. Why are we paying all the dishonest people in Sweetwater? I say, get rid of the liars and cheats and hire people who are interested in education, schools, the school children and the future of our community. And when we get rid of them, just for the record, let us not give them going away presents.

2

eastlaker July 29, 2012 @ 5:35 p.m.

When all the problems are pointed out to the authorities, and nothing is done, what is the take-home message? That we are so far south that corruption is inevitable, and that we have been given up on? That we do not deserve an educational system that truly serves the community and the students? That, somehow, we get to be the dung heap for San Diego? That our students can survive on the leavings of those who would steal everything from them? Please tell me that is not so.

Chula Vista Elemetary School District's motto used to be something like "We believe that all students are citizens of great worth". I liked that, way back when.

What would Sweetwater's be? "We believe in stripping our students of everything we can get away with, because no one who can do anything about it is watching, and those who are watching are powerless"???

2

eastlaker July 29, 2012 @ 5:39 p.m.

And by the way, I'd really like to find out what the read IPad deal is. Pretty sure Brand is making out like the bandit he so resembles...

2

oskidoll July 29, 2012 @ 5:41 p.m.

Hear Hear! If no one else is listening to the pleas for action from a host of agencies, why not seek the attention of the Grand Jury? At a minimum, they could embarrass the hell out of agencies who seem not to paying attention.

4

erupting July 29, 2012 @ 6:34 p.m.

I like your thoughts about the Grand Jury. Hopefully we will hear some information on brown Act violations soon. I do not want to believe that the people with authority don't care. But where are they?

2

eastlaker July 29, 2012 @ 6:40 p.m.

Because the State of CA has already tried to reduce the power of the Brown Act, I am inclined to think that all of the Brown Act violations that have occurred in Sweetwater will not be viewed as serious violations, but merely as irregularities in procedure...and we will need to demonstrate more substantive and egregious violations.

2

anniej July 29, 2012 @ 6:57 p.m.

Eastlaker: the key is to have as many persons sign as possible. there has to be a way to capture the names of all of those who would like to be a part of this action.

0

SouthBayer July 29, 2012 @ 9:42 p.m.

So why doesn't the district hold Maria Armstrong accountable? She was the one who approved it, and lied to her staff and said central office approved the dump. It was her decision along with the former football coach/teacher Mr. Esposito. If they were the ones who put the school in this mess, then they should be sued and made to pay it. They violated protocol and still kept their jobs while Gandara was still superintendent.

3

Pancho July 29, 2012 @ 9:42 p.m.

How does a school get rid of contaminated soil? How long does it take to get rid of contaminated soil? Have they really done their due diligence? A simple google search will find multiple companies that will do it. This seems more like a money factor than anything else.

1

Susan Luzzaro July 29, 2012 @ 10:59 p.m.

Southbayer,

The question of accountability is an interesting one. I still need to learn more about district protocol. If you move large amounts of dirt in most cities, you have to file for permits. It's hard to believe that there weren't more district regulations or ed code or such involved.

Then there is the question of accountability for students having a degraded/unsafe field and track. If you go to Southwest, you will see that the tennis courts too are very poorly maintained.

Is the district spending money elsewhere that should be going to schools like Southwest?

3

eastlaker July 30, 2012 @ 7:48 a.m.

Question of the hour: "Is the district spending money elsewhere that should be going to schools like Southwest?"

Further questions: "How is all the district money being spent? In the financial arrangement that 'regularizes' Mello-Roos and other fund payments from the county, are the funds being reinvested by the county prior to being turned over to the school district? Because, according to the pamphlet on Mello-Roos (linked to in a previous article's comment section), Mello-Roos funds are not supposed to be reinvested. But--if the county of San Diego is using the Mello-Roos fees to stabilize their own finances, and then divvying out the funds when it is convenient, there is another reason why the authorities do not want any of this stuff looked into.

Pretty sure that more straightforward accounting measures should be implemented, and that all of this should be a matter of public record, no redactions necessary, thanks so much.

So, getting back to where the money is spent...we still do not know who is investing the school district's funds, but if that is outsourced, and I am pretty sure it is, someone is making bank off the funds for schools. Again, we need to clean up and simplify--and not approve any further bond issues until everything is laid out in black and white for all to read and double check.

My mind keeps going back to that figure of over $50 million for debt management. What if that is just a payment to a firm for managing district funds? When the district is really not supposed to be investing and reinvesting, they are supposed to have funds available as needed and plan sensibly. Not indulge in a fantasy life with 'Other People's Money'.

3

oskidoll July 30, 2012 @ 10:10 a.m.

In re: Grand Jury -- www.sdcounty.ca.gov.grandjury/about/p... gives the entire scope of purpose for the San Diego County Grand Jury. Here are some salient excerpts:

"The Grand Jury may inquire also into written complaints brought to it by the public... the Penal Code requires the Grand Jury to inquire into the williful or corrupt misconduct on office of public officers."

2

jibaro July 30, 2012 @ 11:58 a.m.

One wonders how this would have "played out" if a trustee lived in the area. Bonita/East Chula Vista is a "long way" from Hollister Ave.

2

anniej July 30, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

Jibaro: you know that old saying 'out of sight, out of mind'.

at the march meeting when the primary speakers voicing opposition to cutting back transportation were west side folks it was 'yawn, ok are you done complaining?' - then low and behold eastlake parents show up and its 'we are on it, we are going to fix it'.

to arlie ricasa, jim cartmill, and john mccann: the three of you are the only ones who do not get it - WE ARE SOUTH BAY - no matter what side of the freakin 805 we live on. we are united, all of us. we are a village - and the 805 freeway sign is communicating this - CAUTION DANGER AHEAD: LEAVE NOW, and take brand with you.

3

eastlaker July 30, 2012 @ 5:25 p.m.

Brand must be one terrific cheerleader to keep his minions, AKA the SUHS Board of Trustees, stepping in line the way he is. I wonder what he is telling them? "Don't worry, we can talk our way out of this one, just like we have talked our way out of everything else..." Or maybe, "Our friends at the County Board of Ed will protect us..." Or is it, "The County Finance people said everything would be fine, not to worry..." Because Brand doesn't seem to take seriously the reality that he has alienated many, many people here in south SD county. We know he is thick-skinned, because comments that might have shamed others just don't affect him. Might be interesting to know just what his secret is.

Maybe it is just that in going after the funds that are supposed to be for our childrens' educations, he has become blind, deaf and dumb to everything but his own money grab. That might explain it.

3

anniej July 30, 2012 @ 6:15 p.m.

Eastlaker: regarding what brand may be telling them - if my memory serves me correctly 'the gandara' made similar promises - he would handle things, he would quiet the 'antagonists'. well, the lists of antagonists is growing daily, even if the original 5 were to go away - others would take their place - i am thinking you would be one of the them. 'going after' the antagonists, not really a good idea - the bad press that would come from that - going after whistle blowers involved in the largest case of alleged corruption the south bay has ever seen - OH MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the link between those certain board members, indicted and not, will be quite a story. board member names, what they asked for, what they expected - and then there is the thought rumbling in the back of mind, (can't seem to pin point where i got it from) WHAT IF 'THE GANDARA' MAKES A DEAL????????????????????? oh my!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i agree it is grand jury time and more.

3

Greenville July 30, 2012 @ 6:41 p.m.

Otay ranch gets a new track. Otay's principal is promoted. Otay's principal is selected as administrator of the year. Otay's cafeteria staff are implicated in the theft of a half million dollars of goods. Otay and district staff responsible for this theft are allowed to resign and given back pay. Private investigator hired to investigate. Report turned over to D. A., or so we're told. Brand is mum. Can we extract that report using the FOA?

3

bonitaresident July 30, 2012 @ 8:02 p.m.

Propostion BB. Grand Jury investigation. Allegations that he used undue influence regarding an appointment a committee was suppose to be in charge of. Asked to vacate his position. It appears all of these topics share one person in common Dr. Ed Brand.

2

Badhand July 31, 2012 @ 12:53 p.m.

Anyone contact Southland Paving, Inc. for comment? That seems to answer the question of whom provided the dirt.

Now where did it come from? Since it is probably not narco-tunnel dirt, I wonder where they could scrape up that much spare dirt.

Looking at the Southland Paving Inc website and cross referencing the contract date of 4/29/11 with some of their project completion dates, there seem to be several possibilities (first two that come to mind):

Otay Lakes Road Widening – Phase 1 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista, CA Contracted with the City of Chula Vista Contract Price $2,858,937.02 Completion Date: 4/30/2011 Description: Road widening and underground wet utility improvements

Second Avenue Improvements - STL-342 Chula Vista, CA Contracted with the City of Chula Vista Contract Price: $932,437.00 Completion Date: 5/20/2011 Description: Street Rehabilitation, Full Depth Reclamation

Since both of those are contracted with City of Chula Vista, should be able to FOIA/request records for copy of contract.

After a review of the City projects/contracts, I wonder if the City ended up paying Southland a fee for dirt removal as part of the contract? Wonder if the contract specified where the dirt would go (landfill or elsewhere) or if Southland had the final say where the dirt went?

Would be funny (in a bad karma way) to me if the City actually paid money to have their dirt dumped on the school.

2

JudgeHere July 31, 2012 @ 1:42 p.m.

According to the FPPC website referencing the Political Reform Act:

"An official's income includes a community property interest in the income of his or her spouse (Section 82030(a)."

Perhaps the 'brandara' as many of you refer to him should have considered the legal implications prior to allegedly asking his old friend Burt Grossman to run for a board seat. No doubt there will be legal challenges downs the road since the wife does work for the Sweetwater District. Those of you looking to bring about change might consider contacting the Fair Political Practices Commission1-866-ASK-FPPC. While I am quite sure promises regarding promotion to Principle were never offered to Mrs. Grossman the issue does raise yet another red flag.

2

erupting July 31, 2012 @ 2:08 p.m.

How interesting. This is definitely worth looking at. I remember whenPearl got her son hired by the district. People were livid about this but no one knew what to do. It is too late to file now I assume. Can we file before Grossman wins the election? Can he be prevented from running? Everyone is talking about how Cartmill is saying people should look at Grossman because he'd be an asset to the district. McCann has been soliciting people to run against Lopez to no avail as yet. These folks are really something else,turning on Pearl one of their own. At first I thought Brand was doing this to split the vote,but I was wrong,,they want Grossman. I hear he's already drawn first blood against Pearl. I doubt she even gets it. Thanks for the info. I will go on the site and check.

2

bonitaresident July 31, 2012 @ 4:55 p.m.

What many are saying is true Mr. Mc Cann is beating the bushes looking for someone stupid enough to run against board member Bertha Lopez. Mr. Cartmill as well has his candidate Mr. Grossman. Now we read that Dr. Brand is backing Mr. Grossman. I have been in the business of politics a very long time and have never seen a group such as this. They refuse to accept the obvious fact that they are no longer respected or trusted.

3

eastlaker Aug. 4, 2012 @ 11:41 a.m.

We know that anyone Brand backs is automatically tainted and not to be trusted.

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Visduh Aug. 6, 2012 @ 10:47 a.m.

Yep, his "distinguished" career in education is ending "extinguished" in a latrine.

1

anniej July 31, 2012 @ 8:06 p.m.

how is it that our district continues to snub integrity? too late to contact FPPC, but would imagine many of us will be on the phone tomorrow. wondering if anyone bothered to advise Mr. Grossman of any of this - but perhaps we speak too soon, surely Mr. Grossman is not wanting to get into an expensive court battle - perhaps Ms. Grossman will be taking a leave from her position which would alleviate the conflict.

still trying to wrap my mind around the allegations that brand, mccann, and cartmill are out there allegedly trying to talk people into running - i mean who does that? why would we want a cartmill, mccann, or brand clone??????????? leaves me wondering if they are afraid of new blood and the changes that new blood would bring. thinking out loud here, but wasn't just a few months back where the board was told, and agreed, that the makeup of the board needed to reflect the community???????????????? oh, but that is right i forgot, when the expensive consultant then turned to mccann and cartmill and advised them AND you would probably need to go they then decided to scrap that idea. and how much did that cost us????????????

lets fast forward 5 months into the future: board meetings where the public is allowed to speak, board meetings where there is conversation and a sharing of perspectives, board meetings where the financial integrity is not continuously questioned, board meetings where board member lopez is not fighting for the students or taxpayers alone. board meetings where a search for a new superintendent has begun, board meetings where mccann's little red camera or emotional outbursts are no longer 'just the way it is', board meetings where the president of the board does not need to be led by the hand and instructed exactly what to do and when to do it. consistent brown act violations a thing of the past. alleged retaliation against those who dare to speak out no longer part of the agenda YES, that is what we need, new blood -

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eastlaker Aug. 4, 2012 @ 11:46 a.m.

It will still take massive dedication to clean up all of these 'situations'. The corrosive atmosphere that has existed for the past who-knows-how-many years in Sweetwater will not disappear overnight, even with new board members. I am sure that every department in every school, and the ENTIRE administration, top to bottom, will need to be examined for honesty in how jobs were obtained, how performances have been judged, what, if any payouts/paybacks have been involved. But all this needs to be done.

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Jmbrickley July 31, 2012 @ 10:56 p.m.

Just the fact that John, Jim, and Ed are involved in finding people to run for Pearl's seat and the seat of Lopez shows just how unethical they are. I would suggest they keep an eye on their own seats and job and keep their noses out of stuff that shouldn't concern them. Finding candidates is for the public to do, not the old cronies who jusy want to continue with their mismanagement of the public trust.

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eastlaker Aug. 1, 2012 @ 3:33 p.m.

What we have here is a battle for the public school system, set in our own not-so little district. The group with power wants to maintain power, because then they can continue being the givers of largess...and perhaps there is more to that than any of us have been privy to as of yet.

We actually need to take back Sweetwater from the baksheesh bunch. The fact that they have dug in like an army under siege, and are working on Plan B,(i.e. finding candidates to run who will agree to continue being in bondage to Brand and the contractors) must mean that they are threatened by those of us who want honesty, transparency and sensible decision-making back in the administration and the school board.

So, they have upped the ante, and so must we. We must match their every play and call their bluff. Their bluff being the very thought that they should be in charge of our childrens' education.

1

anniej Aug. 1, 2012 @ 9:09 p.m.

Eastlaker: it is hard to argue with the truth - even though the majority of the board continues to do so. ricasa, fighting to stay of prison, the same with quinones. mccann refuses to deal with reality - he has no political future, he is done - his failures, his antics as a sweetwater board member will be used to define him FOREVER (once someone shows you who and what they are, BELIEVE THEM) - and rightfully so. cartmill - his sun as a sweetwater board member is about to set - chances of his ever getting re elected slim to none.

the sweetwater saga is no longer a dirty hidden little secret - one would need to live under a rock to not be aware of what has happened. the trials will most likely be the nails in many of their coffins, not just the ones who were indicted - i am thinking the musical score to "lets make a deal" will be heard throughout the court house very soon.

mccann, and cartmill attempting to recruit candidates - not just for sweetwater but southwestern as well??? brand allegedly joining in in the recruitment process for the sweetwater board. like 'the gandara' they believe they can not be touched - and we all see where 'the gandara' is now.

one thing about these elections - the truth will come out. people are already volunteering to walk, to stand with signs, to provide print outs of newspaper articles, to have print outs of past donations up on poster board - not just for sweetwater but for southwestern as well. - lots of DCON being bought up to drive 'em out of sweetwater and keep the rats out of southwestern - to expose all of the inside connections - poster boards connecting the dots.

it is time for a new beginning - friends/family of current board members mccann, quinones, cartmill or ricasa need not apply.

one thing about this group - they have given us all the material we need - we have the proof and will not be hesitant to use it - expose to all just who the players are and what the plan really is. mccann is the poster child for the type of candidate that is not needed or wanted at either sweetwater or southwestern.

2

eastlaker Aug. 4, 2012 @ 11:53 a.m.

Anyone thinking that Gandara will take a trip south and fail to return for trial? How closely is he being watched while he is back in Texas? What about the notorious Bonnie Garcia? Now there is a fount of corruption in human flesh. Pretty sure these guys are trying to work out something to their own benefit, because that is just how they do things.

1

Visduh Aug. 6, 2012 @ 10:54 a.m.

I'm still waiting and wondering what is going to happen with these felony cases. Since the time that they were set for eventual trial there have been NO reports of deals in the offing, or of one ratting out the others or anything along those lines. The lack of reporting doesn't mean that nothing is happening, but I'd have to assume Susan isn't hearing about it, or hearing enough to post blogs. So, is the DA going to take those to trial? This is the sort of stuff that is usually resolved by plea bargain. Will she now cave in and settle for some weaselly misdemeanor plea? If so, it would be unthinkable that they not be required to resign their elected posts as part of the deal. (Much better would have those who are employed in the public sector being required to resign those jobs, too.)

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eastlaker Aug. 6, 2012 @ 4:48 p.m.

Good points.

Maybe everyone is on vacation. Maybe the Sweetwater miscreants are hoping all will be forgotten--but they are wrong.

My hope is that the walls are closing in on them, their schemes, their plots, their lies and all of the shenanigans they have pulled since latching on to the public's funds.

1

anniej Aug. 17, 2012 @ 9:56 a.m.

Visduh: quinones - in la la land, believing it is all going to go away. most likely it will hit her very hard when she realizes she could be facing some major time. ricasa, hate to see her family affected by the mess of all of this but she too is failing to own her part.

hey i guess at the time they were living the good life, being wined and dined by the contractors - their campaigns being supported by those huge contractor donations.

trial time it will be time to show up and own up.

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