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In November 2012, the San Diego Grand Jury began investigating corruption allegations that encompassed three South Bay school districts: Southwestern College, the San Ysidro School District, and the Sweetwater Union High School District.

The investigation resulted in 232 criminal charges for elected officials and/or contractors in all three districts. The investigation supported the district attorney’s investigation into alleged pay-to-play corruption.

A recent public-records request to the Sweetwater Union High School District reveals that some witnesses called to testify were given paid legal “support.”

A letter included in the records request from the law corporation of Winet, Patrick & Weaver states, “When the District Attorney convened a Grand Jury, subpoenas were issued to a number of employees at the District who had no experience with the District Attorney’s office or Grand Jury proceedings. As is customary, these employees were informed that the Grand Jury proceedings were entirely confidential, employees could not discuss their prospective testimony with other individuals, and that the Grand Jury proceedings were private.”

A separate public-records request shared with the Reader reports that “The law firms that provided advice to District employees who requested legal advice regarding the grand jury proceedings included my firm [Winet, Patrick & Weaver], the firm of Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and Holtz, and attorney Bradley Patton.”

Winet, Patrick & Weaver is the firm that provided $6336 to John McCann in his failed attempt at a permanent restraining order against Stewart Payne, a Sweetwater parent and one of the people who brought allegations of Sweetwater corruption to the district attorney.

Bradley Patton is a criminal-law attorney. Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz provide a variety of legal services to the district.

In the year 2012-2013, Sweetwater paid Winet, Patrick & Weaver $16, 357, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz $148, 966, and Bradley Patton $1575.

The district declined to say which employees requested legal assistance because “disclosure of these documents or records would not only usurp the privacy required by Grand Jury proceedings, but also may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the individual employee.”

However, the 61 names of witnesses called by the grand jury was filed with the superior court on December 21 and is part of the public record. Superintendent Ed Brand and trustee John McCann were among those called from the Sweetwater district.

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Comments

angrybirds March 20, 2013 @ 10:07 a.m.

Can someone please tell me why these people were able to get free legal advice on our dime. We pay for the Grand Jury and now we have to pay for people to tell the truth also. Tell Mccann and Brand to use their own money to defend their lies and stupidity. BTW isn't Grand Jury testimony confidential? Well their is Brand at his best securing that nothing is said that shouldnt be said. Confidential means nobody knows your going to testify so how did Brand offer to help these so called employees. This pompous ass that plays G-d really needs to go and quick.

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ZORRO March 22, 2013 @ 9:01 p.m.

timtim(John McCann) your stupidity is overwhelming.It's clear that you have no defense against the charges.Remember,it's better to be thought as stupid than to be confirmed as one. When you open your mouth you confirm your stupidity AND corruption

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WTFEd March 20, 2013 @ 3:13 p.m.

Heard about at work Got my Ipad out and here I am. No way am I going on our Internet What next? I am so angry. Goin to see Ed some day but thought I would wait as he is self destructing. More tonight when I get home.

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anniej March 20, 2013 @ 3:54 p.m.

It appears John Mccann (timtim) has taken to his computer again. Strap yourself in as reading his posts is similar to going to Disneyland and taking a seat on one of the flying DUMBO rides.

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anniej March 20, 2013 @ 5:06 p.m.

I am sorry, tell me again why these employees were offered legal 'support'? We're WE, the taxpayers allowed to comment on OUR monies being spent on this expense?

I have no doubt that any District employee important enough to speak to would no doubt be knowledgeable enough to ALREADY KNOW WHAT WE PAID for these attorneys to tell them. TELL THE FREAKIN' TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it plausible that this was a strategic move by Brand to intimidate the employees and to offer FREE legal advise to Jim Cartmill and John Mccann?

Can SOMEONE ANYONE step forward and defend the madness of this?

Perhaps SUHSD should hire a crop duster, simply fly over the South Bay and throw our tax dollars out of a window. A least, that way, we might just be able to have some sort of say so as to how we spend our own money.

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mko March 20, 2013 @ 5:58 p.m.

Most of us (Happily) have no experience with testifying in court, much less before a Grand Jury. Most or at least many of those who were called to testify had clean hands. A short primer on what to expect is a reasonable and humane thing to do for them. Unfortunately because of secrecy requirements, each person had to be briefed separately rather than in a workshop setting. In the future it may be wise to include training in giving sworn testimony for all District employees, at least at the rate the District is going. I for one do not begrudge those who were called before the Grand Jury access to an attorney to answer any questions about the process.

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cvres March 20, 2013 @ 6 p.m.

Please clear up a point for me, someone. People I knew who had been called to the grand jury in the past were not allowed to tell anyone about their subpoena. If this is the case, then it's unclear how the Sweetwater admin would be able to contact employees and offer them legal services?

Also, if one of the attorneys that was paid is a criminal defense attorney--why would taxpayers pay for that--and what district employee would need that--and would whatever this person was seeking advise about have been committed during the course of working for the public? This doesn't seem right.

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eastlaker March 20, 2013 @ 6:38 p.m.

I would have to agree with you. To me, this appears to open the door to a situation where the employee or employees are coached on what is beneficial for the district--not what actually took place.

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anniej March 20, 2013 @ 7:27 p.m.

Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

How did the district even know that ANY employees were called let alone a bunch of them?

mko, respectfully, ths is one where we will have to disagree.

In my point of view, these are simply more dollars that were spent that should have made it to the classroom.

I am tending to view education in the SUHSD as a pyramid. View the top as the educational needs of the kids - by the time we get to the top there are few dollars left for the students.

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anniej March 20, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.

Before I get a lesson on English, yes timtim I messed up - I do know the difference between We're and were,

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joepublic March 20, 2013 @ 7:37 p.m.

I agree with mko. If I were called before a grand jury, I would definitely seek answers to questions regarding the process. I would also expect the process to be explained to me by those who called me to testify. However, if I decided to ask an attorney to explain the process, I would expect to pay their fees. Also, it seems highly improper for your employer, who might be indicted based on your testimony, to pay for your legal assistance.

3

VigilantinCV March 20, 2013 @ 8:45 p.m.

If you were not concerned about the students in SUHSD, this clash of the titans would be the best show in town. Almost everyone by now knows that Cheryl Cox wants Brand's job when she has "saved" the City of Chula Vista by the end of her Mayoral term. mko is working diligently at furthering Cheryl's takeover of the SUHSD.

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eastlaker March 21, 2013 @ 6:13 a.m.

We know that the salary for the superintendent of Sweetwater is on the healthy side.

We know that the city of Chula Vista is actively planning and working for a college/university and has set aside 300 - 400 acres for a campus.

We can surmise that if this college/university is founded and built, there will be many contracts given out.

My conclusion is that, no matter who is the mayor of Chula Vista at that time, or who is superintendent of Sweetwater, or even who is in charge at Southwestern CC, there will be some competing interests.

If this is to take place--and it could be a great opportunity, in the good sense, for Chula Vista--we really need to cap and control campaign contributions, and soon.

Furthermore, those politicians who stonewall on campaign contribution reform are telling all of us an enormous amount regarding what we can expect from them.

Where is Mayor Cox on the subject of campaign reform? Where is Mayor Cox on the subject of the corruption in Sweetwater? In her State of the City address, she did mention that Sweetwater's test scores were pretty good, but she didn't mention anything about the leadership fiasco, the bullying, the questionable way the board meetings are run...(no real discussion, public input is frequently limited and the public is derided by sitting board members, many of whom behave in an extremely unprofessional manner).

So, how altruistic is Mayor Cox? She started out as an educator; her husband is a politician with the county of SD; I am sure she knows the score in many ways, and that is what makes me wonder. If she wants to head Sweetwater, what might her vision be?

But before the day comes when that subject is explored, we have a great deal of cleaning up to do here in Sweetwater.

Ed Brand needs to be contained before the contagion gets any worse. What deals is he plotting now, outside of real estate, for-profit education, charter schools...is he done with that China project? How many more ideas does he have for bleeding Sweetwater dry, then perhaps declaring bankruptcy on the district and heading up north after making sure his retirement package is untouched by any bankruptcy proceedings?

Don't you just love that phrase "good faith"? Do you think that means anything to Ed Brand?

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anniej March 21, 2013 @ 8:32 a.m.

VigilantinCV - I for one appreciate mko "stepping up, showing up and speaking up" on behalf of our students and common sense financial decisions. Where are the other movers and shakers of Chula Vista - is the education of the future leaders of America not important to them? Are they satisfied that their tax dollars are being spent wisely?

Here is an idea, perhaps we should consider mko for super - now I will go on record that he and I will surely not agree on all matters - but at least I would not have to worry about the corruption that is alleged against current district leadership.

Besides, with him we would all know what we are getting - a REAL FISCAL CONSERVATIVE - not a 'wanna b' - hmmmmmm, now who might I be referring to when I say 'wanna b'?

3

anniej March 21, 2013 @ 8:12 a.m.

Many have commented on this board regarding the possibility of Mayor Cox maneuvering to be our next Superintendent - I say bring her on.

I evaluate politicians based on their actions. I have had cause to reach out for assistance from the City of Chula Vista, truth be told there have been occasions when those calls were left unanswered. Now I know you all will find this hard to believe, since I have this reputation of being sweet, demure, gullible, and supportive of ALL in politics - but, when a few of those calls did not result in even so much as a follow up call I took on my ultra ego anniej self and contacted the Mayors office. Imagine my surprise when she personally called me back. Now not all of those calls were resolved in my favor - however, the very fact that I, as an unhappy taxpayer mattered,my concerns were listened to, and my issue evaluated spoke volumes.

In OUR REAL CURRENT EXISTENCE under the 'law of Brand' could it get any worse? Scratch that thought - I just remembered i asked that very same question about 'the gandara'.

My fellow tax paying neighbors let us not forget who is SUPPOSE to be looking out for the students and taxpayers best interest - it is in fact JIM CARTMILL, JOHN MCCANN, ARLIE RICASA, PEARL QUINONES, and BERTHA LOPEZ. LOPEZ is trying, Quinones occasionally casts a vote on the side of the community that voted for her, but the rest? What of them????????? WE NEED TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT THEM IN THE COMMUNITY - allegedly Brand is telling them "see what I am doing for you? I am earning that fat salary, the more they talk about me - the less they talk about you"

2

montana64 March 21, 2013 @ 9:04 a.m.

Pink slips--not fun.../ iPad losses---just crumbs!/ Canceled classes....ROP loss alas!/ Prop o buildings crumble, politicians take a tumble/ Sorta stumble, buy a lawyer, save the fumble/ Never ending fountain of funds/ Taxpayers' tithe to the omnipotent ONE!

3

eastlaker March 23, 2013 @ 12:42 p.m.

Spring is here.

Wouldn't it be great if Sweetwater could also undergo a renewal. That way we could all work together to make this community into a great place, with contributions of planning and foresight.

Who is sick of being the laughingstock of San Diego?

We do not need to make obeisance to the corrupt and inept.

For example, it is terrific to realize what good and wise people we have working on the Bond Oversight Committee: please take a look at the recent Star-News and the letter to attorney Shinoff from one of the members. (That letter was also printed in the U-T a few days ago). It can also be found online in the Star-News, but you need to search under all articles printed on March 23.

Courage to those who fight for principles and what is right.

2

anniej March 24, 2013 @ 8:59 a.m.

Eastlaker: I could not agree with you more.

Our BOC is an entity that we should ALL be proud of. This is a group of selfless, intelligent, fiduciarily responsible, warm, funny, NO NONSENSE men. On this front, oversight of our Prop O monies, we can rest assured there is NO funny business going on.

This community owes this group - we owe them our respect and our thanks.

2

bbq March 28, 2013 @ 8:34 a.m.

All, I am posting on all of the recient SUHSD Comments, I have been in contact with Dr. Brand and Dr. Alt. They are planning some Financial Townhall meetings for April, I have volunteered to help compile a series of questions you would like answered by Dr. Alt. I will forward and review these with him and probe for meaningful answers as best I can working as a community liason. Read some of my other comments and you will understand my frustration with the district, but without dialog we are stuck where we are. Please send answerable questions ie minimal political inuendo, just to make it easier to get a reasonable answer. The sooner the better, I would like to have a formal list to Dr. Alt on Monday April 1, what better day than that, so please post by midday Sunday March 31, 2013. BBQ

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