Ed Brand
  • Ed Brand
  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

The Sweetwater Union High School District came out of closed session on June 30 with two stunning reports.

First: Superintendent Ed Brand has been place on administrative leave as of the end of the day July 3; he will be paid to the end of his contract, which expires October 1.

There were about 40 people in the audience; many applauded. Fran Brinkman, a longtime public advocate, told the board that she was so was pleased by the announcement that she will not be returning to speak at board meetings.

The board emphasized the measure was not disciplinary. Rather, the reason behind the unanimous vote, according to trustee Susan Hartley, was:

“We have found that if Dr. Brand were to stay through October 1, as his contract states, that there would be a very short time for an interim superintendent and we felt like we want to move the district forward, we want what’s best for kids and the community and staff and everybody, and we think very clearly that having more time for an interim superintendent to get up to speed on all the issues is the right thing to do….

“It’s in the interest of everyone, for him [Brand] to take this time to step aside and let an interim come in and learn about the district so they can be ready for the new board that comes in early December. Because that new board is going to turn around and select a superintendent, and if the interim is up to speed he or she is going to be able to help the board with their selection….”

There will be a special board meeting July 2 at 3:30 to give the public an opportunity to give input on the interim superintendent.

Not everybody was happy. David Walden, a local resident and businessman who came to the meeting to speak against an agenda to limit speaker length, said, “At tonight's Sweetwater board meeting, I was very disappointed to learn that the board of trustees agreed to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave beginning close of business 3 July. It was an unconscionable decision by the board and at grave expense to the school district to pay the superintendent's excessive salary only to stay at home and not be a part of the turnover process.”

Who will be the new interim superintendent?

The June 30 board meeting demonstrates the future is not predictable.

Ramón Leyva, an area superintendent; José Brosz, principal at Otay Ranch High School; and area supervisor Karen Janney, a former district administrator and former Sweetwater trustee candidate were just a few names overheard in the boardroom.

The second stunning closed-session decision was that the board voted to take a 20-year lease on new district-office headquarters on the eastside of Chula Vista.

Neither the community, the staff, nor the teachers were given an opportunity to give input on the location before it was selected.

Paula Hall, an Imperial Beach parent, told the board, “Our [district advisory committee] talked about this sale. There wasn’t one parent I talked to who was pro [on] this action…. You’re moving the [district office] away to a distant area. The people on my side of the community are lower income, they often use public transportation, or they don’t have the kind of transportation to get them over to that side….”

Nevertheless, the board voted 5-0 to enter into an agreement for the Harold Place building.

Chief facilities officer Tom Calhoun gave this explanation: “I have been working on the asset utilization program for about two years. One of the biggest problems the district has is the L Street debt. The district is able to move its facilities out of 35 separate facilities at 4 locations into a ten-year old basic district office with some warehouse capability at about four cents on the dollar.

"The value will take no funds from unrestricted funds or bond funds. It’s an asset exchange program….”

Trustee Lynn Neylon said, “…looking at the overall data, looking at the information as to what might be litigated and what might not be litigated…and if I understand it completely clearly, we are not obligating the new board to purchase this.”

Calhoun clarified, “It obligates the district to a 20-year lease, a 10-year term, with an option to renew for a total of 20 years. The option to buy opens in about 18 months.”

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 11:25 a.m.

Oh happy day! That Brand is on his way out the door! Guess he will have all sorts of free time to use that unlimited CIF pass he was awarded a couple of days ago! (For being such a supporter of athletics in San Diego County--ha! That was all just part of his Jobs For Friends Program)!

My guess is that Brand agreed to leave if the new board agreed to go forward with the property in Eastlake--that is the sort of deal-making that would work with our own Fast Eddy--so his claws will be into the district for at least the next 20 years. I did hear that quite a few people question the ability of the temporary board to ok such a decision, with such long-standing consequences. There may be more litigation in the future. When will Sweetwater ever learn!

And-- we still need to untangle all the remnants of the Ed Brand Empire--clean sweep, fore and aft--dismantle the Brand's Jobs For Friends Program, go through the bank accounts, figure out all the "private" real estate deals done with public school money, find the missing Mello-Roos $50 million, track down the $40 million that was "borrowed" from the Teachers' Retirement Fund...oh, there is much to be done!

Oh, yes, and track John McCann, documenting his every attempt to change the public record so that it reflects sweetly on him, instead of reflecting the truth. We need to watch that guy, as the lies fall fast and furiously from his lips. I saw it and heard it last night, as he tried to paint honest people as trouble-makers!

McCann, honest people speak out when there is a problem, they don't vote in lock-step to curry favor with criminal ringleaders.

Guess McCann just can't learn, but still likes to give the impression he has all the answers.

Yet, on the whole, there was celebrating, as the miasma is finally shifting.


Missionaccomplished July 2, 2014 @ 12:14 a.m.

Notice how John McCan't omitted all connection to SUHSD on his campaign propaganda.


dbdriver July 1, 2014 @ 11:46 a.m.

I don't have a degree in Economics or Real Estate, so I have a question about this statement...

"The district is able to move its facilities out of 35 separate facilities at 4 locations into a ten-year old basic district office with some warehouse capability at about four cents on the dollar."

4 cents on the dollar? What are we comparing? I can see consolidating the 4 locations into 1, but is Calhoun saying we would be paying only 4% of what we were paying? Instead of, say $1,000,000 we would only be paying $ 40,000?


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 11:51 a.m.

No doubt the books have been cooked in such a way to make it look like this for this report--a possibly quite temporary situation. Never underestimate the ability of Ed Brand to cook the books.


dbdriver July 2, 2014 @ 10:51 a.m.

OK, I heard the section on the Board Docs. It is actually 40 cents on the dollar.

But still, explain in layman's terms what is actually meant here. Throwing out a number doesn't help when you don't include context.


Visduh July 1, 2014 @ 11:52 a.m.

It is impossible to tell if Susan Hartley's denials about the reasons for this change were sincere or not. If this were disciplinary, i.e. that they were firing him without actually firing him, we could have anticipated such a statement. But, we can't be sure that she didn't mean it. That sort of standard, mealy mouthed stuff is typical around school districts.

Walden, who complained about them continuing to pay Brand his $21K a month was partially right. But if they let him stay around, it would just compound the error, and he'd still be able to meddle in district business. Far better he be gone, physically and mentally, from the district forever.

Yes, there is much to be done. As I posted elsewhere, let us hope that law enforcement (meaning the DA) and FBI are investigating all these deals at this moment. (Don't count on it, though.) It could take years to unravel it all and make it right.

But, "Ding, dong, Brand is gone."


oskidoll July 1, 2014 @ 7:49 p.m.

It is unfortunate that Raymon Leyba is not much of an administrative 'catch' to put it gently. He is a Brand protégé if there ever was one. Watch your wallet if he is appointed interim Supt.


Missionaccomplished July 2, 2014 @ 12:21 a.m.

And Joe Brosz is another Bobby Bleisch type. Q was his meal ticket and he had his not-too-bright daughter hired as a registrar after ONLY ONE YEAR in the District at a lower pay grade. (Nepotism much???) Hopefully, the new Board, whomever it may end up consisting of, will move him.


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 12:16 p.m.

What has been overlooked a bit in all the uproar over the exodus of Fast Eddy is that Mayor Cheryl Cox gave a thoughtful and welcome presentation on the community meeting which was held about a month ago--on the subject of what this community wants for the school district.

What the community wants, pretty much, is a complete turn-around from what we have had.

She mentioned there would be another community meeting in a couple of weeks, and welcomed more participation from the community. Sweetwater Board, you can learn something! Don't attempt to stifle the community, this community has knowledge and understanding to share, for the betterment of all.

And again, McCann put his foot in his mouth while introducing the Mayor. I don't need to repeat his exact words, but McCann is just such a total embarrassment. Tin-ear and massive self-promotion, what a combo. The old one-two punch of the completely ineffective politician.

McCann, you really could learn something from Mayor Cox, who didn't make a fuss, who sat quietly, not drawing attention to herself, until it was time for her presentation. The behavior of a civilized adult--something that has been greatly lacking on the Sweetwater Board for many, many years.


Visduh July 1, 2014 @ 12:29 p.m.

eastlaker, you need to tell us what you REALLY think of McCann!


dwbat July 1, 2014 @ 12:57 p.m.

I guess the board wants to shop for a generic this time, instead of going with a Brand name!


anniej July 1, 2014 @ 1:14 p.m.

The question is 'Is Ed Brand's time in education OVER'? As a taxpayer I must say - he needs to leave education and enter a field he would be great at, USED CAR DEALER!!!!

Visduh/Eastlaker - the property deal, as I mentioned on the previous story WE WANT ANSWERS, While many say it is very complex, I say, if we have been wronged it must be made right, if our students educational monies have been wrongly used - we will seek reparation. We want our money back and really don't care from who we get it. So, for ANYONE who has been involved with defrauding the taxpayers in the So Bay regarding this issue I say - prepare yourselves. Your bs, long drawn out bios over who you are, what you have 'allegedly' done and where you have been - in the words of Clark Gable in GONE WITH THE WIND "Frankly my dear I don't give a dam*"!

As happy as I was last Friday to see justice over the gandara it pales in comparison to how relieved I am today!

Another positive out of last night meeting was Kevin O'Neill and Nick Marinovich being kept on the BOC - just when integrity was totally restored to the BOC Ed Brand and Tom Calhoun try to harpoon the committee. Please note that while I praise these two I have great respect for the majority of the committee members. They are volunteering their time and offering up their expertise to help us. THANK YOU BOC MEMBERS

Additionally I am greatly concerned, based on calls and emails, that several of the new 'Administrator positions' were Ed Brands final THANK YOU to those who kissed the ring. Why did. Ed Brand hire an Administrator from outside the District who sat in the same position for years due to alleged poor performance? Why were hiring panels recommendations ignored? I would recommend that all of those promotions be placed on hold.

To those who were part of the 'click' - I hear you are worried, that your phones lit up like a summer night sky with texts after the Board meeting. It is good that you are concerned, because 'a new day is dawning'!!! One where hard work, dedication, respect and integrity are valued. It will no longer be a 'who you know, but a what you know' culture.


anniej July 1, 2014 @ 1:36 p.m.

Eastlaker - regarding McCann - his protector is gone. Bet he won't be sending out any more of those taxpayer paid for legal threats of cease and desist letters to community members and media.

McCann was clearly shaken by Brands early departure. He had difficulty putting two words together, and the VP Ms. Hartley very graciously came to his rescue several times in order to keep the meeting moving along.

It appears that McCann's once bright political future has hit a brick wall, a wall, that he personally built brick, by brick, by brick - with every failed promise, every self promotional speech, every cease and desist letter and more.

When you think about it, this November will give all the voters the opportunity to start anew - time to say goodbye to those who have failed us. John Mc Cann, in my opinion, is at the top of that list.


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 1:50 p.m.

Indeed, anniej, McCann seemed to have very little command of the means by which a board meeting is run--which is somewhat amazing, considering the amount of time he has spent on the Sweetwater Board, as well as his time on the Chula Vista City Council.

It appeared he was unable to follow procedures, and that he tried to ignore the Bond Oversight Committee resolution 3543. Then, of course, tried to explain his reasoning in support of this resolution because there were 'qualified people who lived in this district'...when we all know it was a direct effort to remove O'Neill and Marinovich from the BOC--as they have very much caught on to all the tricks of the previous Sweetwater administrations. [Resolution 3543 had the intent to disallow anyone to serve on the Bond Oversight Committee who lives outside the boundaries of Sweetwater UHSD].

Yup, John McCann, true apologist for the sins of Brand, Gandara, et al.

Isn't it somewhat perplexing that McCann remains entrenched in some of these positions when it is very clear that the temporary board members have ideas? What is in it for McCann to stubbornly insist on some of these positions? Does he think he will be rewarded by (someone) for his loyalty?


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 2:27 p.m.

Campaign donations for 'remaining true to the cause'?


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 3:52 p.m.

Ahhh, I think we may be back to David Malcolm.


oskidoll July 1, 2014 @ 4:56 p.m.

One person never too far away from property deals and lots of cash transactions.


Missionaccomplished July 3, 2014 @ 8:04 p.m.

Question is . . . how does he manage being elected for a return seat at the city council???


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 8:22 p.m.

not elected yet....there is a runoff election in November. Let's hope saner minds and votes prevail at that time.


erupting July 3, 2014 @ 10:21 a.m.

anniej, you couldn't be more wrong about John McCann. He will be taking credit for Brand leaving as he does for everything. Just wait he will say it was his idea and will have it on some political poster or news release soon. It was disturbing that he was unable to articulate what was decided in closed session.Shock factor maybe??? I guess I will hear from ESI soon!


Chris_Shilling July 3, 2014 @ 1:58 p.m.

These were McCann's quotes:

McCann said on Wednesday that the decision to replace Brand early, after he had recently announced he would retire in October, was “not a punitive thing.”

“I think he was looking forward to retirement,” McCann said. “Dr. Brand, I feel, did a good job as a crisis manager.”

Brand, who has been an educator for 40 years, could possibly do consulting for the district, McCann said.


eastlaker July 3, 2014 @ 6:12 p.m.

Yes, I read this in the KPBS article. Boggles the mind that McCann comes up with this stuff.


anniej July 1, 2014 @ 3:12 p.m.

Dbdriver - many are very nervous, has Tom Calhoun been candid, or has he been spewing out the words Ed Brand wanted us to hear?

We have the can opener locked in on our hands, and are ready to crank away and pour it all out where it can be put under the microscope looking for any contaminants. Charges filed, reputations lost as well as pensions - let the chips fall where they may.

Hopefully Mr. Knott and Dr. Al Alt will be contacted - perhaps they could shed some light on the real truth. I do find it quite interesting that Al Alt was fired - we are a pretty unforgiving group yet we respected Knott and Alt's candor. Knott didn't want to stay, might he have seen the writing on the wall? Alt, tried to be transparent, yet the transparency he sought to offer was the last thing Brand wanted. While I never had any interactions with Dr. Alt I know the Mello group of taxpayers respected him

I offered up this advice a few years back, now is the time to come forward........


eastlaker July 1, 2014 @ 3:51 p.m.

anniej is right, everyone. She has been right all along.

So, if there is anyone out there who can shed some light on all of this, now would be a great time to come forward. Timing won't get any better.

People have been working for years now to turn things around in Sweetwater, and that will happen.

Mayor Cox stated last night that the community wants full, independent auditing of the financials and the real estate deals in Sweetwater.

That should prove very illuminating, indeed.


oldchulares July 1, 2014 @ 4:15 p.m.

I want to know what is going on with this property plan. Why was the new home for the district approved. Scuttlebutt is the new members did not seem to know what in the heck they voted for when they voted for it. Don't be surprised if Tom leaves he isn't going to be around when the mess he got us into is out in the open.


Susan Luzzaro July 1, 2014 @ 4:18 p.m.

Folks, most of you know meeting time is at 3:30 not 4:00...


Ensenadamaria July 1, 2014 @ 5:07 p.m.

Jose Brosz is part of the problem. He was one of Dr. Gandara's biggest fans and has been sucking up to Ed since Brand's return. He is neither respected or liked by his peers. The fact that anyone would even consider him is problematic.


Missionaccomplished July 2, 2014 @ 12:30 a.m.

Yes, Ensenada, Brosz IS PART OF THE PROBLEM and has been at the Ranch too long. His daughter was hired as a registrar after ONLY ONE YEAR as an Office II person, when many others have been passed over repeatedly. Does that tell you anything??? Nepotism much? It would be very terrible if Brosz ends up as interim.


joepublic July 1, 2014 @ 5:37 p.m.

So, for all of his bad deeds Brand gets a paid vacation. Isn't this a gift of public funds? Isn't that illegal? He should at least not be able to stay home, sleep in and collect his absurd salary and benefits. He should have to report to work. How about having him tutor or do something, anything, to contribute to the "Sweetwater family"? He must be laughing all the way to the beach.


shirleyberan July 1, 2014 @ 5:57 p.m.

Susan - accidental flag - picture says it all, dejected. Anniej - This morning I thought this was a happy day but soon felt it is one of the saddest days of mine.


anniej July 1, 2014 @ 6:10 p.m.

shirleyberan - I get it, you are torn. In truth all you ever wanted was the best for him, but try to remember no matter how much we love a family member they are what they are and that's all that they are. We have no control.

All the best to you.


Susan Luzzaro July 1, 2014 @ 7:03 p.m.

shirley, it's not a picture from last night. It's from October. I'm not sure if that helps.


Susan Luzzaro July 1, 2014 @ 7:09 p.m.

chris schilling. It was nice to meet you last night. The South Bay needs citizens to step forward. So far haven't heard even a whisper from the district that would include I.B. I should know, but can anyone help me out, what is the filing date?


Chris_Shilling July 3, 2014 @ 9:53 a.m.

Thank you Susan. It was great to finally meet you in person! You have provided excellent coverage of the district. I have no doubt that we will have quality candidates step forward in every area. The filing deadline is not until the beginning of August.


shirleyberan July 1, 2014 @ 7:10 p.m.

If he gave it thought and the train already left the station a long time ago, nothing to do but wait for it to catch up, but thanks.


Susan Luzzaro July 1, 2014 @ 8:28 p.m.

Just thinking:

the board has posed us an interesting question--if the supe is so expendable, perhaps we don't need a full time one.


shirleyberan July 1, 2014 @ 8:52 p.m.

You don't need a full-time employee now.


Ensenadamaria July 2, 2014 @ 9:52 a.m.

Oskidoll. There are many rumors out there about Leyba and some female employees County people need to do their homework before making their decision.


oskidoll July 2, 2014 @ 10:33 a.m.

Such rumors have circulated for a very, very long time. A leopard does not change its spots, it seems.


eastlaker July 2, 2014 @ 11:50 p.m.

Naming Tim Glover the interim superintendent of Sweetwater is an excellent decision. He is a thoughtful, well-educated and highly ethical individual who will, no doubt, provide the necessary leadership to propel Sweetwater forward.

Welcome aboard, Mr. Glover, and may you bring clarity, honesty and good judgment to Sweetwater, characteristics that have been sorely lacking.


PencilPokinVelma July 3, 2014 @ 10:02 a.m.

Well I think Dr. Brand was doing a great job. I hope they choose a no- nonsense principal like me to be superintendent. My friend Maria was a principal, and she got promoted, so I have a chance to get this district in order and clear out all the older teachers before they have a chance to retire. We need to get them all fired so we can hire younger, lower-paid teachers. I hope the new board sees how we can save money this way. Dr. Brand saw the value in implementing this plan and supported me. Good times ahead!


Susan Luzzaro July 3, 2014 @ 10:56 a.m.

Velma, Velma, Velma--I can see you're not going to climb as high as you hope. Get with the times. Who needs young lower-paid teachers when you've got iPads to teach the kids and pretty soon to test them. I see a big demand for class room monitors and a few specialized teachers.


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 11:34 a.m.

We can be optimistic about this changing of the guard. I am wondering if the 10 + 10 year lease for the eastside property for district headquarters was the deal brokered to entice Fast Eddy to go without a fight. There is much untangling to do, as others have noted, of the hydra-like monster Ed and Co nourished so well.

There are those in the shadows, (David Malcolm perhaps, supporting the likes of Cartmill and McCann and who knows who else ) who still have fingers in the real estate pie. We should maintain vigilance to make sure the silver stake has been planted deep enough in the heart of evil.

Tim Glover seems to have the right stuff and adequate experience to clear out the muck and help get the ship on a straight course again. How many schools are on improvement needed status?


oldchulares July 3, 2014 @ 1:11 p.m.

Oskidoll the lease is for 20 years not 10.


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 1:21 p.m.

oldchulares: As I read the story after the meeting, the lease deal is for an initial 10-year period with option to renew for another 10. that is why I characterized it as 10 + 10. I have not seen or read any official document nor have I seen the actual agenda item.


Chris_Shilling July 3, 2014 @ 2:04 p.m.

My current understanding is that the lease is for 10 years with an option for an additional 10. There is also an 18 month option to purchase. The fact that everyone is so confused is part of the problem. I have called for the interim board to reverse this long-term decision and leave the decision to the newly elected board which will contain representatives from our community. I haven't received any response. This action does not represent the respectful, collaborative, and transparent conduct the community expects and deserves.


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 2:25 p.m.

Chris_Schilling - I agree with your position. This action, as well as any other non-emergency or non-caretaker functions should be left to the newly-elected board which will be seated in December following the November election, for which we expect all candidates will be properly and thoroughly vetted. Regards, OD


oldchulares July 3, 2014 @ 3:27 p.m.

Oskidoll it was Mrs. Neylon who said 20 yr lease maybe she was confused


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 3:57 p.m.

or perhaps not well enough informed of the details about what she was voting on?


oldchulares July 3, 2014 @ 3:36 p.m.

Ed come back as a Consultant, John is out of his mind. Consultants are a major part of the problem. If Ed shows his face in this district this place will blow up all over again. Time to scuttle the Ed Brand ship.


oskidoll July 3, 2014 @ 4:13 p.m.

oldculares -- we have all long speculated that John is truly out of his mind, even before the accident. His behavior continues to astound -- he certainly is not good at reading the signs around him. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns! I agree that it is better that Ed goes far, far away. His ship has sailed.


Susan Luzzaro July 3, 2014 @ 6:10 p.m.

for those readers who do not have all the news on this site, but lots of the speculation-- here is the kpbs story that ends with McCann saying Brand may come back as a consultant:



Ensenadamaria July 3, 2014 @ 6:41 p.m.

Ed Brand's actions need to be investigated. The many consultants who were known friends and the amounts paid exposed. His recent promotions are very suspect as are the salaries. What has the district whispering is the Harold Place property and what was given up to get it. But this is all old news to us the question is why the County is hoping the hiring of Glover will simply make things blow over.


eastlaker July 3, 2014 @ 7:02 p.m.

I can't imagine they are thinking that hiring Tim Glover will make things "blow over", but that hiring Tim Glover will allow a reasonable person to evaluate the enormous, convoluted mess that Brand has left behind.

It will take digging, and that independent forensic audit that Mayor Cox mentioned at the board meeting.


eastlaker July 3, 2014 @ 7:06 p.m.

Surely, one thing that has been realized is that this district cannot do what it did on prior occasions, such as Trujillo and Brand first time around: the district and caretaker board should not "let it go".

We need everyone to learn the lesson the hard way, apparently--open up the books, expose all the real estate and any other deals out there.

Sad to say, the district sends the wrong message if there are no consequences. Especially when one considers all the angles that Ed Brand has played all along.


joepublic July 3, 2014 @ 8:47 p.m.

ensenadamaria:  Like you, I'm trying to understand the interim board's thinking.  We will now be paying Tim Glover to do the work of the superintendent who was gifted a paid vacation. Then, John McCann says Brand could be brought back as a consultant (KPBS article). That really doesn't make any sense at all. Why would you solicit input from someone you've just sent away. Then I read that Tim Glover's brother, Thomas Glover, is a high school principal in the district (Castle Park High). Was that disclosed at Wednesday's meeting? I listened to the tape but didn't hear it mentioned.


eastlaker July 3, 2014 @ 9:29 p.m.

They are twin brothers. About 10 years ago Tim Glover was the principal at Olympic View Elementary, where my daughter was attending school.

I have nothing but good things to say about him; I have only heard good things about him. Parents would have been very happy to have him stay at Olympic View for the duration, but he had career interests and opportunities which he was able to pursue.

I think that people should consider giving Tim Glover a chance.

As to McCann's words, all I can say is that McCann makes less and less sense as time goes on. He was completely inarticulate and Monday's meeting, and seemed unable to maintain the proper sequence of the meeting. I am starting to think that McCann may need some medical assessments.


Visduh July 5, 2014 @ 7:47 a.m.

If McCann's behavior gets sufficiently bizarre, he may blame it on PTSD from his service in Iraq.


eastlaker July 5, 2014 @ 1:24 p.m.

About a year ago, McCann was in a car accident, the reporting of which was unclear and contradictory (in several news venues), and he threatened an individual with legal action for commenting on the accident, when the comments were most benign.

Whatever he does, he is quick to blame others...and call in lawyers.

That, and McCann's continued insistence on supporting Ed Brand--up to and including his recent comments that Brand might work for the district as a "consultant" make me extremely wary. Scattershot thinking is not what Sweetwater needs at this point.


Visduh July 6, 2014 @ 11:26 a.m.

The Mill today, Sunday, July 6, ran a Watchdog (page A4) piece by Ashly McGlone, that was in the manner of a recap of the whole corruption scandal. It pointed out, correctly, that of the 250 total charges filed, only 22 "stuck." Then she also mentioned that 18 out of 18 defendants pled gulty to at least one charge. The whole article, which took up a half page, was surprisingly mild, and gave space to defense attorneys who claimed that the whole thing was "overcharged", and that the offenses were minor. Beyond that, it shed no new insight onto the matter, and didn't bother to point out that in the plea bargains, many of the defs made a deal to plead to the least serious charge in trade for the more serious ones being dropped. That is typical in corruption cases, and in no way means that the other charges were untrue or unsupportable. That is the sort of thing that will allow Chopra to go home to Arizona, or wherever he resides, and tell folks that it was just a technicality.

She then mentioned the claims that the whole thing was a political ploy by Bahnee D to help out in the mayoral race, but did little to balance that claim. And she added that nobody in No County had ever been charged with reporting violations, although many had been settled. So, without a better understanding of the situation, a casual and generally uninformed reader could take away the belief that the whole thing was politics and not real wrongdoing. Some Watchdog!

Nowhere did it mention the long-running, widespread, deeply-rooted, and multi-district nature of the corruption, nor how much it might have ended up costing. The crooked employee of one district served as a trustee in another district, and was a crook there, too. This kind of weak-kneed reporting will just provide people like McCann, Cartmill, and Lopez (if the latter two hope for a comeback) with ammunition to say that they really did no wrong. Add to that the absurd claims that the teachers' union was behind it all, and you have the fall campaigns already in place for some candidates.

Oh, but the paper did take credit for bringing the scandal to the attention of the DA. Hmmm. Seems to me that long before they even noticed anything, Susan was telling the truth about it. The Mill reporters should check out the Reader.


eastlaker July 7, 2014 @ 9:23 a.m.

Yes, there does seem to be a bit of an effort to downplay everything having to do with these charges.

Even the recounting of Gandara's history seems to always include that he was "fired", (no matter how many times it is mentioned in the comments that Gandara was able to resign, with end-date months in the future--so his pension and med benefits would vest--and walk away with the surprisingly generous $500,000 gift from the board) despite the bumbler-in-chief John McCann being in possession of the attorney report stating that Gandara could be fired for cause!

And yes, while it is at least something that Gandara's California pension and med benefits were taken from him as a consequence for pleading guilty, he still apparently gets to keep the half a million dollars. Of district money. That was supposed to be used for educating our young people. Where is the justice in that?

Why is that crucial information always left out?

Why is it that the silent partners in the Sweetwater real estate dealings remain silent? What is the deal with that? Why can't we, the public, have access to the deals that we, the public, are paying for? To the tune of many, many millions?

Who is running the show? Is Brand still running the show? Is that why McCann keeps coming up with such gems as, 'maybe Brand will do some consulting for the district'...?


Visduh July 7, 2014 @ 9:47 a.m.

eastlaker, that Mill piece had a hidden agenda. Manchester, et. al., have a quarrel with Bahnee D, and don't want to portray anything she did in a strong or particularly positive light.

You are absolutely correct about that buy-out of Gandara, and the fact that that gift has not, and will not, be reclaimed. There is some justice in that he loses his STRS pension and the medical benefits, and the jail time will leave him a different sort of person than he was while riding high.

The Mill could have written a really complete piece, a full page worth, and really have recounted the cross-pollination between the districts, the Brand/Gandara/Brand reign, and the Manny Paul imbroglio. (At least he was fired, not bought off/out.) Oh, and Manny is looking at a federal indictment, too, although we've heard nothing about that in a long time. That wasn't mentioned.

The whole tone of that article was "no big deal, really", and "nothing more happening here, folks, so just move along."


eastlaker July 7, 2014 @ 10:53 a.m.

Yes, the UT may very well have their own agenda. But you yourself have been critical of Bonnie D. from time to time, and she does certainly have her issues.

Yet, what makes me really wonder is that David Malcolm was named to the 7-11 committee by John McCann.

When the 7-11 committee is supposed to be more public than secret in its dealings.

And that 7-11 committee apparently approved the district properties-to-townhome-projects deal, and agreed to go forward with the 20 year lease of the Eastlake property (new district office) with the option to by in 18 months, which the temporary board APPROVED WITH NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION OR INPUT.

Why can we NEVER find out what is going on with the three real estate deals that have resulted in townhomes being built WITH MONEY THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR EDUCATION.

Why is this not reported? Why are the participants in the schemes always mysteriously out of the picture? anniej has reported that one of the deals gives 30% of profits away to an unnamed person. David Malcolm? Ed Brand? Who? Who should be bleeding the money from the school district when Brand kept saying there wasn't enough for teachers' medical benefits?


Chris_Shilling July 7, 2014 @ 3:09 p.m.

I have asked the interim board to reverse their decision authorizing this lease so the new board can come in, gather information, hear from the public, and make this long-term decision for the district. So far I have not received any response.


Visduh July 8, 2014 @ 8:25 a.m.

Yes, I have been very critical of the DA. When the charges were first filed, I was bowled over in amazement. Up to that time, it seemed the best chance of some sort of criminal prosecution would have to come from the feds, who can use some mail fraud and civil rights laws to go after local corruption. What exactly motivated Bahnee D to prosecute these cases is not clear and never will be. My take is that she did the right thing for the wrong reason(s). But after all the ballyhoo, when it came to making plea deals, the treatment was most lenient, especially at first.

She's been absent when it came to investigating and prosecuting many corrupt actions in San Diego, many of them revealed and reported by Don Bauder over the past five or six years. That's why I was amazed that there was any local prosecution at all. Perhaps the whole thing had been so blatant that it could no longer be ignored.


eastlaker July 8, 2014 @ 10:42 a.m.

Possibly so blatant that others (who also may not be so very clean) thought something needed to be done "just to make things look better"?


Chris_Shilling July 7, 2014 @ 3:21 p.m.

There are many people who contribute to these comments who deserve a lot of credit for helping to bring to light many of the issues at the district. As a parent I really appreciate everyone's efforts and what you have been able to accomplish. I would really like to hear more from all of you about continuing issues and your thoughts on where the district should go from here. I have many of my own but I believe that everything that happens moving forward should be collaborative and transparent. Please contact me if you have any thoughts you would like to share.


Susan Luzzaro July 7, 2014 @ 5:08 p.m.


I wanted to thank you for your comment (above) regarding my long-term coverage of Southwestern's Proposition R and Sweetwater's Proposition O and all the attendant corruption.

Also: I do subscribe to the U-T. I tend to agree with some of your critique about the corruption wrap up. Deputy district attorney Leon Schorr made the point that some of these sentences were not simply about FPPC errors and extravagant gifts, rather they were about accepting those gifts just before and/or just after voting on a contract.

I also think it's important not to minimize the work of the grand jurors. While I know the ham sandwich grand jury thinking, the jurors in this case actually brought in more charges. Historically, the grand jury has looked at Sweetwater and Southwestern and made relevant suggestions.

Again, thank you.


Susan Luzzaro July 7, 2014 @ 5:51 p.m.

Chris Schilling and Eastlaker,

Just a note to say, I have invested days and days into the Sweetwater property deals. Many hours just today. I think that if a district is selling off its assets (and renting new property), it's important to every student and parent in the district.

More soon,


eastlaker July 8, 2014 @ 7:28 a.m.

Susan, thank you so very much for all of this! I tried responding last night, but apparently something was amiss with the Reader website and no articles would appear. At any rate, there is still so much that is unclear with regard to Sweetwater.

As an aside, remember all the problems with the former head of the school lunch program for Sweetwater--who was running a business on the side, charging Sweetwater, getting paid by Sweetwater to travel for her business, had employed family members, etc., etc., etc--and was not charged with anything? Was allowed to resign? I am curious, who was allowed to make that call? Why is it that in Sweetwater, blatant corruption gets to walk away unscathed?

Not really expecting an answer, just trying to reason my way to clarity.


Chris_Shilling July 8, 2014 @ 11:09 a.m.

Thank you Susan. I finally heard back from one interim trustee today and he is not willing to reconsider his decision and allow the new board to handle any actions related to the lease for the new district offices.


eastlaker July 8, 2014 @ 11:52 a.m.

Well then, we may be starting to see who is really on the side of cleaning Sweetwater up and who is on the side of sweeping all the untidiness under the very large rug of complicity.


Visduh July 9, 2014 @ 10:06 a.m.

The only "he" on that board is Mark Anderson. He holds a COE seat from the North County, and is another one of those unknowns on that board. Well, not totally unknown, because I now recall another Anderson who was involved and ran for a Vista USD seat. That was his wife, I believe, and she styled herself a conservative and a sort of reformer. However the group with whom she associated was more interested in dismantling the district than in making it better. Thus, I'm not surprised that he didn't want to reconsider. He has some sort of agenda that is not obvious or clear, and that only will be revealed with the passage of time.

We also might want to look at the record of Ms. Nylon, and her confusion at the meeting about the significance of her vote on the lease deal. While these people are better than a board with the four recently convicted non-trustworthy "trustees", it is not the salvation at all.


oskidoll July 10, 2014 @ 12:34 p.m.

It is my understanding of state code that any 'sell off' of any district-owned assets may not take place until there is a formal 'hearing' to declare surplus property. Does anyone know if such a hearing has taken place? If not, perhaps the new superintendent should take a few steps back to actually follow the law and allow the public to participate in such a public hearing.


shirleyberan July 7, 2014 @ 7:15 p.m.

More than I can express. On the record with the most highest wise.


anniej July 8, 2014 @ 8:17 a.m.

Ms. Luzzaro: It was soooo much more than failure to report, soooo much more. From my perspective there was collusion - there was no independent thinking going on here, there was no representation - no, instead the majority of the Board banned together and voted as a block because it suited THEIR needs and greed. So whether it be gifts, food, or campaign dollars it became - WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME.

Another point, where was the staff? Where were the people working in the very department where all of these construction tax dollars were being spent and poorly managed? Where were the 6 figure payroll guys? SILENT, that is where they were. Now, it is well documented, that I understand mortgages to pay, kids to put thru college etc. HOWEVER what has left a bad taste in my mouth was the fire alarm debacle. Why, in the midst of a whistle blower coming forward over the concern of the safety of our youth upper management chose to defend rather than acknowledge. The lengths they went to cover up and hide the truth - enough to make a maggot gag. SHOOT THE MESSENGER - that was their focus. IF the whistle blower had not come forward those alarms would still be nonfunctional....... The suits, I guess the point I am trying to make is the suits - perhaps now it is time to turn our attention to the suits -

The number of suits,the pay of the suits - yes, just what are WE getting for our money from the suits. In all fairness there are great 'suits' - persons who, under those suits, are made up of integrity - persons who work hard, who have chosen not to be the lap dogs of the allegedly corrupt Board and Supers.

Yes, let us not forget the suits when the overhaul begins - if we are going to restore faith in our District, we want to employ persons who take integrity seriously.


eastlaker July 8, 2014 @ 8:52 a.m.

You are so right, anniej...

Let's not forget that a few months back, after the fire alarm problems had been reported, and the district had also said that things were under control, an individual broke into a Sweetwater school and started a fire--AND THE FIRE ALARMS DID NOT WORK!

Fortunately, a neighbor happened to see smoke, and called the fire department.

Even then, members of the public had to ask questions before it was even mentioned that the fire alarms did not work in this instance.

Cover-up upon cover-up upon cover-up.


bbq July 8, 2014 @ 11:51 a.m.

As the changes occur at SUHSD, we need to be sure all of the current issues are documented and remain open. Throughouit this ordeal of mis-management, corruption and lack of vision within the district I have always advocated open dialog with the Board, staff, teachers and public. I hope this is the chance to move forward.

The real question that by working with the Interium Board, Dr. Glover, Mayor Cox's Initiave and candidates for the Board of Trustees is a creation of a "Road map to the future of the SUHSD". This "Plan" must include all of the current known internal business failures such as: Real Estate Speculation, Financial Audits wrt Mello Roos, Internal Loans and transfers, Prop "O" spending, Review of the facility usage and class overcrowding, Open Boundrary, Facility Projects and Maintenance, these allong with the Academic Failures within the district, Poor ESL results, 2/3 schools on Academic Probation, Less than well rounded students and curriculum.

I am sure that there are other issues that members of the SUHSD Team can easily come up with to add to this list.

So where is the start of the list and what is the priority? I assume that the next few weeks will be critical for Dr. Glover and the continuation of the Mayor's meetings will assist but from all I have seen the readers and commentators to the reports in the Reader have to continue to lead the charge.

CAVE (Citizens Active for Value in Education) is alive and is still needed to monitor the future actions of the SUHSD BBQ, CAVE


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

BBQ, your concerns are valid, and I fully agree with your appraisal of the situation. There will be a huge temptation to just let these messes being left behind by the disgraced board and by Brand to sort themselves out without much or any scrutiny. If that happens more millions will be lost, and the educational mission of the district will suffer further degradation. As you say, ALL the failures need a full airing, and whatever corrective actions that are possible need to be taken. One big issue might be recovery of funds that were improperly squandered over the past decade. Lawsuits are costly, but the district needs to look at them as a means of recovering wasted money.

CAVE is needed now more than ever, and its mission will continue for many years into the future.


oldchulares July 8, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

Chris-Schilling you have to live under a rock not to know what the problems are at Sweetwater. I have lived in this city since my childhood and never thought I would live to see the day that I questioned my decision to stay. Anyone running needs to start with the property. If we have any chance at all at turning this torpedoed ship around we had better know the truth about the damage that has been done. I will not be voting for anyone that can't give me the straight skinny.


Chris_Shilling July 9, 2014 @ 10:20 a.m.

Thank you for your input. I do know what the problems are at Sweetwater; bbq also provided an excellent list. That doesn't mean I do not want to hear from the community and have a respectful conversation with them. This is not just the board's school district, or the administrations, or the teachers, or the classified staff, or the students, or the parents; it is all of ours. As you said you have lived in the city since childhood. I graduated from the district as well and my children are students there now. We all deserve to have a voice in our school district. I want to work collaboratively with all stakeholders, even if I already know the issues or believe I have solutions.

As a Board of Ethics member I highly value transparency and I believe that the public should always be fully informed about public matters. I agree that we need a full accounting of where the district currently is and how it got there, and that information should be shared with the public.


eastlaker July 10, 2014 @ 11:46 a.m.

I am encouraged to read of your concern and interest in Sweetwater UHSD.

But--when you say you are a "Board of Ethics" member, can you tell us more about that group? Sponsored by anyone, affiliated with anyone? Maybe I should already know about it, but I don't. Can you fill me in, thanks!


Chris_Shilling July 10, 2014 @ 9:52 p.m.

Thank you!

I am sorry to confuse you. I am on the City of Chula Vista Board of Ethics. I have been on the board for about 6 years (This is my second term) and I am currently the Vice-Chairman. The board members are recommended by a panel consisting of at least two city managers rotated from cities in San Diego County, excluding Chula Vista.

We oversee the City Council, City Attorney, City Manager, Police Chief, Department Directors, and City Commissioners by receiving and initiating complaints of violations of the City's Code of Ethics. We hear and investigate alleged violations. We also render advisory opinions or interpretations with respect to applications of the Code and propose revisions to the Code. Most recently we finished a complete revision of the entire Code of Ethics for the City.


anniej July 9, 2014 @ 11:39 a.m.

Oldchulares - Chris_Schilling - we are long overdue for decent representation. In my opinion we brought this on ourselves, me included, when we failed to understand the importance of vetting our school board candidates and/or believing that just because we voted for them previously that they were worthy of our vote again.

I am looking for real solid Board members - persons who truly believe that their service, opinions, intellect and integrity can make a difference. I want the tough issues discussed, not the blah, blah, blah we are use to hearing. Tell me EXACTLY what your focus is going in and what your plan is.

I WANT AN AUDIT, A REAL FORENSIC AUDIT. I want the truth about the property, told to the entire community, not a panel of 7 or 11 but all if us. I believe it is time to do a review of all departments, get rid of the fat or should I say fat cats and their fat salaries. A review of MJO's (major job objectives) for each pay grade. What qualifications are needed and are the positions being held by overqualified, overpaid individuals? Close the boundaries. I would like to see emphasis on the trades - not all of our youth have the desire to go to college - lets start listening and stop mandating. Has anyone thought of designated schools i.e. a second IB school, an entire campus dedicated to students who want an education but a desire to become a tradesman/woman - a trade school campus. Lower class sizes. The County Board of Ed has an entire Department with EXCELLENT employees who can handle building. Why are we duplicating what they have? Why not use their dedicated professionals. You don't hear about scandals, fire alarm issues or corruption involving them.

BUT, none of this can be accomplished until and unless there is trust. ALL factions must come together for the good of the students. There can be no hidden agendas, it is time to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work necessary which will result in excellence, IF, we are willing to do the hard work.

*. Not sure if my wish list is even feasible, but might someone just think about ALL suggestions for just a bit.


eastlaker July 9, 2014 @ 6:39 p.m.

anniej, I agree 100% with what you say.

We need to work to make sure this school district serves the students, not the administration, and the friends of those heading up the administration.

Maybe the Bond Oversight Committee could assist in suggesting ways to get things under control?


Ensenadamaria July 9, 2014 @ 12:13 p.m.

People would be shocked to know the salaries of some of the highly educated employees vs. what their responsibilities are. Annie people are going to get really nervous about your recommendations. Thank God she is not running is one comment that was just shared.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!