Sweetwater boardmember John McCann smiled for the camera prior to voting against campaign-limitation language
  • Sweetwater boardmember John McCann smiled for the camera prior to voting against campaign-limitation language
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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 to her as “the queen” in a light moment), and after incumbent Bertha López was sworn in by her husband, the board returned to business as usual.

In December 2011, Nancy Stubbs brought before the Sweetwater trustees a campaign-reform resolution. Because of the exorbitant amount of money ($150,000), given to boardmembers Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa, and John McCann from vendors during their 2010 campaign, Stubbs said she felt it was necessary to pass a resolution limiting campaign donations to $500. The resolution died for lack of a motion.

Since then, several more attempts by community members to agendize campaign-donation limitations have been evaded by the district.

In January 2012, community member William Perno submitted a resolution. His request was not agendized. In May 2012, community member Maty Adato submitted paperwork to have a resolution agendized in a timely manner. Adato copied the mayor of Chula Vista, Cheryl Cox, and all the members of the media, including the Reader. Nevertheless, Adato’s resolution was not agendized.

In June 2012, the board adopted a resolution that precluded the ability of the public to agendize or discuss an item that had been before the board during the previous year — thus preventing a return of the campaign-donation-limitation issue. But the issue came back in October 2012 in the form of a conflict-of-interest bylaw revision.

Trustee Bertha López and community members urged the board to include language about campaign contributions in their conflict-of-interest code. The board equivocated and revisited the policy in November and again on December 10.

Once again, members of the audience addressed the need for the limits.

Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Education Association, pointed to the recent scandal in the San Ysidro School District, where the superintendent admitted to accepting an envelope of campaign cash from contractor Loreto Romero. Anguiano said the Sweetwater conflict-of-interest bylaw needs to be strengthened.

(District attorney affidavits from last year included a statement relevant to campaign contributions from former Sweetwater contractor Hector Romero. “He [Romero] reported being with [former] Superintendent Gandara in Mexico when Superintendent Gandara contacted SGI Program Manager Jaime Ortiz [proposition O] and solicited a $20,000 contribution to Jim Cartmill’s campaign for [the Sweetwater] School Board. Romero also advised [the investigating attorney] that SGI made a $12,500 contribution to John McCann’s campaign for the school board…”)

On December 10, community activist Kathleen Cheers told the board, “We have the right to know these [trustee] seats were not purchased.”

Nick Marinovich, speaking individually and not as Proposition O bond chair, urged the board to think of the image of Sweetwater and how this action would improve the board’s image.

Yet the board refused to include campaign-contribution limitations in the conflict-of-interest language.

Boardmembers Pearl Quiñones and Arlie Ricasa, who will face charges of bribery and perjury in January, recused themselves from the discussion and the vote.

Board chair Jim Cartmill did acknowledge that “at some point we are going to have contribution limits.” However, he said the limit he might want might be “the polar opposite” of what Nick Marinovich wants.

Trustee Lopez responded, “When? When are we going to do something? We’ve been talking about these bylaws for three months now.”

Boardmember John McCann says he agrees the district needs campaign-contribution limitations; however, he believes “we need to look at them comprehensively.”

San Diego mayor Bob Filner swore in recently reelected Pearl Quiñones, indicted last year for accepting bribes from contractors. According to 10News, "Filner seemed oblivious to the criminal controversy surrounding Quiñones."

San Diego mayor Bob Filner swore in recently reelected Pearl Quiñones, indicted last year for accepting bribes from contractors. According to 10News, "Filner seemed oblivious to the criminal controversy surrounding Quiñones."

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eastlaker Dec. 12, 2012 @ 5:08 p.m.

Can there be any other conclusion than this: the trustees that do not want campaign contribution reform HAVE ALREADY BEEN BOUGHT.

They are again ignoring the public and the public's best interests.

They have lined their pockets, and want to continue lining their pockets. They do not want their sources of revenue diminished.

Except that they should not be on the take, available to the highest bidder. What does that make them? Oh, I don't know, what is that word for those who sell themselves?


anniej Dec. 12, 2012 @ 8:32 p.m.

this issue, IS THE ISSUE, that defines the majority of our current board. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. it is alleged that brand interfered with the political process when his alleged friend 'burt grossman' all of a sudden became a player in the election process.

a few speakers referred to the potential of brand brokering campaign contributions - while the next election process is 2 years away - let us not forget about those prop o dollars. "i will gladly promise you a contract today for a contribution tomorrow" - surely we don't have to worry about that DO WE????????????

Mr. Cartmill, as board president it is time for you to LEAD -

we want term limits we want campaign contribution limits - no ifs, no ands, no buts.......... and we want SMALL amounts.

try this novel approach, get off your bootys, out of the gym, out from in front of the camera and WALK THE NEIGHBORHOODS................................ put some effort into campaigning for once. do what lopez did WALK THE STREETS OF THIS COMMUNITY - TALK TO THE TAXPAYERS - listen to our concerns, FIX the problems, get rid of brand and explain yourselves. when you walk, please try to not act out and have the police called as it was at the off ramp where quinones was standing, our peace officers have better things to do than be called to restore peace and order on grown adults.

as a side note i found it very concerning that arlie ricasa was named vice president of the board, voted in to sit on the audit committee (allegedly at staffs request (hmmmmmm), and will continue to serve as one of our board member representatives at the state level. AND WE WONDER WHY WE ARE THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE STATE. lopez, well lopez was given no acknowledgement by her fellow board members, no responsibilities - WHY WASN'T SHE VOTED IN TO SIT ON THE AUDIT COMMITTEE? oops, there i go again asking questions we all know the answer to. - i guess it is hard for them to swallow the fact that she is seen as the only board member who does the business of student education and the taxpayers fiduciary responsibility - AND SHE WAS VOTED IN BY THE MAJORITY OF THE VOTING COMMUNITY.

quinones is filner's queen and filner is her king. time for the milk of magnesia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jmbrickley Dec. 12, 2012 @ 9:42 p.m.

"Board chair Jim Cartmill did acknowledge that “at some point we are going to have contribution limits.” However, he said the limit he might want might be “the polar opposite” of what Nick Marinovich wants."

"Trustee Lopez responded, “When? When are we going to do something? We’ve been talking about these bylaws for three months now.”

"Boardmember John McCann says he agrees the district needs campaign-contribution limitations; however, he believes “we need to look at them comprehensively.”

Isn't that why you put it on the agenda Jim? Having it on the agenda gives all parties a chance to voice their opinion on the subject. If your opinion is the polar opposite from Mr. Marinovich, then I can only assume you want even more money.

As to your obfuscation John, how does one take a comprehensive look AT LIMITING CONTRIBUTIONS. You either limit them or not. Once you've decided to set limits, then the only thing to consider is HOW MUCH the limit will be. And, to be totally honest with ya, somehow I just can't see you being objective in this matter. You're too beholding to your major contributors.


anniej Dec. 12, 2012 @ 11:32 p.m.


That very statement - that the limits Mr. Cartmill would be willing to adhere to would differ from Mr. Marinovich preference about says it all


cvres Dec. 12, 2012 @ 10:24 p.m.

Just one important question: where is timtim?


anniej Dec. 12, 2012 @ 11:26 p.m.

CVRES: Take a second look at the picture included in the article. A face only a mother could love. Timtim?


Jmbrickley Dec. 13, 2012 @ 7:38 a.m.

Whoever did John's make-up that night must have been on drugs. That is one bad photo. You go girl!


anniej Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:12 a.m.

JmBrickley: McCann was in McCann mode Monday night- after insulting a well respected member of the community he then became agitated when this news agencies photographer attempted to take the above picture.

In case you have not heard the city of Chula Vista is going forward on a University -maybe now brand and the board will turn their attentions to OUR 7 - 12th graders - you know the students they swore to educate.

Perhaps if the students could all pool their lunch money and donate said pennies to the Cartmill, McCann, ricasa and quiniones campaigns maybe just maybe their education would start being focused on. It is indeed troubling to attend these board meetings and listen to students and teachers attempt to garner the boards attention with pleas of help - unfortunately the only one listening is Lopez.


joepublic Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:28 a.m.

Couldn't Mr. Cartmill have placed campaign contributions on the next meeting's agenda? He talks the good talk saying, “at some point we are going to have contribution limitations", but walks away from the issue when it comes to action. The public is getting impatient, and really tired of having school board seats bought and paid for by contractors.


anniej Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:46 a.m.

Joepublic: it is important for all to re read the part of the article that refers to the contributions made to cartmill and McCann by SGI - WHY???????

20k? to cartmill? no wonder cartmill is alerting us that his definition of campaign limitations would most likely be different from what Marinovich would like to see. Here is the difference Marinovich is and acts like a public servant - Cartmill is paid for his public service and appears to benefit from it.

Lets cut to the chase, why would ANY contractor donate 20k to a voting school board members campaign - well, I believe I just answered my own question. The key word is VOTING school board member.


erupting Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:47 a.m.

Now that the year ban that Brand used to get board members Quinones, Ricassa,McCann and Cartmill more time is up I bet Maty Adato will be sending in the infamous request for campaign contributions again. Hopefully the 4th time will b a charm. With the trials so close I think they will be forced to deal with the issue finally.I can't wait for all the campaign contributions to be made public. I know that Cartmill and McCann amended their 700's forms to reflect the truth, but I think the jury and public will be shocked at how much money these two took from contractors even after the election.


anniej Dec. 13, 2012 @ 10:32 a.m.

Erupting: Oh my - wonder how McCann and Cartmill will attempt to explain that?


Woodchuck Dec. 13, 2012 @ 11:37 a.m.

Lucy is the Sweetwater Board, the football represents transparency, integrity and campaign limits and Charlie Brown is the public always hoping that the next try at reform will be successful. We all know how the story ends-same old, same old.


anniej Dec. 13, 2012 @ 5:40 p.m.

Woodchuck: I am the eternal optimist. I have to believe that the efforts of so many will bare the fruit of change - nothing worth having is not worth fighting for. I believe the students, teachers, good administrators and we taxpayers are worth fighting for. if we were to give up - what would that say about us -that we did not care, that we were too busy, or we were simply to weak to fight for what is just. We are NOT weak, we DO care, and while we are busy, we are not that busy.

The trials will expose all of the players - we will be able to view and read about the proceedings. Let us learn the hard lessons and vow to change the path the district has been traveling for far too long.


Visduh Dec. 13, 2012 @ 8:05 p.m.

The notion that those two cases will actually go to trial is hard to swallow. But, here we are in mid-December and there is no news at all about those criminal cases, the two board members under accusation and heading for trial still sit there and vote, and it is within a few weeks of being in a court room. Only rarely do these sorts of corruption cases go to trial: the usual outcome is that they are settled by a plea bargain. But any sort of plea bargain in these cases should/would involve the defendants resigning from the board, getting at least probation, and a fine. Do they think they can beat the rap in front of a jury? It is beginning to look that way. Well, if the jury is composed of the same sort of near brain-dead voters who reelected Quinones, they might be right. The longer this goes on, the nuttier it gets.


anniej Dec. 14, 2012 @ 8:47 a.m.

We are getting closer and closer to January and the Pollyanna in me believes that there will be convictions. "The gandara" , Sandoval I am of the opinion the charges against them will no doubt bring prison time. Ricasa and quiniones plea deal. I relish no person going to prison but what else will serve as a deterrent for like behavior?

The board meeting Monday did much to fuel the flames of repulsion The mayor of San Diego shows up and he and quinones put on a love fest with the queen and king talk. Then ultra conservative NOT John McCann nominates ricasa as vp - where is the la rostra story on that? They break for a tea party then when the meeting is resumed advise the public that due to time constraints time will be limited to two minutes. Brand wants all negative publicity and negative public opinion STOPPED - yet he and the inept 4 have joined an alliance, act as 1 and continue to bring disgrace to our district.

I always try to look for a positive in every situation. We will now be spared the painful experience of watching quinones attempting to preside over the board meetings. Talk about torture - Guantanamo needs her. It was almost as bad as listening to fingernails on a chalk board. Professional and quinones DO NOT COMPUTE! Cartmill will, no doubt, run the upcoming meetings like a fine tuned clock. He has always given the speakers the respect of looking at them when they speak, even when the dialogue put him on the hot seat. Quinones was led thru each and every meeting by brand, yet still she stumbled and bumbled.

The trials or pleas will not resolve what is broken at Sweetwater, no there are other changes, all involving personnel that need to be addressed:

Brand gone McCann gone Cartmill gone

We need the dawn of a new day


eastlaker Dec. 14, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m.

That we do.

We need a change of mindset from pay-to-play to a true meritocracy. No more cheating on the exams for employees.

No more changing of grades inappropriately.

No more Brown Act violations, no more back-room deals concluded at the expense of the community, the students and the teachers.

No more arrogance from those who are supposed to represent the best interests of this community.

No more misappropriation of funds, no more awarding of fat contracts to "friends."

I can't wait for the dawn of this new day.


anniej Dec. 14, 2012 @ 9:37 p.m.

Eastlaker: it is too bad there is not a way to take your words and hang them from the overpasses of our local freeways. I attended a function out your way today, once someone 'outed' who I was I found myself trying to explain why the few can not accomplish this alone. They are aware, they are appalled with the actions of their east lake board members, they want change, they even want the two eastlake guys gone and NOW - but seem to think eastlaker and the others can do it all by themselves. It was interesting, those that were most verbal are part of the inner circle of said two board members, imagine that! What is that saying, 'like the guy hate the actions of the guy' (paraphrase).

Sadly I need to state for the record, we have only scratched the surface - each stone turned over brings more ................ - It is far wose than we thought. There is more coming,,,,,,,,


eastlaker Dec. 15, 2012 @ 1:33 p.m.

The investigations need to be thorough and exact. Once again, I hope there will be a forensic accounting report going back years, enough to encompass the first Fast Eddy go-around.

We really do need all those who are concerned and unhappy with the present situation to stand up and say/do something. Otherwise all this will be considered "just the way things go in South Bay/Sweetwater/Name your school district".

If you are displeased, call the Superintendent's office, call the board members. If you have knowledge of wrongdoing, collect your thoughts and make your report to the authorities, keeping a copy for yourself, with a signed and dated document detailing when you made your report, and to whom.

Things do not get better unless good people stand up and make them better.


Visduh Dec. 16, 2012 @ 8:10 p.m.

While it is not the topic of this story, and while it is not the doing for the most part of residents of the city of SD, if anyone was hoping that Filner would be a reformer, his words and actions in regard to Sweetwater and Quinones show what can be expected from him. Could it be that he knows something already about the disposition of those bribery cases? As in the DA will fold? It is getting awfully close to January when those cases are scheduled for trial. It would be unusual to say the least to have them actually go to a jury. So, where are the plea bargains, resignations, sentences of probation and fines, which is how such cases are almost always resolved? Something here just does not smell right, and I fear it is that Bahnee will sell out the voters in SUHSD.


eastlaker Dec. 17, 2012 @ 9:47 a.m.

I was amazed at the Filner Family Circus/Dog and Pony Show that was the most recent board meeting of SUHSD.

It showed enormous contempt for the public.

While I was aware of the character flaws Filner has most publicly displayed, I had thought those were uncommon moments brought on by exhaustion and frustration. Now it looks like there is a pattern of bad judgement coupled with some sort of belief that rules do not apply to a personage as grand as Bob Filner.

Sadly, he isn't just the problem of the city of San Diego now. He is a much bigger problem, as he seems to lack a moral touchstone. Sad, crass. And not what the world, and we as a larger community need right now.


oskidoll Dec. 17, 2012 @ 10:47 a.m.

Don't forget to include the County Office of Education (keep the pressure on them, even if they don't care - because they are obligated to care); the State Superintendent of Education (ditto); and the DA's office, when sending copies of each and every complaint. Numbers do count!


eastlaker Dec. 17, 2012 @ 11:25 a.m.

What we as a global community need to realize is that each of us can be a force for good or evil.

And we here in south San Diego county need to stand up for good.

Thanks for your reminders and encouragement!


eastlaker Dec. 17, 2012 @ 12:16 p.m.

All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

--attributed to Edmond Burke, but thought to be a variation on a John Stuart Mill statement.

Have we not had enough from this majority board of Sweetwater and their oily-as-creosote leader, Ed Brand?


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