Sweetwater Union High School District trustee John McCann, who is running for Chula Vista City Council seat 1 in the June election, got an entire press release printed in the San Diego Rostra on May 6.
The press release opens with: “Citing the need for the Sweetwater District to recover from its massive corruption scandal, board member John McCann has called for the immediate resignation of board members Bertha Lopez and Jim Cartmill. The two board members have pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes and are awaiting sentencing.”
It appears that with this press release McCann would like to create separation between himself and other trustees, but Sweetwater superintendent Ed Brand lumped the trustees together when he spoke to the grand jury in 2013.
Under oath, Brand said to deputy district attorney Leon Schorr that none of the trustees were “mensas.”
Brand went on to say that within days after being appointed interim superintendent in 2011, three trustees asked him to get campaign donations from Seville Group Inc, the vendor overseeing all the Proposition O work done in Sweetwater. The three trustees Brand named were Pearl Quiñones, Bertha Lopez, and John McCann.
Campaign disclosure forms from 2010 show that McCann took $12,500 from Seville Group, Inc. He also took sizeable amounts from other Sweetwater vendors: Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke & Associates, $1500; Swinerton Builders, $5000; Blue Coast Consulting, $2000.
McCann did not close out his Sweetwater campaign committee until the end of 2013. As late as May 2013, he received a campaign donation from Suncoast Financial Mortgage Corporation.
Suncoast is owned by David Malcolm, a former port commissioner who was obliged to step down in 2002 and who pleaded guilty to a felony conflict-of interest charge in 2003. The conviction was expunged in 2006.
Several months after the Suncoast donation, McCann appointed Malcolm to the Sweetwater 7-11 committee. (According to California Education Code, the committee is made up of no fewer than seven members and no more than eleven.) The 7-11 committee members were appointed by Sweetwater trustees and Brand to evaluate district property holdings and recommend to the board if the properties should be declared surplus. (Once property is declared "surplus," it can be sold.)
After two meetings, the committee declared district-owned property on Third Avenue “surplus” — paving the way for the development of apartments on Third Avenue — and for Sweetwater to purchase a new district office.
McCann did not respond to an email query asking why he appointed Malcolm to the 7-11 committee.
In addition to calling on trustees Lopez and Cartmill to step down, McCann’s press release counts among his Sweetwater successes: API scores, CIF championships, robotic championships, visual and performing arts awards, and so on.
Reaction to the Rostra-published press release was swift.
Chris Shilling, a vice chair to the Chula Vista board of ethics and a parent to Sweetwater students wrote: “As for the substance of this press release from John McCann’s campaign I will say this: I agree that Bertha Lopez and Jim Cartmill should resign.
“I also believe that John McCann and Ed Brand should resign as well. Sweetwater does need to move forward and rebuild trust in the integrity of their governance. This cannot happen with an extremely divisive politician like McCann, or an extremely divisive administrator like Ed Brand, still involved.
“In addition, saying that John McCann has led reform initiatives is ambiguous to the point of ridiculous. What initiatives? If there were specifics they would be listed. There are none.
“The recent successes listed are the results of the commitment of dedicated students, teachers, and coaches….”
Schilling also questions why McCann’s ballot statement for Chula Vista City Council does not reflect any of the Sweetwater accomplishments named on the Rostra press release. In fact, if one were to read the ballot statement, they would be unaware of McCann’s Sweetwater years.