At the July 21 meeting (Tom Calhoun, far right)
  • At the July 21 meeting (Tom Calhoun, far right)
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At the regular November 20 Sweetwater Union High School district meeting, lame-duck trustees authorized the district to proceed with entitling 1130 Fifth Avenue in Chula Vista for 135 townhomes.

The project, which is called the Cove, is scheduled to replace the current district office; however, trustees had agreed to halt all real estate projects until an independent third-party review could be conducted of the district’s asset utilization/real estate plan.

The plan seeks to ready three properties for high-density development and flip them to a developer; the plan also consists of acquiring new district office space in eastern Chula Vista.

In August, following a closed-session meeting, Sweetwater’s interim superintendent Tim Glover made this statement regarding the district’s decision to suspend the controversial real estate plan: “We have heard you [community advocates who opposed the plan] today; we’ve heard about your request for transparency and for third-party validation.”

The November 20 agenda called for ratifying “a contract with BRG Consulting, Inc, to provide environmental planning services for the entitlement zone change for district property [1130 Fifth Avenue].”

Tom Calhoun, Sweetwater’s chief facilities officer, originated the action. The starting date for the agreement was November 7, 13 days before the trustees ratified the action.

Community advocate Maty Adato opposed the $93,000 expenditure. She asked the trustees, “Why are you not letting the new board do this? If they want to have that property rezoned, let them do it. I don’t get why you’re not even discussing it.”

There was no discussion, just unanimous approval by board president John McCann and four interim trustees.

In an email on November 23, the Reader queried the district about the consultants hired for the project. The district’s chief financial officer, Karen Michel, responded November 24:

“I contacted Mr. Calhoun and he indicated the [BRG] Butler Burgher Group (of whom Chris Roach is the Senior Managing Director), is not connected to E2ManageTech.” 

The Reader also asked why this item was sent to the board when the trustees had declared they would wait for a third-party review.

Michel replied: “It is true that an independent review of the asset utilization plan was approved by the Board of Trustees and moving forward with the plan has been suspended pending completion and report to the public of that review. 

“However, the environmental planning services related to 5th avenue has the board's approval [on Nov 20] to move forward in light of a grant offered through the City of Chula Vista for $68k+.  The grant will mitigate costs and will expire at the end of November.”

Paula Hall, who was recently elected to the Sweetwater board from area 5, offered this comment on the decision:

“I believe the interim board did what they felt needed to be done based on what must've been presented to them in closed session meetings, however, they were interim and the new board is set to take office in the 14 days the action seems very untimely.

“Without the complete knowledge of all the various legal issues it is hard to see why this train continues to hurtle down the tracks of no return. It would have been prudent for the board to stop with ANY spending related to property until the new board is ready to make those decisions. 

“The newly elected representatives must be allowed to learn the facts and gain a good understanding before putting any further obligations on the district's limited resources without full disclosure to the school communities and taxpayers.  Understandable that for many it again feels like some faction is pressing  urgency on such decisions,.  It does appear as a rush to  action without public disclosure or discussion.”

Some months ago, on July 21, the Cove townhouse project was introduced to neighbors and community members. Many who attended the meeting opposed the project. Problems with parking and traffic were among the reasons cited for opposition.

A recent Reader public record request yielded an email that demonstrates the dubious data-gathering required by the city and the district for traffic that might be generated by the townhouses.

The consultants working on the Cove’s entitlements for the last few years, E2ManageTech, billed the district for two counting devices purchased from a Big Five Sporting Goods store.

When the district questioned the bill, E2ManageTech consultant Daryl Hernandez wrote:

“With respect to your question regarding invoiced charges for mileage and counters, please note that the City of Chula Vista informed us that we could forgo an expensive detailed Traffic Study for the 5th Avenue Property if we can demonstrate that the current number of vehicles entering/leaving the property is greater than the projected number of vehicles after the property is redeveloped [for 135 townhouses].

“So, rather than hiring an Engineering Traffic Consultant, we found it would be more cost effective to purchase the traffic counters and to send one of our in-house junior engineers to do the traffic count requested by the city.”

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oskidoll Nov. 25, 2014 @ 10:49 a.m.

HMMMMM...thanks again Susan for your persistence. It seems that the plot does now thicken with the reported involvement of the City of Chula Vista...wonder if her honor Mrs. Cox knew of the City's Offer: "However, the environmental planning services related to 5th avenue has the board's approval [on Nov 20] to move forward in light of a grant offered through the City of Chula Vista for $68k+. The grant will mitigate costs and will expire at the end of November.”

I also wonder why the 'rush' for the action in light of the lame duck board and what possible impact might have been with a simple request for an extension so the new, fully ELECTED board, might have the opportunity to fully evaluate the scenario(s) before jumping to this step.



Susan Luzzaro Nov. 25, 2014 @ 11:12 a.m.


history will they say.

When the total amount already spent on this property deal is calculated...the logic of rushing a vote to garner a 68k grant may not appear strong to many. I am in possession of 1,116 pages of invoices and related information on the district's property deals. Just to calculate the amount of money already spent will take days...

Nothing mandates that the money in this Fund 40 be spent on facilities. Some of the money was redevelopment pass through funds, some is now coming from cell phone towers... this money could have been spent on student education.


oskidoll Nov. 25, 2014 @ 11:30 a.m.

Of course, Susan....they just used a handy excuse for proceeding as Mr. Calhoon and who knows how many others behind the scenes wanted in order to keep their precious real estate forward to the likely detriment of South County students. NO discussion at the SuHSD board meeting tells us all we need to know. It was 'business as usual' on the dais.
At least the recent elections have brought us all closer to a fresh start, even if there will be so many entanglements to undo in the months ahead. Let's hope Mr. Calhoon and other scammer-perps are given their walking papers asap. They have been at our publicly-funded trough way too long.


anniej Nov. 25, 2014 @ 11:34 a.m.

And the past 2 Board wonders why we pull so many items.

It appears, once again, the Board speaks with formed tongue.

I have more to say but after reading this article I am numb.


oldchulares Nov. 25, 2014 @ 12:14 p.m.

Calhoun needs to be given his walking papers. The superintendent may have just showed us all that he is simply a yes man and at this point I am up to my neck with my taxes be used for sweetwater deals.


Woodchuck Nov. 25, 2014 @ 12:17 p.m.

Chris Roach? Any relation to Derrick Roach, school board candidate? Chula Vista--bought and paid for by residential real estate developers. I agree that there seems to be a rush to get entitlements completed. "Don't worry, we know best" should be the city's new motto.


eastlaker Nov. 25, 2014 @ 12:31 p.m.

Tom Cahoots...oops, sorry, Calhoun, needs to take a hike.

Yes as has been mentioned, there are some major string-pullers behind the scenes. And who are they? Some deeply connected people, with the "influence" to get to just about everyone, it seems.

I will cut this short, but have more to say!!


anniej Nov. 25, 2014 @ 1:08 p.m.

Ms. Luzzaro - Butler Burgher's initial are BBG, NOT BRG?

So...... Does that mean the 'temps' voted to pay the wrong company? Does that mean our newly ELECTED Board will have the opportunity to revisit this vote?

One thing for the new Board needs to be given time to review ALL of the information regarding L Street and this property deal Mr. Calhoun is trying to push thru.

I need all reading this to ask yourselves this question - WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON?

Something is amiss, something more, much more is being played out behind the scenes - think about it!!!!!


eastlaker Nov. 25, 2014 @ 2:09 p.m.

I really hate to say it, but perhaps it wasn't just happenstance that those Sweetwater board members were such a bunch of, shall we say...underachievers? So, for example, if one were a string-puller, wouldn't it be great to have people in place who are ok with doing whatever they are told or "advised", all for a small bit of publicity, a few perks and a bit of status--and maybe the promise of a payoff down the road?

Something like "If you just go along with this now, you can have the _ of your dreams". Or, you know that we'd like X to happen--as long as you do your part to help, you will get Y.

Why else would the informed community members who have made their voices known have such difficulty being heard--and listened to?

I am left to conclude that some developer influence has played a part in all of this. I will go out on a limb to say that Ed Brand's delusions of grandeur must have made it easy for developers to shift into high gear with all these projects/schemes/scams.

None of this appears to have been accomplished with any degree of legality, although there are elements which are cloaked in some semi-legal claptrap. I really hope the judicial system isn't completely crooked as well. We all know that Judge Espana isn't going to win any awards for being a deep thinker or even a public-minded individual, more's the pity, but let's just hope the bar she set is much lower than the bar others in that branch of government live up to.

Complicity is a word we have mentioned before, but things look rather more widespread at this point. Pretty horrifying to think that for decades our children have been robbed of opportunities because monies have been shifted into schemes for developers/Ed Brand and his coterie of opportunists.

May the full fury of the law be brought down on every single person who has gone along with this wholesale thievery. Turning your back on children, their education, the future of your own community and country. What an accomplishment for all those involved.



Visduh Nov. 27, 2014 @ 6:38 p.m.

The puppetmasters behind the screen are still pulling strings. The cabal of top managers of the district is still in place, is it not? They advise the supe and the board now as they did before the plea bargains and removal. So they are either the puppetmasters or the hired lackeys of those mysterious people. Will this newly-elected board send all of those administrators packing, or will the "reasonable" demeanor of many of them result in their staying on? The new board needs to clean house at the top, and in some cases, right down to the bottom. Only such a clean sweep will restore confidence, and get the new board the sort of correct advice that will allow them to govern properly. Would a clean sweep take out some good people who were innocent of wrongdoing? Yes, in some cases. But these times call for drastic measures, very drastic measures.


joepublic Nov. 25, 2014 @ 2:42 p.m.

A traffic study done by an in-house-company-junior-executive using a “Big Five Sporting Goods” device? Give me a break! Shouldn’t a study like this require some type of neutral certification to protect the public’s interests? I, like oldchulares, am tired of our tax dollars being spent on Sweetwater’s business ventures. The district might say that they had to act before the new board was seated due to time constraints regarding a grant, but how can a grant (more taxpayer money) even be considered BEFORE a project has been totally vetted through proper procedures for approval. Also, I checked the agenda and as anniej pointed out, they voted money for the wrong company! This really should be re-visited. I hope new board member Paula Hall takes this up at her first opportunity.


oskidoll Nov. 25, 2014 @ 3:06 p.m.

all GREAT questions you pose, joepublic! Thanks


anniej Nov. 25, 2014 @ 3 p.m.

Joepublic - one point that MUST NOT be overlooked - Mr. Calhoun negotiated the project to start BEFORE our Board voted on it - HOW, WHY - does this happen?

Am I wrong - weren't we told by the Superintendent that they had heard the community, and they had listened to the then candidates and were NOT going to proceed?


oskidoll Nov. 25, 2014 @ 3:12 p.m.

anniej, eastlaker, certainly looks like there are numerous 'issues' wrong with the action that the temporary interim 'what me worry?' board took on Nov 20 that surely it can be undone when the new board is seated!

This 'rush to judgment' order to keep the questionable real estate scam on track, after the superintendent had agreed that the public had not been adequately heard... Guess he just followed direction to head everyone off at the pass and gain some time for the backroom deals to go forward.

Again, it seems to me that there NEVER was, or were, public hearings declaring any of the properties surplus! Once again it looks like the law, and the right of the people to be heard, have been subverted.

Yes eastlaker, it is sickening!


VigilantinCV Nov. 25, 2014 @ 4:10 p.m.

Who applied for the $68,000 grant? And what was it supposed to be for? I think this would tell us a lot. Was it the greedy mayor, Cox, who pursues free money (grants, grants, grants) like pigs pursue slop? Thank God she is only going to be around for two more weeks.


Susan Luzzaro Nov. 25, 2014 @ 5:53 p.m.


I am apologetic that there are so many property stories. I am reminded of the old time bouncing ball to follow the lyrics. But I believe it will be borne out that it is worth paying attention to.

According to city staff, the city paid E2ManageTech up front for one environmental review on Third Avenue and then was reimbursed by a Brown fields grant. Probably this process was the same.

My big question is how can the city of Chula Vista and the Sweetwater district be proceeding with this when the Fifth Avenue property has not even been declared surplus?

In fact, how could it be surplus when the district office resides on it and according to the district they have not put money down or signed an agreement for another district office.


oskidoll Nov. 25, 2014 @ 5:59 p.m.

Excellent questions Susan! We'll await answers from the City and the District ASAP.


Susan Luzzaro Nov. 25, 2014 @ 6:07 p.m.

To all,

I am indebted to the people who have been labeled antagonists. They read the agendas rigorously, as one hopes that the trustees have or will read them. They note irregularities. And they pull the agenda items and speak to them. Many times they have hit on something that might have been missed, might have been part of an extended consent calendar or one of one hundred consultant contracts. They have created an archive. Every district, or city, should have people paying attention in this manner.


erupting Nov. 25, 2014 @ 6:59 p.m.

Me thinks I smell a lot of rats. I only hope this new board knows how to get us out of this continued mess. No public hearings,just the same old business of rubber stamping,that we have lived through already. I'm not sure why this temporary board continues to attempt to carry on business after saying they wouldn't. Is it because they should have intervened long long ago when asked. This does reflect badly on them,then and now. Why would this community want Glover as a Supt.after all the lies he has supported. These people can not leave quickly enough. We are missing something here. This isn't just about 68,000k from CV.


eastlaker Nov. 25, 2014 @ 8:33 p.m.

What continues to amaze me is that they--meaning the temporary board--continue down the same road, when obviously it is past time to make a U-turn. They are ignoring all signs, they are continuing along a road that takes them further and further from civic good.



oskidoll Nov. 26, 2014 @ 10:50 a.m.

Perhaps it is the road of least resistance to their monthly stipends and additional benefits!

Certainly not because any one of them are looking to do any work on behalf of those they are supposed to be representing. What a 'lilly-livered' (as Sister Mary V used to say to us 4th graders at St. Rose) bunch of pathetic excuses for so-called public servants.

I am dumbfounded that not one of them managed to raise any alarm or concern about going down the path....even 'good intentions' lead to hell if not supported by any backbone.


Chris_Shilling Nov. 26, 2014 @ 12:34 p.m.

I was against the action the board took to authorize the 3rd party study in the first place. I just wanted them to halt everything until after the new board was sworn in. I believe I am quoted in another article saying that. However, even with the 3rd party study being authorized it never felt like anything had been stopped and there still was no transparency. Does anyone have any clue what the status is of the new district offices? How can we not know something so simple and basic?

I was at the meeting referenced in the picture above. At that meeting the community members who attended were all against turning the current district offices into high density housing. As a government agency funded by taxpayer dollars the school district has a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the community, not just what makes or saves the most money.


eastlaker Nov. 28, 2014 @ 1:22 p.m.

It seems quite amazing that some unnamed outside entities can drive the school district and the city of Chula Vista on these development issues.

So they must have contributed quite generously to all the campaign war chests. There must be some deep alignments which somehow are able to circumvent all the protocols and procedures as prescribed by law.

And well, we have enough experience watching Judge Espana to know that we unfortunately cannot rely on the judicial branch of the government. Some of these understandings appear to be contrary to all sorts of legalities. I hope there are enough honest people remaining who can help us get to the bottom of all this bad deal-making and wholesale hornswoggling of our community.


oskidoll Nov. 29, 2014 @ 1:20 p.m.

IMPORTANT INFO FOR NEW SUHSD BOARD: It occurs to me that the members of the new SUHSD Board of Trustees might plan to re-evaluate the employment of members of the district's administrative staff. Depending on the length of the employment contract, administrators have rights to notice of their employment is to be terminated as of June 30, 2015 (the usual 'end' date for employment).
I believe that administrators with one-year contracts expiring June 30 must receive official notice by the prior March 15; administrators with multiple-year contracts must receive official notice by December 31.

As the December 31 deadline for providing notice for holders of multiple-year contracts is approaching, the new board might wish to consider which of the administrative staff are 'keepers' and which are not, in a timely fashion and inquire as to the nature of each administrator's contract provision.

In any event, administrators who receive appropriate notices are entitled to compensation through the end of the academic year, June 30. Of course, they may be 'dismissed' earlier by placing them on administrative leave but are still entitled to compensation.

Just sayin'


eastlaker Nov. 30, 2014 @ 7:09 a.m.

Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.


oskidoll Nov. 30, 2014 @ 3:24 p.m.

Here's another thought on the subject: It may not be possible for the new board to fully evaluate each and every one of the administrative staff between the time the new board members are sworn in mid-December, and the December 31 notice deadline for those admins who have multi-year contracts.

I propose that the new board consider issuing a blanket 'notice' prior to December 31 to ALL administrators, effective June 30, 2015....those whom they decide to keep can receive cancellation notices prior to June 30.

That way, everyone who possibly would get such a notice will have received one timely. That would give the new board ample time to fully and appropriately work with the superintendent to evaluate the entire administrative staff by June 30, while still meeting the requirements of the law.


Jmbrickley Dec. 6, 2014 @ 6:12 p.m.

This is exactly the process used on teachers who "may have to be let go" at the end of the year. "Good for the goose, good for the..."


jerrythomas Nov. 30, 2014 @ 7:51 p.m.

Chula Vista Is a city destroying itself if it approves the Sweetwater Union High School District application for a rezone and entitlement process for the building 135 townhomes, called the COVE, at the current district office and bus garage on 5th st. near Oxford St. The city has already approved another SUHSD 162 residential housing project on a third of an acre and calls it the COLONY at 435 Third Ave, in downtown Chula Vista. These projects diminish their surroundings with overwhelming bulk, bland design and are crony-socialism. The Sweetwater Union High School District was impacted by excessive corruption and incompetence. The best we can do now is to fight for a holding action, hoping that we can keep things from getting worse till the new trustees take over. The Corruption is uniquely reprehensible in a school system because it violates the first principle which we learned in elementary school: GOVERNMENT IS THERE FOR THE PEOPLE. The only information we have been receiving about these Chula Vista SUHSD real estate projects[ July 21 meeting for building 135 townhomes at the current district office and bus garage on 5th St.} is confused, vague, conflicting or incomplete. Also there should be no tradeoff of the public good for private gain by any individual, companies or public official. Why is the Sweetwater School system allowing a favored real–estate operator to excessively enrich himself through the use of school property? Where is the environmental impact study the impact of the proposed project will have on the neighborhood traffic parking and economic problems in this most congested area of Chula Vista on local people and businesses? We hope the new SUHSD Trustees and city council will fulfill their obligation to the south bay area quality of life and focus on their responsibility to the children’s education and future. Chula Vista is going to have 200,000 more people in 15 years and SUHSD needs this land. Stop with these short–sighted financial disaster boondoggles. The failure of the horrendous leadership of the responsible oversight and justice system to stop the systematic and institutionalized corruption is destroying public confidence in the Sweetwater Union High School District and requires the city Council and school trustee inclusive leadership, due diligence, transparency and courageous integrity. The sale of public land to a private citizen with no debate in the School Board and City Council is a moral issue. Are ethics and morality a worthless product in political life in Chula Vista today?


eastlaker Dec. 1, 2014 @ 11:07 a.m.

Excellent points, all.

No public debate of the sale and development of school property?

Unknown developers at the helm of city school district plans?

How did the system get short-circuited in this way?

To answer my own question, I can only say that there must have been many small steps toward this, many people being co-opted along the way, including the Sweetwater Board of Trustees in several iterations.

Too bad the judicial system seems to have been similarly co-opted (Espana). Furthermore, with McCann now pulling back into the lead for the city council spot, we know that he will always side with the developers, because that's where the money is.

Looks like the vocal, attuned and aware members of the public can't rest. Wouldn't it be great to actually find out who the people are behind all of this? Ed Brand and pals? David Malcolm? Others? All of them??


oskidoll Dec. 1, 2014 @ 11:48 a.m.

Surely Ed Brand and all his pals, David Malcolm, etc.etc. are all likely and usual suspects when underhanded deals involving public assets occur.


shirleyberan Dec. 1, 2014 @ 11:16 a.m.

We don't know How to Stop Them Jerry. It Is Obvious and Widespread Corruption. So Sad for our Kids of a Whole District.


shirleyberan Dec. 1, 2014 @ 12:19 p.m.

I know Brand has a devious mind but lack of ethics by other administrators is keeping this going.


eastlaker Dec. 1, 2014 @ 1:15 p.m.

Not making excuses here, but when the wheels are in motion, it takes more effort to make things stop.

We seem to somehow lack the ability to put people where it takes--i.e., where they can be positioned to stop all this mess. Is that because someone or some people "get" to them after they have been elected or appointed, or is this all somehow a shadowy part of the process by which our "leaders" become "leaders".

We really need some people who can stick up for what the citizenry want, which is to say, honesty in government and schools, not a bunch of self-appointed developers taking over everything.


oskidoll Dec. 1, 2014 @ 1:52 p.m.

Agreed eastlaker! A new board of trustees has been elected, and will soon take their seats on the dais. Let's hope this interim superintendent will have done sufficient orientation to bring them up to speed quickly as they dive into the district's massive number of questionable projects. Those whom they represent need to keep their feet to the fire to do the right thing...that is easier said than done, of course. So.... the citizenry needs to:

Show up at meetings, inquire as to items on the agenda, pay attention to even small things, be heard during public comment at board meetings, request information to which the public is entitled, and don't take 'no' for an answer. The public is paying the tab for the school district and is entitled to participate in the process as entitled by law.

Unfortunately, except for the Reader, there is no real 'press' to regularly report the doings of the district as in the past.


Wabbitsd Dec. 1, 2014 @ 5:16 p.m.

"No real press" is a large part of the problem. Who should these folks fear? And it is not just the Sweetwater District...


eastlaker Dec. 2, 2014 @ 3:51 p.m.

So the latest is that the FBI has taken many boxes away from LAUSD, all having to do with their iPad deal-making. Can anyone tell me why they shouldn't do the same to Sweetwater?

Apparently there are all sorts of irregularities, which apparently are NOT supposed to be the way business is done.

Really! You don't say?!


oskidoll Dec. 3, 2014 @ 11:05 a.m.

For starters, there is a different DA in Los Angeles, as well as a different Federal Grand Jury. According to the news story in the LA Times, it was the Federal Grand Jury that has ordered the investigation of the LAUSD Ipad debacle.


eastlaker Dec. 3, 2014 @ 11:59 a.m.

Interesting. Sure hope we could get some traction here with all the problems there are in Sweetwater & Chula Vista.


Jmbrickley Dec. 6, 2014 @ 6:17 p.m.

Until "the largest public corruption case in the history of San Diego County," Bonney Dumanis is running again for office, don't expect any help from her office.


oskidoll Dec. 3, 2014 @ 1:02 p.m.

I think the critical difference is the lack of a mainstream newspaper and investigative reporting. The Reader has been the ONLY news outlet to report about the shenanigans at SUHSD and in the City of Chula Vista, and it has not the influence or reach of the Los Angeles Times. Thank goodness for Susan Luzarro and her persistence to help keep us informed and thank goodness for the Reader for providing this forum.


Jmbrickley Dec. 6, 2014 @ 6:19 p.m.

The reality of our situation is that it became "boring" to the SDUT. Too many delays to hold reader's attention.


eastlaker Dec. 7, 2014 @ 9:06 a.m.

I think the problem isn't really how boring it is. I think that as the paper is still plying the waters of pro-development, the UT management will not allow truly unbiased reporting on the Sweetwater problems, as they more and more demonstrate a close connection to developers.

The UT just does not want that opened up. Perhaps because it would make public just how developers have been able to sidestep all sorts of civic, community, state, waterfront and school district regulations in the development and redevelopment that has taken place in San Diego county and is taking place in San Diego county at this moment. Chances are there are some strong "understandings" that underlie all sorts of public and political positions. The articles in the UT give some information, but the articles are always very muted.

Moreover, articles in the Voice of San Diego are simplified to the level of the ridiculous, which is to say, there are words, but no real information. The PBS online reporting has disappeared. I would have to say that Ed Brand probably does have some really good, powerful friends, but I still hope that will not keep all of us who care about public education from proceeding in an orderly fashion to retake Sweetwater for the sake of the students and the students' future.


Visduh Dec. 4, 2014 @ 7:24 a.m.

On a different but related note, McCann has been certified the winner by two votes. Anyone can demand a recount, but it has to be paid for. The registrar has quoted a cost of about $40,000 to do the recount of 38,000 ballots. Say what? Over $1 per ballot? That's ridiculous., but he'll get it. Yesterday one of the local radio stations talked to Steve Padilla, and asked him what he was planning to do. He has not conceded, and has no intention of doing so. He started off by saying that the recount "needed" to be done, insinuating that the registrar should just do it. But when the questions got into the idea of having to pay for it, you should have heard him. He slipped into referring to himself (and I suppose his supporters) as "we", as though he has no opinions of his own--or using the royal "we." Such bobbing and weaving and dodging the questions. It was pathetic and rather sickening to hear.

He may seek a court order to the registrar to perform a recount without charging him or his campaign. That would be most interesting if he did it successfully.


oskidoll Dec. 4, 2014 @ 11:30 a.m.

Visduh....the royal 'we' must be contagious, as that is the only pronoun McCann seems to have in his vocabulary when referring to the outcome of the election or his part in the political process.

I agree that the $1 per vote to be recounted seems excessive cost to pay the ROV for the recount. Seems to me that there should be a stipulation that any outcome with less than a certain percentage of difference (say one percent) between top vote getters should be subject to an automatic recount.


eastlaker Dec. 4, 2014 @ 12:36 p.m.

Did anyone ever find out if Padilla was as closely informed on all events having to do with the vote count as McCann was. Because, wasn't McCann on the phone with the Registrar of voters when he had his outburst and rock-throwing incident (caught on film)?


oskidoll Dec. 4, 2014 @ 2:21 p.m.

The only person who would be in a position to answer that question is Padilla himself. I do not know if this would be the appropriate time for him to rock the boat with the ROv staff, but it is a question that should be asked and answered: Did the ROV office call Padilla to inform him of the same info they were supplying to McCann on that Tuesday evening when he had been dining with SUHSD school superintendent at Miguel's in Eastlake and supposedly left the restaurant to take a call from the ROV.

Bottom line, we tax payers need to know that the ROV staff is even-handed in its treatment of ALL candidates and what they do for one they need to do for all.


oskidoll Dec. 5, 2014 @ 4:06 p.m.

Just saw that an agenda for the swearing in of new SUHSD members tonight is posted online on the district's board docs. There is an opportunity for public comment. Closed session tomorrow at 10 a.m. for workshop on the Brown Act (yea for that!) and board member ethics (double yea for that)....and it looks like a couple of other items that may be related to real estate and/or personnel.

I do hope the new members pay attention to the training and understand that they are now couriers of the Public TRUST!


Jmbrickley Dec. 6, 2014 @ 7:15 p.m.

As happy as I am to have a new board, I can only hope that they will do their homework before each meeting and bring themselves up to speed on each item on the agenda, instead of just meeting with the Superintendent and listen to his/her take on the issues.

One of the things the "antagonists" did every month before a school board meeting was to meet at one of our houses, go over the agenda, item by item, and prioritize items by importance and cost (bang for the buck). Some items we thought were sound items. Some we didn't. It was the later items we spoke to at meetings. We didn't do this willy-nilly. We had spend the previous weeks gathering information from administrators, public records requests, and public information. We combined all this information into a cohesive picture and would present this "picture" to the board for their consideration. Alas, four of the board members saw us as doing their job and resented the fact that we were making fools out of them for them not doing theirs'.

The new board is just that... New. I can't expect them to be up to speed on every nuance of every issue to come before them over the next several months. But they better make a VERY SERIOUS effort to be up to speed SOON. Anything else will just look like the same ol', same ol' if they don't.

NO EXCUSES! I could do it. So could Fran, Kathy, Maty, Bertha, and Stewart. We did it for almost four years. If we could do it... so can they.


eastlaker Dec. 7, 2014 @ 9:14 a.m.

All of us owe you, Fran, Mady, Kathleen, Bertha and Stewart enormous thanks. If Sweetwater has an award for citizen activism that is above and beyond the call of duty, you, "The Antagonists", should be given it.

The new board members certainly look like they will take their responsibilities seriously, and will study the issues rather than just doing the bidding of the person they are charged with directing.

oskidoll's suggestions regarding the notification of those working in Sweetwater's administration that their jobs are up for review and possible elimination is important. I hope there is a growing awareness of deadlines and a plan for accomplishing the renovation of the administration of Sweetwater, not just the renovation of some of the buildings.

And we really do need to find out if the rental agreement for the new admin building in Eastlake can be voided, as regulations were not followed.

So many things need to be done to change the course of the mess that Sweetwater has become.


oskidoll Dec. 7, 2014 @ 11:32 a.m.

If any of the 'antagonists' know any of the new board members well enough, they might offer to 'buddy up' one-on-one for a few months to provide context and historical counter point to whatever the superintendent and admin. is promoting in each month's agenda.

The Brown Act prohibits three or more of the new board members from getting together without pubic notice, but there is no prohibition that would keep them individually from meeting with any of the group that has studied the agendas so studiously for so many months.

If I were a new board member, I would seek out the authority and expertise, and those who have been so rigorous in their studies of the district and its issues certainly are authorities


anniej Dec. 7, 2014 @ 9:41 a.m.

It appears certain promotions were approved right before Ed Brand departed - questionable promotions. It is also worth noting that right before the 'temps' left others suits were promoted or provided assistance to do the MJO's (Major Job Objectives) they are not qualified to perform.

It is time for all recent promotions and raises be put to the litmus test. NEW BOARD MEMBERS - are you feeling me??????

Let me ask you this - as teachers, as bus drivers, landscapers or others - when was the last time this District hired assistants to help you with your jobs? Rather/instead, you are told 'we need you to pick up the slack, work harder, add to your work load - because it is all about the kids. Look at all of these wonderful SUHSD employees - we depend on them, the community depends on them but more importantly our students NEED them - but, raises you say, additional help you say - that is reserved for the SUITS'.



oskidoll Dec. 7, 2014 @ 12:31 p.m.

It occurs to me that with the new districting areas in place, that each new board member has an opportunity to get 'closer' to the issues that beset the SUHSD schools in his/her district.

Perhaps they might consider forming a 'district advisory council' composed of at least one parent from each school site to help keep the board member informed of issues that impact the students in those schools, giving the board member an 'ear to the ground' so to speak.


eastlaker Dec. 7, 2014 @ 10:53 p.m.

Another item for thought: looking into replacing current law firm (Shinoff & friends) with a firm which would actually work in favor of the District, instead of in favor of their own bottom line.


oskidoll Dec. 8, 2014 @ 10:45 a.m.

A superb suggestion, eastlaker. Stutz, Arelano, Shinoff et al. have been in the district's pockets too long and their allegiance, defense of, and blind eye to to questionable board and administrative practices suspect. They need to go! Surely there are other law firms with less baggage and more backbone.


anniej Dec. 8, 2014 @ 2:38 p.m.

I have a different take on the Attorney Schinoff issue - attorneys by nature take no prisoners - ever watch Ironsides? The Good Wife? While TV shows, my opinion is the portrayals are pretty close to the mark.

Have any of you ever hired an attorney? We want our attorneys in it to win - and it appears that is exactly what the Schinoff firm does.

While I do question the exorbident amounts in legal fees we pay out each year - if we are going to hire a legal firm I want one that is in it to win and quickly.

In closing, I am cognizant of some of those that have been victimized by the District - and yes the Schinoff firm was the legal entity used in some of those cases - but again, it was the Supers and those Board members who chose to victimize the employees or in the Ollier case, the students - not the Schinoff firm - we (District) hired Schinoff, he did not hire us. If we are looking for persons that are in the good deeds business - unfortunately Mother Theresa has passed and I challenge anyone to name me a 'nice' attorney (when they are in court).

Guess my point is this why are going to raise sand for Schinoff doing what he was hired to do - win.

*AGAIN I PAY HOMMAGE TO THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED - but let's remember who CHOSE TO VICTIMIZE THEM - and hold them accountable.


eastlaker Dec. 8, 2014 @ 2:47 p.m.

I am asking this because I do not know--why is the law suit about the girls' softball field still dragging on, when the field itself has been upgraded? The district had the opportunity to settle, and didn't, according to what I last remember hearing. I just do not understand that. I think that sometimes law firms extend the law suits because they charge by the hour.


oskidoll Dec. 8, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.

I think you give Shinoff and Co WAY too much credit for doing what lawyers are supposed to do. Yes, lawyers whom you and I hire are supposed to win for us. District Counsel are supposed to help the District protect its interests and to follow the law! There were too many instances of failures to follow the Brown Act, to hold requisite public hearings to declare properties surplus (instead of facilitating the district's nefarious path to shady real estate entanglements) to look the other way and pat Dan Shinoff and Co on the head and say, 'good boys', you were only doing your job.

I know Dan Shinoff and he is a good lawyer....he wins. I am disappointed in the fact that he has seemed to fail to help the District's so-called leaders stay on the right side of the ethical and often legal line. I think it is time to find new legal counsel who are able to guide the district, advise the leaders as to their legal and ethical responsibilities, and keep what is supposed to be open government open. Shinoff and Co. do not meet those criteria! Good lawyers are not lap dogs...


oskidoll Dec. 8, 2014 @ 3:33 p.m.

Good lawyers win their cases. Good ETHICAL lawyers who represent public interests cannot also be lapdogs.


anniej Dec. 8, 2014 @ 5:35 p.m.

oskidoll - with much respect I ask was Shinoff the attorney being used in the property deals? Jesus Gandara and Ed Brand did what they wanted, when they wanted - and I would offer for consideration - perhaps Brand and Gandara went against legal advice and did what they were notorious for - WHAT EVER IN THE HELL THEY WANTED. Attorneys are there to offer advice, but that does not mean that those that hire them always take it.

Do not claim to know, just offering it up for consideration.


anniej Dec. 8, 2014 @ 5:44 p.m.

Eastlaker - something tells me the Shinoff firm is a smart firm. Gandara was known for being arrogant, as was Brand - so it would not surprise me one bit if the decision to appeal on the Ollier case was theirs (Districts) not the legal firm.

The total ridiculousness in all of this is - while we were fighting the Ollier case in Court we were spending over a million $ to improve the CPH softball facilities. Does that make sense? But then what did under the leadership of these two opportunists?

With a new Board hopefully new community members will attend the meetings and bring issues and concerns to the Boards attention for consideration..


eastlaker Dec. 9, 2014 @ 10:44 a.m.

What the public needs is a list of all ongoing lawsuits affecting Sweetwater.

There should be some way to assess work that is being charged to the district.

Then, if it appears as if a law firm or two are not being exactly forthcoming in their work, the matter can be addressed openly and honestly.


oskidoll Dec. 9, 2014 @ 11:10 a.m.

Very good suggestion eastlaker. Everyone should know what liabilities the District might be facing. Some will be characterized as 'confidential personnel matters' but should be included and listed as such. Some will be characterized as 'ongoing real estate negotiation' but can still be included. Please don't let the closed session items cloud what the public should rightly be entitled to know.


oskidoll Dec. 9, 2014 @ 10:45 a.m.

There is certainly enough blame to go around....Brand, Gandara, henchpeople, and of course, the corrupt board, all doing for themselves instead of for the students of the District.

The point about Shinoff et. al., as they do appear to be the district's primary counsel, is that they in all probability assisted and abetted much of the perfidy....including much that was done without the benefit of public vetting, be it defiance of the Brown Act or ignoring requirements for public hearings in regards to determination of the status of property the public owns prior to the district declaration of it as 'surplus'.

It does take a band of thieves to loot the District's coffers, and that cannot be done unless the District's lawyers are compliant. By the way, who processed the requests for the TRO's and 'cease and desist'? Who gave the 'lecture' on 'civility'? I'm just sayin'.....

Wouldn't it be best, now that we have a clean slate of new TRUSTees, to begin fresh with new legal counsel that is not tainted with the past or any allegiances to past players. I'm just sayin'.....


Visduh Dec. 15, 2014 @ 1:20 p.m.

"Shineon" and his firm work all round the county for various school districts. The recent piece in the Mill about how hard it is to fire "bad" teachers had quotes from him in regard to one or more of the Oceanside USD cases. This area of law is highly specialized, but no firm, especially with the stinky record of his firm, should have a lock on many/most/all of the school districts in the county. There are plenty of other practitioners or potential practitioners of Ed Code law around, due to the glut of law school graduates. I'd bet that many of them could do a better and more responsive job and would charge a small fraction of the billing rates charged by Shineon.


eastlaker Dec. 9, 2014 @ 12:45 p.m.

Yesterday I happened to tune in to the local PBS radio station where there was a panel discussing grand juries. Much of the discussion had to do with the recent situations with unarmed black men being killed by police officers, and the grand juries finding that there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute. However, one attorney brought up Sweetwater as an example of a grand jury that found evidence to prosecute when in that attorney's opinion there was not evidence to prosecute. Pity I didn't get his name. Apparently his client had been charged, and had pled down. He wasn't challenged on that by the PBS host or anyone else on the panel.

What I find intriguing here is the continued effort by some to try and sweep everything under the rug--meanwhile, in San Ysidro, they are trying to get Manuel Paul to return the $200,000-plus he was given.

I am sorry that our local PBS station is no longer as accurate and objective in its reporting as it once was.

Judge Espana certainly didn't do justice to much of anything. Who appointed her?


oskidoll Dec. 9, 2014 @ 2:58 p.m.

Hmmmmm. I wonder why someone would plead to anything if he, or his/her lawyer felt there was not enough evidence in the first place. Wouldn't it be better odds to go to trial in that case? You are right, Judge Espana did nothing to advance the cause of the people's rights and chose instead in multiple instances to pat the perps on the head (Jim Cartmill, especially) and tell them they didn't do that much wrong. I don't know who appointed her, but I believe we will all have the opportunity to let her know at the ballot when she is next up (likely in 2016) what we think of her brand of not-so-much justice, slaps on the hand, and failure to stand up for the rights of the taxpayers in South County.


Visduh Dec. 15, 2014 @ 4:46 p.m.

There are cases of defendants, fearing really dire results from a conviction, will make a plea deal that gets them lenient treatment. In a few instances these can be people who are innocent and are in danger of being railroaded. That doesn't happen often, and usually not in cases of white collar crime or bribery. It isn't what happened here, for sure, as those of us who have followed the events know very well. And with that judge on the cases, it would have been very obvious to any defense attorney that he/she would have a very easy time in the courtroom. What you were hearing about was just typical defense attorney denials, even after a guilty plea in entered. It also helps that attorney get more cases to plea down.


oskidoll Dec. 16, 2014 @ 10:46 a.m.

It is evident to me that the people of South County were underserved by the very court of justice that is supposed to protect our rights along with everyone else. Others who would be tempted to the same larceny as our 15 so-called public servants will not be dissuaded from future larceny by the soft outcomes of the indictments that were so hard to come by and the absurd trials that followed. The chief judge of the San Diego Court who assigned the cases to Judge Espana in the South County clerk should be embarrassed by her pitiful performance, but probably does not give a damn.


eastlaker Dec. 9, 2014 @ 4:47 p.m.

Well, now I have a little more information, courtesy of

She was appointed by Gov. Schwartzenegger, reelected and her current stint is over in 2017.

Undergrad & law school at USD. You would think they would have told her that the Ed Code exists!!

Kinda sorta looks odd to me.


oskidoll Dec. 9, 2014 @ 5:10 p.m.

Even if she skipped the part about the Ed Code in law school, she should have read up on it when she got the Sweetwater perp cases. Who may and who may NOT sit on the dais is pretty well spelled out, in both Ed Code and the District's own Bylaws. Clearly, she is short on the homework gene!


Visduh Dec. 15, 2014 @ 4:50 p.m.

Don't forget all the months she delayed the trials with the excuse that she needed time to study and review all the documentation. Didn't she put off the trials by something like eight months? And after all that study she seemed confused by the cases, and was most definitely confused about her discretion to allow some of the perps to keep their seats when the law was clear that they were out. She's an embarrassment to the local superior courts, and that group doesn't embarrass easily.


anniej Dec. 9, 2014 @ 10:27 p.m.

oskidoll/eastlaker - and so we MUST remember the names JUDGE ESPANA AND LYN NEYLON - remember how we were treated by those we elected into office - next time around THEY ARE OUTTA HERE!!!!!!


eastlaker Dec. 10, 2014 @ 2:28 p.m.

anniej. I agree--but, when voting last time around, I noticed that most of the judges have no one running against them. That could be a problem.


oskidoll Dec. 10, 2014 @ 3:45 p.m.

With more than two years to plan, there is time to recruit someone qualified to run against Judge Espana!


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