Sweetwater board candidates: Chris Shilling, Dana Toogood, Arturo Solis, Frank Tarantino, and Paula Hall
  • Sweetwater board candidates: Chris Shilling, Dana Toogood, Arturo Solis, Frank Tarantino, and Paula Hall
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Sweetwater Union High School District called an unscheduled meeting August 13 to review its “asset utilization plan” for selling district-owned property and purchasing a new administrative building.

The district has three properties that it is readying to sell to a developer for high-density residential developments.

Some attendees felt optimistic about the meeting because a host of Sweetwater board candidates showed up to express concerns, and because the board ultimately decided to pause in a scheme that many critics say is a rush to market.

Sweetwater has engaged the consultant group E2ManageTech to perform entitlement services — zone changes, environmental reviews, plan reviews, and a general plan change — for the properties.

One of the properties that has been entitled was recently put on the market but did not receive a single bid.

At the August 13 meeting, Kevin O’Neill, a candidate for the Sweetwater board, told the trustees to “see the properties like a line of dominoes” and that if one doesn’t sell, the plan falls apart. He also suggested that the most the district should expect from Third Avenue is $4.5 million.

The district asked for $7 million.

Tom Calhoun, Sweetwater’s executive director of facilities, said that the district intends to put Third Avenue out for bid again in early 2015, when he believes there will more favorable market conditions.

O’Neill also asked the board to “prove out” the participation agreement made with E2ManageTech. The agreement gives 1/3 of the profit from the sale of each property to E2ManageTech. He warned the board that litigation will follow the sale of any property.

The participation agreement was signed July 18, 2012, by Diane Russo, who was at the time Sweetwater’s interim deputy superintendent of operations. The district argues that the agreement is invalid — that Russo did not represent the district.

Speakers at the August 13 meeting also expressed frustration with the board’s recent lease-to-own property deal made for administrative offices on the east side of Chula Vista .

Paula Hall, another Sweetwater candidate, pointed out that parents in less affluent communities would be discouraged from attending board meetings if they have to take several buses to get to the new location.

Calhoun countered that he would meet with Metropolitan Transit System representatives in the near future to secure a closer bus stop. Currently, the bus stop is a half mile from the building.

Hall also stated: “It really appalled me when you voted that in [the lease for the new administrative site] because there are so many Sweetwater schools that need upgrading…. In the district where I work, we don’t have a new administrative building, and we have been going along with it, doing whatever we can to ensure that schools come first.”

All the speakers appealed to the board to put off any major decisions.

Dana Toogood, another Sweetwater candidate said, “I heard Dr. [Timothy] Glover speak right after he was named interim superintendent and he spoke about wanting to just get the district going and get it running and that’s what I was hoping this board would do, because the people of this community should be making long-term decisions for themselves.”

All five Sweetwater seats are up for election in November.

When the board emerged from a five-hour closed session, interim superintendent Glover stated, “We have heard you today; we’ve heard about your request for transparency and for third-party validation.”

To that end, the board decided to do three things:

“Authorize the staff to issue a Request For Qualification [bids] for an independent third party to conduct a review of the asset utilization plan and the entitlement process; prepare a letter to the Sweetwater community regarding the asset utilization plan and publish it far and wide”; and “request that an attorney prepare a response to Mr. Litchman and both Mr. Litchman’s letter and the district’s response will be provided and shared with the public.”

Litchman is the CEO of the non-profit California Trust for Public Schools and holds the title to several pieces of district property.

Glover continued: “Our goal is to share the information transparently. We’re looking forward to having the third-party involvement, independent review, and having a strong conversation with all stakeholders.”

Some audience members welcomed the board’s actions. Some continued to have reservations.

Chris Shilling, another Sweetwater candidate who attended the meeting, told the Reader he believes a newly elected board might want to be involved in selecting the third party that reviews the asset utilization plan.

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anniej Aug. 20, 2014 @ 10:56 p.m.

A personal comment - the 5 hour wait for the members to come out of Closed Session offered the audience the opportunity to interact with the potential NEW Board Members who attended and listen to their views.

While many of us left with a sense that we were being listened to - Closed Session item C5 on tomorrow nights Board Meeting Agenda denotes all of the property addresses. Soooooooo, it appears the business of spending our tax dollars continues to be done behind closed doors. And here dummy me thought the Brown Act made it pretty darn clear that the business of the people should be heard and discussed in front of the people

Regarding that bus stop Tom Calhoun is attempting to secure - well here is a 411 for him - he might have checked the bus schedule - you see the busses do not run after 7:00 pm - so how are all of these folks who take the bus there going to get home? Perhaps that is a follow up question a certain someone might want to put to Ms. Neylon, I mean after all according to her she uses public transportation and enjoys it.


oskidoll Aug. 21, 2014 @ 10:58 a.m.

anniej.....while it is frustrating, to be sure, the Brown Act does entitle the board to discuss property negotiations in closed session. It also entitles the board to discuss personnel and matters of anticipated or current litigation in closed session. The Brown Act makes it clear that closed session is to be used sparingly and is limited to a few topics precisely because the public's business is otherwise to be conducted in public.

good point about bus transportation....Calhoun seems full of hot air and seems to make stuff up on the fly without adequate (or any) authority; and Ms Neylon needs to come to the table ready to represent the people...after all she is elected to represent OUR area of the county on the County Board of Education and so far seems pretty naïve or without any backbone.


erupting Aug. 21, 2014 @ 6:23 a.m.

Hopefully this board will stand by what they said they would do. The closed session I want to believe is not about more deals. They went on record stating they wouldn't.


oldchulares Aug. 21, 2014 @ 6:41 a.m.

O'Neill is a stand up guy whose done a lot for this city. Not afraid to take problems head on he'll right this ship for sure.


Wabbitsd Aug. 21, 2014 @ 6:45 a.m.

I still think it's time to spell out exactly how E2Manage was selected, and who owns the firm, who is employed by that firm, and what their relationship(s) are with any of the former board members.


eastlaker Aug. 21, 2014 @ 8:54 a.m.

There are a few things we here in Sweetwater can feel somewhat better about, but those few things are still not creating the whelm of correction that is needed.

Wabbitsd, you are very right. Who are all the people behind the names? Shouldn't the public know exactly who is handling (spending) all the district's money?

Why is everything such a big secret? anniej, you are right, why more closed session meetings on the subject of the vast Sweetwater real estate holdings?

erupting, you are right, we need the interim board to stand by their word.

oldchulares, you are right, Kevin O'Neill is a stand up guy. We can all learn from his example.

What will it take to crack things open, and go after the "meat-eaters", as has been mentioned in the comments of earlier articles on Sweetwater.

Shouldn't John McCann have figured out some of these things and gone public with the information? He certainly has attended a great many closed session meetings. Didn't Ed Brand say that McCann requested Brand get campaign donations for McCann? Are the ties still binding? Just how does McCann get away with playing the big innocent?

The interim board should know they are not here to continue supporting the Ed Brand Real Estate Boondoggle--unless they, too have been coopted in the great undermining of education in Sweetwater.

Can we find some honest people? And if we find them, can they get elected? We all need to work on bringing really responsible people forward, people with enough strength of character and intelligence to build educational institutions that support the children of this district, so that the children of this district will have reasonable futures. Not truncated futures, not futures in which their gifts and talents go unused and underused.

Human lives really are at stake here. People need to learn to make good decisions.

If the interim board and interim superintendent Glover will not make good decisions, what chance will the students have?

Oh, that's right, they won't have a chance.


oskidoll Aug. 21, 2014 @ 9:36 a.m.

I am not sure Glover's plan for a 'letter describing the asset utilization plan' to be 'published far and wide' is an adequate substitute for the state-required public hearing to declare public properties 'surplus' prior to any sale. As I have stated before, any plan to sell any of the district properties must follow such a public hearing. I don't think 'publishing' a plan far and wide meets that standard. I think any plan to sell the properties without due process and formal public hearing would be null and void.


Susan Luzzaro Aug. 21, 2014 @ 11:38 a.m.

Some might argue that the district does not need to declare this surplus property becaise of the non-profit holding the lease. However, the district has established legal PRECEDENT by establishing a 7-11 committee and holding surplus property meetings on Third Avenue. As has been pointed out in previous articles, the committee was not properly representative of the district (as California code mandates) and the members were not vetted. The members' 700 forms were filed after a decision had been reached, and superintendent Brand reviewed them subsequent to the decision. Did any one on the committee stand to gain anything by having entitled property put up for sale?

A discussion of Fund 40 is pending. That is the fund that is paying for the consultants. Why are consultants being paid for entitling property for high-density development when the land has not yet been declared surplus and the public has not been consulted on their wishes?


oskidoll Aug. 21, 2014 @ 11:58 a.m.

A great post Susan! I entirely agree that the process and property schemes have been flawed in many ways, especially the point made in your last paragraph above.

My point about the lack of a public hearing to declare the properties surplus should have included that it is obvious the non-profit holding of the lease was done as part of the overall intent to defraud the taxpayers of the right to participate in the decision about possible sale of said properties, and to thereby create a smokescreen to hide the true nature of the scheme....clearly an intent to deceive all around!


anniej Aug. 21, 2014 @ 12:08 p.m.

oskidoll - I have spent many hours on attempting to educate myself on the Brown Act - and the one common denominator in all that I have read is the simple premise that 'limited' Closes Sessions should be held.

Regarding the property - when one considers the MILLIONS that have been spent, it is clear WE HAVE BEEN TOLD NOTHING, yet are being expected to foot the bills no matter how high they ARE.

Personnel matters, no problem with those Closed Sessions.

I remember a few years back, when 'the antagonists' vowed to not only expose the truth about the corruption but that there would be **** to pay for those involved. It appears they are persons of their word. Remind me again of how many were indicted - believe it was 18...... Well, something tells me there is going to be a 'ROUND 2' and it is going to be ALL ABOUT THE PROPERTY -


oskidoll Aug. 21, 2014 @ 12:57 p.m.

Anniej....while none of us may be happy about it, the Brown Act DOES give the board the right to discuss property and other negotiations in closed session. I agree that it seems unfair given the millions of our $$ they are talking about. Of course, the board COULD opt to have the discussion in public, that is their option, but it might compromise the legal position or strategy they are discussing. I say let this board go ahead and try to figure out, even in closed session, how they might plan an escape from the property monster the former sup and board put in charge of the hen house, and how to disengage from the looters who are still attached to the deals.

You are absolutely correct in your summation of the work the 'antagonists' have done to expose the corruption and to regain control of the district the public owns. I also believe Round 2 will be all about the property because none of it passes the smell test. I read that the former sup of San Ysidro pleaded guilty to corruption in the FEDERAL court...let's see how his sentence plays out. Let's hope the Sweetwater property perps once they are in court find themselves face to face with the FBI in FEDERAL District Court....I don't think the Feds play as nice as Judge Espana!


anniej Aug. 21, 2014 @ 3:02 p.m.

oskidoll - we are talking MILLIONS OF WASTED TAX DOLLARS. We are talking about alleged collusion. We are talking of the alleged gifting of taxpayers monies, EDUCATIONAL MONIES AT THAT!!!!!!

And,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, the mess of it all continues.

If I were certain persons I would be worried, VERY VERY WORRIED - those guys that drive the black SUV's - they do NOT PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Whomever the New Board members are - can we PLEASE soon make this about the students and not the alleged misdeeds of those paid the big bucks - after the mess of it Al is exposed.


oskidoll Aug. 21, 2014 @ 3:15 p.m.

You are on spot, anniiej. I think we are also talking about conspiracy, multiple conspiracies, gifting of taxpayer monies, grand theft of public money! Much of which is not 'simple' (as judge espana would argue) failure to report gifts over the limit. Eastlaker has called multiple times for forensic audits...that is what should happen as soon as possible. That's how they got Al Capone! it was in his books!

This is big-time felony breaking of many, many laws, not to mention the public trust that has been shattered and the potential of so many children in our schools put at extreme disadvantage as a result of felonious greed.

Won't it be nice to get back to 'normal' that is not about greed, conspiracy, schemes to defraud the public coffers? In order to get there, we must elect new board members who are dedicated to public service and who will not 'go along to get along' when they smell something amiss. (I see that there are strong candidates in new area 3, who may split the vote and allow Cartmill to slither back in. That would be a set back, thanks to Judge Espana giving him a 'pass' on his misdeeds. Geesh!)


VigilantinCV Aug. 21, 2014 @ 9:55 p.m.

Does anyone know if there is an "out" in the 20-year lease for the EastLake property that they wanted for a new administration site? Has anyone read the lease?


anniej Aug. 21, 2014 @ 10:27 p.m.

VigilantinCV I know it has been requested, I have not seen or read it yet.


anniej Aug. 21, 2014 @ 10:34 p.m.

At the end of tonight's Board meeting Lyn Neylon addressed the upcoming elections. She referred to the indicted Board members that are running and those that are running against them - she commented that there is a good possibility that the vote will be split and the unnamed, but referred to Board members will regain their seats. She recommended that only 1 strong candidate in each of the referred to areas run against each of the two.


Visduh Aug. 22, 2014 @ 8:47 a.m.

Well if "Nylon" said that, it is the first quote attributed to her that makes sense and shows understanding of the situation. In any normal district or area, those convictions would be curtains for any chance of being elected to anything. But with the record of voters in SUHSD, anything is possible, and it is quite possible those "unnamed" people could be elected. For all of those of you who post comments here, and who were outraged at the misconduct of trustees and administrators for years, you now see that you cannot let your guard down. There's still the good chance that the district can return to its old corrupt and imperious ways even as you raise issue after issue. It is as Churchill said in 1943, "This is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning." There is so much more that must be done, and that starts with making sure that slimy Jim Cartmill isn't back on the board.


Chris_Shilling Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:36 a.m.

Lyn Neylon’s comments were completely inappropriate and smacked of hypocrisy and self-interest. The dais is not the appropriate forum to weigh in with opinions on candidates in upcoming elections. What we witnessed was a thinly veiled attempt to get back in the good graces of certain groups she has isolated and irritated during her short stint on the board. In that time I think I have attended more hours of board meetings than she has. Yet last night the board voted to excuse all of her absences and pay her the full stipend for missed meetings anyways. She says there are too many people running for seats at a time when no one can withdraw and everyone who has filed will be on the ballot. In a democracy everyone who has the desire to seek elected office has the opportunity to run despite what Lyn Neylon thinks. She also warns about professional politicians being elected to the board at the same time she is making a purely political speech about elections. I am glad that Dr. Neylon is now an expert on political campaigns as well as on public transportation, lease deals, and where secret funds can be spent. If anything she is a cautionary tale about electing people with only an instructional education background to the school board because stories about the way things are done at Cuyamaca College have no correlation with immediately improving the situation for students in the Sweetwater Union High School District. If the people she referenced in her speech win it will be because of the judge’s decision, voters, and special interests; not because there are good people who have an interest in doing the right thing for our children, despite what Dr. Neylon was coached to say.


Visduh Aug. 22, 2014 @ 10:14 a.m.

Gee Chris, why don't you tell us how you REALLY feel? I defer to your comments, because you were there, and I was not. If she's a cautionary tale, I'd see it as one of electing people to that board of whom we know nothing. Our No County rep on the COE board is a guy who nearly nobody in the area knows. Usually that COE runs below the radar, and seldom votes on anything that piques the interest of the general public. So, the five of them are the five great unknowns. The folks who run for that board are not interested in controversy, are not interested in public scrutiny, and probably want the stipend more than anything else. I mentioned when they were obliged to take the vacant seats that they would be unpredictable, and could disappoint those who hoped for true reform. Looks like I was right again. Darn!


Wabbitsd Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:43 p.m.

Chris, I agree with you. I am very interested, though--what did Ms. Neylon say about Cuyamaca College? And does she tend to drag her child along with her to the Sweetwater meetings, or need to go pick her child up from school and leave early? Clearly she hasn't been able to balance her personal and public life with much success.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 10:21 a.m.

My first thought upon hearing about Nelon's comments was that it was inappropriate from the dais. However, I also believe she happens to be correct from a strategic point of view. I do agree with Schilling that there is a lot of blame to go around for this situation, but the greatest share is allotted to Judge Espana "They (Cartmill and Lopez) weren't as bad as the others"....my, what a fine quality for someone to have a position of public trust. As I analyze the potential in area 3 (Rancho del Rey and Eastlake) there are 5 candidates: Richard F Arroyo; Jim Cartmill; Greg Martinez; Chris Schilling; Frank Tarantino (in alphabetical order). According to the judge (Espana) Cartmill got more than 100 loyal backers to write letters of support to her prior to his sentencing. I am assuming he has a cadre of backers who will try to get him elected again, even in spite of the indictments, trials and his guilty plea bargain. In any election with one 'known' candidate and four others, the one known candidate has an obvious advantage. It seems to me that even if there were just three (say Cartmill, Schilling, Tarantino - I think Schilling and Tarantino are probably the strongest challengers) odds will still favor Cartmill. It will depend on the nature of the campaign, if the challengers are willing to have 'hit' pieces about Cartmill's evil past in spite of being a so-called 'pastor', and if the community in area 3 is awake enough to choose wisely. In my opinion, it will take some very well targeted campaign pieces, and money, to win what is essentially a race of four against one, with the four splitting the votes not garnered by the one.

There is a somewhat similar race shaping up in area 2 (Bonita, CV east from third ave to Hilltop area) with Araceba; Bertha Lopez; Kevin ONeill; Kevin Pike and Dana Toogood. I think Bertha has less of an organized following than Cartmill. O'neill can with a good campaign take that one, again if the residents are paying attention. What seems pretty scary to me is Area 1 (National City, Western CV) with Burt Grossman, Arturo Solis and Jerome O Torres). We know that Grossman is a loyal Brand henchman ..that could be a race to watch that Grossman doesn't take it. At worst, the new board would have Cartmill, Grossman, Lopez majority. There are also 5 unknown candidates in area #4 (Otay Mesa) although one has run unsuccessfully for office several times before and he seems to be a 'wannabe' politician. Area 5 (IMperial Beach, Montgomery) has four candidates, which include one perennial 'wannabe' politician.

Ms Neylon raised an important issue about election strategy and the reality of politics.

I do agree that she ought not to have been paid for missed meetings as the 'service' on the SUHSD board is so much 'overtime' for the CBOE Members assigned to this special duty. Did anyone speak against that payment during public comment at the Board meeting?


Chris_Shilling Aug. 22, 2014 @ 12:20 p.m.

I will only talk about my race and I won't get into specifics about campaign strategy but Greg Martinez did not complete his paperwork so he will not be on the ballot. I would also expect that you will see what you describe as 'hit' pieces about the person that you mentioned. Never underestimate any candidate but some points are being exaggerated as scare tactics to help favored candidates. The dynamics of this race are very different from anything in the past and they are actually favorable in many ways.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 12:30 p.m.

Thank you for your reply. I am not sure what you mean by 'favored' candidates, as I am unaware of anyone doing any favoring, except perhaps the puppet master Ed Brand behind the scenes for Cartmill in your race and Grossman in area 1.

For sure we have learned never to underestimate Fast Eddy Brand and co...surely he wants to have board members who will further his real estate empire rather than expose the conspiracy for what it is.


Chris_Shilling Aug. 22, 2014 @ 3:19 p.m.

Groups who have endorsed a candidate favor the candidate they endorsed. They will try to persuade others to vote for their candidate by building up another candidate as unbeatable if everyone doesn't vote for their person. This doesn't make it true. And yes there are also more behind the scenes people pushing for certain candidates to be elected as you have pointed out. With 5 seats up for election there are many interests who are very eager to take control of the school board.


eastlaker Aug. 22, 2014 @ 1:35 p.m.

Things will continue to heat up.

But back to an earlier question...regarding the lease on the district offices, what I recall hearing was that it was a ten year lease with two options--to lease for an additional 10 years, and/or to purchase--but I am unclear on the timeframe for the purchase.

The legality of that entire deal seems questionable to me, in that it does not appear that all the protocols and procedures were done--more law suits? Is Sweetwater once again the best friend attorneys have ever had?

Will we get the pubic forums so that we all get to meet and speak with the candidates, and determine what their main concerns are?

I hope so.

We cannot just continue to vote along ethnic lines--that has proved disastrous for Sweetwater. We need to find the people with the greatest sense of what the students need, what is practical in terms of using the resources available, and how best to encourage the within all the schools and the greater community.

And we really do need to know just who all the real estate silent partners are--the Ed Brand Empire of Fraud and Deceit needs to tumble down.


Chris_Shilling Aug. 22, 2014 @ 3:27 p.m.

The lease is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in mystery; a lot like everything else at the school district. But what has been said verbally is that the option to purchase opens after 18 months.

The legality of everything is questionable and that is why new board members with enough backbone to stand up to all the internal and external influences are needed to step in and get to the bottom of everything.

I know of one community group who is working on setting up a public forum for all school board candidates. I plan to have at least one public town hall in my area as well.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 1:47 p.m.

True words eastlaker. Your final sentence nails it on the head!


VigilantinCV Aug. 22, 2014 @ 1:54 p.m.

I cannot decide who disappoints me most -- Lyn Neylon or Judge Espana. Both have done a terrible disservice to the citizens of the Sweetwater High School District. Neylon's comments are not only inappropriate but it was also made when it was too late to do anything about it. She is proving to be totally irrelevant.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 2:45 p.m.

You are correct about Neylon! We should remember all this when her seat on the CBOE comes up for election ....in 2016.... and in the meantime to identify a person who would be a competent representative from South County on that board. As I recall she was elected when there was great disenchantment with the then occupant of that seat representing South County, in hopes we would have a more responsible presence on that important board. It looks like we changed out one do-nothing politico (rindone) for yet another (neylon).


Chris_Shilling Aug. 22, 2014 @ 3:30 p.m.

Espana and Neylon are both up for reelection in 2016. It is very difficult to unseat incumbents in those positions. Look at how much money AFT had to spend to barely squeak out a win for Neylon in 2012. But anything is possible with community involvement and engagement.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 4:56 p.m.

I can't imagine that the AFT would think anything good of Neylon's so-called service to date. What has she done to make any difference in education in South County, the district she is supposed to be representing?

Surely even the AFT can come up with a better candidate to help the CBOE do a better job of 'oversight' of the largest school district in its jurisdiction...especially FISCAL oversight!. It would seem to me that better fiscal oversight and monitoring of the SUHSD by the CBOE would mean more money for students and student programs and less graft and corruption.


eastlaker Aug. 22, 2014 @ 3:57 p.m.

Back to the lease of the new district offices...I seem to recall that the interim board made an attempt to defend their action by stating that they needed to jump at this opportunity, or they would lose the opportunity...which to me sounds like more of the Ed Brand/Tom Calhoun line of self-serving, over-hyped salesmanship that Sweetwater has fallen prey to in the past.

I am far from being the wisest person around, but I do know that if a real estate person is telling you that you need to buy NOW because the property is going to be snapped up by someone, at least 90% of the time that is nonsense.

Was this the only property available within the boundaries of Sweetwater? I rather doubt it. Why the great need to lease/purchase in the Eastlake business park area, when that is not the geographic center of the district? Is it because it is seen to be more convenient for the long-term board members--if, say Cartmill somehow manages to get re-elected? Is it because Ed Brand has some favors he is still dishing out?

Nothing about this deal makes sense. I have not heard from one single individual who thinks it is a good idea, and that includes people who live in the Eastlake area.

All anyone really needs to do is take a look at the map of the district. What is a reasonable central location? In my opinion, something near the 805 corridor would make sense. I haven't checked to see what is available, but, again, why was the leadership of this district in such a big hurry?

It makes me think that Ed Brand and friends had something they wanted done before all the secrets were no more. There is no good reason to make a hurried decision when it comes to millions and millions of tax dollars. Anyone who tries to hurry something through is NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

That would include Tom Calhoun.


oskidoll Aug. 22, 2014 @ 5:03 p.m.

Yes eastlaker....it does seem that Ed and Co are in a 'rush to judgment' to complete the deal for the 'new' district hdqtrs way in the eastern portion of the district, far away from many folks who would like to participate and who are entitled to participate in the public discourse.

I am certain there are other properties just as well suited, perhaps even more so, to District hdqtrs. I believe you are also on target when you suppose that there is something there for Fast Eddy's friends, including possibly Cartmill, in the deal. Recall that Cartmill has no real visible means of support (except perhaps Fast Eddy and friends) from his so-called pastoring, public speaking gigs, and vitamin 'snake oil' sales. He has an expensive lifestyle to maintain and needs to keep the District-provided stipend, health benefits, meals and tech toys available to support his family and big house... all on us, of course!


eastlaker Aug. 22, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

My first post responding to the lease/sale deal for the district offices disappeared as well. I waited a while to see if it would reappear, and when it didn't, wrote again. I don't know if I was flagged or not. Didn't say anything that violates the rules!!


Susan Luzzaro Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:17 p.m.

For those who don't know, Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez, had petitioned the court to be go back into their Sweetwater seats. As seen in the tweet below from Star News, early this morning the judge denied the legal appeal. Apparently, Chad Peace, son to Steve Peace, is defending them and taking this to the state on appeal.

Cartmill and Lopez have filed as candidates for the November Sweetwater election.

Robert Moreno @StarNewsRobert · 12h (early Aug 22) Judge Judith Hayes upholds her ruling and does not allow former @SUHSD trustees Jim Cartmaill and Bertha Lopez back on Sweetwater board.


Visduh Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:29 p.m.

At this point, small favors are all that can be expected. Now the So County has to refuse to give either of them a single vote, and repudiate them at the ballot box. The courts failed to punish either of them for their transgressions, and neither has any sense of shame. Both should head back to their nests under rocks, but will that happen? Never. Their candidacies result in further distraction from the matters at hand: the administrative staffers who aided and abetted frauds must be fired, Brand should be investigated by all levels of law enforcement, and all the phony real estate deals should be frozen until they can be fully examined by the public and renegotiated. Will any of this happen? Don't hold your breath.


oskidoll Aug. 23, 2014 @ 4:08 p.m.

hmmmmmm. If Steve Peace is involved, can David Malcolm be far behind? More shell games than we can monitor at one carnival!


yaheard Aug. 22, 2014 @ 9:29 p.m.

I thought Ms. Lopez had to make the gut wrenching decision to plead guilty because she simply couldn't afford to keep fighting to clear her good name. I thought that she really wanted to prove her innocence but couldn't bear to put her family through the turmoil of a trial, and a trial that would mean she had to borrow against her house. Now she has money to pay a lawyer to fight for her to reclaim her board seat. So which is more important to Ms. Lopez? Her good name? Her reputation? Her image of herself in a quasi-position of power on the school board. C'mon CV voters . . . get her and Cartmill out of South Bay politics once and for all!


Visduh Aug. 23, 2014 @ 10:05 a.m.

You raise an interesting point. While this legal filing was simpler and cheaper than a full-on defense in a trial, it wasn't free. That is unless some attorney was willing to handle it pro bono. Could it be that Eddie and some of his pals picked up the tab for the legal work? Maybe for Cartmill, too? The only final resolution of this corruption is at the ballot box, wherein the block voting and knee-jerk reelection of incumbents stops.

Bertha should quit while she's ahead. The school district hasn't fired her for moral turpitude, and she can just chug along to retirement there. There can be only two reasons for this attempt of both of them to regain their seats. The most likely is that in their amoral worlds, they did nothing wrong. The other is that some puppet master is still pulling strings.


eastlaker Aug. 23, 2014 @ 12:49 p.m.

When it comes to Cartmill, you are exactly on-target.

Bertha's story is a little different. Brand kept her out of the loop; once she started to think and act for herself, including going to the DA, first Gandara, then Brand did all they could to sideline her. McCann went along with it, doing everything in his power to humiliate her, up to and including refusing her to lead the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of the board meetings. McCann at one meeting GOT UP FROM HIS CHAIR, WALKED OVER AND TURNED OFF BERTHA'S MICROPHONE.

While McCann is still on the board, and is board president, it should be remembered by one and all that he was a full party in the controlling voting triumvirate of the Sweetwater board. Ricasa, Cartmill and McCann allowed every single thing that Brand/Gandara/Brand wanted.

Bertha fought against that repeatedly, questioning many, many problems that the triumvirate allowed to grow.

I do think it is important to remember those distinctions. Bertha has become the sacrificial lamb. She should at least get a chance to speak on her own behalf.

It is somewhat interesting that with the interim board members seated at the dais, McCann's behavior has improved, along the lines of a middle school student sitting up straight if the principal is in the room. With just about as much sincerity. Of course, McCann being McCann, he still cannot help himself, and does occasionally revert to the unreflective reactions of the self-serving politician he is.


oneoftheteachers Aug. 25, 2014 @ 8:57 p.m.

Chad Peace is representing Cartmill without charge. Bertha is not paying him.


shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 3:51 p.m.

Any money to assist board member incumbents is hush money, I betcha.


shirleyberan Aug. 23, 2014 @ 5:31 p.m.

And Schilling - you are the spirit needed with backbone. Keep your head up and forward. If not this time because of crazy, next time because you are honest and smart.


Chris_Shilling Aug. 23, 2014 @ 10:40 p.m.

Thank you very much for the kind words. I am working as hard as I can to win this time. I do not think that my daughters can afford to wait until next time.


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