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At last night's board meeting, Fran Brinkman, one of the five community activists who took the Sweetwater corruption concerns to the District Attorney, asked the Sweetwater trustees to "try to climb out of the muck and mire of the ongoing scandal."

Specifically, Brinkman asked trustees John McCann, Jim Cartmill, and Arlie Ricasa to recuse themselves on a vote to give the construction company Balfour Beatty a $19 million dollar contract. Brinkman's concern was that a vote would be unethical because they had received campaign contributions from Balfour Beatty in the 2010 campaign election. All three voted to award the contract.

Campaign contributions and contractor gifts continue to haunt the district. In March the board received an audit of Proposition O spending, performed by Eric Hall & Associates.

According to the district's website, the purpose of the Prop O audit was to "provide taxpayers with a review of the efficiency and effectiveness" of the $644 million bond program. The website goes on to say that Hall gave the district a score of 7.5 out of 10.

In connection with gifts and donations Hall and Associates made this recommendation: "The district should work with its legal counsel and develop for board consideration restricting all gifts and donations to District staff and board members and should address a restriction or ban on gifts and donations during or after contract period."

In December of last year, community member Nancy Stubbs agendized a resolution capping campaign contributions at $500.00. The Sweetwater board was mum on the resolution; it died for lack of a motion.

At Monday's meeting, trustee Bertha Lopez asked the district to assist board members in identifying "gifts." Lopez said she receives a calendar every month with invitations, but the calendar does not say who is paying for the event. She asked that the host be identified so trustees can avoid being the recipients of undesired gifts.

Some members of the public noted that monitoring of public participation took an aggressive turn last night. Speakers were frequently interrupted by the board president, Pearl Quinones, who repeatedly asked if the speaker was on point and rules of conduct were handed out at the door.

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Comments

Visduh April 11, 2012 @ 5:22 p.m.

Susan, was that headline rhetorical? Sure seems that way in that your report didn't give the reader much reason to think anything had changed. The fact that Pearl, under indictment, is still presiding over the board meetings and voting is the biggest indication that they are still sloshing around in the muck and mire. Does anyone disagree?

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anniej April 11, 2012 @ 7:07 p.m.

climbing OUT? of the muck and mire - that would be a NO! perhaps the boards compass works differently, maybe that is why they have turned in their 'the gandara' shovels and replaced them with 'brandara' shovels.

here are the facts, which can be verified by the san diego registrar of voters, as well as going to the sweetwater board docs and listening for yourselves.

Barnhardt Balfour Beatty: john mccann allegedly received $2,500 x 2 - total $5,000. arlie ricasa $2,500, jim cartmill $2,500 X2 - total $5,000. YET THERE THEY WERE VOTING TO GIVE THIS VERY COMPANY A CONTRACT. one of the speakers went so far as to warn them that if they also received gifts from said company (Barnhardt Balfour Beatty) that they would indeed breaking the law. now it is important to note that the campaign contributions are not illegal, HOWEVER, even a blind man can see what is happening here.

then there is the issue of BCA architects, you know the firm whose owner just plead guilty - well another speaker advised the audience that this very firm donated monies to JOHN MCCANN's campaign on 10-31-2011 (a year after mccann had won the election) to HELP PAY OFF HIS CAMPAIGN DEBT. as the speaker noted 'HOW DID BCA EVEN KNOW THAT JOHN MCCANN STILL CARRIES A DEBT FROM HIS 2010 CAMPAIGN?' but more importantly WHY, why would an architectural firm use their hard earned dollars to assist a politician in paying off his debt? how many of your company owners would authorize such a contribution, all of those other than those dealing with sweetwater please answer.

johnny boy has aspirations of the mayoral seat of chula vista, OH MY!!!! can you imagine what that campaign is going to look like? all of the ghosts of sweetwater coming out of the closet to haunt him.

regarding the president of the board, pearl quinones - she was MIA for a short time i am told and jim cartmill stepped in and what do you know the business of the evening ran smoothly under his gavel - but alas, all too soon she was back up there, every move being directed by the brandara. the audio clearly indicates that she interrupted nearly every speaker chastising if 'she perceived' the speaker was straying off topic.

no, brandara was NOT having it, the speakers every word would be dissected and if the words did not meet his approval he would lean over and instruct quinones to reprimand the speaker. "observing brandara was like watching krushev - all that was missing was the shoe" one of the attendees told me.

no, not much has changed at sweetwater, perhaps brandara might want to attend one of the Chula Vista Elementary School Board meetings to find out exactly how a meeting should be held. the Superintendent at Chula prides himself, values the taxpayer, and honors his staff by providing truly transparent information, encourages open discussion of all board members, and what do you know listens to the taxpaying public (you know those who pay the bills).

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anniej April 11, 2012 @ 9:18 p.m.

i need to make a correction, john mccann ONLY received $2500.00 from Barnhardt Balfour & Beatty - i attempted to edit the initial post however the edit option was not available when i caught the error.

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anniej April 11, 2012 @ 9:39 p.m.

it appears that the alleged 'muck and mire' have been around awhile.

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/mar/15/news/mn-38060

BE SURE TO READ THE WHOLE STORY

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savesweetwater April 12, 2012 @ 12:46 p.m.

Southwestern College has taken proactive steps to change the pay-to-play culture there, and has approved limits on campaign contributions. San Diego City Schools Board Members are also looking at ways to ensure the same issues that have ruined Sweetwater's reputation can not occur there. Yet Sweetwater continues with business as usual. The arrogance of the Board and district leadership, and their disrespect for the public they are supposed to be working for and representing is obvious. That district will not ever be able to recapture the positive reputation they used to have as long as the same Board and leadership are in place. Voters in South Bay - take note and take action! Sweetwater is an embarrassment to our community.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 2:19 p.m.

the clean up journey began with 'the gandara's' retirement, not the way i wanted to see him leave, but hopefully the felony charges will save us those retirement monies.

ARLIE RICASA and quinones also facing charges, and at their own hand, using their own typed words.

the RECALL will rid us of JOHN MCCANN and JIM CARTMILL, ARLIE RICASA also on the RECALL drive.

the public outcry for a search for a new superintendent HAS BEGUN. we can not afford for brandara to sell our children's educational future down the drain like he allegedly did those bank investors.

guess that about sums it up folks.

remember we have the power, and while i have been told by literally hundreds of voters that come voting booth time they will do what they have not (for a variety of reasons) done - THEY WILL VOTE THEIR BUTTS ================ outttttta here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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erupting April 12, 2012 @ 1:43 p.m.

anniej please forward this info to the DA's office. your truly a great researcher. I guess zebra stripes truly can"t change.A sinking feeling is in the pit of my stomach. Brandara is making long range plans for this district. That means he is not going to honor his statement that without 100% of the boards support that he would not stay. You can tell Lopez is on to him. I thought Pearl was for a while but she is controlled by the majority as usual. It was exciting to see her exert herself for a short time but she regressed to interrupting people and surrendering her control as president of the board to Brand. Hopefully the DA will be able to clean up at least two of them. Hopefully the recall will take care of the rest. then it will be interesting to see what Brand will do. He won't know what to do when someone says no to him. He'll bail hopefully.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 2:10 p.m.

erupting: ms. quinones is selling herself short by allowing brandara to basically run the meetings. not quite understanding why she is doing that - she is a strong minded woman who should realize what he is doing in fact is painting her in a very negative light.

RECALL - mccann, cartmill, and ricasa. ALL OF THIS STARTED WITH CARTMILL and RICASA. mccann is a rubber stamp of cartmill and has become very quiet recently - guess someone finally took him aside and had the talk with him "john, they just do not trust you, so do yourself a favor and simply SHUT UP".

it appears said speaker, referred to earlier, knew what they were talking about. my cursory research clearly indicates something is up with what is referred to as the L STREET PROJECT. appears we are talking big bucks here. district bought it for 33 million now it is worth 17. bank sent them a demand letter about 8 months ago as the district had only been paying interest on the property. but here is the corker when 'the gandara' came he did not like the idea of the district office in chula - appears the mayor of our fine city realized just what he was all about and he developed a, lets say dislike for her. so 'the gandara' started spending our tax dollars on appraisals for a lot on the mile of cars - seems he wanted the district to move to national city.

please note while we were sinking all of the money into L street, we were also having concept plans drawn at the cost of many thousands of dollars for the new district office to be built on third avenue.

yes folks only sweetwater - brandara is charged with the education of our children, which he is failing miserably at yet he and his predecessors, for some odd reason believe they have the ability to dabble in real estate. folks let me remind you, brandara was put in charge of a bank, and guess what happened the darn thing failed.

is anyone at the county level listening, how about the state? we know the local authorities are (da), we hear the fbi was contacted.

we have a whole lot of alleged questionable activity going on here. and my phone keeps ringing off of the hook, callers who are sick of keeping the secrets of sweetwater.

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joepublic April 12, 2012 @ 3:33 p.m.

To restrict and/or ban gifts and donations to board members and staff is what the public wants. As the article reports, the idea was brought to the board by Ms Stubbs last year and again Monday evening by Ms Brinkman. In each case, the board chose to ignore them. Now we learn that a part of the independent, taxpayer funded, Prop O audit, has also recommended this reform be considered. Unfortunately, this board's contempt for the public is so great that they don't even feel the need to discuss it. I will give Ms Lopez credit for proposing what she did, but much more is needed. How ironic by the way, that this board is handing out 'Rules of Conduct' to be followed by the public.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 4:23 p.m.

it appears as though brandara has decided that HE IS RUNNING THE BOARD. it has been reported that he allegedly took the 'i am king' stance at a previous position - a selection committee had been charged with choosing a certain individual for a position - brandara allegedly walked in the room and asked if a certain person had made the cut. the committee advised him no, he allegedly 'advised' them that SHE WOULD BE OFFERED THE POSITION. hmmmm, we have all been there, boss says jump, we say HOW HIGH?

fortunately the group the article refers to do not answer to brandara, but something tells me if they did, the interactions would be like watching kobe and lebron. POPCORN anyone?

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Visduh April 12, 2012 @ 6:36 p.m.

This anecdote meshes with the mystery of exactly why he was fired by the San Marcos school district. At the time he was rumored to have been recruiting an opponent for a board member who had been skeptical of him. But that didn't really wash. More recently the story has been that he was trying to engage in cronyism in a hiring decision. I think we are all getting closer to the real story. And that story doesn't reflect well on the fat man.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 10:40 p.m.

Visduh - not quite sure san marcos was up for brandar's style - rather than focus on education, he spent the majority of his superintendent time looking for the next easy pot of gold. i am remembering that alleged party on the water. failed banks - he made money off of that deal but think of all of those investors who still today are feeling the negative effects. his first stint with sweetwater - when he left the district ended up paying approx $600,00 due to an alleged inappropriate termination. grand jury investigation stated a further investigation needed to be done - botta bing - botta boom - he and several others were gone, leaving so fast that the trail of dust could be seen all the way to vista. now he is back spending our money again - AND HE DOES NOT EVEN FREAKIN LIVE IN THE DISTRICT - so, what the hey, it is not his hard earned dollars he is wasting. ipads for 7th grader, charter schools, alleged meetings with johnny boy and 'others' - can't imagine what they are up to. wink wink.

alleged promises to quinones - pearl here is a 411 for you and it is not going to cost you a single penny - help is NOT on the way. you are going to have to get a real job. the sad part of this story is the following, the community that backed you now is embarrassed by you, they are looking for someone to represent them who has integrity, someone they can trust. you have shown all that you are not that person. rather than attend all of those seminars that we paid for, quinones chose instead to SHOP. rather than take care of those who take care of you, you should have been taking care of the education for the children in our community.

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eastlaker April 14, 2012 @ 7:36 a.m.

Yes, for those paying attention, the verdict is in: Sweetwater UHSD Board of Trustees is a disgrace, and Ed Brand is a leader in the sense that he is creating much of the convoluted claptrap being made public.

But what we sadly don't really know is what is not being made public. That we can only surmise, based upon glimpses here and there of the scope of the grand mess.

What is there to say--the actions and non-action of the Board and Brand, the leader into the void--bring revulsion. Their arrogance combined with their monumental stupidity are truly mind boggling.

I truly hope the D.A.'s investigation will bring forth charges that will hold, and that these people will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. What they have been stealing from this district, from the students and the teachers, is horrifying. May justice in the fullest sense be brought on their heads.

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anniej April 14, 2012 @ 1:28 p.m.

Eastlaker: "Sweetwater UHSD Board of Trustees is a disgrace" - truer words have never been spoken.

the average person would think that this 'group' would hang their heads in shame, but the problem is - they have NO shame. they sit up there with an arrogant air, yes, they currently hold the power, HOWEVER not for long - being led by an 'interim' superintendent who is ONLY and ALL about the money. money, they all have a ton - no matter to them the shambles they will leave our district in. they do not care.

the lot of them (exception of lopez) saw their board positions as a means to be able to run with the big boys - oh the doors this would open for them. we can only trust that sooner or later the da's office will open one of those doors - however this door will not have beautiful lead or special glass in it - NO, this door will have bars on it.

oh, when other politicians in the community see them they smile their polite smiles, but on the inside they are saying "please just walk on by, please do not sit at this table, and for GODS sake do NOT pat me on the back while you shake my hand - the same hand that you have used to corrupt everything good about sweetwater.

now they are talked about, behind their backs. the audience of good people want the end to come soon, they too are sick of the publicity, sick of this groups arrogance.

an interim superintendent who research shows gave thousands of bb monies in contracts to echo pacific. echo pacific, hmmmm, one of the companies that southwestern now is suing.

bca, design acquisition, what other names, what other companies did bunton allegedly hide behind? bca, nearly all of the architectural contracts of prop o went to this one company, echo pacific under prop o not many if any. it appears that the management company and echo were not the best of friends.

yet when the info regarding the campaign donations were AGAIN mentioned at the last board meeting, did JOHN MCCANN, JIM CARTMILL, ARLIE RICASA, PEARL QUINONES, BRANDARA or even lopez ask that they no longer be allowed to bid on our projects? NO. again it is all about the money!!!!!!!!!!!!

RECALL, much publicity will given to the RECALL. oh, make no mistake the pr spin from the districts point of view will be "it is union driven". but trust me on this, IT IS NOT!!!!!!! quite frankly, in anticipation of the districts 'bs' the unions are in fact staying away. while it is true that there are some current teachers involved please note, the core of the group are simple persons - simple, aka, you and me. simple people who have tired of the arrogance of the majority of the board. simple people who want a NEW superintendent who is not full of himself. simple people who merely want was is best for the students of the south bay. simple people who are purists, they have NO financial interests.

please join the RECALL movement, please do what you can to help - our children are worth it.

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