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According to many people who attended the July 23 Sweetwater Union High School District meeting, the majority of the trustees continue to abrogate the rights of public speakers.

Kevin O'Neill, a member of Sweetwater's Proposition O Bond Oversight Committee, and a former member of the Chula Vista Growth Management Oversight Commission and the Chula Vista Planning Commission, said in a July 25 interview, "I had to wait five hours for the public communication portion of the meeting and then I was only given 60 seconds to speak."

When O'Neill tried to finish his comment, which ran over the one-minute limit, he was flanked by two security guards. According to O'Neill and other onlookers, the guards were ready to drag him from the podium.

O'Neill was trying to explain to the board what he had to go through to get information about the controversial dirt pile at Southwest High School. As a member of the bond oversight committee and as a person who has expertise in construction, O'Neill had offered to assist the district in interpreting the soil report. However, he was told to file a public record request if he wanted to see the report.

In the July 25 interview, O'Neill observed that "the level of dysfunction between the board and the public was shocking." He likened the board meeting to World War I trench warfare, and said, "The board, by limiting public comment, has built a moat around itself. The staff is caught in the middle and has developed bunker mentality."

"It's an unfortunate situation," O'Neill continued. "There are a lot of dedicated people in the district trying to do good work but their leadership is getting in the way."

At the July 23 meeting, board president Pearl Quiñones reduced speakers' time from the three minutes allotted by board policy down to two minutes — then down to one minute.

Trustee Bertha Lopez challenged the arbitrary shortening of speakers' time and asked to have the board vote on the issue. However, Quiñones asserted she had obtained the opinion of legal counsel to support her action.

In a July 26 interview, Redus Hall, an irate parent who attended the meeting, stated, "This was my first time at a Sweetwater meeting and the board is a disgrace. There were 30 families there who wanted to speak about the lack of bus transportation for students. The board knew there were a lot of upset people, so they cut us down to five speakers. It seemed as if they wanted to punish the public."

Hall complained that board members did not pay attention to speakers, "They got up and walked off or didn't look at us." He said, "The only board member who seems to care is [Bertha] Lopez."

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Visduh July 26, 2012 @ 4:36 p.m.

Anything new, unusual, or unpredictable here? Just the usual sort of thing the passes for normal at Sweetwater district meetings.


SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2012 @ 1:27 a.m.

Sweetwater has so many problems it is unreal.....Brand is a HUGE problem all by himself. BTW if the board was not paying attention, and they walked off, they violated the law, due process, there was a case over this very issue just last year where a gov board did the exact same thing, the gov board was sued and lost..............


anniej July 26, 2012 @ 5:56 p.m.

when a person like Mr. Oneill is disrespected that speaks volumes. quinones ran that board meeting like the 3 ring circus it truly is

interesting fact quinones recused herself when a certain architect agenda item came up for approval - hmmmmmm, jotted that name down, we will have to see IF they turn up as a campaign contributor of hers in novembers election. i know this firm donated to campaign funds last time.

quinones is about 3 coca cola's short of a six pack, she is being manipulated and does not even know it. all she is doing is infuriating the voting public who can not wait to vote her out of the office she never deserved in the first place.

john mccann was doing what he does best, sweeping up after himself - mccann, not even the newest oreck will help you at this point - trying to explain his YES VOTE to severely limit student transportation. there he was trying to explain that YES VOTE away - but these folks are no dummies and they will not be played. mccann, cartmill, and ricasa own this mess - when the west side show up they were ignored, then eastlake shows up - their neighbors and all of a sudden they take notice. i praise those from eastlake that showed up, stood up, and spoke up - oh and did i mention many signed the RECALL papers.

then to make matters even worse eastlake high (as one example) was a nightmare yesterday. students were sitting on the floor and on the countertops because there were not enough desks. and whose brainiac idea was this, well it was ed brand & associates idea. brand decided to do away with the boundaries, and so there appears to have been a mass exodus out of the west side to the east side. i believe that the antagonists, spoke up against his idea as well as bertha lopez. they ran out of food at eastlake and there were students who allegedly could not be served due to the large numbers. can't wait to see how these folks react at the next board meeting to this poor decision - while ed brand will be there - doubt if the 'associates' will be -. when will that invisible boundary come tumbling down? the boundary i speak of 'the 805' - there is the perception if you want the best education you need to send your child to the east. am i saying that the teachers on the east side are better, MOST CERTAINLY NOT, what i am saying is this there is a perception that the majority of the board members seem to care about the east side more - in the last 3 years the only board member i have seen speak up for west side issues is lopez, and yet she lives on the east side. so see, a board member can represent both fairly - just not the majority of these board members.

this district is on a collision course with disaster, FINANCIAL DISASTER. it is time for the interim, the cfo, john mccann, jim cartmill, pearl quinones and arlie ricasa to sign letters of intent to resign. we will wish them well, and NO, we will not invite them back - we want the nightmare OVER.

just my opinon


Visduh July 26, 2012 @ 9:01 p.m.

anniej, appending that comment "just my opinion" to your comments is a waste of time and space. We KNOW it's just your opinion. What else can it be?


Jmbrickley July 26, 2012 @ 6:16 p.m.

"Trustee Bertha Lopez challenged the arbitrary shortening of speakers' time and asked to have the board vote on the issue. However, Quiñones asserted she had obtained the opinion of legal counsel to support her action."

Pearl Quinones can say all she wants. As President, she is supposed to run the meeting in accordance with both Board Bylaws and the Brown Act. I have included most of the pertainent references below. Read them and make up your own mind. Remember, when you read the word "shall," that word means "WILL."

Bylaws of the Board BB 9005(a) GOVERNANCE STANDARDS The Board of Trustees believes that its primary responsibility is to act in the best interests of every student in the district. The Board also has major commitments to parents/guardians, all members of the community, employees, the state of California, laws pertaining to public education, and established policies of the district. To maximize Board effectiveness and public confidence in district governance, Board members are expected to govern responsibly and hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

GOVERNANCE STANDARDS (continued) 1. Keep the district focused on learning and achievement for all students 2. Communicate a common vision (cf. 0000 - Vision) (cf. 0100 - Philosophy) (cf. 0200 - Goals for the School District) 3. Operate openly, with trust and integrity 4. Govern in a dignified and professional manner, treating everyone with civility and respect 5. Govern within Board-adopted policies and procedures (cf. 9310 - Board Policies) 6. Take collective responsibility for the Board's performance 7. Periodically evaluate its own effectiveness (cf. 9400 - Board Self-Evaluation) 8. Ensure opportunities for the diverse range of views in the community to inform Board deliberations


Jmbrickley July 26, 2012 @ 6:17 p.m.

Bylaws of the Board BB 9121(a) PRESIDENT The Board of Trustees shall elect a president from among its members to provide leadership on behalf of the Board and the educational community it serves. (cf. 9000 - Role of the Board) (cf. 9005 - Governance Standards) (cf. 9100 - Organization) The president shall preside at all Board meetings. He/she shall:
1. Call the meeting to order at the appointed time 2. Announce the business to come before the Board in its proper order, however, the board president may adjust the order of business as appropriate for each meeting 3. Enforce the Board's policies relating to the conduct of meetings and help ensure compliance with applicable requirements of the Brown Act
4. Recognize persons who desire to speak, and protect the speaker who has the floor from disturbance or interference

Bylaws of the Board BB 9323(a)

MEETING CONDUCT Meeting Procedures

All Board of Trustees meetings shall begin on time and shall be guided by an agenda prepared in accordance with Board bylaws and posted and distributed in accordance the Ralph M. Brown Act (open meeting requirements) and other applicable laws.

(cf. 9322 - Agenda/Meeting Materials)

The Board president shall conduct Board meetings in accordance with Board bylaws and procedures that enable the Board to efficiently consider issues and carry out the will of the majority.

(cf. 9121 - President)

The Board believes that late night meetings deter public participation, can affect the Board's decision-making ability, and can be a burden to staff. Regular Board meetings shall be adjourned at 10:00 p.m. unless extended to a specific time determined by a majority of the Board. The meeting shall be extended no more than once and subsequently may be adjourned to a later date.

BB 9323(b)

Jmbrickley July 26, 2012 @ 6:18 p.m.


Public Participation

Members of the public are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to address the Board concerning any item on the agenda or within the Board's jurisdiction. So as not to inhibit public participation, persons attending Board meetings shall not be requested to sign in, complete a questionnaire, or otherwise provide their name or other information as a condition of attending the meeting.

In order to conduct district business in an orderly and efficient manner, the Board requires that public presentations to the Board comply with the following procedures:

  1. The Board shall give members of the public an opportunity to address the Board on any item of interest to the public that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board, either before or during the Board's consideration of the item. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.3)

  2. At a time so designated on the agenda at a regular meeting, members of the public may bring before the Board matters that are not listed on the agenda. The Board shall take no action or discussion on any item not appearing on the posted agenda, except as authorized by law. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.2)

  3. Without taking action, Board members or district staff members may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by the public about items not appearing on the agenda. Additionally, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a Board or staff member may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his/her own activities. (Government Code 54954.2)

    Furthermore, the Board or a Board member may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, ask staff to report back to the Board at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action directing staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (Government Code 54954.2)

  4. The Board need not allow the public to speak on any item that has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of Board members at a public meeting where the public had the opportunity to address the committee on that item. However, if the Board determines that the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, the Board shall provide an opportunity for the public to speak. (Government Code 54954.3)

(cf. 9130 - Board Committees)


Jmbrickley July 26, 2012 @ 6:18 p.m.

BB 9323(c)


  1. A person wishing to be heard by the Board shall first be recognized by the president and shall then proceed to comment as briefly as the subject permits.

Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on each agenda or nonagenda item. The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to 20 minutes. With Board consent, the president may increase or decrease the time allowed for public presentation, depending on the topic and the number of persons wishing to be heard. The president may take a poll of speakers for or against a particular issue and may ask that additional persons speak only if they have something new to add.


eastlaker July 27, 2012 @ 7:43 a.m.

Thanks for this--it is always good to be informed. Armed with knowledge and right, we can battle the forces of darkness!!


Jmbrickley July 26, 2012 @ 6:28 p.m.

So, the last item under meeting conduct says the public "shall" be allowed three minutes unless board consent is given to shorten the allowed time. Pearl Quinones gives some speakers two minutes, others only one minute. All changes in times allowed are capricious and arbritrary. Clearly, she has no clue as to her responsibilities as President of the Board, and if it wasn't for Dr. Brand constantly whispering into her ear during meetings she would be hoplessly lost.


Visduh July 26, 2012 @ 9:05 p.m.

OK, so you have filed your Philadelphia legal brief. What judge is going to rule on it? If you're not willing to file suit, all that finely wrought reasoning is for naught.


anniej July 26, 2012 @ 10:46 p.m.

Visduh: wow, you really are in a grouchy state of mind this evening. not at all like you. be careful, anniej may have to lower your rating on her scale - you were number 1. comments to me - peanuts. but comments to Brickley - not nice - i found his comment(s) (information) to be very informative.

i was trying to think of a way to email his comments to quinones, too bad she would need someone to then explain each sentence to her.


anniej July 27, 2012 @ 8:41 p.m.

Visduh: no harm, no foul. i have great respect for you and your insightful thoughts.


anniej July 26, 2012 @ 6:32 p.m.

Mr. Brickley; here we are saddled with these minions and all the while a high intelligent, honest person with integrity is in our midst. persons like yourself are what is needed on this board. can hardly imagine what it would be like to attend a meeting with a president who knows their left from their right, a president who does not need to be led but can lead, a president who understands THE RULES and can READ the Brown Act, a president who understands that those staring back at them PAY THE FREAKIN BILLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

at the time, LAST YEAR UNDER THE PRESIDENCY OF JOHN MCCANN, i thought i was in the middle of a nightmare, well quinones has definitely topped mccann's being inept, who would have thought that was possible.


joepublic July 26, 2012 @ 7:02 p.m.

Thank you, Jmbrickley, for posting this. "Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on each agenda or nonagenda item. The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to 20 minutes. WITH BOARD CONSENT (my emphasis), the president may increase or decrease the time allowed for public presentation, depending on the topic and the number of persons wishing to be heard." [Schools Board's Bylaws]

This seems simple enough to understand, and If board member Bertha Lopez wanted a vote taken regarding shortening public speaking, then, at least by my definition, consensus was not reached. The willful violation of OUR school board's bylaws, is a slap in the public's face. Message: Public, we don't care what you think, period. There really doesn't seem to be anything short of a recall that will effectively change matters in Sweetwater. You're right visduh, the board continues to act as expected, however, what's changing is the number of people realizing how bad things have gotten and how necessary a regime change has become.


Pancho July 26, 2012 @ 10:11 p.m.

The best thing the board could do is at least appear to be willing to accept public criticism. When they limit the customary three minutes per person for public comment, it ferments further dissent and distrust. They are public servants, take the time to hear what the public has to say.


mko July 26, 2012 @ 10:17 p.m.

It is clear to me that the Board violates the Brown act when they do not allow public comment at a public meeting. I also believe that a "reasonable man" would find that 60 seconds does not meet the public comment requirement either. The bylaws properly allow the President some discretion in the management of a meeting but the arbitrary manner in which they conduct a meeting is indefensable. The other three sat like bumps on a log Monday night when public comment was moved to the end of the agenda and again when the time was shortened to a minute. I told them at the meeting that they would be mistaken if they thought they could get away with it and I will be making a Brown Act complaint. I will avail myself of all remedies allowed under the law.


anniej July 26, 2012 @ 10:28 p.m.

Joepublic: the sweetwater board has broken so many Brown Act rules that i am sure we could lay them from the most southern tip of the 805 and they would reach all the way to the most northern border of national city.

Brown Act - quinones would probably think that was a name on a home depot paint color chart. you think i am kidding? trust me i am not!


anniej July 26, 2012 @ 10:39 p.m.

mko: what most following the sweetwater saga do not understand is this - the board acts as though they are doing us a favor by showing up. i thought i had seen it all but then june's meeting happened - and there was quinones ending the meeting once the agenda items had been addressed. public comment, oh hell no - she simply said meeting adjourned - botta boom, botta bang - perhaps cafe lamaze had a 2 for 1 special that night - who knows?????????????????

while i attempt to interject humor into my posts i am not attempting humor when i say this - quinones is about the poorest excuse for a politician that i have ever seen. i sit there and am in awe - i just did not think it was possible for anyone to be that uninformed.

and where is johnny boy? where is mccann, little man who wants to be king in all of this - well he is mute. all of his posturing about what he has done (NOTHING), what he plans to do (NOTHING), and what he will do (definitely NOTHING unless it helps him in some way). did he speak up for the public wanting to speak, ah, that would be a NO, the only board member who spoke out was bertha lopez "let the public speak, they have the right" was her plea. did they listen, NO

just my opinion


SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2012 @ 1:38 a.m.

Here is what happens to a gov baord or body when they IGNORE the public-they get sued for violating due process of law;



Susan Luzzaro July 27, 2012 @ 7:26 a.m.

What a great read you've posted, Surfpuppy, instructive too. My favorite part was the description of the wandering inattentive council members but I've cut and pasted the meat of it. I'm surprised they didn't mention people playing games on their phones or computers which is a little too common in some local meetings...

...We do not presume to tell the city council how it must conduct itself as a legislative body. Here, however, the city council was sitting in a quasi-judicial role, adjudicating the administrative appeal of constituents. A fundamental principle of due process is "he who decides must hear." (Vollstedt v. City of Stockton (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 265, 276.) The inattentiveness of council members during the hearing prevented the council from satisfying that principle. ...


eastlaker July 27, 2012 @ 7:38 a.m.

It is clear to me that Sweetwater's Board of Trustees are in violation of the public trust--except for Bertha Lopez, who does keep trying.

I thought I had read somewhere that Brand is trying to get himself named Superintendent, instead of Acting Superintendent...but can he 'unretire'? Or would he still be Ed Brand and Associates (without the associates)? Could anyone declare themself an associate of Ed Brand, and then file for a portion of his paycheck? Maybe all the taxpayers in Sweetwater should do that!

But--all attempts at humor aside, can anyone tell me more about the Open Boarder Policy? Is that just within Sweetwater, or is the Board welcoming anyone who can get to schools in Sweetwater a spot in our schools? Residency checks have been pretty lax in the past (except for Bonita Vista High School, according to what I have heard)...so if after all the noise, the ADA goes up instead of down, will the Board and Brand pat themselves on the back, having acquired even more 'territory' to exploit?

A few years ago, before Olympian and Otay Ranch high schools were built, Eastlake was overcrowded, kids couldn't even get into a restroom and things were in a huge mess. Are we trying to return to those days? Gosh, I wonder what is going to happen to the test scores now...or will there be massive shifts in 'testable populations' before and after the tests are given?

The scheming just doesn't end. I almost wish Brand would grow a mustache, because he would then be the complete picture of a villain--so who could play him in the movie version of Sweetwater? Jim Belushi in a dramatic stretch? Nah, he's far too likable.


eastlaker July 27, 2012 @ 10:44 a.m.

Please excuse my typo, should have typed Open Border Policy!


erupting July 27, 2012 @ 7:48 a.m.

What bothers me the most is I know after each board meeting that I attend that it can't get any worse. Well talk about Wrong with a capital W. whoever said disrespect was correct. The board has let their contempt spill over to the entire public,not just the usual group. Who in the hell do they think they are? I'm so tired of feeling hopeless. I to will be filing a Brown Act Violation. Thank you Susan for providing an outlet for us to express our feelings and disgust. I believe it would be a stronger message if the parents that were there signed the Brown Act violation as well.


eastlaker July 27, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

I'm with you--they do seem to think they can operate with impunity, as the phrase goes. I do think we will eventually prevail, but it will take more work, maybe all hands on deck?


anniej July 27, 2012 @ 9:16 p.m.

i do not believe that sweetwater could become more broken - perhaps i should not say that as i will probably jinx things and the pieces might shatter and become even smaller.

what perplexes me is WHY? why do cartmill and ricasa continue to hang on. it is obvious they are no longer 'into' the business of doing what needs to be done. ricasa probably does not want to resign because of the upcoming trial, but cartmill - ???????????? there is no saving his legacy at sweetwater. with each board meeting , the communities cries for change on the board are growing louder and louder. apathy has turned to disgust.

quinones, what can be said for her - 'hot mess' about sums it up.

mccann, an opportunist in every sense of the word. after the last board meeting there he was running from pillar to post attempting to defend his YES vote to cut transportation - and now he is feverishly explaining how brand was able to open up the boundaries - the end result eastlake high and others mass chaos. and we owe it all to you johnny boy - you brought brand back and now you are trying to get the 'interim' hired as the new superintendent.

the truth about 'mike & ike' of the board will be coming out in the trials. i will be there with my popcorn sitting in the front row of the court room - no doubt the story of sweetwater could easily be made into a block buster on the big screen. sitting and listening when Mr. Flores and Mr. Bunton get up on the stand and explain those campaign contributions to 'mikey & ikey'. cartmill received over 20k from one of them, at 'the gandara's' request. mccann received a contribution to help him pay off his campaign debt- a year after he took office - WHY. mccan had the backing of highness 'the gandara' another WHY???????? oh, the price to do business with sweetwater. scott alvey - hmmmm, perhaps then we will get to the bottom of the meeting he had with mccann, before mccann was voted in (as seen in ut pdf) - perhaps then we will get to the bottom of those redacted sentences in the vega report (you know the one mccann kept refusing to release) - the one our tax dollars paid for.


mko July 27, 2012 @ 9:51 p.m.

I questioned why, when my PRA request asked for..."all communications relating to the soil in whatever form...from consultants and contractors" I didn't recieve the soil report. I received the answer today from Ms.Boyd, an attorney with Stutz Artiano et. al. one of the Districts law firms. She says,"Because your request only sought "communications," these reports were deemed unresponsive and were not produced to you". Now I ask you, in what parallel universe does a report not meet the definition of a communication?


Visduh July 28, 2012 @ 8:56 a.m.

It's just to split hairs and delay, delay, delay. If they can delay you long enough you will either give up, move on, or die. Or so they think.


anniej July 28, 2012 @ 12:24 p.m.

mko: welcome to the world of the 'antagonists' - this is the nonsense they have been putting up with for 3 freakin' years.

"what parallel universe?" you ask - it is called the 'sweetwater zone' (twilight zone, perhaps you are too young to remember that tv show)

the gossip is a flowing down here - appears that 'mikey and ikey' are doing all they can to get rid of quinones - 'encouraging' people to take a look at Mr. Grossman as their next board member, all the while blaming quinones for the 1 minute limit on public comment at monday nights board meeting.

is quinones really that dense that she is simply skipping along to the flute tune of brand - pearl wake up, he is leading you down straight down the path of political suicide - not that i have any intentions of voting for her. as i have stated my vote is for Mr. Cameron, and i eagerly await his announcement. now HE is a candidate who will not be driven by party - but by ethics - JUST WHAT THE DA, i mean DR. ordered. ha ha

folks it is time we start listening to what the candidates have to say - listen to their ideas, their plans - party title is not what we should be basing our votes on.

i would say just my opinion, but i do not want to get Visduh upset with me - sorry Visduh have to throw some levity into it.


bvagency July 29, 2012 @ 10:07 p.m.

The open boundary issue decided upon upon by Dr. Brand is a real problem. A group of us Eastlake parents met this last Saturday as we are very upset over this decision and the overcrowding it has caused at Eastlake High. We had parents from Otay Ranch and Bonita Vista as well and apparently the same problem exists there also. The district has spent over $250 million on construction on 11 schools on the West end of the district, but this open boundary decision sends the message to those communities that the district does not care! this is just another example of decisions made by district leadership without any planning, budgeting, impact studies, etc. Just like the IPads and the district charter school. Unfortunately, Dr. Brand apparently did not think of the unintended consequences - overcrowded classrooms (standing room only in some, my sons classes included), not enough time or food at lunch, overcrowded halls, overcrowded bathrooms (girls have to wait in line and many can't use restroom during breaks or lunch), horrific traffic, overwhelmed teachers and staff, dilapidated facilities (many lockers for pe don't have doors), and on and on. Or, he just does not care. He should spend a day at Eastlake High to see for himself.


Visduh July 30, 2012 @ 12:25 p.m.

What! You expect the supe to actually visit a campus then the kids are there? He might have to see what it is really like on a campus, and that can be scary for a guy who has spent most of his career in education behind a desk in an air conditioned office. He doesn't know, he doesn't care, and he has an agenda that we can only guess at.


bvagency July 31, 2012 @ 10:12 p.m.

Is there any new information on the special meeting Board President Quinones promised at last weeks community meeting at the CV Library? She was so confident in telling the crowd she would call it for this week so the transportation problem could be discussed. A few of us figured she would not get it done and it appears it won't happen. Rumor has it that 3 of the Trustees and Dr. Brand would not agree to it. I didn't realize the Board needed to approve a special board meeting - thought the president had that authority. Also did not realize the Supe had any say in that - if it's true.


eastlaker Aug. 1, 2012 @ 3:38 p.m.

So of course that means McCann, Ricasa and Cartmill. Looks like Brand is the power behind the throne...

I am just trying to digest what you have written.

Susan, do you know more about who has the authority to call a special board meeting?


anniej Aug. 6, 2012 @ 9:05 p.m.

Bvagency: board bylaws state that ms. quinones has the ability to call an emergency board meeting. SHE HAS CHOSEN NOT TO, regardless of what she may be telling the taxpaying parents seeking transportation for their students.

same is true for john mccann - all of a sudden he is expressing concern about the walking students - where was all of that concern when he voted YES TO BASICALLY ELIMINATE TRANSPORTATION. now all of a sudden since eastlake folks showed up he can seen and hears scurrying around trying to cover his sorry little bootie. too late mccann, the folks are now seeing you for who and what you really are.


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