John McCann, David Malcolm, Ed Brand
  • John McCann, David Malcolm, Ed Brand
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On March 17, Sweetwater trustees will vote on whether or not to sell district property deemed "surplus."

The property, located at 435 Third Avenue in Chula Vista, was originally purchased for new district headquarters; proceeds from the sale will go toward the purchase of new district headquarters.

Many voices have been raised against the plan to build new offices on the east side of Chula Vista; the location is not central to the sprawling school district, which encompasses not only Chula Vista but Imperial Beach, San Ysidro, and National City.

The district has been deficit-spending for years and is facing the possibility of a teachers strike — why buy new headquarters now?

Another question about the land deal — was the process that declared the Third Avenue property “surplus” questionable?

In dealing with surplus land, the state education code reads, “It is the intent of the legislature to have the community involved before decisions are made about the use of surplus property….” The code goes on to say this is to assure the new use is “compatible with the community’s needs and wishes.”

Yet, from the get-go, Sweetwater hired high-priced consultants to entitle the land for an apartment complex. The public meetings held regarding the Third Avenue property were all in relation to the preselected option — high-density apartments.

The trustees — including Arlie Ricasa, who stepped down as a result of a plea deal — selected five people to sit on the committee. Sweetwater’s director of state and federal programs, Ramon Leyva, and superintendent Ed Brand also appointed a member. So far so good, as education code says there must be no fewer than 7 and no more than 11 appointees.

The committee met only twice — but there were never 7 members. Pearl Quinoñes’s appointee, Jimmy Delgado, never showed and never turned in a conflict-of-interest form.

Delgado’s absence skewed the committee, but not only in relation to numbers: according to the education code, the committee should have represented the community in various ways, including ethnicity. Seventy-five percent of the students in Sweetwater are Hispanic, yet only two members on the committee were Hispanic — Delgado was one of them.

Delgado was also the only teacher appointed to the committee — the code specifically mentions teachers as part of the representative group.

Committee members are also required to file a conflict-of-interest form. On December 5, 2013, the six-member committee voted to recommend to the trustees that they declare the property surplus, but none of the committee members turned in the requisite form until after the vote.

The committee’s chair was Kevin O’Neill. His conflict-of-interest form states that he owns three pieces of property on Roosevelt Street, which is directly across from the district’s Third Avenue property.

Normally, the clerk of the board reviews the conflict-of-interest forms, but according to the Reader’s public-record request, Brand reviewed the forms for potential conflicts.

Another question being asked: why did trustee John McCann appoint David Malcolm to the committee?

Malcolm, who does not live in the district, was a former port commissioner who was forced to step down because of conflict-of-interest issues in 2002.

(Some speculate McCann hoped for Malcolm’s support in his bid for a city-council seat in June. Malcolm sits on the Lincoln Club board of directors.)

More notable is Malcolm’s history with this same piece of property: a Union-Tribune article from 1988 documents a feud between Sweetwater and the City of Chula Vista over this same location. Malcolm was a Chula Vista councilman at the time. A realtor sued Malcolm for “intentionally interfering” with a “complicated land deal with Sweetwater.”

Eventually, the suit against Malcolm was dropped.

Third Avenue realty listing

Although the trustees have not voted to put the property up for sale yet — it is already listed with Voit Realty for $7,950,000.

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Jmbrickley March 16, 2014 @ 7:24 p.m.

“It is the intent of the legislature to have the community involved before decisions are made about the use of surplus property….” The code goes on to say this is to assure the new use is “compatible with the community’s needs and wishes.”

"Malcolm, who does not live in the district, was a former port commissioner who was forced to step down because of conflict-of-interest issues in 2002."

Yes, why would John McCann pick someone from outside the community (district)? In the absence of a logical answer, one must then assume the illogical. What's in it for John McCann?


Wabbitsd March 17, 2014 @ 3:12 p.m.

We all know that those codes and such are guidelines to be used along the same lines as the "Pirates' Code of Honor."


eastlaker March 16, 2014 @ 8:11 p.m.

Yes, yet again Ed Brand and Sweetwater play fast and loose with the district's assets and "community property".

In my opinion, Mr. Brand is in a big hurry to get some things done. Do you think it is because he senses his days as Superintendent of Sweetwater are drawing to a close? (We should only be so lucky).

When the committee has not operated in accordance with the rules by which it is supposed to operated, does that render all action invalid?

Now that it has been announced that there will be no board meeting tomorrow evening, as Jim Cartmill is reportedly ill, I can only wonder what that really means. Because I have learned that it does not pay to take Sweetwater's official pronouncements as the truth.

What is really happening?


Susan Luzzaro March 16, 2014 @ 8:30 p.m.

eastlaker, what is your read on the cancellation? why not hold a meeting with 3 trustees?


eastlaker March 16, 2014 @ 8:54 p.m.

I don't know what the quorum rules are...but didn't they carry on when Pearl was out of town in January?

And haven't they stated that someone could attend via Skype?

So, I am wondering what the deal is. It is par for the course to suspect an ulterior motive on the part of Ed Brand.

My guess is that without Jim, Brand has only one secure vote, so he wouldn't be able to call a tie vote in his favor. And possibly even McCann has started to realize how he has alienated his constituency to such a degree that in the straw poll on the Star-News website, his numbers are almost the lowest of anyone running.

The earth may be crumbling around Ed Brand. However, just like that dirt pile from a couple of years back, it will probably take some money to haul Ed away. Unless the police step in. One can always hope.


Jmbrickley March 17, 2014 @ 8:07 a.m.

"And haven't they stated that someone could attend via Skype?"

According to the Open Meeting law, aka Brown Act, teleconferencing is legal. However, the location of the skyper MUST be within the district's boundaries and OPEN to the public to attend the meeting at that location.


gobigal March 16, 2014 @ 8:52 p.m.

They don't want to have a meeting with 1400 angry teachers presenting them with the results of the strike vote. Teachers go on Spring Break on Friday. I can almost guarantee they will call the meeting while the teachers are out on break to keep down the assembly outside since most teachers live outside the district and won't drive back on their vacation. But that is just the perception of one CAVE teacher.


miagd March 16, 2014 @ 8:57 p.m.

Is this cancellation/postponement fact or rumor?


eastlaker March 16, 2014 @ 9:04 p.m.

I heard it from an SEA notification that was shared. Are you thinking that the district might say they are cancelling, and then hold the meeting anyway?

I just checked Board Docs and there is nothing posted regarding cancellation or postponement, but then perhaps that can only be done when clerical staff reports tomorrow morning?


eastlaker March 17, 2014 @ 10:11 a.m.

Just got off the phone with a secretary at the district. There will be no closed session, nor no open session this evening. The board meeting is postponed. They are working on rescheduling for the week of March 24 - 28.

I checked online, and still didn't see notification of the meeting postponement. Which does seem odd to me. Calculated move, or just not that good at posting information?


joepublic March 17, 2014 @ 12:17 p.m.

It might be time to contact Donna Frye of California Aware. She spoke once to the board about following public meeting laws. It would be good to get a legal opinion of the adjournment (term used on their website) of tonight's meeting. How can you adjourn a meeting before it begins? It's looking like gobigal is right, the district would rather meet when everyone's on spring break. Also, the action of this 7-11 committee raises some serious legal questions that need to be addressed.

Adjourned Meetings (Board's By-law) A majority vote by the Board may adjourn/continue any regular or special meeting to a later time and place that shall be specified in the order of adjournment. Less than a quorum of the Board may adjourn such a meeting. If no Board members are present, the secretary or the clerk may declare the meeting adjourned to a later time and shall give notice in the same manner required for special meetings. (Government Code 54955)


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 12:20 p.m.

With the District in the midst of:

Upcoming alleged corruption trials of board members A teachers strike IRS audit of L street The Boards neglect in evaluating Ed Brand An internal investigation of Castle Park Middles principal, who has resigned Borrowing of Mello monies every month Deficit spending and current $4million deficit


We, the parents and taxpayers deserve far better representation - but more importantly our CHILDREN deserve far better - we are their only voice.

Please plan on attending the next Board meeting and speaking up for quality education.

Why aren't the monies from the property sales being used for Deferred Maintenace - many of our schools are in dire need of repairs. Why are our students expected to suffer in poor conditions of campuses while Ed Brand, with the blessing of Jim Cartmill, John McCann and perhaps another are planning to spend money for a new District office on the east side?

When are Jim Cartmill and John McCann going to start voting on the side of quality education on quality campuses.

We voted for Prop BB! we voted for Prop O and what did it get us - alleged corruption. Are you aware the District is planning to propose yet another new tax for our broke down campuses? And what will that bring more fancy dinners? More school board members daughters beauty pageants paid for?

Enough is enough,

One last point - CARTMILL IS SICK AND???????? Even with him gone there will be a quorum - Ed Brand needs Cartmill vote, that is why - plain and simple.


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 12:21 p.m.

Please note the other annieiewiegf is NOT ME????


Susan Luzzaro March 17, 2014 @ 12:41 p.m.

Here is a news release from the district:

Immediate Release Contact: Manuel Rubio March 17, 2014 (619) 691-5578

Board of Trustees Meeting Postponed

The Sweetwater Union High School District has postponed the Board of Trustees meeting originally scheduled for Monday, March 17, 2014. The district is looking to reschedule the meeting to Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Confirmation of the new date will be posted on the district website as soon as possible.

The postponement of the meeting is based on two key factors: the health of Board President Jim Cartmill and the ongoing labor situation. Based on medical advice due to a current medical situation, and a pending surgery on Wednesday, March 19th, Mr. Cartmill will not be available for the scheduled meeting tonight.

In addition, the Sweetwater District is seeking to find resolution to the ongoing labor impasse situation with the Sweetwater Education Association (SEA). The Sweetwater District has spoken with SEA leadership regarding the postponement and will continue to make efforts to find an immediate resolution that is beneficial to all and ensures continued student achievement and success.


Susan Luzzaro March 17, 2014 @ 12:47 p.m.

anniej, flagged the off topic one, hope it comes down soon.


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 2:14 p.m.

Thoughts for a speedy recovery go out to Mr. Cartmill.

Even with Mr. Cartmill gone there is a quorum. There is OTHER important business that needs to be addressed so WHY the postponement? I mean the REAL reason. Teachers on vacation? Hmmmmmmmm

Bad press shining the spotlight on the dysfunction of Ed Brand and Cartmill?

Perhaps Mr. McCann will step up and lead. Hopefully Quinones and Lopez will show tonight to answer the tough questions


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 3:29 p.m.

Honorable Judge Espana - are you reading this! Are you aware of the dysfunction regarding tonight's meeting? Some of these very same people will be standing before you looking for mercy - depending upon who shows up tonight - that will, Your Honor, reflect their true nature

Will John McCann show up and lead - we are waiting to see. There is a contingency that believes he will........


Jmbrickley March 18, 2014 @ 9:44 a.m.

John has his finger to the wind, even as we write. One can only hope it is blowing "our way."


shirleyberan March 17, 2014 @ 5:27 p.m.

Channel 10 reported on a lawsuit against district for spending money on private investigator without approval and Ed being the (luny bird) person who ordered it. Makes my day.


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 5:56 p.m.

Well,,,,,, anniej is here, Bertha Lopez is here sitting up at the Dias, allegedly Ms. Quinones is here somewhere but guess who is NOT here? John McCann - so,,,,, are we now to nickname him 'no show Mccann'? He is tweeting his booty off about his concern that the meeting was cancelled. But not concerned enough to drive over to the west side and 'lead'.

Is this what the Chula Vista taxpayers are to expect from council member McCann? No leadership quality here.

For all of those who tried to convince me that McCann would be a stand up guy and sit at the Dias this evening I say - 'now you see the real John McCann'.

Mr. McCann ALL news media are here. They have just been told Mr. Cartmill was out and about today. He was at work, he was at Fruteria to name a few places where audience members state he was seen. BUT, he was too ill to conduct the business of the people for the students.

They dysfunction of Sweetwater grows worse and worse!!!!!!

Ed Brand needs to go, NOW!!! Followed by Jim Cartmill and John McCann. No city Council seat for Mccann he is too soft to lead when it is important.

Question: who cancelled this evenings meeting? Ed Brand? Who gave him that authority? Again I ask why didn't McCann challenge the cancellation, he is the Vice President.


shirleyberan March 17, 2014 @ 7:01 p.m.

They were broadcasting live from the potential meeting site - some good coverage this time - would have had repeat report second half hour but the sound went out so they couldn't stay live with the teachers strike, picketing and no board plus a new lawsuit with a good interview (by McNeil?) about the bullying bro. McCann-do must have been out tampering with channel 10 sound system. They even put up a map and statistics about how many teachers and students in Sweetwater. Attention getting. 7 O'clock. They start with the strike stuff and "alleged spying", said Ed canceled the meeting.


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 9:15 p.m.

Well folks prepare yourselves. John McCann did show up AFTER 99.9% of the taxpayers and teachers went home. He claimed that he was 'in the area' ??????? Now rumor has it he saw news cameras still there and made an abrupt u turn, with two wheels a squealin' (satire). A few of us witnessed his interview and all I can say is pathetic - it was clearly obvious based on the questions that even the reporters and cameramen were having difficulty swallowing his lame snow job.

McCann 'claims' he was advised by an attorney that if he attended it would be a Brown Act violation - hmm, I wonder if we, the taxpayers, paid for that legal advice?

As one of the reporters asked 'if you chose not to attend the meeting then why are you here now'. Heck I could answer that - that is John McCann being John McCann. Another questioned if McCann had ever witnessed anything like this in the military. - McCann skirted that question.

The people John McCann, Jim Cartmill, and Ed Brand claim to be hiding from are law biding citizens and teachers (who have been entrusted with our children) these three men are in fact hiding from THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!! None of them deserve to be in the trusted position they hold. Tonight is a clear example of just how bad it has gotten.


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 9:19 p.m.

shirleyberan - we have missed you!

Wondering if you might answer a question. Does Ed Brand have a niece named Lea? (Not sure of spelling)


shirleyberan March 17, 2014 @ 10:27 p.m.

Anniej - I don't know all of Betty's 5 or so brothers and sisters and their offspring. We were almost never a family. Why? Somebody in prison?


anniej March 17, 2014 @ 10:48 p.m.

Shirleyberan - no, that would be personal family business, and I am against involving families in the mess of SUHSD. I was following up on a tip regarding SUHSD business. I felt bad asking, but hoped you would understand.

Shirley, that PI - I was one of the community members he investigated. When I attempted to find out how much the investigation cost and requested a copy of the investigation gathered on me. - what do you know 'no such documents exist'.

Thank you for answering, hope all is well with you!


bbq March 18, 2014 @ 6:03 a.m.

I am once again agahst at the "Fine Line" walking of this district, For a Big Guy, Ed has great balance (Satire!), it matters not who at the upper levels of adminstration and the board you look towards, they keep following the same path, just like dairy cows, around the outside fences of the pasture...

It is so obvious that the meeting needed to be canceled, the agenda had a chance of having a real discussion and possibly not passing without the stacked deck of Jim and John, who knows? Ms. Quniones might have not be as controllable as she once was and not followed the company (Ed's) line.

With all of the "Important" stuff, Adminstration Buildings, Property Sales, Evaluations to be decided it was not worth the risk. And with the ease of using the nearly 18 month old Labor dispute, as an excuse, why not?

This district and dare I say region, after looking at the same-old, same-old City Council Candidates is pathetic, where are the real leaders, when will the constituents of the district stand up to this "Bully Pulpit", what will show the District we are mad as hell and will not take it anymore?

The only thing is to keep our kids out of school one day per week and watch what happens money in, I guess you'll need to cutback on expenses, ie new Adminstration Buildings, by the way does Mr Cartmill require a Doctors note??? I wonder if we could get Doctors note for all of our kids, I would suggest "Student Stress Leave" caused by the tension and attitudes of the teachers caused by the District Adminstration's appearent strategy (Is there one?) for negotiations.

I do not propose this as support for the teachers, I propose this as a way wake up the district to the desires and needs of the community, kinda like an organized "Ditch Day"

To all please watch and follow up on these situations....



anniej March 18, 2014 @ 12:02 p.m.

Pearl Quinones plead guilty this morning - she resigned from her Board seat effective immediately!


bbq March 18, 2014 @ 12:16 p.m.

Will John be calling for an election?(Satire). I guess that nothing can be done now .... Let's just close the doors and move on, no wait...

Is Miss Pearl getting a sweetheart deal too? Can't wait to see the spin on this one...

So we've gone 16 months since the start of Sweetwatergate and this is what stands for "progress" in this community, a sad state of affairs.

How about some statements from those seeking elected posts and those leaving them, Ms. Cox, Mr. McCann?



Reader2 March 18, 2014 @ 1:30 p.m.

How did this link to massage parlors get here? Susan, please remove it. Thanks


oldchulares March 18, 2014 @ 1:04 p.m.

With Ms. Quinones now gone what happens to the vote? Does this mean that Jim and John's allegiance to Ed is cemented in stone?All of those important issues of Ed's simply moved to next week where the rig is in. It will be Jim and John yes Ms. Lopez no hard to ever respect Jim again after hearing about his obvious plot yesterday John just kissed his political career bye.


eastlaker March 18, 2014 @ 1:46 p.m.

Ed must have known the timeline on Pearl's situation, and decided postponing the board meeting would help his position. Because--Pearl could have used that as an opportunity to put many issues out into the open, issues that Ed wants to keep packed away in the dark recesses of his guilty conscience, allegedly.

So--Jim running errands all around town, but being too incapacitated to attend a board meeting...what could it be? I hesitate to speculate on the health of someone, but must say, if an elected official wished to be taken seriously, doing what Jim did would not be the way to act. Again, Jim is playing the patsy for Fast Eddy.

You'd think he'd be getting tired of that role, and be more interested in expanding his options. How about trying out "Responsible Elected Official" instead of "Scurrying Lackey"?

Then there is McCann, tin ear all abuzz, unable to actually accomplish anything, yet drawn to the spotlight like the unwitting moth to the flame.

Get a grip, McCann and Cartmill. Fast Eddy is not going to save you. He will worry about himself, and drop you two faster than you can say, "BBBBut I did everything you asked me to!!!"


Visduh March 19, 2014 @ 9:35 a.m.

Let's take stock here. Pearlie was charged with 27(!) counts of various misconduct, i.e. crimes, and the DA has allowed her to plead down to two counts, one a felony. I suppose we should be happy for that much. The deal "will allow" her to avoid jail. So, for those of us who were hoping to see her have a change of address to Las Colinas, or better yet, Chowchilla, will see nothing of the sort. Not too long ago, with the way these cases were going I said that none of the baddies would get jail, and I'll stick with that prediction stronger than ever. If she, who was charged with extortion, gets this sort of gentle treatment with no jail, well, you have your story.

When we heard that the now-wobbly judge was allowing almost a year to pass before scheduling "trials" in February, we were justifiably outraged. Then when the first of those trials was drawing near, she allowed "Perfidious Paul" Pfingsto to beg off and get more months before Gandara goes to trial. And then nothing until Ricasa copped her plea.

Then we waited again. Could this sequence have something with the scheduled trial dates, in that when they got uncomfortably close, the perps, who both "looked forward to clearing [their] name[s]" decided it was time to give it up? I confess my ignorance of just whose trial was docketed and when. It was sure that the judge scheduled several weeks for the Gandara trial, which would have been the most complicated.

So, who is up next? Cartmill? When (not if) he cops a deal, he'll be off the board. The same would be true for Bertha. Get used to the fact that neither will stay on the board. The question is how long it will take to see a conclusion, and another question is how much more damage can those two do before their respective removals.

As to what all the ballyhoo from Bahnee D was about when the indictments were handed down is a puzzle. She's not out proclaiming anything now. These deals just go down quietly. It sure would be interesting to know what the deputy DAs who worked hard on this cesspool of corruption are thinking when their work ends with such limited effect.

But another point here is the effect and "message" these pleas are sending all round the county and state. This horribly egregious conduct gets, it appears, a mandatory loss of board seat, and probation. Does that put terror into the hearts of would-be crooks in nearby counties who have similar opportunities? I doubt it greatly. In fact, I'd say it will embolden some who now see that precedent is on their side, and if caught, they'll keep their ill-gotten gains, and walk free as birds. There are plenty of cities and school districts in San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, and Los Angeles counties that are ripe for this sort of exploitation. Sadly, there will be more, not fewer such cases in the coming years.


jibaro March 19, 2014 @ 12:11 p.m.

Visduh, well stated and reflects the thoughts and feelings of many of us in the South Bay. Hopefully this terrible chapter will end soon, allowing for a new beginning. Thank you for your insightful post.


eastlaker March 20, 2014 @ 9:25 a.m.

Meanwhile, we wait and wonder what comes next--is Ed Brand still holding all the cards, or is it time for him to fold and retreat back north.

There is no one who respects him.

What he is doing is willfully destroying a school district, and little is happening to prevent it.

County B of E, really, can you earn your salaries for once and actually do something?


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