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Jim Cartmill has been a Sweetwater Union High School District board member since 1990. This November, he’s running for a seat against Karen Janney. As the incumbent, Cartmill’s campaign donors have predictable associations.

Sweetwater is the largest secondary district in the state and has significant construction/reconstruction going on from Proposition BB (2000) and Proposition O (2006). According to a candidate filing ending June 30, the majority of Cartmill’s donors were construction-related or public relations consultants.

Many of the donors who have current contracts with the district gave sizable contributions: a Shelter Island–based public relations firm named Marston & Marston, which currently holds a contract with the district, gave $5,000. Barnhart, Inc, which has a contract with the district, gave $2,500 to the campaign and a $137.50 dinner to Cartmill. The Cartmill campaign has so far taken in $42,050. (In an interview on Monday, September 13, Cartmill said that his next filing will reflect a much more grassroots campaign.)

It was Cartmill’s statement-of-interest form, filed on August 8, 2010, however, that was unpredictable. Cartmill has several interests worth over $1,000,000. His Chula Vista home is worth over a million. Office space in Chula Vista that he rents to an insurance company is estimated at over a million and brings in annual rental revenue from between $10,000 and $100,000.

Cartmill also lists his business, LTH, Inc., as worth over a million. What is LTH? LTH, or Let’s Talk Health, is a company that distributes nutritional supplements — "products with a purpose," according to the website. The address listed for LTH is 3441 Main Street in Chula Vista.

But there’s more to Cartmill and LTH. In 2007, the Union-Tribune published an article about an unorthodox/holistic Baja clinic that had been shut down after Coretta Scott King died there in January of 2006. Hospital Santa Monica, in Rosarito, was founded by Kurt Donsbach of Bonita. The clinic was in the process of reopening in 2007.

The article continued, “Last year, Donsbach sold his Let’s Talk Health business, which includes an Internet radio show that features Donsbach, to Jim Cartmill. Cartmill pays Donsbach an undisclosed ‘royalty,’ Donsbach said in his deposition.” (In the September 13 interview, Cartmill affirmed that he continues to pay Donsbach royalties for the use of his name and his product.)

Donsbach, who has a criminal record, was arrested again in April 2009 while delivering his talk-show webcast at Cartmill’s 3441 Main Street address.

A January 2010 San Diego News Network article reported “a Bonita man accused of falsely identifying himself as a chiropractor and offering dangerous dietary supplements as alternative remedies for cancer…must stand trial on 13 felony counts.” Donsbach “preyed on vulnerable patients who were looking for medical help,” said district attorney Bonnie Dumanis in a related U-T story from the same period.

The San Diego County district attorney's website says Donsbach will have his felony readiness conference on November 1.

Cartmill’s continued connection with Donsbach is demonstrated by the Let’s Talk website. As recently as Labor Day weekend, the site featured a letter signed by Cartmill that read, “My commitment to you as President and CEO is to be a guardian of Dr. Donsbach’s core principles…. We look forward to serving your alternative health needs in the future.”

When interviewed, Cartmill said that what he means by “‘core principles’ relates to customer service and it’s about making sure we take care of our customers.” According to Cartmill, Donsbach is no longer a part of the company. When asked if he supported Donsbach’s health practices, Cartmill said, “We [Let’s Talk] just sell nutritional supplements. Donsbach maintains a presence on the website because those are his brand of nutritional supplements. They’re inspected by the FDA every year.”

In addition, Cartmill’s statement-of-interest form shows that he received between $1,000 and $10,000 as a consultant for Health Advances, Inc., also located in Chula Vista. A website gallery for Health Advances on Naples Street shows a picture of Donsbach, the CEO/owner, a laboratory, and an “encapsulator.”

Cartmill’s statement-of-interest form also lists more than $1,000,000 worth of stock in US Medical Instruments, Inc., a “medical device manufacturer.” When asked about US Medical Instruments, Cartmill responded, “That’s just a company I worked for about five years ago that I just listed in an overabundance of caution. I still hold the stock, but I don’t even know what the status of the company is today.”

Cartmill maintains a website as a motivational speaker and lists the City of Chula Vista and several school districts as clients. The candidate’s Cartmill Communications is not listed on the statement-of-interest form because, said Cartmill, “I unwound that a long time ago. I still have a website up, but it’s more of a hobby for me now.”

photo: from jimcartmill.com

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andrewj Sept. 17, 2010 @ 5:56 p.m.

More South Bay school board corruption. Southwestern College and Prop R. The Chula Vista school board meets before each meeting in violation of the Brown Act. Now, Sweetwater. This is the problem with prolonged incumbency.


Founder Sept. 17, 2010 @ 6:41 p.m.

Sounds like "The Chula Vista school board

better get it's "Brown Act" together

or they will get fined BIG time!

  • or -

They all can run for $WC Board seats!


Susan Luzzaro Sept. 17, 2010 @ 11:06 p.m.

I haven't looked at candidate information from the Chula Vista district yet, but there is a remarkable crossover between the contractors financing Sweetwater Union incumbent candidates and Southwestern incumbent candidate. Both have big bond dollars now. I'll post a few comparisons in the morning. Susan


Susan Luzzaro Sept. 19, 2010 @ 3:45 p.m.

In this campaign filing Advance Plumbing gave $500 to Sweetwater Union's long time incumbent Cartmill and $200 to Southwestern College's long-time incumbent Salcido. Able Heating & Air gave Salcido $200 and Cartmill $1,000. Christopher Rowe (head of Echo Pacific) gave Salcido $1,000 and Echo Pacific gave $4,500 to Cartmill. HAR construction gave cumulative Salcido $300 and Cartmill cumulative$250. San Diego Latino Development Corp gave $500 to Salcido and $300 to Cartmill. Design Acquisition Corporation (BAC) gave $2,500 to Salcido and $2,500 to Cartmill. Danny Hom of Focuscom gave $250 to Salcido and $500 to Cartmill.

Cartmill got several $5000 contributions.

Incumbents have the ability to generate higher levels of donations. Cartmill's total to date is $42,000. His challenger, whose campaign filing shows many small donors, has only generated half that.


savesweetwater Sept. 19, 2010 @ 4:28 p.m.

Some other interesting pieces of information - - Donsbach is Cartmill's father-in-law. Not a very good role model for the students of Sweetwater. - The other Sweetwater Board incumbent running for re-election, Ricasa, had many of the same construction related companies donate to her campaign as donated to Cartmill and to incumbents on the SWC Board (see article in Reader "Prop R for Rewards".
- And even though Cartmill and Ricasa received campaign donations from the construction, architectural and other related companies they do not recuse themselves from voting on contracts related to those companies. Maybe it isn't illegal, but it is unethical.


joepublic Sept. 19, 2010 @ 6 p.m.

Mr. Cartmill says, "I still hold the stock, but I don't even know what the status of the company is today." Wow! He owns over a MILLION in stock but doesn't have the business sense to keep tabs on the company!? It's scary to think that we taxpayers are asked to trust him with the budget of the second largest secondary school district in the state! That's OUR money Mr. Cartmill!

Savesweetwater#5, I agree with you regarding Mr. Donsbach. What bothers me though, isn't so much that he's his son-in-law. However, to purchase a company which allegedly sold dangerous dietary supplements, and gave false cancer treatment to desperate victims, certainly makes me question his ethics.


Visduh Sept. 20, 2010 @ 8:44 a.m.

Cartmill claims that the nutrition supplements are "inspected by the FDA every year." That's an interesting claim, because the FDA makes no attempt to regulate those supplements, which now are a multi-billion dollar business in the US. Just what does that inspection consist of, and what does it look for? Daily we hear on the radio claims of "clinical proof" by these snake-oil peddlers. If they had real clinical proof of the efficacy of the supplements, you can just bet they'd have an application before the FDA for approval which would put their products into the mainstream of medical practice.

Cartmill's business appears to be as questionable as his political claims. How is it that he is still on that board after five terms and is seeking a sixth? Are the voters in South County brain dead? It looks that way. And if so, it explains why the district is corrupt to the core.


joepublic Sept. 20, 2010 @ 11:04 a.m.

Good points Founder and Visduh. South County voters aren't brain dead, but they've been put to sleep by school districts' PR spins and lack of any real news. Hopefully articles and comments like these will wake everyone up!


Founder Sept. 20, 2010 @ 12:05 p.m.

Reply #8

Any ideas of how to get South County voters to wake up and smell the PORK being cooked at their expense?

Maybe the SWC Students could do a comparison of South County Porkers!


Susan Luzzaro Sept. 20, 2010 @ 7:20 p.m.

One of my favorite quotes (or perhaps paraphrase as I might not get it quite right) is from the depression era poet Muriel Rukeyser,

We are a people tending toward democracy at the level of hope.


CVresident Sept. 24, 2010 @ 6:23 p.m.

The supplements sold at Let's Talk Health are not inspected by the FDA. It even says that on the bottles, which it is required to do by law. These bottles are filled here in Chula Vista at a plant on Industrial and Naples. They have a "clean" room that does not meet the standard required for pharmecutical drugs.


Founder Sept. 25, 2010 @ 7:52 a.m.

Reply #10 Great quote, probably from a "starving" poet!

I think these days we are a bit farther away from "Tending"; maybe a more recent update of this quote might be,

"We are a people missing what we remember of democracy and now at the level of only hope."


Founder Sept. 25, 2010 @ 8:39 a.m.

Reply #11

How about calling the FDA, and let US know what their reply is, about this unlicensed production facility?

BTW: The FDA also fines those that break the law!

This could have a huge affect on $outh Bay's election process!


Founder Sept. 27, 2010 @ 7:52 a.m.

Reply #14 Still no "given" name posted from CC as yet? ... Why must you STILL continue with the double standard, especially since you are posting from Orange County about SD"s South Bay issues?

Now a long quote post!

Getting back to what is happening in South Bay's Sweetwater Union High School District; what if anything do you have to say about that or the potential for voters to clean up their "educational mess" come November; by voting out all those that have taken advantage of them and replacing them with new folks with more of a Public Good agenda?


AN80 Sept. 28, 2010 @ 2:14 p.m.

If this guy has been a board member since 1990, he has to be doing something right! We've voted him in new term after new term!

Is Cartmill and Ricasa allowed to withdraw themselves from voting on such contracts with construction companies and architects? If so, who's allowed to take their place?


Founder Sept. 30, 2010 @ 7:27 a.m.

Reply #16 Since you just joined and this was your ONLY (& very first) post, I'd like to ask if you really voted for him or perhaps you are just a blogger being paid to support him!

Do you live in SB or even in San Diego?

Thanks for sharing, as the On-Line Reader has been getting some dubious bloggers lately, that are not even loca!


AN80 Sept. 30, 2010 @ 2:09 p.m.

Reply #17

Wow. It sucks that just because a person may have a slightly different opinion from a mob, he/she is being attacked for being a paid blogger! ($$ to write! I want my check!) It's a shame that some people have ruined it for everyone to share a word or two and simply ask a question when it's not known.

Do YOU live in SB?


Susan Luzzaro Oct. 1, 2010 @ 9:24 p.m.

AN80, Not sure what you meant by:

Is Cartmill and Ricasa allowed to withdraw themselves from voting on such contracts with construction companies and architects? If so, who's allowed to take their place?

Could you clarify? Thanks, susan


AN80 Oct. 18, 2010 @ 3:36 p.m.

Wow- sorry for just seeing this now!

I was reading some of the other comments and read that Cartmill and Ricasa are voting on contracts that they received donations from. Are they allowed to remove themselves from those votes? Can other qualified people outside the board be allowed to vote on those contracts?

Just curious to see how they can be smart about that. Thanks.


sissyjacks Oct. 26, 2010 @ 7:13 p.m.

I am not quite sure what it is going to take to wake up the citizens of the South Bay. It is as though the majority of them are asleep at the wheel. I mean what else could be the reason that these same people continue to be voted in? I mean the State of California is investigating Ms. Ricasa for goodness sakes. We have a Superintendent who is making 300 hundred thousand dollars a year - and that does NOT include other perks.

WHY, WHY, WHY is the State of California not looking into what is going on with the Prop O monies? Contractors pouring tons of money into Cartmill and Ricasa's campaigns. Under Prop N Ms. Ricasa attempted to have her husband serve on the Bond Oversite Committee. Ms. Ricasa was slapped on the hand in previous campaigns for using District resources and even District students for her campaign - but there she sits. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE??????????



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