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Today, December 20, district attorney investigators raided the homes of several Sweetwater Union High School District boardmembers and Henry Amigable, who served as a bond construction program manager for both the district and Southwestern College.

By midday, investigators had gone to the homes of boardmembers Pearl Quinones, Arlie Ricasa, Bertha Lopez, and Amigable's. It is suspected that the investigation will include other boardmembers.

In June of this year, community activists Fran Brinkman, Stewart Payne, John Brickley, Kathleen Cheers, and Maty Adato set today’s actions in motion when they took their complaints about former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara to the district attorney’s office.

Brinkman said they had initially gone to the FBI with stacks of documents but decided to pursue their complaints through the D.A.’s office. Brinkman said that their group became a funnel for information from teachers and administrators within the district.

When the Union-Tribune broke the story last June about the investigation, Brinkman told the reporter, “If we can get a leader that is honest — I think we can get back to a good district and not a district that relies on cheating, forgery, and lies.”

Brinkman said she initially supported Sweetwater interim superintendent Ed Brand, but from all appearances, the district is back to the same old business. She was disappointed to learn that the board is considering offering Brand a three-year contract.

Pictured: Pearl Quinones, Ed Brand

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Visduh Dec. 20, 2011 @ 8:14 p.m.

Good grief! Is Bahnee D really pursuing corruption? Hard to imagine. I said before that I'd really believe that the DA was investigating local agencies, and the SUHSD in particular, when the charges were filed. Let's keep in mind that while she's pursuing the mayor's job in San Diego, it is easy for her to also to after bad guys "down there" in south county, by the border, without much affecting the mayor's race.


cvres Dec. 20, 2011 @ 9:58 p.m.

So far three board members from Sweetwater have been searched: Pearl Quinones, Bertha Lopez, and Arlie Ricasa. I hope there will be searches of the men on the board: Jim Cartmill and John McCann. I'd also like to know what the political breakdown is--dems and republicans. This district has been a haven for crooks-let's hope the shakedown goes down straight. The gloves are off--the election season is on.


anniej Dec. 20, 2011 @ 10:08 p.m.

i believe ricasa, lopez and quinones are democrats and mccann and cartmill republicans.

anyone wanting to know the depth of the greasing of palms simply needs to go to the registrar of voters on line info - they will show you exactly who contributed to the cartmill, ricasa and mccanns recent board member campaigns and what the dollar amount of the contribution was. it is time well spent.

look at the numbers of contractors and vendors - preview how much bonny garcia (districts legal counsel) wife contributed.

we are talking thousands upon thousands of dollars.

i am hoping it is not over, much suspicion now surround the newly 'appointed' superintendent brand - the consultants he is hiring and what they are doing to '''''''raise'''''''' money.

seems the more you dig the more you find.


SurfPuppy619 Dec. 21, 2011 @ 12:21 a.m.

anyone wanting to know the depth of the greasing of palms simply needs to go to the registrar of voters on line info - they will show you exactly who contributed to the cartmill, ricasa and mccanns recent board member campaigns and what the dollar amount of the contribution was. it is time well spent.

look at the numbers of contractors and vendors - preview how much bonny garcia (districts legal counsel) wife contributed.

we are talking thousands upon thousands of dollars. == Can you post a link to this info?


anniej Dec. 20, 2011 @ 10:01 p.m.

with the exception of two of the roosters, the chickens have come home to roost. cartmill and mccann are surely in it up to their necks. hopefully tomorrow we will receive the added news that these had their homes searched as well.

it is a sad day in the south bay - for today the entire city and county learned what we all know. corruption is rampant at sweetwater district. yes, sad but true.


Susan Luzzaro Dec. 21, 2011 @ 7:59 a.m.

SurfPuppy, See if this takes you to the county registrar site where you then simply type in the last name of the person you wish to look at. For the local folks I hope to get a spread sheet up shortly. Let me know if this doesn't work and I'll try again.



Ponzi Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:37 p.m.

Does the ROV have a crystal ball also? Those are only documents that have been submitted. It doesn’t mean they are accurate or honest.


anniej Dec. 21, 2011 @ 7:34 p.m.

well, the candidates themselves or their representatives submitted them. THEY are the ones who personally reported the contributions.


joepublic Dec. 21, 2011 @ 9:55 a.m.


It's about time the DA's office did something about all the alleged corruption at Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College. I'm wondering why Cartmill and McCann are getting a pass on this. Maybe if they keep "following the money", there will be more to come. Of all the board members, they seem to be the sleaziest. SurfPuppy, I'm not sure it'll work, but try the above link above.


Curious2 Dec. 21, 2011 @ 11:06 a.m.

I don't see what their political affiliations have to do with anything. School board is a non-partisan office. Corruption is corruption regardless of your political party.


Visduh Dec. 21, 2011 @ 12:42 p.m.

Agreed. The had DA may not have had enough investigators to swoop down on all the targets of this probe, and they were prioritized. And aren't the other two the more recent arrivals on the board? If they're looking for bribery by contractors, that would have its roots several years back. I'm one of the biggest skeptics about all of this, and I'll believe that there's any real investigation when there are charges.

But, on the other hand, isn't this sort of thing unprecedented in the county? In forty years, I don't have any recollection of a sitting school board coming under a criminal investigation. It happened to the SD city council around 1970, and there have been school board recalls, but a criminal investigation? There was a similar situation in Orange County about a decade ago involving the supe and one of his minions. The Capistrano school board had a number of its members recalled. That scandal involved construction of a new and palatial district hq office building.


anniej Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:29 p.m.

interesting that you mention capistrano palatial district hq's - that is what 'the gandara' wanted to do - build a new district office.

that triggers yet another thought - the district is sitting on land that the bank was in the process of calling in a loan on - the very land that the district wanted to build their new hq's on.

yet another curious situation that hopefully the da is investigating. land that we paid hundred of thousands to consultants for - and to tell us what?????????????? that the land is no longer worth what we paid for it - well i will darn, any idiot living in san diego county could have told them that - AND FOR FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


redevilaboveground Dec. 21, 2011 @ 2:30 p.m.

Curious2, you are right that corruption is corruption but these school board seats are often used as springboards for higher political office...keep your eyes open!


anniej Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:16 p.m.

board members such as mccann, ricasa and quinones are attempting to use the board for just that person - spring board. and they ALL THREE OF THEM HAVE PROFITED FROM THE CONTRACTORS AND VENDORS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS.

why in the world cartmill and mccann's home was not searched is beyond me. perhaps the da already has the 'goods' on these two - but one thing i know is this, they are in it so deep they are choking. cartmill even contributed money to mccann in the recent board election. hmmmmmmmmm


anniej Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:24 p.m.

curious, i agree whole heartedly with you. i believe though, that what has many scratching their heads is the fact that both mccann and cartmill are both republicans and neither had their homes searched. but then again if the da and fbi follow the money it will lead back to them both.

no matter how it shakes out in the end - all of us need to remember the names mccann, cartmill, ricasa, and quinones and never punch that hole again on our ballot.

regarding lopez, i have done the research and she is the only board member who chose to vote in favor of the students and taxpayers. while it is true she did accept campaign donations her voting record speaks for itself. i have attended board meetings and listened to taped meetings and have heard the disrespect all on the board have levied against lopez - shameful simply shameful. i can not speak on the issue of lopez home being searched - i will wait and see. while none of you know me and therefore have no reason to trust what i say - i would recommend that you too do the work and research lopez' voting record in comparison to the other 4. fortunately it is there for all to review before they make up their minds.


anniej Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:12 p.m.

it is important to take pause and take note of a VERY important fact - none of this would have been possible if it were not for 2 entities:

THE POWER OF THE FREE PRESS: reporters such a ms. luzzaro and those at the ut are to commended for their fair and factual reporting. there are some countries in this world where either the truth is not reported OR when it is those who report it end up missing. my sincere thanks to THE READER for continually keeping the taxpayers of san diego abreast of what was going on.

THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE: remember those folks mentioned above are you and me - they might even be your neighbor. case in point, they are regular citizens, only one of them have a student in the district - two are retired teachers whose ONLY interests were the students being continually short changed. the other two simply concerned citizens. these 5 people decided to stand up for what was right - chose to fight the good fight for the benefit of all. i can only imagine the amount of time and effort that they put into bringing this era of alleged corruption to an end. there were others also who stood up, spoke and demanded change their efforts should be recognized as well.

so, now that the hard work has been done by those mentioned above how about all of us choosing to back them up - how? by attending the next board meeting and demanding change - let them know in no uncertain terms 'hell no we are not going to take this any longer".

additionally we need to demand that they pull their recommendation for the interim to become the permanent superintendent. the last board meeting and the comments made relating to the organization that the superintendent put in place that is demanding their actions be held as secret WILL NOT FLY. disband this organization and begin a search for a new superintendent.

the will say they can not afford it - ah, hello, they have paid tens of thousands of dollars for friends that they are hiring on a consultant basis. they are paying to feel us out, take our temperature for another bond issue. are you kidding me?

time to show up my fellow citizens, it is time to show up, be counted and be heard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


joepublic Dec. 21, 2011 @ 4:47 p.m.

Curious2: That corruption is corruption regardless of political party affiliation is absolutely true. However, since both the Republican and Democratic Parties endorsed candidates in Sweetwater, it's pretty hard to see their positions as non-partisan. As redevilaboveground suggests, "keep your eyes open"! Some feel that this wouldn't be the first time the DA's (Republican) office was used to sway political opinion.


cvres Dec. 21, 2011 @ 9:01 p.m.

Fun times--at least for speculating. The homes of three board members were searched, three women, three minorities. Sure that tells us nothing. But suppose the homes of the two remaining board members are to be searched, Cartmill and McCann, gosh I guess they would be pretty clean. How long has Cartmill been a board member--through two bond proposals...hmmm.


anniej Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:29 a.m.

cartmill's donations from seville (prop o management company receiving 20% of 644 million) in the thousands, from contractors in the thousands, from vendors in the thousands, from bonny garcia's...wife in the thousands.

mccann, the same darn thing. a brand new candidate for the board and all of these entities decide to pour money into his campaign coffer - now why would they do that. what was in it for them? what could they possible gain? ah, that would be the contracts for prop o.

cartmill and mccann BOTH need to be run out of ANY and ALL political offices - both and present and future.

the taxpayers have got their number - 1-800-fraud


Visduh Dec. 21, 2011 @ 9:21 p.m.

Makes me think of an old Beatles song, "Imagine." Imagine a world where all the crooks of SUHSD were arrested, where they were all found guilty, WHERE THEY ALL WENT TO PRISON, imagine of you can. Such a set of circumstances, which I cannot really believe will ever happen, would certainly shake up a bunch of local school boards, affect their hiring of superintendents and bureaucrats, and their everyday operations. We can only hope and watch and wait and hope and maybe we'll see such events. IMAGINE!


anniej Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:31 a.m.

what a beautiful post, we can do more than 'imagine' we can join together and vote them outta here.

we have the power - lets not forget next time we are in that voting booth.


Susan Luzzaro Dec. 21, 2011 @ 11:13 p.m.

Visduh, I think you're right. This is unprecedented, or has no recent precedent. And you're right also--we will have to wait and see if searching for evidence translates into indictments. Having watched and reported on this for some time now--there are a number of other people who should or maybe will be looked at.


Susan Luzzaro Dec. 21, 2011 @ 11:17 p.m.

SurfPuppy, Thank you for being the one to finally get the County Registrar of Voters link up. I think it is very useful for looking at Sweetwater, check out the most recent elections: Cartmill, Ricasa, McCann. This site will be increasingly useful for all of us as we go into the next election year.

Thank you.


anniej Dec. 22, 2011 @ 8:38 a.m.

for those of you who take the time to review the documentation on the registrar of voters website - laura martinez - she is bonny garcia's...wife. why is she contributing to board members campaigns?

take a look at the contractors

seville - those contributions are enough to choke a horse, holy moly

citizens for good government - a group that good old bonny garcia (corruptor at law) set up to fund the campaigns as well

reading the info on the registrars website almost makes you want to weep. all of that money that COULD have been used with more integrity.


redevilaboveground Dec. 22, 2011 @ 10:34 a.m.

The campaign election corruption at SUHD and most other districts is not news,this has been going on for many years...it is tradition. If not the Unions trying to put friendly Board members into office it is the Educational leaders putting pressure on Administrator's and vendors to support those Board members who negotiate their contract...usually they support encumbants or outsiders such as was the case with McCann Some call the deal making with vendor's "Pay for Play" and this is maybe what the investigation is about. And in the mean time the Students are left getting battered in the midst of the mud fight. What Board Members and educational leaders should be doing is getting a vigorous/quality education to all students so that they may compete effectively for the CSU/UC system! Distict elections and total restrictions on contributions from vendors would be a good first step!!


anniej Dec. 22, 2011 @ 1 p.m.

your words are right on target.

i am hearing that cartmill is now calling for campaign donation limitations - i guess his twin brother was the guy sitting up there at the last board meeting when he and all of the rest chose to ignore the agenda item that called for a $500.00 limitation. they said not one word, chose to not discuss it.

the little man who wants to be king john mccann is now coming out in favor of waiting on the redistricting issue??????????????? now, that they have paid someone to draw the boundaries. now that it has been brought to mccanns and cartmills attention that as the 2 anglos living SO CLOSE to each other they would be adversely affected. funny, not really, but the community tried to tell them to save their money, we called for them to wait but oh no - they saw the maneuver as a means to drive bertha lopez out. they wanted her gone so bad they could taste it - she always was the dissenting vote - choosing to vote in favor of the kids and taxpayers vs siding with them and their corrupt ways.

now these two have each had an epiphany - funny what a da and fbi investigation can cause one to do - the both of them fighting to make it look like they want to be transparent. wonder if the fbi will hit their homes first? i bet they are sweating bullets - what does the fbi know?????????


redevilaboveground Dec. 22, 2011 @ 4:18 p.m.

anniej, they can fool some of the people some of the time but they can't fool all of the people all of the time....except for Bertha Lopez who was all alone getting Jesus Gandara exposed all the rest are vulnerable, they won't have the vendor/contactor money to run their campaign! Good grassroots efforts with solid honest and caring candidates can win!...thanks for your comments.


anniej Dec. 22, 2011 @ 5:48 p.m.

i have an exhibit which shows the following - now remember this is only a PARTIAL list for the last election, 2010, this is one year folks, one year.

cartmill $81,950 ricasa $60,600 mccann $46,450

again, this is only a PARTIAL list of the contractors, vendors, prop o management company, and bonny garcia's wife (the districts legal counsel).

it does not include all of those special interests groups that poured monies into the above board members coffers. and the above amounts do not include john q public donations. many of those who contributed like seville contributed many thousands for EACH candidate.

so, are we now understanding why cartmill and mccann are now mute on the search warrant issue?

time to revisit that agenda item they chose to ignore at this months board meeting. time to demand that they respond to those they answer to as to why they choose to conduct themselves in a manner that is NOT reflective of integrity.

TIME TO DEMAND A SEARCH FOR A NEW SUPERINTENDENT, perhaps someone who knows not only how to spell the words transparency, integrity and honesty but someone who will mandate them.


Susan Luzzaro Dec. 22, 2011 @ 6:34 p.m.


Is that true? Is Cartmill calling for a cap to campaign donations?

At the last board meeting there was a power point presentation on redistricting that the some of the trustees had voted to commission. Then Cartmill said to step back from redistricting. Do you happen to know what the cost was to the district for this redistricting consultant?


Susan Luzzaro Dec. 22, 2011 @ 7:54 p.m.

Red Devil,

Good grassroot campaigns--that's what the whole South Bay needs--

one of the problems is that running for office is such a costly and challenging thing to do--we have not had enough brave people to step forward--and, of course, not enough money at the ground level...


redevilaboveground Dec. 23, 2011 @ 9:02 a.m.

True susan and that is why we need district elections where expenditures would be alot less than running district wide. Incumbants have a huge advantage and access to resources in district wide elections. Another thought is term limits.


anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:27 p.m.

if we can get RID OF THE SPECIAL INTERESTS FUNDING OUR BOARD ELECTIONS, then maybe regular folks can run.

we have great, honesty people in the south bay who have the integrity that it takes - hopefully they are reading all of the articles and will decide to come forward.

i know i would definnitely vote for Ms. Janney - i am hearing one of the reasons she lost was due to a certain x-superintendent pulling up her signs - goodness knows she was the LAST PERSON SHE WANTED SITTING AT THAT LONG TABLE - someone who not only knows how about integrity but someone woul could NEVER be bought.


Visduh Dec. 22, 2011 @ 9:21 p.m.

Does any of this sound like the corruption that is part-and-parcel of everyday functioning in Mexico? Sure does to me. Is this just some of that leaking across the border, or rubbing off on those whose roots are there and whose values are imported from there? Oh, I'll be accused of all sorts of things for suggesting this, but let's get it out on the table.


redevilaboveground Dec. 23, 2011 @ 9:13 a.m.

Visduh, with this ignorant comment you are part of the problem...try fixing our own house and become part of the solution. Like MJ said"I'm looking at the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place. Take a look in mirror and make that CHANGE!"


anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:35 p.m.

for us to blame this in any segment of society would be wrong.

let us consider this idea instead - perhaps WE, ALL OF US who reside in the suhsd are to blame. after all how many of us really knew who were voting for in the last election?

how many of us have attended even one board meeting let alone all of them like the few community members listed.

how many of us are NOW WILLING to attend the next board meeting and speak - ask them to step down.

how many of us will be willing to join the grass roots being formed to get the truth out regarding our current board.

we have an obligation to each other to stop them NOW. STOP THEM from holding any future office.

how many have gone to the district website and listened to the last board meeting. listened to how the community member who is trying to fight the sale of 'spice' was treated by the board, including the superintendent.

point of reference, one of the community members named by ms. luzzarro who went to the da and fbi - is hispanic.


joepublic Dec. 23, 2011 @ 3:18 p.m.

Visduh: On this point I agree with Redevil. This corruption has nothing to do with race or nationality. Let's not divide ourselves in our fight against greed and corruption.


redevilaboveground Dec. 24, 2011 @ 9:54 a.m.

Thanks joepublic, you are absolutely correct!


Founder Dec. 24, 2011 @ 10:31 a.m.

Just checking in and discovered the Good News for taxpayers!

I hope this sets a newer standard for GRAFT investigation in all of SD County!

We cannot afford all the corruption we already have....


Founder Dec. 24, 2011 @ 10:38 a.m.

The Brown Act controls how elected Officials need to conduct themselves and is supposed to guarantee "sunshine' in all matters...

More here: Government Code Section 54950-54963 or here: http://is.gd/B7JGiY

Our Leaders need to start making all of US proud of them, ... Not just their insider friends!


anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:41 p.m.

the problem is brown act violation are hardly, if ever, prosecuted.

maybe we need to list all of our boards brown act violations put them in a large box (cause it would take a box to hold them all) and ship them off to da's office and ask the tough question - what will it take for you to prosecute these NON LAW BIDING idiots???????????????????????????????????


Founder Dec. 24, 2011 @ 10:43 a.m.

Those unhappy with the SUHSD Board might enjoy this cartoon: http://is.gd/ApaiQ2

I suggest that the Board start their search for new employees and include some randomly chosen non-Board members (like jurors are picked) in all their discussions!


anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:18 p.m.

you know i have so many figures dancing in my head i am not recalling what the cost was - however if you go to board docs and do the research i am sure it is there.

funny,,,,,, not really - but like so many other issues - those members of the community stood before the board a few months ago and questioned the fiduciary responsibility of the redistricting - not to mention what was the real motive behind the action - they wanted board member lopez GONE. they were apparently sick of her voting for the taxpayers and the students - appears that wanted that 5th unanimous vote on any and all issues.


anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:42 p.m.



anniej Dec. 25, 2011 @ 5:44 p.m.



Susan Luzzaro Dec. 26, 2011 @ 3:57 p.m.

Founder, good to see you frequenting these parts again. I wasn't able to open the cartoon that you posted. I know you gather things from a wide variety of sources so it's probably something I haven't seen yet.


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