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Two major players in the South Bay corruption case, former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara and former Sweetwater trustee Gregorio Sandoval, both plead guilty to a conspiracy felony and a misdemeanor in a Chula Vista courthouse April 4.

The charges could bring a maximum of three years in custody and a $10,000 fine; however, Judge Ana Espana indicated custody would likely not exceed one year.

Former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara beside attorney Paul Pfingst

An additional penalty for Gandara is that by pleading guilty he will no longer be eligible to have his legal defense fees paid by Sweetwater Union High School District.

As the April 28 trial date approaches, and the remaining defendants likely will enter pleas, the big question remains: Has justice been served?

Many concerned citizens have read and been swayed by the district attorney’s cumulative evidence. In what is called Statement of Facts, the district attorney’s office stated:

“Evidence gleaned by interviewing several dozen witnesses, executing two dozen search warrants, and reviewing approximately 60,000 pages of documents collected during the investigation revealed widespread corruption throughout the three school districts…”

Tonda Johnson, who attended the hearing today, said she has been so upset with what she perceived to be Judge Espana’s leniency that she wrote to the district attorney’s office and complained.

Former Sweetwater trustee Greg Sandoval pleads guilty in South Bay courtroom

Johnson said, “Nobody seems to realize how much damage these people [the defendants] have done to South Bay residents. Aside from the money and time lost, this corruption has damaged the South Bay’s reputation. Good teachers are less likely to apply to the district — and people like me are less likely to ever vote for another bond measure.”

After Gandara and Sandoval entered their guilty pleas and Johnson heard the possible sentences, she was somewhat appeased, but she said warily, “You don’t know with this judge until it comes down to the sentencing.”

Former Sweetwater bond underwriter Gary Cabello, former San Ysidro trustee Yolanda Hernandez, and former Sweetwater trustee Arlie Ricasa are scheduled to appear in court April 7 for sentencing.

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erupting April 4, 2014 @ 6:16 p.m.

Hopefully Judge Espana will finally do the business of the community in the sentencing phase of these two criminals. These two men lined their pockets as well as their stomachs on the backs of this community. It wasn't about contractors bids it was about greed. I personally would like to see them both in jail for a year,but we haven't seen much in the way of legal consequences for what these people have done.


Reader2 April 4, 2014 @ 6:38 p.m.

The saddest thing is that at the end of the day, whether they plead guilty or innocent, whether these men go to jail or not, the money that was squandered will never be returned to the students. And what about all the tax dollars spent bringing these folks to this stage? It just seems like an enormous amount of money that could have been better spent elsewhere. I can think of many worthy causes that would love to have even a small portion of the lost money.
They have caused so many people to spend so much energy and such heartache, and for what? What a colossal waste!


Missionaccomplished April 6, 2014 @ 9:02 p.m.

Too bad they can't make Gandalla pay back his $400,000 separation check.


anniej April 4, 2014 @ 6:48 p.m.

Well folks, let us all celebrate this ----- 'common citizens, working towards the common good CAN and DO make a difference.'

Back in 2009 when members of the community began speaking before the Board they were poo pooed. They were ignored and sneered at - 'how dare these pions, who do they think they are? we own SUHSD and we are going to do whatever in the hell we like' - hmmm, I believe we heard similar words come out of Ed Brands mouth recently when he sneered at the public and said 'we don't have to adjourn the meeting' (may no be exact quote).

'So, tell me how is that working for you now' I would ask them. Criminal records, reputations lost, legacies that reference corruption.

You all know what a L A R G E blue recycle bun looks like, well today I 'recycled' reems of paper on 'the Gandara', Arlie Ricas, Sandoval, and Quinones. Those chapters,,,,, closed! However there remains work to be done on two individuals, - any guess who that might be - heck, I will save you guessing time their initials are EB and JC (-and no I am not referring to Jesus Christ).

A great deal of info can be found on good old GOOGLE - just ask those that no longer sit on the dais. Non profits, tax shelters, business associations. If it is filed, THERE IS A RECORD.


anniej April 4, 2014 @ 6:55 p.m.

A special SHOUT OUT to The READER and Susan Luzzaro -

For caring enough to report factual news to a community that needed a credible news source.



joepublic April 4, 2014 @ 7:19 p.m.

To all "antagonists", thank you! This would never have happened without your diligence and willingness to give up your precious time and energy for so many years. Also, a big thank you to the Reader and Susan Luzzaro for their coverage.


WTFEd April 4, 2014 @ 9:49 p.m.

Concur with the comments about Susan Luzarro. Thanks to those ladies and we know who they are and some we don't who put this puzzle together. This District internally is just in a bunker mode. Let us not forget that still work here that the Sweetwater Way is still alive and well as long as Ed Brand and his stooges like Tom Calhoun and Diane Russo are around. How can these people live with themselves. For those of us who are inside the organzation and you wonderful people on the outside remember to take names of who have continue to lie and decieve the public and do not have the integrity to speak up. We will remember you when Ed is gone. Your reputation is sullied. You may have won the battle now but you will lose the war. The people of Sweetwater have long memories.


eastlaker April 4, 2014 @ 10:30 p.m.

I really hope some kind of message will be sent--it is not ok to steal from school children, it is not ok to rig the system, it is not ok to act like you are above the law, it is not ok to waste the resources of a community.

Students need to see that there are consequences for unlawful and truly selfish behavior.

Those who continue to act against the best interests of the students, the teachers and the community need to realize their time is running short.

Judge Espana, please take your job seriously. Bear in mind all the damage that has been done--all that cannot be accomplished because of what selfish, greedy people have done.

We need a big change in Sweetwater; let us hope it has started.


Ensenadamaria April 5, 2014 @ 7:38 a.m.

Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plan, two areas those interested might want to look into.


Susan Luzzaro April 5, 2014 @ 8:09 a.m.

anniej, you threw out all the indictments, the grand jury transcripts, the ....what a healthy response. I have boxes and boxes that are threatening to takeover two rooms. I don't have enough distance and perspective on the material yet, but I know it's got one more way it wants to be told...


Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 10:11 a.m.

Today's report in the Mill says the judge has indicated that Gandara will likely do no jail time. My take on this has always been that he was the big fish, and if anyone was going to be severely punished it should be G. But the pleas to date didn't make me think that anything harsh was going to be dished out to anyone, not even him. And so it will probably be. After all the stalling, "Perfidious Pfaulie" Pfingst does a plea bargain that has his client admitting to a felony. Well, he hasn't been doing so well lately, and I cannot think of a single case he has taken to trial since becoming a hot-shot defense attorney. His specialty seems to be keeping the clock running and racking up the billable hours, and then at the end, doing a plea bargain. I wonder how much this Gandara defense has cost.

So, Pfingsto stands there with his greaseball client and looks well-groomed as always, while justice once again is not served. And the felony in this case is a "technical" one, involving failure to report "gifts" (i.e. bribes.) Just as in the case of Chopra, once G is across a state line, and back home in Texas, he'll be able to dismiss it as a mere "technicality", and not a crime. He should be precluded from ever working in public education again. But, in that Tejano culture of west Texas, his plea might be seen as a badge of honor, and not as anything that disqualifies him from being a superintendent.

We'll begin to see more on Monday, when some of the earlier plea bargainers are sentenced. Don't expect anything more than utterly lenient terms, lest you come away disappointed. So, next up are Cartmill and Lopez. They will soon make their deals and then the county board can put its members on the Sweetwater board.


eastlaker April 5, 2014 @ 11:53 a.m.

Speaking of the Tejano culture, lest we all forget, Gandara has a few relatives who have been brought up/incarcerated on drug and other charges. Some have been involved in Socorro local politics and school positions. A brother and a nephew, I think, but I could be wrong.

And, of course, this is also Trujillo's hometown, he of the Sweetwater computers sold in Mexico (never brought up on charges), who of course became Gandara's mentor while Gandara was working on his graduate degree. Trujillo, who, at last report is working as an educational consultant.

And this is also Pearl's hometown, as I recall.

So can we all make a solemn oath to ask the real questions when it comes to filling vacancies? We really need to break this chain.


Missionaccomplished April 6, 2014 @ 9:07 p.m.

And Perla was Espinoza and Broz's meal ticket. Looking forward to have them removed in less than a year.


oskidoll April 5, 2014 @ 10:28 a.m.

I thought I read that the felony plea was to a conspiracy charge, which is certainly criminal...not a technical oversight of failing to report, which was the misdemeanor.

Admitting to a felony conspiracy ought to carry more sanction than failing to report, although the reporting laws ought not to be so disrespected...after all, they are the first line of oversight of improper gifting, which essentially what this was all about.


Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 11:30 a.m.

oski, my bad. You are right. They both pled guilty to felony conspiracy. The "technical" charge was the misdemeanor. And, yes, they should do some time for the felony. The report in the Mill says that Sandoval will ask the judge to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor (which she has done in earlier cases), and that would mean no jail time. Why would G be treated any differently? The UT reporter has the take that G will get no jail time, based on comments from the judge.

They both deserve a trip to a state prison. But if custody doesn't exceed one full year, offenses like these result in the time being served in the local sheriff-run slammer. Don't expect any jail for either one of them.


anniej April 5, 2014 @ 11:42 a.m.

Visduh in my opinion there were two other big fishes. Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa, let us not forget, it was the two of them who traveled to freakin' Socorro, Texas (poor Socorro) to bring 'the gandara's' booty back here. Have you ever asked yourselves WHY???? In my opinion it was because Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa believed he would fit it JUST FINE with all they had going on.

Cartmill and Ricasa have been for a very long time - ALL THAT CONTINUES TO BE WRONG WITH SUHSD CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THESE TWO AND BRAND 'one'.

On a positive note, we did NOT have to pay for 'the gandara's' defense. Now he can get on that trycicle he rode in on and peddle his butt 'out of here' -


oskidoll April 5, 2014 @ 5:51 p.m.

plus Sandoval...he was in on it all from 1990. Please don't let him off the hook. He is among those charged with the largest number of indictments and was among those charged with extortion. What an ego!


Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 7:51 p.m.

anniej, I defer to you. As a So County resident and informed citizen, you were aware of, and victimized by, this gang of thieves long before I started making Reader comments. Sadly, I doubt that Cartmill will get treated as harshly--which wasn't harsh at all--as Quinones. What he deserves is beside the point, especially in this judge's courtroom.

And on a slightly different note, what will we see at the sentencing now scheduled for Monday? Ricasa is going to get nothing more than a whack on her puffy wrist. But when the sentence is imposed, will the new prez of SWC fire her from her job on grounds of moral turpitude? Actually, once that plea was entered, that step could have been taken. Or will the same-old-same-old at SWC continue, with good old Arlie struttin' around the campus, sneering at the rubes, and taking down her $2K+ a week? I suspect the latter. And if that happens, you will know that little has changed at SWC too.


LightSaber April 5, 2014 @ 11:56 a.m.

Sentencing up to now has not been very harsh however if what I have read Sandoval and Gandara used their position to enrich themselves along with Ricasa and Quiones. From what I read these were the only 4 who actually received cash whether it was to pay for internships or pay professional fees or beauty pagents for their daughters. I hope Judge Espana remembers that when she sentences them. As for Cartmill and Lopez they both should resign they received gifts and did not report them and voted for the contracts, they to are a disgrace.


Missionaccomplished April 6, 2014 @ 9:11 p.m.

Don't hold your breath. White collar crime always gets a slap on the wrist in this country unless the crime is on the Bernie Madoff level.


anniej April 5, 2014 @ 11:58 a.m.

Ms. Luzzaro - no not everything regarding the 4 and NOT the Grand Jury transcripts - when Brand is gone THEN I will 'recycle' them.

I continue to find pieces to the 'new' puzzle I am putting together - the R,C,B,H 'dinero' puzzle.

I saw on the UT where the community is calling for the IRS to investigate all of those involved. Non profits (proper paperwork not submitted), long ago info on certain schools and certain salaries, tax shelters, 'first name initial' corporations, and more - while the first nets catch caught many - the second net focusing on a few.

Was Ed Brand a consultant, recommending relationships with companies like Pepsi?

Once the few are gone, then anniej will fade into the sunset.


Wabbitsd April 5, 2014 @ 12:24 p.m.

Is the generous departure package that was given the Gandara something that can be undone, since it is apparent MOST of the people voting for that are now stepping down and convicted criminals of varying degrees? I would like to ask anyone who knows the law to look into whether or not that whole severance package can be taken back at this time.


Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 12:50 p.m.

I'm no attorney, but I'd think that a new board could invoke some fraud statutes to void the deal, and make an attempt with STRS (the state teachers retirement system) to stop his monthly payments. Who knows, they might just succeed, and even if they don't the legal battle would make his life miserable and keep accruing bad publicity for him. After all, he's now a convicted felon.


Wabbitsd April 6, 2014 @ 2:48 p.m.

Visduh, couldn't happen to a more deserving person! Let's keep this topic in front of this new board.


Visduh April 9, 2014 @ 10:14 a.m.

Whatever happens with getting a new board, there will be a strong desire to, as they so often profess, "put the past behind us and move forward." It sounds so good, but often just lets egregious behavior go unpunished. Even if you and I keep bringing it up, don't expect that anything will be done. No, if there were some real justice, Gandara would have had to plead guilty to far more than he did, and there would have been a stipulation in the plea deal--put there by the DA--that he would do a minimum of a year in the slammer. The DA didn't drive a hard bargain with any of them so far, and will not with the remaining ones.


Susan Luzzaro April 5, 2014 @ 12:53 p.m.

My apologies for not filling in the details of the felony and conspiracy. The felony for both Sandoval and Gandara was Penal code section 182. Oskidoll is correct, conspiracy.

The misdemeanor for both is govt code section 89503, essentially accepting gifts over the state limit.


oskidoll April 5, 2014 @ 12:54 p.m.

Although not a legal expert, I would doubt that anything once decided by a sitting board, and money paid could be undone. The money is probably gone anyway... I would go after the future health benefits and pension if possible, however.


eastlaker April 5, 2014 @ 5:06 p.m.

The coverage by the local NBC station was particularly bad, with Pfingst being given the opportunity to lament how this educator who had done so much good was now out of a job.

Which reminds me, is this the channel staffed with McCann pals?

Because what is going on with that? And I believe they even said Gandara had been fired from Sweetwater. Are they trying to rewrite history to make McCann's record look better than he deserves?


Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 8:17 p.m.

eastlaker, the "lamestream" media in the county have given this matter far too little attention, and have underplayed the serious nature of the misconduct and the charges filed. Your typical So County low-information voter, who relies on TV news, is the same one who reelected Pearlie in the last election, when she was packing a bagful of felony charges.

"Pfaulie Pfingsto" is a favorite of reporters, 'cause he can always come up with something that sounds profound. But we all need to remember the many reasons for turning him out of the DA's office. Glib talk can only fool some of the people some of the time. Sure, he'll portray his greaseball/dirtbag/gangster/educrat client as Robin Hood or Jane Addams when he can, but he can't disguise the truth. His clientele runs toward the guilty-as-sin, and he can't shake that cloud.

I doubt that the TV station has the guile to engage in anything like you suspect. I'd say it is laziness and a desire to put on sound bites and video clips that sell. Did I mention that Pfaul always looks so good on camera?


eastlaker April 6, 2014 @ 7:34 a.m.

But of course, when something is picked up by the MSN feed from this area, it will come from the local NBC station. Must say that if you really are looking for misleading and incomplete news, that's fine. But it is just so pathetically bad.

Almost as bad as what the local Star-News does from time to time, with their polls. There is one that asks if the respondent is in favor of the union or the district--not the teachers or the district--in the contract negotiations.

The "union", i.e. teachers were running way ahead, but apparently Fast Eddy and the scurrying lackeys have induced aid from some quarter, and the last time I looked, the district supposedly had much more support. Well, is that because all the district employees were told to sign in and vote for the district? Why wouldn't I be surprised.

With the teachers holding on, I think that Fast Eddy might be sweating a bit. I wonder if he feels his power eroding?


anniej April 5, 2014 @ 8:57 p.m.

Visduh - wise you are. Cartmill will get but a slap on the wrist, he will continue to tell the congregation that he was simply attempting to benefit a good cause; alas, those in the community have become educated and realize when one is not part of the solution THEY ARE INDEED PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Regarding Arlie Ricasa, well she sure showed all who and what she is all about - self. I mean its not like she couldn't afford to pay for her own BevMo bill, not as if she deserved to use her position for a pageant and surely she knew better than use public resources to communicate her biddings. Many in the Filipino community were growing weary of her airs and self promotion. Wow, what a legacy to leave behind. Not sure if Southwestern could legally do anything, but then I too am not an attorney. Many students have voiced disdain for her at this point and respect her little. Do they have a pageant for Ms. Disgraced School Board Member? If rumors are true and she was planning on turning states evidence - code terminology for snitch, rat - I wonder how Jim Cartmill and 'the gandara' feel about her now?

Eastlaker - regarding Pfingst promoting 'the gandara's' accomplishments - allow me to refresh alls memories - isn't this the same Pfingst who stood in front of the cameras declaring the innocence of his client - well, it looks like that ship has sailed, and was then sunk!!!!!! 'the gandara' innocent - want some interesting reading - GOOGLE 'Gandara Soccorro, Texas - read the comments in past newspaper articles - the community has a great deal to say about 'the gandara' and surprise surprise it ain't good. The funny thing, several of the articles go back, to before Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa brought him all the way to Chula Vista. The 'gandara' name in Soccorro does not appear to equate with upstanding citizen, Several stories about males with the last name Gandara.

Tell me, is it not sad that the students in our community were/are led by such individuals? All of the MILLIONS this bunch had, and continue to have at their disposal yet the majority of our schools continue to be in Program Improvement WHY???????

Next time you see John McCann wearing his little John McCann 4 City Counsil t-shirt - ask him why he didn't terminate 'the gandara' that night at Southwest High (that nights date should have been the termination date). Ask him why he failed to share the legal opinion that 'the gandara' COULD be fired for cause. Ah yes, John McCann, bet he is thinking in terms of that old song 'if I could turn back the hands of time' - yes Mr. McCann you could have had it all but you chose to join forces with those you pledged to reform. Tsk tsk


Ensenadamaria April 6, 2014 @ 7:15 a.m.

To SpecialEd, the fact that I am proud of my community does not mean I am against those of other races. True the three I named in the other article are white, but I have no problem with their color, what I have a problem with is their failures. Where I sit at the table is my business.


oldchulares April 6, 2014 @ 9:48 a.m.

Jim, John and Ed's ship has run aground bulkhead reads SHIP of FOOLS.


Missionaccomplished April 6, 2014 @ 9:14 p.m.

They take us for fools, but it's more like SHIP OF THIEVES.


LightSaber April 6, 2014 @ 2:42 p.m.

If Cartmill and Lopez plead to misdemeanors will this group call for their immediate resignation. My understanding board policy at sweetwater requires it. Or will the special interests of this group only want Carmills head.


Visduh April 9, 2014 @ 10:17 a.m.

"This group?" I assume you refer to the frequent comment posters, such as myself. Look back at my comments, and you'll know that I've said the board needs a clean sweep. I cut Bertha no slack, nor McCann. They ALL need to go, and never serve in any elective position again.


Wabbitsd April 6, 2014 @ 2:51 p.m.

Personally, I would think anyone convicted of any crime--misdemeanor or felony--should step down immediagely. This is, after all, a high school district, and the students should be able to look at the leaders of their district as role models. It shouldn't take the community to demand resignations.


oskidoll April 6, 2014 @ 5:29 p.m.

LightSaber & Wabbitsd - I believe that anyone board member convicted of even a misdemeanor while doing the board's business must step down, and of course that also goes for felonies. If it could be otherwise, don't you think that Ricasa and Quinones would have figured that out and made it work for them to remain on the board? I think the board bylaws are quite clear. LightSaber....I believe that the common outrage is now focused on Cartmill more than Lopez because he has been so very egregious in his acts and acts of omissions, and so 'holy' in his posture while doing it for such a very, very long time. His "mr Clean" act fooled many, and now that he is exposed he is not very popular. (Same goes for McCann.)

You might think that some have given Lopez a pass because she seems to have come around a bit -- however, if she pleads out to any charges she should and will leave the board playing by the same By laws as the others.


Reader2 April 6, 2014 @ 8:34 p.m.

The new money coming to the district through LCFF has some strings attached, namely that the district get community input. You can read a long article about it in Sunday's UT. The Sweetwater district website shows a community meeting planned for this Thursday April 10 from 6-8 but it doesn't say where. Does anyone know? We need to get the word out.


anniej April 7, 2014 @ 7 a.m.

LightSaber - Rules are rules. I have often commented on Lopez being the ONLY Board member who cast her vote in favor of the students, in favor of the tax payers, and in favor of the employees. Allow me to remind you SHE went to the DA, why didn't false prophet, speaker of truth - but no follow thru Jim Cartmill? Why is Lopez openly disrespected by Brand, McCann and Cartmill at Board meetings? Simple, because once she realized the 'rules of SUHSD's game' and refused to play by them they tried to embarrass her, ridicule her, get her out (remember candidate by area was first brought to the Board by Brand in an attempt to get rid of her).

Up until a couple of months ago I continued to hold out hope that Cartmill would receive a blessing of his own and be guided into doing right. Alas, I am still waiting. I believe he had it within him after all he exhibited certain signs - case in point, he did look at speakers, he did appear to listen and he rarely limited speaker time. But it was action I looked for - it was integrity I sought. Cartmill - Brand. - Brand - Cartmill. Read between the lines. Cartmill may be a loving father and fabulous husband but we, the taxpayers and parents were not born to him nor did we marry him. But we did vote for him and we did, in the end, loose faith in him as our Board member. What are the lines to that song again 'do I (we) ever cross your mind?' Doubt it, most likely when he thinks of us he hears the sound of a battering ram - we refused to stop until we found justice. While some may not view what has happened with the case as justice allow me to share a conversation of last week. "annie, we have accomplished what we set out to do, they have been exposed and are going or gone".

What will the future bring? Interesting question. Just yesterday I was told a couple District folk are jockeying for position - my opinion - I want NOONE who has sat at that table with Brand leading this District. We need to remove any Brand influence FOREVER! The last thing we need is to replace 'I owe you Brand, Jim Cartmill' for a new insider relationship between Brand and ---- or ----. What is needed is someone who is a staunch advocate for quality education, a builder, a peacemaker, a person who has integrity - a person who has history of standing up, speaking up for what is right.


eastlaker April 7, 2014 @ 12:17 p.m.


New, honest people, with solid thinking on education and finances and community input!


SpecialEd April 8, 2014 @ 10:09 p.m.

I have always admired George O. For his steadfast integrity, a quality I had more of when I was younger and less "jaded".


LightSaber April 7, 2014 @ 7:40 a.m.

Anneij, your comments are exactly what I am talking about, it doesn't matter how she is voting. She knew the rules and broke the law that is clear. She is no better than the rest of them, if you and some of the the others want to "clean up the board" she must go if she pleads, if she is innocent then go to trial and have her peers judge her. Remember one bad apple who would be left could spoil the future.


Wabbitsd April 7, 2014 @ 11:49 a.m.

LightSaber, did you think I was saying she should not go?


anniej April 7, 2014 @ 8:04 a.m.

LightSaber - perhaps in skimming my comments you failed to read the first three (3) words



oskidoll April 7, 2014 @ 10:28 a.m.

Waiting for Cartmill to do the right thing is like waiting for sober behavior from a drunk.

He is as crooked as the rest of them, just has his snake oil polish to deflect some of the revealing light and has not been as 'showy' flaunting the corruption.

He has served his own interests on this board, not those of the electorate or the children to be educated. Just because he calls himself a 'minister' does not make it so...or that he behaves in an admirable way.


CV_Parent April 7, 2014 @ 4:15 p.m.

Some of the other abuses i felt Cartmill did. Was when ever there was an event like the secretary dinner he would bring his wife and daughter for a free load meal. And every time a new gadget would come out he be the first one to ask for it.


anniej April 7, 2014 @ 5:03 p.m.

CV Parent - hmmmm, I do not recall seeing any of those 'gadgets' or other alleged 'free' ------ on his 700 forms.

No doubt he will claim he gave the 'gadgets' to some needy person. But what of the other alleged free ------, again, hmmmmmmmm

Wondering what Mr. Schorr would might have to say or better yet Judge Espana.


CV_Parent April 7, 2014 @ 8:04 p.m.

They were district paid items like palm calendar, cell phones, computers. I believe cell phones are their responsibility now. Jaime was the only one to turn down these "freebie". He didn't have a board phone or fax installed. I don't know about Lopez or Mccan. I just remember hearing about him always upgrading. And always thought it was abuse of the system maybe I am old school


Wabbitsd April 8, 2014 @ 10:40 a.m.

CV_Parent...if "Old School" means "honest," please don't think of it as a negative. We need more like you.


oskidoll April 7, 2014 @ 5:35 p.m.

anniej....I think CV Parent is referencing Mr. Cartmill's 'entitlement' behavior as a member of the board. I believe that when a board member is 'invited' to join in a district celebration, he brought the family along for, as CV Parent, characterizes it to 'free load'.

Board members are often supplied with computers and other electronic technologies ...such as cell and smart phones, etc., and that is likely what Cartmill was in front of the line at the superintendent's office with a request/demand. it is likely that such 'supplies and equipment' are not required to be declared on the FPPC forms because they do not constitute 'gift's' per se.


eastlaker April 7, 2014 @ 5:59 p.m.

Still, I find this illuminating--shouldn't the public be aware of all these special requests for supplies, equipment, electronics, gadgets? Because it does demonstrate which "trustees" are really milking (bilking) the system for all it is worth.


oskidoll April 7, 2014 @ 6:13 p.m.

absolutely eastlaker...although it seems reasonable to me that board members be provided with the essentials of electronics (perhaps a fax machine and home computer/printer) with which to communicate with the District, it should be limited to essentials and not open-ended access to whatever new stuff the trustees ask for.


Wabbitsd April 8, 2014 @ 10:41 a.m.

And they should be returned upon "termination."


anniej April 8, 2014 @ 7:29 a.m.

CVParent, Eastlaker, oskidoll - as anniej q public I am not required to fill out 700 forms so not sure of just now detailed the reporting must be. Perhaps Ms. Luzzaro might know the answer. I am thinking, based on the value of some of those alleged dinners, they should have been reported.

In a District where Board members actually do the work of a Board member they should receive tools to accomplish the task. HOWEVER, when is the last time or perhaps I should ask has there EVER been a time when John McCann or Arlie Ricasa EVER answered a taxpayers email? In five LONG years I do not recall ever receiving an answer to the emails sent in the early years of my SUHSD journey.

The IRS, wondering if any of the freebies were forgotten when tax time rolled around. Wondering if any 'imaginary' purchases were alleged on those forms as part of a business expense, hmmmmmmm. Wondering if any 'drop a dime' calls have been made to IRS?


oskidoll April 8, 2014 @ 11:07 a.m.

anniej...you can ask your questions directly to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) which administers the law regarding the STatement of Economic Interests (form 700). You can search online for California FPPC and go from there on their website.


CV_Parent April 8, 2014 @ 9:20 a.m.

As incompetent the District is. Wonder if they remember to disconnect phone/fax lines for Arlie and Pearl and if they had a complete list of items they purchased and were able to recover??


oskidoll April 8, 2014 @ 11:04 a.m.

That's a good question to have on the record at the next opportunity for Public Comment at a Board Meeting (if there is ever another Board Meeting!)


eastlaker April 8, 2014 @ 4:38 p.m.

The next one is scheduled for Mon. 4/21 from 6 - 9 pm.

What are the odds?


anniej April 8, 2014 @ 10:10 p.m.

I just received a picture that was sent to me. There stands McCann, in several snap shots. But then. I read his campaign mantra - hold onto your hats folks. - this guy is promising to restore ethics to City Hall. I thought that was accomplished when he left the first time?

Let us not forget this is the same 'promise' he campaigned on when he sought his Sweetwater Board seat - and what did we get? Fiscal irresponsibility and his voting partnership with felony charged Arlie Ricasa and Jim Cartmill. McCann has not developed a reputation for leadership a a Sweetwater Board member, he is viewed by me and many others as a follower - a silly little man who spends his time practicing the same old two speeches - when I served in the war and his I escaped death while involved in a traffic accident. But ask him what he has done to honor his promise of 2010 regarding restoring ethics to the SUHSD board? He was NOT the one who went to the DA, no, it was Lopez. WHY DIDN'T HE?

John McCann, the same school board member who gave 'the gandara' that great termination benefit package. You all remember 'the gandara', yep, the same guy who just stood before a South Bay Judge pleading guilty.

In my opinion, John McCann is the worst possible candidate for C.V. Councilman.

it appears that the Chamber of Commerce and The Lincoln Club have concerns about his leadership qualities as well - rumor has it, neither endorsed him. The Lincoln Club, WOW, that speaks volumes.

He, his signs plastered all over C.V. and his little t-shirt have become the butt of many jokes these days.


Bvavsvavev April 8, 2014 @ 10:48 p.m.

Here is the ad anniej references.

Who is John McCann kidding! He was responsible for giving the felon Gandera a $400,000 buy out and allowed him to remain long enough to qualify for his pension. Our community is paying for that!

He brought Ed Brand back! He has supported Brands reign of terror through his votes as Trustee. He has remained silent on the lack of transparency in the district and board. He has voted for fiscally irresponsible items. He has remained silent as teachers, parents and community members are disrespected.

He filed a restraining order as a Trustee against a parent, which he lost in court. He called the police on a community member during a board meeting. He had his attorney send me a threatening cease and desist letter and threatened to sue me!

Is this someone we want as a council member? I say no!!

Get the word out. John McCann is bad for chula Vista and Sweetwater! NO to John McCann for City Council! No to John McCann for Sweetwater Trustee! No to John McCann for elected office!


bbq April 9, 2014 @ 6:14 a.m.

Dear John,

Let's see where to begin.... How about we rewrite your Quote in the Campaign ad in the above comment, showing your record as a Trustee at Sweetwater Union High School District:

...I am running for City Council (SUHSD Trustee), because I think our elected officials are letting us down (As Trustee, I let you down). We need to restore ethics and transparency at City Hall (SUHSD, I had a chance and failed) and to make sure our elected officials are working for you, the people and not for themselves (Maybe not directly to my pockets, but with self-interest and interest of the SUHSD Adminstration vs. the taxpayers and students). Less taxes (except for Mello Roos hikes during recessions and mis-approriation of said Mello Roos "Taxes"). Less Traffic (how about distracted Driving?). Less crime (unless it's white collar and fellow Trustees or campaign signs on public Land). Less news stories of our elected officials failing to lead... (Censorship or Higher standards? Have you looked in the Mirror lately?)... and failing us. (You've got that right, you've been in the position to make changes!) We need more positive results. Period... (The only way to ensure positive results is to remove career politicians, like you from office).

By the way I like the disclaimer that you are not endorsed by the Military, similar to those now required by members of the public when addressing the SUHSD Board, after your employee, Superintendent Brand called a member of the Public's government Employer and complained about her personnal research and opinion of activities at the District...

Mr. McCann, be careful when you point things out, they often come back with you standing in the pile of excrement you helped create.



anniej April 9, 2014 @ 8:49 a.m.

It appears John McCann, Jim Cartmill and Ed Brand are running this District WITHOUT any public oversight.

A magazine on the east side called Hometown is running a SUHSD ad. This is very troubling as that expenditure was an agenda item for both of the previously 'adjourned' and 'cancelled' Board meeting.


My opinion, this was FREE PR for John McCann and his bid for city council. A conspiracy between John McCann and Brand - with the blessing of Jim Cartmill - all will need to decide for themselves.

Perhaps some of us too should out a one page add in that HOMETOWN paper - ours of course would give a different view - we would list the monies he has spent on frivolous legal actions against our neighbors, we would list his votes, we could get info from GOOGLE in reference to the allegation that he steered his car in the direction if a C.V. Council person he was at odds with, documentation that he is NOT endorsed by Chamber of Commerce or Lincoln Club. I am in, anyone else?

We need to vet the candidate of our choice who is running for City Council and promote that person if we truly want to bring about change in this City.

We need to notify all of the politicians who have recently voiced concerns regarding SUHSD, and ask them to publicly weigh in.

Finally let us ponder this question, what other money items have been funded without Board approval? What other pet projects have been funded without our knowledge?

I would ask that ALL reading this send an email to each member of the County Boards Board members and bring the HOMETOWN expenditure to their attention, offer this up as proof as to the truth about Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill and John McCann.

In closing ask yourselves this question - what is the different between 'the gandara' and Ed Brand - what is the difference between John McCann and Arlie Ricasa? In my opinion NOT A DARN THING!!!!!!!!


oskidoll April 9, 2014 @ 12:38 p.m.

The piece in the HOMETOWN magazine appears to be a 'puff' piece, and has Ed Brand's actual byline. It would be suspect even if the District had gotten it for free (which news outlets sometimes do when they have too much unsold ad space)...IF the District paid for it, it should be labeled as an "ADVERTISMENT" .....in reality, it is what's called an 'advertorial'...something that appears to be editorial copy but is really bought and paid for by the sponsor...designed to mislead the reader into thinking that it is somehow 'real' because it appears in print.


Visduh April 9, 2014 @ 2:14 p.m.

Very often the folks who read a puff piece like that don't understand the nuances of the matter. If it is paid for, that means that the publication isn't vouching for it in any way, except as an advertiser. What we have here in No County is a rag called "The Paper", and it gives the various mayors a free column in each edition. One of them, I forget which, has declined to use the free space, saying that it would be improper. But all the others put their little piece o' propaganda in it regularly.


anniej April 9, 2014 @ 3:09 p.m.

Puff piece - Advertisement - Advertorial - Propoganda

It matters to me little what it is called, what matters is this - a reported 20k + of my tax dollars that should have been spent in the classroom was spent on bs.


Bvavsvavev April 9, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.


The above is the link to Our Hometown Magazine. Page 23 is the ad being referenced. Look at page 26 also as Ed Brand has an op ed piece.


oskidoll April 9, 2014 @ 3:27 p.m.

Thanks Bvavsvavev...I missed the actual ad, which is a full page and by any standards, waaaaaaay too wordy to have any impact. All such pieces should be clearly labeled as to advertisement or op/ed or whatever they are. Clearly HOMETOWN is nothing more than an slick shopper publication that has no editorial standards.


eastlaker April 9, 2014 @ 4:01 p.m.

I wonder if an actual study has been done which explains the association of packs of lies with glossy paper, and the public's inability to delve deep enough to find the truth.

Off the top of my head, I think it comes from the style of reading most magazines--which is lighter and less attentive--versus a school text or something more serious.

So--Fast Eddy is hoping to engage not the critical thinking part of the brain, but the mindless, "let's just think about fun things" part of the brain with his little ad followed by his little article.

Here's a thought--a mere few years ago, Sweetwater was trying to increase the critical thinking portion of English language classes...so I wonder how Sweetwater students would do on a "close reading" of the two above-mentioned items.

Do you think the meter measuring effluvia would be engaged and running on the high side?

Might be very educational to find out.

"Fast Eddy and the Disinformation Report", endeavoring to change your reality.

But let's make sure Fast Eddy is caught in all the lies of his own making.


Visduh April 10, 2014 @ 8:29 a.m.

Our excuse for a big city newspaper today reports online that Ricasa was sentenced yesterday. (I thought that was scheduled for Monday, but it came yesterday.) As had been predicted, she got no jail time, but instead is on probation, has to do some public service, and a small fine. That's just about what was expected, and is the harbinger of things to come. Cartmill and Lopez should take their deals now. They will scarcely suffer, unless Bertha ends up losing her job.

And speaking of jobs, the court was told yesterday that SWC has demoted Ricasa from administrator to staff member, and her income was cut by $16,000 a year. While I suppose that is good news, sort of, since she was reported to be taking down over $100,000 annually from SWC, she still is well compensated. If she serves at the pleasure of the college president, it would have been likely no harder to fire her than to demote her. But watch when she will dismiss this plea as a "technical" infraction, not a crime, and pretend that she did nothing wrong. That will be easy for her and the others to do, because they don't think their conduct was wrong!

Tellingly, there is no mention of this judge ever saying anything to these defs about their conduct, and making some attempt to shame them. Pretty lame. When you remember that they don't see their activities as wrong, they are shameless.


oskidoll April 10, 2014 @ 9:40 a.m.

I think the only reason SWC was able to even demote Ricasa was because the grand jury transcripts showed that she violated college policies by using college equipment (email and/or fax) for political purposes. She is now a 'director' of EOPS, and still makes well over $100K in that job. I agree that Judge Espana does not seem to think the conduct of these perps is egregious...and Espana does not seem to be able to understand that these are NOT victimless crimes...the victims are each and every member of the public and the children who are to be educated in the SUHSD. Espana should get off her duff and go visit the schools to see the conditions there that these scums have helped created by their larceny, and to be able to better visualize the their true victims. Then, perhaps, she would better manage the process of so-called justice.


Visduh April 10, 2014 @ 10:18 a.m.

I've been reluctant to really slam the conduct of this judge because the cases are not fully resolved, and all the sentences are yet to be imposed. BUT, so far what we see is really sickening. I knew that the cases were unlikely to go to trial, and that for most of them prison time would not be imposed. It now appears as if she is of the same culture that spawned all this fraud, bribery and double dealing. That may be why the presiding judge transferred the cases to So County, and why she was picked. Make no mistake here about the role of the DA. She, too, is treating these crimes as minor. If she got some backbone, they would be pleading guilty to multiple felonies, and not rolling over when the judge decides to reduce them to misdemeanors. What has me puzzled is why this judge, upon having the cases assigned to her, decided that the trials needed to be put off for many months. If this is all that is coming out of the investigation and all the DA resources that went into documenting multiple counts against each one of them, why did she bother? Is the idiotic claim that racism and political-party affiliation were the reason for prosecution scaring Bahnee off?


oskidoll April 10, 2014 @ 11 a.m.

Visduh -- well said! The DA's office is complicit with the plea bargains, which must greatly disappoint those who worked so hard on the investigations and the grand jury process. Who knows what goes on inside the DA's office, but it is hard to reconcile all the rhetoric made at the time of the indictments with the kid glove treatment they are all receiving. I truly believe that the presiding judge in downtown SD court just wanted the mess out of that arena...too many perps, too many counts, just too (whine, whine, whine) much to manage in the courts there. Instead, he lobbed the whole kit 'n caboodle 'down' to South County, which he probably thinks is lower class and beneath HIS court.
And as for Judge Espana, it is evident to me that she took every easy way out available to her, granting extensions and postponements across the board to facilitate every interest EXCEPT the victims'....that would be US.


Visduh April 11, 2014 @ 8:43 a.m.

You're right about the relocation of the cases to Chula Vista. At this point, neither the DA nor the judge is treating these cases as anything more serious than jaywalking. With all the months the judge took to review the indictments, nothing she has done indicates any indignation with the defendants. "Justice delayed is justice denied" applies in these cases. The least the judge could do is put some pressure on the remaining defs to make their plea deals or stand trial. A good way to do that would have been to let their counsels know that anything that came in after, say, this week, would not get treated lightly. The judge can oblige a tougher stance from the DA, and refuse the kid glove treatment. The whole affair should have been resolved months ago. The delay has kept the board in turmoil, and has played into Brand's hands, and while the end is in sight, just when it will happen is still unclear.

In almost any other school district in the county, if a trustee were indicted for misconduct in office, he or she would have quickly resigned, proclaiming that they didn't want the case to distract from the educational mission of the district. Here the usual expectations went by the boards, wherein all four of them refused to quit, proclaimed their innocence, and went on as if nothing were amiss. But I maintain that their conduct over the past year-plus has not been "business as usual" at all. It has been even worse. If this judge wanted to see justice done, she would have moved with all dispatch to complete the cases by plea or trial, just the opposite of what we saw her do. As a judge, a supposed deliverer of justice, she's a flop.


anniej April 11, 2014 @ 9:01 a.m.

One has only to look at the face of Prosecutor Schorr to realize he is NOT A HAPPY CAMPER.

Too expensive to prosecute? The City can not afford it. Oh, well then, what the hell let the flood gates open - come one, come all our taxpaying pockets are here ready to be picked.

The Judges perspective (based on her comments) 'they are only guilty of not filling out the right forms, no one was hurt' - REALITY CHECK - those contractors, you know the ones that wined and dined this corrupt bunch - you don't think they got their money back in their 'change orders' - give me a freakin' break.


THE DEAL folks, it's all about the deal!

All of these politicians who failed to help by speaking even one sentence of outrage, the Judge who has failed our students, TIME FOR THEM ALL TO GO!


Visduh April 11, 2014 @ 9:23 a.m.

Superior court judges stand for reelection every, what, eight years? She will have a lot of 'splaining to do. But judges don't run campaigns like the other pols do. They just hope nobody remembers all the injustices they have dished out. Could Espana find a different situation?


dbdriver April 11, 2014 @ 11:29 a.m.

The first phase at Southwest High School had problems with the first contractor unable to complete the work. (I can't remember the reason currently, I'd have to look it up.) As a result, that work was halted for a while (year, year-and-a-half?), then picked up by another company to complete.

I believe that there were more phases to be done, adding a multipurpose mini-gym, and upgrading library. I seem to remember a 3rd phase where the football field and surrounding grounds were to have upgrades as well. Looking at the Prop O site, you have to dig into the archives to see other phases that don't appear to be going through.


Bvavsvavev April 13, 2014 @ 8:51 p.m.

That first contractor is one that went to the DA also during their investigation. He reported that Gandera called him to solicit a $20,000 campaign donation to Jim Cartmill.

That contractor is currently in litigation with the district. Interesting if any more of these details will come out.


oskidoll April 11, 2014 @ 11:11 a.m.

I have heard that Judge Espana will stand for election next in 2017. Certainly we should not forget her cavalier attitude toward the victims of the South County School Board perps and her leniency given those who ripped the school children off so egregiously. We should also remember that the presiding judge of the SD Superior Court, one David J. Danielsen, is equally to blame for moving the cases to South County in the first place. According to the court's own website, Danielsen is quoted: "Access to impartial justice is an core American value...We will endeavor to deliver the access to quality justice that our community deserves." Yeah right! Apparently Judge Danielsen does not believe we in the South County community are equally deserving. Shame on him, and shame on Judge Espana!


Visduh April 12, 2014 @ 8:31 a.m.

Wonderful news! Today's (Saturday, April 12) edition of the Mill has a piece written by the Watchdog staff that says Gandara will lose his pension as a result of his guilty plea. I won't go into details here, because anyone can look it up on line. But it should be noted that this outcome is a result of a state law, and not anything the DA or judge did as such. It further reports that he began taking the benefit at age 55, and has drawn over $40K at about $1500 per month. It indicates that he will get back his own contributions to STRS plus interest, and less the benefits he's been paid. His monthly benefits will stop.

That UT Watchdog staff does some good work at times. This report wasn't exactly a piece of muckraking, but indicates they were watching the Sweetwater cases. Too bad that the Watchdog staff cannot do good work in the areas of Dougie and Johnnie's sacred cows. No, those topics are in a forbidden zone.


Bvavsvavev April 13, 2014 @ 8:58 p.m.

Visduh that is great news. Let's not forget that John McCann is directly responsible for allowing him to get this pension. Although McCann is not indicted he certainly is complicit in the problems with our district.

Those of us in Chula Vista need to make sure he does not get elected to city council or re elected as a trustee.


Visduh April 14, 2014 @ 7:25 a.m.

I agree fully. Just remember that the buyout deal was typical of the way local districts were dealing with removal of superintendents gone sour. Brand got a fat buyout from San Marcos, and the reasons were kept under such tight wrap that it was years before they were revealed. There were several others. Cautious attorneys, the sort that avoid litigation because they've seldom or never done any, advise negotiated buyouts. In that way, they can never be accused of opening up the district to any sort of lawsuit. But these guys who have been given elaborate contracts with too much money also know how the attorneys work, and they drive hard bargains going in and leaving. So it was with Gandara. Now if the judge had a change of heart (I know that's a stretch) and decides that the sleazeball deserves a couple years in Coachella, it would be sweet.

McCann would be toast in most cities in San Diego County with a record like his. But, you correctly point out that it is Chula Vista and its voters who must bury his political hopes. Good luck.


oskidoll April 14, 2014 @ 9:38 a.m.

Apparently her honor has a 'one size fits all' mentality when it comes to the sentences. She even told Ricasa that she was applying the same dollar fine amount across the board!

This reinforces my opinion that Judge Espana has, and will continue to take the easy way throughout the process....after all, she had 15 perps each with multiple (some as many as 29) counts to deal with). It seems that no one wants to litigate anything when it is so much easier to settle for pennies on the dollar.

Everyone wins, except the victim in this scenario, and we, the public, are the victim.



Visduh April 17, 2014 @ 5:16 p.m.

Don't know about you, but when are Cartmill and Lopez going to plead out? This dragged-out process keeps them on the board, and with McCann they can make a quorum at the next meeting and do who-knows-what. Maybe they can extend Eddie's contract for life, or vote to charter a few dozen charter schools, or . . . This judge is looking worse every day.


oskidoll April 18, 2014 @ 2:10 p.m.

Just checked the court's 5-day calendar, thru Thursday April 24. Only item of relevance to the South County corruption charges is Tues April 22 at 1:30 p.m. for a probation hearing for Jorge Dominguez and Yolanda Salcido.

It was my understanding that trials for the remaining perps, Cartmill, Lopez and Flores I believe, were to begin April 28, so that date is approaching. Maybe Cartmill is trying to work an 11th hour deal with the DA. My concern is that Brand and Cartmill may be conspiring to appeal to the judge that Cartmill is so upright, a minister after all, that the District needs him to provide stability to the board during this time of chaos, and probably that he was an innocent victim taken in by the others! Stranger things have happened if you recall the pass the judge gave Alioto of SWC because he was just 'swept along' with the corruption that was already in place when he arrived. He was "just" a vice president of Finance. The judge us gullible and apparently, easily convinced by the pleas.

For Monday's (April 28) docketed meeting of the SUHSD board with the three left standing at this point, I think they are dead in the water 2 -1 with Lopez the odd-person out. Until the shoe drops on at least one more, (allowing the County Board of Ed to appoint temporary members from their own board) they will hobble with the stalemate along until the Nov elections.


oskidoll April 18, 2014 @ 2:46 p.m.

Correction last paragraph: For Monday's (April 21) docketed meeting....not the 28th. Sorry.


Visduh April 23, 2014 @ 8:35 p.m.

It is hard to determine whether the corruption is spreading, or if it is only now that the public is awakening. There are scandals reported in the LA Times involving the superintendent in the Centinela Valley schools and nasty stuff in Baldwin Park. While neither have been extensively reported yet, expect some serious outcomes. This So County corruption wasn't entirely an anomaly. We are seeing it elsewhere in the region.


oskidoll April 24, 2014 @ 4:23 p.m.

According to the court's docket for Monday, April 28, Cartmill, Lopez and Flores are to appear for trial, but not in Espana's courtroom. Possibly now as supervising judge of South County she has assigned it elsewhere...if it is to be a real trial, let's hope the new judge is not so much of a 'give it all away' on pleas judge.


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