Ed Brand and Donna Frye on September 23
  • Ed Brand and Donna Frye on September 23
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Donna Frye attended the September 23 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting to offer superintendent Ed Brand and the trustees some legal advice. Frye volunteers for an open-government, nonprofit organization called Californians Aware (CalAware).

Frye had requested a contract from Sweetwater on the controversial private investigative agency that Brand uses at his discretion. Information related to the agency was not available on the district website, which underscored the point of Frye’s visit — that the district needs to assist citizens in obtaining information to enable them to participate in a fully informed way at board meetings.

In deference to Frye’s presence, the district moved up the public comment section of the meeting. (In the past, the district has moved public comment to the end of the meeting; once, public comment was postponed until the next scheduled board meeting.)

Frye told the board that, based on the Brown Act and the Public Records Act, “it is my strongest recommendation that the district make available to the public the agenda and agenda packets at the same time the board members receive this information.” Frye also suggested the material be posted online when it becomes available to trustees “to save time and money.”

Frye explained to the superintendent and the board that the reason the provisions exist is that the public, like the trustees, needs an opportunity to preview the material.

Fast forward to a week before the October 23 board meeting. Parent and community advocate Maty Adato says she contacted the clerk of the board on October 10 and asked when board members would be getting their agendas.

The clerk responded that same day: “Per Board Bylaw 9322, the agenda shall be forwarded to each board member at least six working days before each regular meeting…”

Then Adato asked, “Since the board members receive their agenda six working days before the meeting, I would like to formally request that the board agenda be posted to the public at this time.

“According to the Brown Act section 54954.1, as soon as the agenda is given to the board, I may request a copy of that agenda. In order to save the district money for staff time to copy the agenda, posting it is a reasonable request.”

The clerk wrote back on October 14: “The agenda will be posted to the public 72 hours before a regular board meeting in accordance with the Brown Act.”

In an October 18 interview, Adato said the district seems to consistently play the role of obstructionist: delayed public record requests and searches that allegedly yield “no responsive documents” are typical.

Adato said, “If the clerk was not going to post the agenda and the backup documents online as Frye had suggested — she should have mailed them to me or provided them or told me I could pick them up at the district office.”

Daniel Shinoff, the attorney for the district, was asked in an October 18 email “if you have any comment on the district's lack of implementation of this section of the Brown Act or, perhaps, the lack of applicability of this section.”

Shinoff responded, “It is my understanding from the District that the request was not denied.”

Terry Francke, counsel for Californians Aware, said in an October 18 interview that “It’s possible there is a misunderstanding, but it would be wrong for the district to deny people their right to agenda-related documents. It’s conceivable that our organization may follow-up on this with a letter.”

Francke said that although the organization is about “education,” they also sponsor one or two legislative bills a year and “occasionally engage in litigation.”

Meanwhile, Adato has filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

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eastlaker Oct. 19, 2013 @ 3:13 p.m.

Yet another way to demonstrate the vast wasteland that Sweetwater is becoming!

Thanks, Ms. Luzzaro for yet another informative and concise news item about what Sweetwater can't do.

Sweetwater's administration, lead by Brand and the toadies, yet again try to keep the public unaware.

The obvious reason that this board does not want the public to be informed to the degree that the public is entitled to be informed is that THIS BOARD AND ED BRAND ARE ENGAGING IN SYSTEMATIC AND THOROUGH MISMANAGEMENT, FRAUD AND ABUSE of this school system.

Egregious and loathsome behavior: unleashing private investigators on citizens who ask questions; calling an employer when a citizen asks questions in a public venue; concocting real estate schemes that are secret arrangements benefitting persons unknown (but educated guesses are allowed); engaging in disingenuous contract negotiations with teachers, and then using good faith agreements to shovel funds to nefarious projects; the list is almost endless.

And yet the county B of E and the state B of E say nothing and do nothing.

Thank goodness for Donna Frye, the group Californians Aware, Maty Adato, and all others who speak up, sound off and work to get the evil in our midst stopped.


joepublic Oct. 19, 2013 @ 5:19 p.m.

[Shinoff responded, “It is my understanding from the District that the request was not denied.”]

The district's lawyer gives a clever response. While not denying Ms Adato's request, the district certainly ignored Ms Frye's advice.


montana64 Oct. 19, 2013 @ 7:03 p.m.

Donna Frye! Do please try--To get them to give us info/ But please beware...Of that South Bay Terror--Who will SIC a PI on you from the GET-GO! Tis a JUNGLE, the muck-raker's lament. For here, the whistle blower is no friend/ of the powers that rip-off and spend. Welcome to where OPAQUE is the new transparent.


Jmbrickley Oct. 19, 2013 @ 7:13 p.m.

"Frye had requested a contract from Sweetwater on the controversial private investigative agency that Brand uses at his discretion. Information related to the agency was not available on the district website, which underscored the point of Frye’s visit — that the district needs to assist citizens in obtaining information to enable them to participate in a fully informed way at board meetings."

I would bet that Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa, and Pearl Quinonez, all thought her visit was because of the great job they were doing. John McCann would have simply labeled her a "libtard" and dismissed her out of hand.


Susan Luzzaro Oct. 19, 2013 @ 7:39 p.m.

Ms. Adato,

You mention "bad publicity" and it is a recurring thought for me. I live in the South Bay. The kids are great, on their way to being great, or need some one in their corner. The teachers I have met appear to be committed.

So, the point of that was to say--we need to separate the persistent problems the district administration has had from the faculty, classified and students--which obviously you know, but I felt the need to say.


Susan Luzzaro Oct. 19, 2013 @ 7:44 p.m.

"Opaque is the new transparent," Montana, what a relief your vocabulary has offered... I am quite bored and have lost faith in the word "transparent."


bankalchemist Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:05 p.m.

Transparent stops with Ed Brand at his waist line. If its not of Ed for Ed and by Ed it does not pass through.


calbear April 29, 2014 @ 11:28 a.m.

When Ed Brand says "transparent" it means we the people...didn't see it coming.


Susan Luzzaro Oct. 19, 2013 @ 7:46 p.m.

Mr. Brickley, I do believe you speak with tongue in cheek.


anniej Oct. 19, 2013 @ 8:07 p.m.

Ed Brand does what he wants when he wants, and Jim Cartmill sits on the side lines blessing Brand's every move.

For Ed Brand to snub his nose at Ms. Frye is a clear indicator of just how OUT OF CONTROL Brand is. Ms. Frye was most peasant when she offered to counsel Brand and the Board on the importance of The Brown Act - little did Frye realize that Brand does not take kindly to ANYONE commenting on how he runs SUHSD.

Can February hurry up and get here so we can say good-bye to the total dysfunction and poor fiscal management of Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill and John McCann. With every story McCann's hopes for higher office fade, he will forever be known as the guy who promised much and delivered nothing.

When Brand is finally ushered out of town Jim Cartmill and John McCann will be left to walk amongst us and forced to answer WHY???? Cartmill and McCann, have let soooo many down.


bvagency Oct. 19, 2013 @ 8:34 p.m.

I went by the district office Friday to ask for documents on Community Facilities District 1. Deanne Vicedo, Clerk of the Board, acted liike she was trying to help. She went to the finance dept to look for the documents. She came back and said she could not find the documents. She asked me to make a request in writing, which I did. It was obvious she was stalling, either by her own doing or at the order of others. Either way, these are documents the district has and should be able to produce. Another example of the district avoiding and refusing to follow their legally mandated requirements under the Brown Act. I will be back Monday to see if they "found" the documents yet.


oldchulares Oct. 19, 2013 @ 8:53 p.m.

Jim needs to stop saying this is not as bad as the stories depict. These two current stories back to back seem to tell the straight skinny. My taxes should not be used for office buildings or private investigations on whistle blowers. The kids education and the teachers are where the money should be spent.


Visduh Oct. 19, 2013 @ 9:25 p.m.

This could be significant. Donna Frye has a great deal of "street cred" these days, in that she was among the first to call for Filner to be removed from the mayor's chair. She had shown, while on the SD city council, that she would look at situations and not be guided by what "everyone" else was doing.

While she doesn't, I'd suppose, live in So County, this group she represents doesn't limit its efforts to certain cities, districts, or areas. And now she shows up as a SUHSD board meeting and calls for more info to be released to the public (meaning the voters in the district.) Interesting that the board was so willing to accommodate her request to speak. These charlatans are not yet total fools, and if Donna wants to call a press conference to comment on, or denounce, the SUHSD board, the TV stations will be there, the Transcript will be there, and even the Mill will have to report on it.

Donna is big on openness in governing bodies, the absolute antithesis of the current Sweetwater governing cabal. She was supposed to head up an open government commission appointed by Filner, but quit when she claimed that SD city government would not show and tell all about what had been going on.

I'd recommend that Fast Eddie and the Indictees listen to what she has to say. She can bring some very close scrutiny and some very bad publicity down upon them and the district if she decides they are blowing her off, or that they really are engaged in improper or criminal conduct.

Too bad that it takes someone like her, on the outside and in no way an investigator or prosecutor, to get the district to sit up, listen, and let her speak. She's doing the job that the DA, attorney general, FBI, and US attorney should be doing now in shedding some light into the dark corners of the out-of-control and irredeemably corrupt district.


bankalchemist Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:02 p.m.

Remember Ed is SAOS and had some of the best advisers such as Tom Hassey and the former mayor. There is a state agency set up for the purpose of investigating fraud involving public moneys. (SAOS = Slick As Owl Shit)


Ensenadamaria Oct. 19, 2013 @ 10:52 p.m.

"Donna is big on openness in government bodies". Ed Brand needs an AP lesson in open government and Donna Frye is just the instructor that will bring the lesson home. Frye is a well respected dignitary who is not afraid to expose those who seek to defraud, no matter who they are or what position they hold. Brands promise to protect the board seem to be disintegrating. I see others have commented on board president Jim Cartmill. Cartmill is not as brazen as Brand, he is more liken to a Cheshire Cat, sneaky and greedy. His true character will be brought to light when he is tried with the rest of the gang of thieves.


anniej Oct. 20, 2013 @ 10:17 a.m.

With so many important issues coming before the board tomorrow I just realized that Brands evaluation seems to have NOT made it on the docket.

I believe it first came before the board in closed session in July, it was there last month as well, nothing was 'reported out'. One would have thought it would be completed this month -

Why doesn't the board just save some time. - and FIRE BRAND! Thereby allowing a greater in depth discussion on where to spend our monies IN THE CLASSROOM. Honor the benefit rates previously agreed upon.

John McCann all eyes will be on you tomorrow night. Each person you will see looking back at you no doubt represents a families vote. That family has family and friends and so on and so on - this is a very tight knit community, many of the teachers, Administrators and employees live in the South Bay and have family and friends in the South Bay - their kids play on sports teams. Just this week I sat next to a Dr. at a high school basketball game who resides in Eastlake, she ASKED ME my views on SUHSD - last evening I emailed her a few READER articles - she emailed me back 'a great deal to think on'. This morning when I opened my email there was a follow up email. She wanted to know "what are Jim and John's positions on these issues"? My response "I would prefer for you to see how they vote in person - see you Monday". (Why spoil her perception for the two based on my opinion, actions speak so much louder than words).


bvagency Oct. 21, 2013 @ 6:13 a.m.

For those of you following, here is the proposed new building Ed Brand wants to buy in Eastlake. This while cutting teachers' health benefits. Its clear his philosophy is buildings over beings (human). Now is not the time for a new building for district offices! We have too many needs and not enough money! I think Ed's eyes are bigger than his stomach!! He just cant say no to a real estate deal when he sees one. That would be great if he were a real estate mogul or investor, but he is not. He is a school superintendent!! Ed, don't do it!


JulianAsange Oct. 21, 2013 @ 1:25 p.m.

Shouldn't that call to action be: Trustees, don't let him do it! ??? Come on trustees, you can do the decent thing and vote this lunacy down.


bankalchemist Oct. 24, 2013 @ 12:58 p.m.

The big ED has an office in this building and I have been there many many times. Follow the money as Ed does nothing that he will not benefit from.


eastlaker Oct. 22, 2013 @ 8:25 a.m.

Bold moves by Fast Eddy--has the self-appointed king ordered his coach and six? Because that is about the only perk he hasn't already given himself.


eastlaker Oct. 22, 2013 @ 10:25 a.m.

Kind of indicates a link between sunshine and brain activity--in a negative way. But even that can't explain the how and why of this Sweetwater disaster of a school district, and the out of control crazed behavior of Ed Brand and his army of loyal brain-dead followers.


bankalchemist Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:12 p.m.

Recently the News 10 team for ABC San Diego discovered a report where the entire school district was due to replace many fire alarms which were already deemed non operational. The funds provided by the State are already set aside but the work long overdue has not been initiated or completed. Ed Brand could not be reached for commit.


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