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Stories by Susan Luzzaro

New Sweetwater Union financial officer has controversial past

Alleged “personnel problems,” unaccredited degree

In a February 1 phone call, Sweetwater Union High School District spokesperson Manny Rubio acknowledged that the district has hired Dr. Albert Alt as their new CFO. Rubio said Alt was selected after “a couple ...

Sweetwater board votes to open second charter school

Superintendent Brand sees it as money-maker

At the January 28 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting, the majority of trustees voted to support superintendent Ed Brand’s push to open a second charter school; following up the Stephen W. Hawking Math ...

Sweetwater's gathering storm

Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista has an excessive spending habit and may be in serious fiscal trouble soon.

Sweetwater board succumbs to public outcry

Still, meeting time to be slightly earlier

On Monday, January 28, concerned parents, teachers, and community members packed the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting. One reason for the big draw was the district’s proposal to move evening board meetings to ...

Sweetwater board meeting times may change

Indignation ripples through the South Bay

The official Sweetwater Union High School District calendar says the next board meeting will be held on January 28 at 6:00, the usual time board meetings are held. However, over the January 19–20 weekend, an ...

Sweetwater U partnership opposed by Freedom from Religion

Foundation objects to “Christian worldview”

The Sweetwater Union High School District voted in 2011 to move forward on a university-related project. Superintendent Ed Brand told the Reader in a December 2011 interview that the district was surveying the residents to ...

Serious supporters of Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quiñones

Surprising allegations, questionable tactics

It’s no secret that the allegations of long-term corruption in the Sweetwater Union High School District have roiled the South Bay waters. A recent U-T article even calls on South Bay politicians to discuss the ...

Documents hint at Sweetwater board’s diners’ club

High school student investigated 10 years ago

The latest round of indictments handed down by San Diego’s criminal grand jury is so extensive, people wonder if corruption is just another name for South Bay. Fifteen defendants from three separate South Bay school ...

Southwestern College professor Philip Lopez dies

Heart attack befalls teacher/activist/accordionist

Friday, December 14, on the eve of his 65th birthday, on the last day of the fall semester, Southwestern College English professor Philip Lopez suffered a heart attack and died. Many people consider Lopez an ...

Sweetwater school board avoids campaign donations talk

Confronted three times in past year

After the fanfare was over at the Sweetwater Union High School District meeting on December 10, after San Diego mayor Bob Filner stood by recently reelected Pearl Quiñones's side as she was sworn in (referring ...

Developer gets cracking on unapproved Chula Vista project

Chula Vista residents who have been battling the city and the developer about a proposed 284-condo/apartment complex in eastern Chula Vista were alarmed last week when earth-movers appeared on the scene. Barney Reed, a spokesperson ...

Sweetwater University to “Open” Soon?

Last year, the Sweetwater Union High School District board voted to support a vaguely worded concept about an institution called “Sweetwater University.” The latest gambit for Sweetwater U is online college courses offered to high ...

Mayor Cox Cozy with Chula Vista Developer

Although the Chula Vista Redevelopment Corporation has come to an end, the legacy of a past redevelopment project continues to play out. In June of 2011, the U-T published an online story titled “City-subsidized building ...

Another Closure at Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch Center Mall

Another store in the Otay Ranch Center mall will be closing its doors soon. Coldwater Creek, an upscale women’s clothing store, and Coldwater Creek Spa, a full-service salon, will be going out of business on ...

Shades of Sweetwater at Calexico Unified School District

As the San Diego County grand jury opens an investigation this week into allegations of corruption in the Sweetwater Union High School District, new intrigues play out in Calexico with Sweetwater’s former attorney firm, GCR, ...

Sweetwater Schools Forum Makes Policy Clear as Mud

Concerned Sweetwater Union High School District parents and residents lined up to ask superintendent Ed Brand questions at a November 8 meeting. They wanted an accounting of the money they have paid into the 17 ...

Former Charger Seeks Seat on Sweetwater Schools Board

Though many people want to see corruption and mismanagement cleaned up in the Sweetwater Union High School District, few people stepped into the November 6 election. One interesting candidate who wants to try his hand ...

Chula Vista Ethics Meeting Draws Mayor and Three Police

An unprecedented board of ethics meeting took place in Chula Vista on October 24. The audience — which came to the hearing regarding a complaint filed against council member Pamela Bensoussan — was so large ...

More Chula Vistans Gather to Fight Lake Pointe Project

Residents angered by the Chula Vista City Council’s vote to change the general plan to accommodate a 284-condo/rental development are gathering forces. At an October 17 meeting, residents opposed to the Lake Pointe development said ...

Sweetwater Board Takes Heat at Meeting

The first meeting that Ed Brand presided over since being appointed superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District took place on October 15. Brand sought board approval for a conflict-of-interest bylaw change. His proffered ...

Sweetwater’s Ed Brand Seeks to Remove Committee Members

Fresh out of the chute as new superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District, Ed Brand recently sought to remove all of the members of the Proposition O Bond Oversight Committee, save one — ...

New Chula Vista Comedy Club, Strip Club, What’s the Diff?

The opening of a nude-dancing establishment on Bay Boulevard in Chula Vista has caused many Chula Vista residents worry and embarrassment over the past couple days. In an interview on October 8, owner/operator Randy Welty ...

Nudie Bar Opens Across Street from Chula Vista’s Bayfront

Chula Vista’s bayfront development got a sudden jumpstart October 8 when a new place called EyeCandy opened on Bay Boulevard. The establishment features nude dancers and soft drinks. EyeCandy, visible from the freeway, is located ...

Chula Vista Project Raises Ethics Questions for Council Members

Residents who live near a proposed development called Lake Pointe in the eastern part of Chula Vista were stunned that the city council voted last week to change the general plan to accommodate a 284 ...

Sweetwater School Board Awards 2-Year Contract to Ed Brand

At 3:06 on the morning of September 25, the Sweetwater Union High School District board of trustees voted 3-2 to award Ed Brand a two-year contract with a compensation package higher than the superintendent of ...

Sweetwater Interim Superintendent Ed Brand Resigns

The Sweetwater Union High School District has been without a superintendent, or interim superintendent, for close to a month now. At the last board meeting, president Pearl Quiñones told the public to direct all district ...

Chula Vista West Side's No-Mello Divide

On the west side of Chula Vista, passage of Prop E stands to further bisect the community.

Chula Vista East Side's Mello-Roos Mess

Chula Vista’s east side residents pay more school taxes than the west side.

Sweetwater Authority Votes to Fluoridate South Bay Water

Sweetwater Authority, the South Bay water agency, voted on August 22 to add fluoride to areas the district serves — they include National City, western portions of Chula Vista, and Bonita. According to general manager ...

10News and Sweetwater's John McCann, True Patriots?

Many people believe a 10News report broadcast at 5 p.m. on September 12 deliberately misinformed the public. On September 10, the Sweetwater Union High School District held a special meeting with an ambiguous agenda that ...

Sweetwater Schools Board Aborts Meeting Agenda, Not Brand

The Sweetwater Union High School District board room was packed to the gills again on September 10. Frustrated parents, teachers, and community activists demanded to know why a special board meeting was called with an ...

No Confidence Petition for Sweetwater's Ed Brand

After 6:00 p.m. on September 7, the Sweetwater Union High School District posted on the district website that there will be a special closed-session meeting on September 10 at 6:30 for the purpose of “public ...

Sweetwater Interim Superintendent Ed Brand to Get Contract?

Although no meeting notice has been posted on the Sweetwater Union High School District website, several reliable South Bay community members are passing around the information that the Sweetwater board will hold a special meeting ...

The iPad Proposition

Sweetwater Union High School District bought iPads for all their seventh graders. Besides not measuring educational success from the computers’ use, there is no plan as to how to pay for them.

Sweetwater Schools Chief Walks Away Before Q&A on Dirt

The dirt pile on Southwest High School’s athletic field will be gone by Monday, August 20, but the mound of questions raised about the Sweetwater Union High School District’s leadership remains undiminished. On Friday, August ...

Sweetwater School District Kids Face Bus Cuts

Sweetwater Union High School District had unhappy parents lined up out the transportation-services door on August 6. The district is facing a $27 million budget shortfall. As a result, last March the board voted to ...

Dust Devil Settles in Southwest High’s Dumped-Dirt Debacle

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 ...

Fraud Possible in Calexico Unified School District Bond Expenditures

Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College continue to be subjects of district attorney investigations related to school bond expenditures. Calexico Unified School District had concerns about bond-related activity, so superintendent Richard Fragale and ...

Dirt Dumped at Southwest High School's Campus Still Under Investigation

Sweetwater Union High School District students return to campus July 25. Some people might wonder what the district has done with the 10,000 tons of dirt on the Southwest High campus, reported on by Channel ...

Questionable Contract for Southwestern College?

Southwestern College has gone through a series of upheavals in the past few years and is still the subject of a San Diego County district attorney investigation. Southwestern’s former vice president of business and finance, ...

Local Coastal Commission Meeting Won't Address Chula Vista Bayfront Plan

The California Coastal Commission will meet in Chula Vista on Wednesday, July 11; however, the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan will not be addressed until their August meeting, which will be held in Santa Cruz. ...

Friends of Chula Vista Parks & Recreation Back Buck Martin

At the June 28 Chula Vista City Council meeting, the council reviewed a plan to consolidate the library and the parks and recreation department — the decision to do so was made last week. The ...

Toxic Dirt Trucked to Southwest High School?

A large pile of contaminated dirt was reportedly deposited on the Southwest High School campus in the spring of 2010. After 10News.com reported the story last week, the district shrouded the dirt pile in plastic ...

Solar Power Company Sues San Ysidro School District

President Obama’s 2008 election brought money and emphasis to alternative energy in the United States. For some former lobbyists and politicians, this emphasis became an entrepreneurial opportunity. A 2009 article in the Sacramento Business Journal ...

Sweetwater Union HS District Board Meeting Skips Public Comment

The Sweetwater Union High School District board is beleaguered. Two trustees, Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quiñones, and former superintendent Jesus Gandara are under indictment. Two additional boardmembers, John McCann and Jim Cartmill, are the subjects ...

Sweetwater Union High School District Borrowing on Bond Funds?

At the June 11 Sweetwater Union High School District’s board meeting, Fran Brinkman and other members of her group (which reported corruption concerns to the district attorney) will ask trustees: What is going on with ...

Cross-Border Campaigner

AMLO Calls Jaime Bonilla to Mexico

It’s been only a few months since controversial South Bay water board president Jaime Bonilla stepped down from the Otay Water District, but it’s easy to see that his former position is just a speck ...

Chula Vista Elementary Schools Seek Funding, Hire Consultant

Asking some South Bay voters to approve a school bond measure is a risky proposition. Bond-related corruption charges for Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union High School District have muddied the waters, but the Chula Vista ...

A Political Scientist’s View on Sweetwater School District’s Turmoil

The May 14 U-T editorial titled “A Circus In Sweetwater” — referring to the ongoing turmoil within the Sweetwater Union High School District — makes some incorrect and undemocratic assertions. The editorial acknowledges that the ...

Occupy Sweetwater Activist Cleared of Allegations Made by Boardmember

For weeks, activist Stewart Payne has had headlines written that pertain to him: “Violent Threats By Occupy Sweetwater Result in Restraining Order” (San Diego Rostra), “Keep Payne Away” (The Star News), and “Court Protects Sweetwater ...

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