Maty Adato at the December 10, 2012, board meeting
  • Maty Adato at the December 10, 2012, board meeting
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At the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting in January, Maty Adato finally resorted to the “A” word — she told the trustees she had retained an attorney.

Adato, a Sweetwater parent and one of the community activists who took concerns about potential district corruption to the district attorney’s office, has been trying to agendize campaign contribution caps for more than a year.

In January, Adato told the Sweetwater trustees she had retained an attorney who would seek a writ of mandate from the superior court to get the item agendized. Although Adato has followed district protocol and made timely submissions of the agenda item several times, her requests have been ignored.

Only days after Adato issued her ultimatum, she was informed her resolution would be agendized.

The recently released agenda for February 19 confirms that trustees will be obliged to consider her three-page resolution that states: “no person, other than a candidate, shall make a contribution in excess of $750.00 for a single election contest.”

Regarding organizations, which are defined as labor unions, firms, partnerships, businesses, trusts, etc., the resolution states “no organization shall make a contribution to any candidate or candidate-controlled campaign committee.”

In a February 18 statement, Adato said, “I believe having campaign contribution limits would hopefully keep the exact charges most of our board members are charged with from recurring. [Trustees Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa, Pearl Quiñones, and Bertha Lopez await arraignment on varied alleged corruption charges.] Almost every other district and state agency has some kind of limitation on campaign contributions for vendors who do business with their organization….

“It’s not rocket science to understand how it looks to the public when you accept $10,000 from a contractor/vendor and then vote for their contract…. A school board race should not cost the candidates so much money…. People with knowledge and good intentions may be kept from running because they do not have the money.”

Donation caps became an issue following district-board elections in 2010, when exorbitant donations were poured into the campaign coffers of trustees Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa, and John McCann. Many of the contributions were made by vendors who had benefited (or hoped to benefit from) the district’s $644 million Proposition O construction bond.

In December 2011, Nancy Stubbs sought a similar reform. At the 2011 meeting, Stubbs used these words to urge the trustees to vote for the resolution:

“When over 70 percent of some candidates’ campaign contributions came not from the community they represent but from vendors, the perception is that the board is more responsive to the vendors than to the community. When over $150,000 total was contributed to three board candidates by vendors of the district, and coincidentally those board members won, the perception is that the vendors bought the right votes.”

In December 2011, the cap resolution died for lack of a motion.

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anniej Feb. 18, 2013 @ 10:43 p.m.

Hats off to Ms. Adato - her tenacity has resulted in the board being forced to deal with the very foundation of the alleged corruption - campaign donations. past elections gave the elections the appearance of being bought via contractors excessively large campaign donations - some as high as 20 - 30k.

Allegedly John McCann promised many that he would not take campaign contributions from contractors, see Registrar of Voters for proof that the promise was broken.

ALL EYES WILL BE ON THESE BOARD MEMBERS tomorrow night. While many believe that this is the end of the road for them running for board seats again; no doubt McCann will attempt to run for mayor of CV - hope he realizes that he had better wait until all is revealed regarding the corruption case before throwing his hat in that race. Following him will be many questions I.e. WHY HE MET WITH ALVEY, prior to being voted in? WHY HE MET WITH BONNY GARCIA, prior to being voted in? WHY HE FAILED TO GO TO THE DA once he saw first hand what was going on? AND WHY HE FOUGHT THOSE THAT DID GO TO THE DA and FBI - like STUART PAYNE so hard? Mccann had the nerve to try and have a restraining order placed on Payne, and HELLO! WE, THE TAXPAYERS FOOTED THE BILL (which was authorized by Brand).


Jmbrickley Feb. 18, 2013 @ 11:56 p.m.

Every so often, a governing body is given an opportunity to do the right thing. Campaign reform is just such an item. The current situation that permeates the SUHSD culture is one of "what's in it for me." This is not what it should be. When we elected our current Board members, we were of an opinion that represented an idealistic position that everybody was on the same page; what was best for our students was what was best for SUHSD. Sadly, the position of the majority of our Board and that of our current Superintendent is not in harmony with that sentiment.

Because of the ongoing scandal that has been the public picture of our current Board, it is time to make a change. A change that not only represents the will of the public, but also is a meaningful acceptance of what has become the norm of our times. The influences of campaign dollars in today's elections has become a plague that needs to be eradicated. Too much influence by the contractors who want a piece of the monetary pie has tainted the process that we call the democratic process. We need honest governmenment, one that is not influenced by money, favors, or promises.

We need a Board of trustees that are willing to make decisions, not based on who they are beholding to, but rather on sound principles of student's needs, financial responsibilities, and future goals. To this end, I support campaign reform. This is the only means that we, the public, have of assuring that our elected officials are not beholding to the influence of money from the unscrupulous.


bbq Feb. 19, 2013 @ 5:52 a.m.

Hoo Rah, finally a chance to look into your own dirty laundry and making it an honorable cause to serve the public again. We will undoubtably hear something on Tuesday about this action.... I will reiterate that we need to develop the foundation and framework of what we as citizens, taxpayers and customers of SUHSD want in the District. When we know what people running for the board stand for with regards to what we want the cost of a campaign becomes reasonable for a regular citizen to run for the board. Hopefully that is step one, now how about that forensic audit of the District, also the review and hiring practices.


oneoftheteachers Feb. 19, 2013 @ 5:59 a.m.

I can't wait to see board members try and squirm out of this. Thank you Maty Adato.


eastlaker Feb. 19, 2013 @ 7:49 a.m.

This is an outstanding example of personal integrity becoming greater, growing into a force for a great improvement in the political climate in this region.

Thank you Maty for your persistence in standing up and speaking out for what is right, when the Sweetwater Board majority would rather you (and all others who are fed up with this mess) would just sit down and shut up.

It is a complete outrage that this majority board has behaved as it has. It is almost beyond comprehension that this majority board would ignore the known legal processes THAT THESE MEMBERS HAVE SWORN TO UPHOLD!

So what does that tell you? The majority did not want it on record that they had voted down campaign restrictions--because that would be tantamount to a headline reading:

Sweetwater Majority Board Prefers To Do Bidding Of Contractors, Will Forget About Students As They Never Really Contribute To The Bottom Line (Except For That 5% We Skim From ASB Funds)


erupting Feb. 19, 2013 @ 9:20 a.m.

Bravo Maty,but do not hold your breath. My trust level is zero on four of these board members. Lopez will do the right thing,Pearl is iffy or a recuse myself. If Cartmill and Arlie are not going to run again they should be on board. This will be interesting to see. The would be future CV mayor Mc Cann might be the swing vote. What an interesting event. Either way thanks Maty.


joepublic Feb. 19, 2013 @ 9:40 a.m.

Ms Adato and all those who have unselfishly sacrificed precious time and energy standing up to this school board are owed a great deal of thanks from the community. Thank you, all.


angrybirds Feb. 19, 2013 @ 9:50 a.m.

Great article Ms. Luzzaro!! Lets see if how these people will react and based on all the bad press they get, they should vote yes with no discussion. Based on this districts actions Ms. Adato i think it does take a rocket scientist because this board doesnt understand plain English. Maybe they should have to retake an ethics class until they pass it, oh wait then we might have to pay their retirement.


anniej Feb. 19, 2013 @ 10:17 a.m.


while I know that Ms. Adato has fought the good fight out of a genuine concern over how the district has been governed and how our tax dollars have been spent - I do believe it is time for persons such as she to fill the board seats. Hopefully she will consider this recommendation - I mean after all, isn't she, in essence, already doing the job they were elected to do?


oskidoll Feb. 19, 2013 @ 12:11 p.m.

Kudos to Ms. Adato! It is indeed a sad commentary that it took a threat of legal action to get the District to perform what it is legally bound to do (agendize relevant items brought to it by the public) per the Brown Act.

Let's not forget that in addition to ACCEPTING the campaign donations of huge amounts from vendors/contractors, four have also been charged with EXTORTING additional money from them: Quinones, Ricasa, Sandoval and Gandara. These are serious felony crimes against the public, and extortion takes it to even a higher level.


anniej Feb. 19, 2013 @ 10:19 p.m.

NO VOTE - McCann spoke for the board - he recommends that they study it, I believe he called it half baked, hmmmmmm. At least Ms. Adato was able to get it into the oven; and the taste test done by the community labeled it BLUE RIBBON!

Hold onto your hats - McCann is concerned about SPECIAL INTERESTS influencing the vote, and by golly if anyone would know about special interests it would be Johnny boy.

This bunch has had a year TO STUDY IT, TO WRITE THEIR OWN - and they did nothing.


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:12 a.m.

Yes, Johnny Boy knows from half-baked!!

This board has no intention of ever doing anything remotely in line with what their constituency wants and needs, because they STILL have their (vastly mistaken) sense that the public will not prevail.

Gosh, I wonder what gave them that idea? Or who...

Are they still listening to Brand's line of cant, the man who talks out of both sides of his mouth even in his dreams? Did Fast Eddy tell them that his super-connected pals would make sure that no one will touch them in the upcoming legal proceedings? If so, how could Fast Eddy ensure that? Does anyone really think the entire legal system of San Diego County is under Fast Eddy's control?

Doesn't that seem a bit far-fetched?

Even if Fast Eddy has well-connected friends, please tell me truthfully-----does anyone really think the pack of bumblers known as the majority board of Sweetwater is worth expending political (or any other type...) capital on?

Surely it is time for all sentient beings to realize Sweetwater will be a monument to deliberate, chosen stupidity as it crumbles, and that all who supported those who drove it to that state will be called out and castigated.

And the thousands of students will be looking at a broken system, while Ed Brand rides north, clutching what he stole from them.

Who would want to go on record as being a party to that?


Jmbrickley Feb. 19, 2013 @ 11:04 p.m.

Once again, the do nothing Board does nothing.


cvres Feb. 19, 2013 @ 11:44 p.m.

Is it because they want the contractors money for their next elections (Lopez and Quinones seemed to do fine without this last round) or is they don't want to take the suggestion because it comes from the community. In any light, it is wrong. This inability to clean their own house has been going on since 2010.


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 7:48 a.m.

More stonewalling. Another example of this board ignoring public input and the public's will.

Just what do they think will be gained?

Do they think we will give up and go away, leaving everything to this corrupt majority board, and their monumentally out-of-control (yet controlling) fearless leader, the one and only, the puppeteer of legend, "Fast Eddy" Brand?

Not likely.

Looks like this bunch have been talked into playing until they are driven from the field in complete disgrace.

If that's what they want, that's what they will get. What a nauseating, miserable pack of compulsive ne'er-do-wells.

Standing in the way of our community, standing in the way of good citizens, students, teachers and all people everywhere who are trying to work for a better world. Yes, we know what side McCann, Ricasa, Quinones and Cartmill are on. They have proved it once again.

They are certainly not on the side of right.


anniej Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:05 a.m.

The Pollyanna in me continues to remain. I soooo believed that they would step up to the plate and do the right thing. It was not about who brought the issue to the table, it was simply an issue - but to them apparently it was just that - HOW DARE WE ATTEMPT TO STOP THE NEXT ROUND OF WHEELIN' and DEALIN' by asking for campaign donation limitations - WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?

As the speakers spoke, Quinones and McCann busied themselves with ? NEVER LOOKING UP, yet when public comment was over McCann was Johnny on the spot - delivering one of his 'I want to be mayor platform speeches'. He is concerned about special interest groups, guess he has been so busy this month that he had no time to actually read the resolution Ms. Adato presented as IT DID INCLUDE GROUPS!

My resolve is even greater after this, just when I think they are going to do right THEY PROVE ME WRONG! Time to regroup and stop equating 'hope' and this bunch. Time to get back to get back to work in exposing the truth.


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:26 a.m.

Apparently McCann has been put in place to ride herd--apparently he is taking orders from someone who would rather the constituency of Sweetwater remain voiceless and powerless. Now, who could that be?

Why is McCann such a willing participant in the denial of civil rights to this very large group of people?

Why does McCann, who claims to want to be a leader, NEVER listen to the voices of the people he is supposed to represent.

I can only deduce that he somehow prefers to listen to other voices. Now, who would those voices belong to?


anniej Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:33 a.m.

Eastlaker: the answer to your question WHO IS JOHN MCCANN LISTENING TO?



eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 9:25 a.m.

Does 'the protection' travel as far as the prison yard?


anniej Feb. 20, 2013 @ 8:27 a.m.

THE CLOUD - there was a speaker last night a Ms. Perisi (spelling) - she is an I T specialist and she took the time to try to explain to the board that all of the millions they are pouring into I T is a waste. She spoke of THE CLOUD and how it had the potential to save many wasted tax dollars - she informed the board that many progressive companies that are conscious of their expenditure see it as THE FUTURE since the world of I T is changing daily, as are the products. Were there questions from the board, was any interest shown by the board or Brand - Oh anniej, you are so silly, you know that fiscally responsible and the majority of the SUHSD board do not equate.

Now here is a thought, McCann allegedly works in the I T field, did he listen, did he even look up? That would be a NO - hmmmmmmmmm

Thank You Ms. Perisi for taking the time to try to help us in a time of financial need - yet another concerned taxpayer doing her due diligence - too bad your expertise generated NO INTEREST!


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 12:02 p.m.

Again, anniej, the majority board would actually have to be in possession of working intellects to be able to respond to Ms. Parisi. That would appear to be a gigantic stretch for this bunch, who have so amply demonstrated (for the world to see) the limits of their abilities.

Yes, can you imagine any of this bunch applying for a job with Sweetwater UHSD trustee listed as their last position? Wow. Unless, of course, it would be applying to work under similarly-minded individuals, who find the achievements of the Sweetwater Board laudable.

But some of those Chicago-style politicos have actually gone to prison.


angrybirds Feb. 20, 2013 @ noon

What a crock of shit, I thought i heard everything from this district but I guess they are the gift of that keeps on giving. The only problem is that the only thing they keep on giving is excuses for their crappy behavior. All they want is the money, greedy bastards aren't they?

Community keep up the fight hopefully they will end up convicted and leave their posts and then we can get some real reform started by firing the pompous, lying, arrogant and narcissistic superintendent.


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2013 @ 12:08 p.m.

You left out thieving, grasping and treacherous...and a few more.


Visduh Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:03 p.m.

angrybirds, why don't you tell us how you REALLY feel about this board?


oskidoll Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:16 p.m.

It is abundantly clear that these crooks will not abandon their self-dealing ways. It is also abundantly clear that we ought to stop expecting them to do so...somewhat akin to expecting sober behavior from a drunk (although that is unfair to the alcoholics).

Only when they are out of office, either by being turned out by the electorate or being conviced of one of more felonies, will they be forced to vacate. Our collective outrage has no impact on them. Nevertheless, we should continue our vigilance and reporting to legal authorities to help build the case(s) leading to conviction.

Thanks to so many who have kept watch and exposed wrong-doing at every turn. Keep up the not get discouraged...the taxpayers and our students need your continued vigilance. These are not petty crooks, they continue to commit serious crimes against the public.


Woodchuck Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:53 p.m.

All of these comments are amazingly accurate. oskidoll makes the most salient point -"they will not abandon their self-dealing ways. It is also abundantly clear that we ought to stop expecting them to do so." For the most part, their actions do not have consequences when it comes time for re-election. When residents really start to pay attention and not just read the glossy mailer or the title incumbent, then change is much more likely. The vote is our best weapon against incompetence.


joepublic Feb. 20, 2013 @ 5:40 p.m.

anniej: Was the proposed resolution moved, seconded? Did anyone on the board besides McCann speak to the issue? The district's website audio isn't up yet. Very disappointing news. When are the next elections?


anniej Feb. 20, 2013 @ 6 p.m.

Joepublic - nothing was done, died for a lack of motion. John McCann, it appears, wants a committee to study the issue.

I could go on but it speaks for itself


Jmbrickley Feb. 20, 2013 @ 10:36 p.m.

Board members are not in the habit of forming committees. One thing that could have been done by John McCann, was to ask the Superintendent to form up this committee he wants to see. That is the duty of the super. Did John do that? No.

Because the issue of campaign limitations was on the agenda, the Board could have used the item to do all sorts of constructive actions.

Alas, John McCann did nothing except to pontificate to the public that he knows what is best for them. Hollow man! He has no sustance in there, just an empty suit.


WTFEd Feb. 23, 2013 @ 12:49 p.m.

WTFEd is back. I have silenced my comments recently thinking I do not want to act out of anger or frustration as when I first entered this blog and as a long time supporter of Ed Brand and the District. I did not want to be impulsive and pondered the situation after reflecting on the selection of Mr. Alt and the “L” Street debacle.

I was blinded by the spin of Superintendent Brand and his circle of minions who fear for their job like me if we are outed. In fact I try and use words here that would not be code. I would not put it beyond Mr. Brand to have some type of expert look at grammar patterns and find the “mole” within the District. I doubt if I am the only one who now sees the handwriting on the wall. I encourage my collegues to enter this blog and tell the truth. You will feel better about yourself. I have contaced a lawyer and even if you are at risk/non civil service that could assist us. This is a big time attorney not a country bumpkin. It is time for those in the know that you do not want to be there on the wrong side when it all goes down. There is a place in heaven for honest people. Those like Dr. Brand may have another thing coming. I hear it is even hotter in hell than those summers in Escondido where Brand is supposed to live.

The latest lack of vote on campaign contributions is just par for the course. What did you expect from people who really just think they can wait it out and beat down the “activists”. I have some very specific information about Mr. McCann that will involve a District Attorney phone call. I am in a position to know and report. I have biding my time since me finding religion and all this data is now being organized. I will keep you all informed of my progress. I guess we could set a Statewide record and have five members indicted. You know this is worse than the City of Bell.

Related to this culture of corruption that I am finally coming to grips with, I received an email from Katrina Tippett from Grand Canyon University. I thought it very odd that the District was acting like an agent for a private university to encourage employees to attend. Never mind the fact that this is a Christian University and maybe the fact that I could be Jewish, Islamic, or Hindu and this is such a Christian institution, why use public resources to pimp for Grand Canyon? Have we heard the phrase gift of public funds? In fact there is no statement on the announcement that if you want to registrar it is on your time not the District’s. If say Target donates money to our school District does that mean I can leave work early on company time and buy some food at Target..after all I am benefiting the District? This is ridiculous.

I am quietly assembling my information, observing the hallways and talking to people I can trust. This is the year 2013. It is difficult to hide. Just ask Mr. Alt.


keepimperialbeachghetto Feb. 24, 2013 @ 1:37 a.m.

Just ask IB & Nestor how to better educate the students. The high schools there have hope based on who's in charge. No comment on the middle schools.


anniej Feb. 23, 2013 @ 7:13 p.m.

WTFEd - I recognize the picture of MR BELL CALIFORNIA, SOON GOING TO JAIL, with the deputy on the background.

Obviously you are seeing first hand all that is wrong with Sweetwater. It must be tough, real tough trying to do a good job while watching 'the powers at be' flaunting the arrogance.

I would encourage you to do what you know what is right - follow your conscience, HOWEVER tread carefully - do not put yourself in jeopardy, remember the mortgage must be paid - and you want to keep your career. I do not doubt what you say for one minute, you are not the first compelled to do right,

Good luck to you!!!!!!!


bbq Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:26 p.m.

WTFEd, I tried to post earlier, but it did not register, you are doing the right thing, Federal Whistleblower laws should protect you, if you do it correctly and it soungs like you've started that way. I always encourage athletes that I work with to be ethical and do what they are comfortable with. Do what you are comfortable with and you will always be able to live with it. There are people in the community that know that everyone associated with the district is not unethical just the guys on top.


WTFEd Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:34 p.m.

It has been a wild ride for me. I just do not know how I can mask my anger much more at work about what has been going on. I kind of feel the whole financial situation is much worse really than the District lets us believe. I really like Mr. Knott. He is a straight shooter. I also like many of the people in the District. It is just a cultural thing that has been going on for Sweetwater for years. It is kind of weird everybody knows it but nobody so far has taken it to the next level. You know that Administration Building is pretty depressing to work in that kind of environment. I know believe me. Maybe that is the problem. What is even more depressing is how some of the cabinent members treat the "lesser" employees. I got to tell you there are some real moral killers in our/that group (I will leave you guessing). I just got to suck this up and remain undercover and do my job. It is hard for me to say these things because I feel betrayed and foolish to somehow believe our fearless leader was just being singled out because those activists needed a scapegoat. I was wrong. P.S. People now have been feeding me info on "L" Street. It is tough to take when I see what appears to be real wrong behavior. "L" Street was a tipping point for me.


eastlaker Feb. 24, 2013 @ 2:07 p.m.

Regarding the financial situation--this is why there have been repeated requests for a forensic audit, why we have repeatedly asked the County Board of Education to step up and do what they are legally required to do...

"L" street--the egregious example of this majority board and Ed Brand over-reaching their "mission". Obviously, public schools ought not to be in the business of housing development...but wait just one minute!

Could it be that this is (or was) part of Ed Brand's scheme to bring in Chinese students? Building housing for them, which would subsidize the undoubtedly grandiose plan for the new district headquarters...hmmm.

When one attempts to think like Ed Brand, a world of scheming opens up.

Remember, he has allegedly thrown many people under the bus...pretty sure he's not yet finished with that.

Anyone want to check and see if his passport is up-to-date? For Ed Brand, there is a wide world of schemes out there.


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