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In a closed session meeting April 11, Southwestern College trustees voted unanimously to begin litigation against BCA (Bunton Clifford Associates) Architects, Inc., Seville Construction Services and Echo Pacific Construction for recovery of payments. The three companies were contracted under Proposition R, a $389 million, voter-approved construction bond.

Contracts issued under Southwestern's Proposition R and Sweetwater Union High School's Proposition O are the subjects of ongoing district attorney investigations.

Southwestern College's April 12 press release notes: "To date, the actions taken by former College employees and contractors associated with Proposition R have resulted in indictments and a guilty plea by the corner lot architect." The release goes on to state: "In seeking this action, Southwestern College plans to seek recovery of payments on contracts entered into without compliance with public contracting laws."

Southwestern's board president, Norma Hernandez, provided an email comment: "The board wants to ensure we are fulfilling our duty to properly safeguard public funds in this project. The concerns about improprieties in the contract procurement process were brought to our attention as early as summer 2010 before a new board was elected. It became a priority for the new board to investigate any wrongdoing in the contract procurement process for Prop R projects and to take the necessary actions to ensure transparency and compliance....Last night's Board decision is one of several actions that have been taken in the last year to protect the integrity of our bond projects and the interests of taxpayers..."

On March 30, Henry Amigable, who was the program manager for Proposition O construction at Sweetwater Union High School District, and subsequently at Southwestern College for Proposition R, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor education code charge in relationship to Sweetwater; he admitted to purchasing gifts for school officials to influence votes on contracts.

On March 26, Paul Bunton of BCA Architects, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. His plea stated he "paid for meals and entertainment for Southwestern College officials, my actions triggered reporting responsibilities by these officials under the rules of the Fair Political Practices Commission. To my knowledge, those officials subsequently did not meet their reporting responsibilities..."

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Comments

erupting April 12, 2012 @ 8:25 p.m.

Too bad Sweetwater doesn't have the integrity to do the same. It appears that the board of Southwestern cares about the peoples hard earned dollars. One thing that still bothers me is that Ricassa wasn't fired. They passed up the opportunity to do this. Remember she solicited funds from contractors on work time and had the nerve to use the colleges letterhead to do it. They missed a golden opportunity.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 9:08 p.m.

have they really missed it, or will she be next. surely they can not take the corrective steps they have taken and not expect that she should answer for her actions. the rules at southwestern are VERY CLEAR when it comes to employees code of conduct. she should be expected to answer for her actions. counselor or not, the rules are the rules.

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Visduh April 12, 2012 @ 8:51 p.m.

How much of this is merely posturing on the part of a still-corrupt Southwestern board? If the DA hadn't pressed charges, would any of this be happening? I'm not convinced yet that the board of SW "cares about the peoples (sic) hard earned dollars." This could be just a case of this board back-pedalling from its own crimes. To be convinced, I will need to see a few of these crooks sent to jail after being removed from office.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 9:11 p.m.

Visduh, yes i too want to see them removed from office, but i also want the consequences to include that they NEVER EVER be allowed to run for any future political office. we need to rid ourselves of all of these alleged corrupted political figures - replace them with candidates that can NOT be bought.

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 9:03 p.m.

what a difference a few miles and a new leader makes. here we have ms. hernandez, obviously a Professional who values integrity, she is consistently focused on doing the right thing. oh, the legacy this woman will leave, oh the difference she is making NOW. i doubt very seriously if she is looking to help board candidates with their campaign debt, i doubt if she is looking to garner up contributions for 'certain' board members in the upcoming campaigns, i doubt very seriously if she is looking to help barter for 'a certain' board member with upcoming mayoral aspirations. NO, thank GOD, she is doing what a leader should be doing. she is working for the taxpaying public putting forth all of her efforts to secure the best education possible for her students.

alas, why didn't we at sweetwater get her, oh that is right we had ARLIE RICASA and JIM CARTMILL as our head hunters, and ohhhhhhhhhhh what a head they brought us. or at least they thought it was the head, but we in the community now realize that they could not tell one end of the horse from the other and brought us a horses a**.

and who do we have to thank for the brandara, well none other than the little man who wants to be king, john mccann. yes, he saw in brandara all of the attributes that he loved in 'the gandara'. so, here we site with the 'the gandara's' twin.

we need to confirm that our district has suspended all further dealings with the three contractors named above. as mentioned in the ut last week another contractor with a similar name was mistakingly taken for bunton, said contractors phones were ringing off of the hook with inquiries. said contractor sent out an email alerting all NO, THAT IS NOT ME. you see that what men/women who run sound companies do, they build their names on ethical practices. why did sweetwater draw such individuals? sweetwater's bond money was the honey, and all of those horse flies were drawn to it. rather than have a fly swatter we did just the opposite we fanned the fumes of corruption.

remember, i was one of the ones who believed in DR. BRAND. i bought his "sweetwater runs thru my veins, i want my actions here to be a living legacy to my commitment to this district" (paraphrase). well, for the record brandara needs a transfusion, because what he has running thru his veins is not sweetwater.

all of those gifts that our board and superintendent allegedly received, they were built into the price of all of those prop o projects, think of the good that those alleged monies would have done if they had not been used for pay to play? what a price differential.

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Jmbrickley April 13, 2012 @ 8:57 a.m.

"There is no political motive to anything I do," Quiñones said.

Said the spider to the fly.

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anniej April 13, 2012 @ 9:12 p.m.

"please place your hand on the Bible and repeat after me............."

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 10:54 p.m.

and................ READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE, all the way down to the bottom

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

yes folks,

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Jmbrickley April 13, 2012 @ 9:56 a.m.

Let me see if I have this straight.

A paid lobbyist says he doesn't know Jim Cartmill.

Jim Cartmill says he doesn't know the paid lobbyist.

A paid lobbyist, who has a contract with the City of Chula Vista says he had no interest with Chula Vista.

A paid lobbyist who is illegally contributing to Jim Cartmill's campaign says he is only vaguely aware of Jim Cartmill's campaign.

The City of Chula Vista has a local ordinance limiting campaign donations to $250.00 per person, and yet this paid lobbyist knowingly made numerous campaign donations to two candidates' campaigns, including that of Jim Cartmill.

A paid lobbyist says he doesn't know Jim Cartmill.

Jim Cartmill says he doesn't know the paid lobbyist.

Jim Cartmill's campaign received questionable contributions from a paid lobbyist.

Jim Cartmill says someone else did it.

A paid lobbyist says he doesn't know Jim Cartmill.

Jim Cartmill says he doesn't know the paid lobbyist.

That's a lot of saying.

Just sayin'

"Donald K. Brown, a veteran lobbyist whose firm, Advocation Inc., is regularly ranked among the top ones in Sacramento, was found by the Fair Political Practices Commission to have used family members and employees as proxies for donations to two City Council candidates in Chula Vista and to a state Senate candidate."

"The lawyers said Brown was the true source for 13 contributions of $99, each made in 1996 to Chula Vista City Council candidates John Moot and Jim Cartmill in the name of Brown's family members and employees."

"The contributions to the Chula Vista races, they said, circumvented a local ordinance that limited individual campaign donations to $250 per candidate."

"...at the time that the contributions were made, Mr. Brown, through Advocation Inc., had a contract with the city of Chula Vista..."

"FPPC investigators said that when Brown was served with a subpoena he told them he was vaguely aware that Cartmill was a candidate for office but he had no interests in Chula Vista."

"The agency staff member noted that Cartmill appeared to have received many $99 contributions."

"Cartmill, a 41-year-old motivational speaker, said he did not know Brown and had made no arrangement for the hidden contributions."

"I had many people fund-raising for me. My relationship with him was through people on my campaign,"

"He said he first heard Brown's name when contacted by an FPPC representative about a year ago."

"The commission said it is levying the highest possible fine against Brown because money laundering is one of the most serious violations of the state's Political Reform Act of 1974."

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Susan Luzzaro April 12, 2012 @ 10:55 p.m.

Visduh, I noticed you commented on another article about additional indictments. We have all been watching the Sweetwater and Southwestern stories unfold for so long--the writing seemed to be on the wall as far back as Hernandez says, summer of 2010--when will it end? How will it end? Will it end?

As I recall one idea that could be extracted from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Mother Night, is be careful what you pretend to be because that is what you become. Perhaps even good posturing is a good thing....

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 11:04 p.m.

when one compares actions of the "BOARDS" (southwestern/sweetwater) one clearly sees the differences.

southwestern appears to be putting verbs in their sentences. sweetwater has failed to enunciate either a consonant or vowel, with the exception of board member lopez.

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Susan Luzzaro April 12, 2012 @ 10:59 p.m.

annie j, I don't know if your ability to unearth information or your sense of humor is better-- the articles you have posted remind us of the deeper history...

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anniej April 12, 2012 @ 11:12 p.m.

truth be told i would so rather be reading beautiful blogs like the one featured on The Reader , i believe it was called Harold; a beautiful story told by a young mother who meets a senior citizen neighbor. the beautiful interaction of the two families touched my heart and brought to me tears.

upon completing the story i vowed to aspire to be a better more caring person. i promised myself i would look at strangers and greet them with a sincere, heart felt HELLO. i was filled with hope -then.................................

i received a call about SWEETWATER. ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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leo11 April 20, 2012 @ 9:46 p.m.

Hernandez, Ricasa and Sandoval all worked together at Southwestern well before either Ricasa or Sandoval were elected to the Sweetwater Board. Questions were asked as early as 2007 regarding the legality of all the crossover between Sweetwater and Southwestern College employees. Chris Moran wrote an article on this very subject in the San Diego Union Tribune. The article he wrote said that the interpretation was that the overlap was legal but it wasn't quite ethical because it could lead to the very thing it led too which is pay for play politics not just with contractors but also with legal services--Garcia's law firm worked for the college, Sweetwater and South Bay as well as the Otay Water Board where some interesting decisions regarding lifetime medical benefits were made. Dominguez reported to Sandoval and Ricasa at Sweetwater and Ricasa and Sandoval reported to Dominguez at SWC. I don't know if Hernandez reported to Dominguez when she was president of the college or if he was elected later. Both districts hired contractors and law firms in common. Ricasa was put on paid adminstrative leave in January 2012 but the internal investigation hasn't concluded yet. Do investigations generally take 5 months? As for the board at Southwestern caring about the peoples hard earned dollars--who is paying for the lawsuit. Is the money coming from the general fund because if it is that means that it is being for by the five percent pay cut they are asking all their employees to take.

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