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Sweetwater Union High School District trustee John McCann, who is running for Chula Vista City Council seat 1 in the June election, got an entire press release printed in the San Diego Rostra on May 6.

The press release opens with: “Citing the need for the Sweetwater District to recover from its massive corruption scandal, board member John McCann has called for the immediate resignation of board members Bertha Lopez and Jim Cartmill. The two board members have pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes and are awaiting sentencing.”

It appears that with this press release McCann would like to create separation between himself and other trustees, but Sweetwater superintendent Ed Brand lumped the trustees together when he spoke to the grand jury in 2013.

Under oath, Brand said to deputy district attorney Leon Schorr that none of the trustees were “mensas.”

Brand went on to say that within days after being appointed interim superintendent in 2011, three trustees asked him to get campaign donations from Seville Group Inc, the vendor overseeing all the Proposition O work done in Sweetwater. The three trustees Brand named were Pearl Quiñones, Bertha Lopez, and John McCann.

Campaign disclosure forms from 2010 show that McCann took $12,500 from Seville Group, Inc. He also took sizeable amounts from other Sweetwater vendors: Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke & Associates, $1500; Swinerton Builders, $5000; Blue Coast Consulting, $2000.

McCann did not close out his Sweetwater campaign committee until the end of 2013. As late as May 2013, he received a campaign donation from Suncoast Financial Mortgage Corporation.

Suncoast is owned by David Malcolm, a former port commissioner who was obliged to step down in 2002 and who pleaded guilty to a felony conflict-of interest charge in 2003. The conviction was expunged in 2006.

Several months after the Suncoast donation, McCann appointed Malcolm to the Sweetwater 7-11 committee. (According to California Education Code, the committee is made up of no fewer than seven members and no more than eleven.) The 7-11 committee members were appointed by Sweetwater trustees and Brand to evaluate district property holdings and recommend to the board if the properties should be declared surplus. (Once property is declared "surplus," it can be sold.)

After two meetings, the committee declared district-owned property on Third Avenue “surplus” — paving the way for the development of apartments on Third Avenue — and for Sweetwater to purchase a new district office.

McCann did not respond to an email query asking why he appointed Malcolm to the 7-11 committee.

In addition to calling on trustees Lopez and Cartmill to step down, McCann’s press release counts among his Sweetwater successes: API scores, CIF championships, robotic championships, visual and performing arts awards, and so on.

Reaction to the Rostra-published press release was swift.

Chris Shilling, a vice chair to the Chula Vista board of ethics and a parent to Sweetwater students wrote: “As for the substance of this press release from John McCann’s campaign I will say this: I agree that Bertha Lopez and Jim Cartmill should resign.

“I also believe that John McCann and Ed Brand should resign as well. Sweetwater does need to move forward and rebuild trust in the integrity of their governance. This cannot happen with an extremely divisive politician like McCann, or an extremely divisive administrator like Ed Brand, still involved.

“In addition, saying that John McCann has led reform initiatives is ambiguous to the point of ridiculous. What initiatives? If there were specifics they would be listed. There are none.

“The recent successes listed are the results of the commitment of dedicated students, teachers, and coaches….”

Schilling also questions why McCann’s ballot statement for Chula Vista City Council does not reflect any of the Sweetwater accomplishments named on the Rostra press release. In fact, if one were to read the ballot statement, they would be unaware of McCann’s Sweetwater years.

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theyknowmeascoach May 7, 2014 @ 5:38 p.m.

I liked the part where McCann took credit for CIF championships.


anniej May 7, 2014 @ 5:42 p.m.

STOP THE PRESSES - Ed Brand and I FINALLY agree on something-

John McCANNT is not a mensa. Well duh!!!!!!


oldchulares May 7, 2014 @ 6:10 p.m.

John has become the laughing stock of the party. If this is the best candidate we have to offer God help us all


Visduh May 7, 2014 @ 8:27 p.m.

I tol' ya' so. It would get crazier before it ended, and this is the sort of small potatoes stuff that happens when they all go down the drain. Yes, of course, the whole pack of them starting with Cartmill, then Lopez, then McCann, and ultimately Brand should have resigned last week. But this whole theatre of the absurd keeps going and going and going, long after it should have ended. It may come sooner than anyone thinks if the judge has to vacate her ruling that Carty and Berth-babe do not have to leave their seats. It could happen any day now, OR it could take weeks or months. Nothing is all that predictable in SUHSD now, but we all can be sure that big changes will happen. So, if you would like to see Brand tarred, feathered and run back to No County on a rail, plan a trip on the Trolley to the SF depot, and then a transfer to the Coaster. In Oceanside, switch him to the Sprinter, and he'll soon be home. Or at least where he claims to live. (A few folks think he lives under a bridge.)


Jmbrickley May 7, 2014 @ 8:40 p.m.

John forgot to mention that the Chargers made the playoffs under his supervision as a trustee of SUHSD.


joepublic May 7, 2014 @ 8:55 p.m.

And we should never forget that he brought the Iraq war to an end.


erupting May 7, 2014 @ 9:25 p.m.

If anyone noticed the McCann press release,John wrote verbatim from the Home Town magazine. He copied the credits and applied them to himself. Talk about cheating!


Susan Luzzaro May 7, 2014 @ 9:57 p.m.

JmBrickley, I was unaware--the Chargers? SHUSD? Pls send press release. Thanks


Susan Luzzaro May 7, 2014 @ 9:58 p.m.

Visduh, You gotta earn I tol' ya' sos. Regarding Sweetwater and Dumanis, you have been pretty astute.


Ensenadamaria May 7, 2014 @ 11:10 p.m.

John McCann appears to have turned on everyone. There is a saying, "there is no honor among thieves". I am hearing a mailer has been received detailing McCann's many failures check your mail. I am in agreement with a poster who said Dr. Brand and John McCann should also resign.


anniej May 8, 2014 @ 8:26 a.m.

John McCANNT yard signs going up all over town - OH MY!!!!!

Now all will be able to read the true legacy of John McCANNT as a Sweetwater Board member.

Time for the voters of the South Bay to put an end to the reign of John McCANNT!!!!!!


eastlaker May 8, 2014 @ 10:59 a.m.

McCann yet again demonstrates why he is his own worst enemy.

Aside from never doing the right thing while on the Sweetwater board, he goes all out at this juncture to eliminate Cartmill and Lopez. But not in any way that could be considered halfway intelligent, such as merely stating something like "We should make sure that the statutes are followed, as they have been set up to handle situations such as this. Due process should be followed, and we will accept the end result of the process for Mr. Cartmill and Ms. Lopez." Sensible, reasonable.

Instead McCann needs to do his best to grab attention and local headlines, demanding Cartmill and Lopez leave the Sweetwater board--while using verbiage so high-handed as to further show the ridiculousness of this entire thing.

McCann wants so badly to be the last man standing--why? So he can boast of that? As if that would be some sort of great achievement? Please.

No wonder McCann ends up annoying people to the extent that they will pay someone to make signs and flyers with the express purpose of MAKING JOHN MCCANN GO AWAY!

I have said before that McCann suffers from something that is a grave problem for a politician: he has a tin ear. Meaning, McCann simply cannot comprehend when he is annoying or mixed up or acting out in juvenile ways or making a political move so egregiously, disturbingly wrong that it defies belief.

If McCann had handlers, would he be smart enough to listen to them? I have seen no evidence to back that up. I have only seen an individual so small-minded, so wrong-thinking, that instead of acting for the greater good, he does the opposite for years, and then PRETENDS he has done the right thing.

At the very least, this community needs people who can recognize reality, and work to make things better. McCann has had many years in the political spotlight, and has messed it up royally every time. Save us from McCann!!


eastlaker May 8, 2014 @ 11:30 a.m.

Ms. Luzzaro, I really like the headline on this article. For some reason, it warms my heart. Thank you for that extra ray of sunshine!!!


anniej May 8, 2014 @ 12:57 p.m.

Looking for prominently located homes to stake John McCANNT yard signs, they can be delivered or you can be met somewhere convenient to you


oskidoll May 8, 2014 @ 12:58 p.m.

And the Mrs (McCann) needs hubby to be employed as a public official by some public agency so she and the four little McCanns can have a good life at our expense. I continue to wonder what his so-called 'business' experience is, and what, exactly is the 'small business' he claims as a 'small businessman' -- does anyone know the specifics?

I try to evaluate candidates not only by their record, but it is also important to me that they have some obvious and visible means of economic support, other than the public trough. I believe that makes them less vulnerable to the temptations in the public arena, although not necessarily immune.


bbq May 8, 2014 @ 1:32 p.m.

Oskidoll, The term "Small" is relative and so fits many possible definitions in this situation.

Mr. McCann is small in many ways except in his audacity to claim the higher ground at SUHSD and the successes which occured in the District in spite of he and his fellow Board Members.

He's small except for his ego, thinking that only he is above reproach for asking and recieving campaign contributions from District Contractors, and claiming the fact that he alone was responsible for the removal of the Gandara at a significant cost to the District.

He's small until you start talking about new district offices, on Ed's tail, spending anywhere from $15M to $30M depending on who you talk to, in spite of a few years of deficit Budgeting spending about $30M of what was a reasonable $40M Reserve Fund.

He's small when you talk of fiscal conservatism which he claims until you really look into where is the money?

I guess it never changes when he shows up as a City Councilman to "Christmas in October" Projects in time to have a snack and glad hand, but not to do anything constructive like volunteer to fix someone's house.

Small is a good thing when he is no longer in the public limelight he'll be easily ignored.

Hey do his campaign signs say "John McCann" or can they be recycled for MaMa McCann's run for the Board?

No McCann in South San Diego Politics!!!!



calbear May 13, 2014 @ 12:34 p.m.

bbq, maybe he buys and sells items on ebay or has a garage sale now and then. His blurb states "He is now an independent businessman in the technology sector". I have searched County records and I can not find any reference of him, a company or as a DBA.


anniej May 8, 2014 @ 1:48 p.m.

bbq - there are not many who have BRAINS and COMEDY skills. If you ever get bored with your job, I am telling you could headline in Vegas - and just think of all the McCANNT material you would have to draw from.


dwbat May 8, 2014 @ 5:57 p.m.

I would like to see John McCain and Russell Brand go away! ;-)


eastlaker May 8, 2014 @ 8:44 p.m.

Looks like Judge Espana finally got the memo, because according to an article in the UT, she has said that she does not have the jurisdiction to allow Cartmill and Lopez to remain on the board.

She claims she had been unfamiliar with the section of code that covers this...and I would just like to mention, why would she be unfamiliar with this section of code when she has had YEARS to prepare for and work on these cases?

So...Johnny Boy gets his wish and is the last man standing. (Q: How do you tell that McCann is the last man standing? A: All others have left the room.)


bbq May 9, 2014 @ 6 a.m.

After reading the latest opinion of Judge Espana that upon a verdict of guilty... Quote:

"“that person is suspended at least until the day of sentencing and then on the day of sentencing, that that office is vacant.”

If this is true has any business of the District been conducted while a "Should have been Suspended" Trustee been sitting on the Board? I am pretty sure anything done at the April Board meeting is suspect, how about Ms. Quniones time?

Again if we had trustworthy people on the SUHSD Board they would have excluded themselves long before now, they whould have followed the system to replace Ms. Ricassa, or the County would have stepped in months ago.

As for the open seats on the Board I assume they will be filled at the fall election with terms to regain the sequece of alternating openings ie, Ms. Lopez's seat will be for one year...

Are the temporary fill seats subject to the new districting of the seats? By the way how is that going, any appearent gerrymandering going on?

Can the new/temporary board call for a Superintendant search? How about an independent search committee?

A couple of new subjects in the ongoing saga of Sweetwater....



bbq May 9, 2014 @ 8:06 a.m.

I went back and looked at the Sentencing Dates for all of the Indictees and the meetings. The April meetings were conveniently a couple of days before the Sentencing dates. The other meetings which were after, Quniones' Sentence date she was was not roll called in the meetings. Oh yeah there was the March madness of three cancelled meetings allong with the Feburary "is there a quorum?" Meeting.

I do call for clearification of the Board status before the May Meeting?

  1. Should we be expecting "Acting Trustees" from the County Board?
  2. What are the Scope and Limitations of the "Acting Trustees" authority?
  3. Can the "Acting Trustees" or will the "Acting Trustees" open up a search to replace Brand?
  4. Can the "Acting Trustees" or will the "Acting Trustees" take a good look at the Finances of the District?
  5. Can the "Acting Trustees" or will the "Acting Trustees" suspend any Non-Educational Expenses, ie New Adminstration Buildings, 3rd Street Sale, L Street issues?

I would keep going and I am sure some of the other contributors will.....

"What a fine kettle of Fish, Ollie" says Stan Laurel



eastlaker May 9, 2014 @ 11:26 a.m.

bbq--You have made some great points, as usual. Not being an expert on legal affairs, I can't begin to say what should happen next...but I believe it is time for an open forum with the County Board if Education. The public needs to get some of these questions answered.

We need a working timeline. We need to see these problems being addressed.

When the teachers were in negotiations with Brand and the remnants of the Board, I recall a comment from one of the UT articles. A member of the public was complaining about the teachers, saying they would end up bankrupting the district with their demands. A knowledgeable individual responded that the teachers' union had been able to research the financials of the district, had found where Brand et al were trying to hide monies and therefore were sure that any demands that were being made were well within the ability of the district to pay.

I guess I filed that nugget away for further rumination.

So, of course, Brand juggles the books so it looks like he can't afford to give teachers a raise after 7 or 8 years, or reinstate their health benefits...but he can afford to spend $20 - 30 million on new district HQ that NO ONE authorized. And what about all the other real estate adventures and schemes? All that needs untangling.

I think it would be great to get more info on all the Brand quasi-, semi-, and/or il-legal projects.

A while ago the question was asked: "How did the news get out that Sweetwater trustees (And San Ysidro and Southwestern College trustees and others) would be willing to sell out the district and sell themselves for some dinners, entertainments and perhaps benefits remaining unknown? Was it under the first Ed Brand "watch"?" Seems a real shame there was no real rigor attached to these pleas...because we have not been able to come anywhere near really understanding the scope of what was going on.

And with Brand here, can we have any confidence that things have been cleaned up?

I can't feel confident!! We still can't get to the bottom of the on-going real estate sham/scam/shell games.

So I would have to say, that must be because there is some illegal protection taking place somewhere. Pity the truth is so hard to find.


Visduh May 9, 2014 @ 1:54 p.m.

With such an admission by the judge, I'd hope that there is some way that the state body that oversees judicial performance can start an investigation of all this incompetent performance on the bench. She should be removed, or better yet resign, from the bench, like today. Of course she is no more likely to remove herself than the gang of four were to remove themselves from the board, 'way back when they were indicted. eastlaker and BBQ are asking all the right questions, but who is to answer them? I'd suggest the county superintendent of schools step up to the plate and provide a timeline of when the four county board members assume the four vacant seats on the SUHSD board. Sadly, the county "supe" isn't going to stick his neck out at all, and I doubt we'll hear a word from him. But failing that, the current president of the county board should make a public announcement. But don't expect that either. No, we wait for the next two shoes to drop, unless the lawyers tell the clients to give it up and get out. But will these shameless two finally feel a twinge of shame and do the right (and inevitable) thing? LOL

Brand bought himself some breathing room with the teachers union. Were they still at odds, his position would be far more ticklish. Of course, now the union bashers can claim that the union drove those four good and public-spirited citizens off the board and bullied the hapless supe into a contract the district could not afford. McCann will be making such claims himself soon, if he had not done so already.

It gets craziest right before the end.


CV_Parent May 9, 2014 @ 2:58 p.m.

looks like Cartmill is not giving up his seat without a fight. He makes me sick.


oskidoll May 9, 2014 @ 4:36 p.m.

of course he is not going to give up anything...he has been on the SuHSD dole since 1990...stipend, health benefits, the latest electronic gizmo.... he is the personification of someone who thinks they are entitled and 'own' the seat and the bennies. Remember, he is a snake oil salesman at best, purveyor of so-called vitamins that are sold without any governmental review or medical sanction.


oskidoll May 9, 2014 @ 5:55 p.m.

On another front, the agenda for the May meeting of the Southwestern College board is posted -- it's next Wednesday -- and if the board takes the proposed action for a 'change in employment status' Arlie Ricasa will be moved from her position as Director of EOPS at $126,624 per year to Counselor (an 11 month position) at $110,352. Given the EOPS position is an administrative full-year position, her monthly pay will be reduced from $10,552 to $10, 032....not much of a demotion and she gets a summer holiday to boot!


Ensenadamaria May 10, 2014 @ 8 p.m.

Ricasa's pay stub may not indicate punishment, however, her good name is gone. Her good name meant everything to her. No longer will she carry herself as better. Better does not plead guilty to exchanging their vote for gifts. Good riddance.


oskidoll May 11, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

Amen to that! I do hope she will now pay attention to the college policies and procedures, too and take great care that her college email, fax, etc are used only for official college business.....no one is above any law.


oldchulares May 11, 2014 @ 8:02 a.m.

LightSaber that is what you are calling yourself these days John or is this your mouthpiece. You and Ed both know the community has turned against you. I saw those no John signs yesterday does that strike you as someone the community wants. Look at it this way when you loose you will have more time to bore us with your war stories and the accident. Will be interesting to watch you today. Judas, that is what you are.


calbear May 13, 2014 @ 12:27 p.m.

Under oath, Brand said to deputy district attorney Leon Schorr that none of the trustees were “mensas.”. Coming from Ed Brand, a graduate of the prestigious United States International University, known synonymously as Alliant, that quote is quite an insult.


eastlaker May 13, 2014 @ 10:30 p.m.

The real kicker here is that Brand does think he himself is very intelligent, whereas he is merely very good at sliming his way along. If he were truly intelligent, we as a district would not be in this position. If you think you are smart, and all those around you are being disciplined for illegal activities, and you yourself have not helped the situation...you are an ignoramus. And possibly other names.


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