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Two more people were charged today in the district attorney's widening investigation into South Bay corruption.

Nicholas Alioto, former Southwestern College vice president of business, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts and one misdemeanor. According to a story posted earlier by the Union Tribune the charges could lead to four years and two months in prison.

Agents for the district attorney's office searched Alioto's house in December. The affidavit shows that, among other things, thumb drives, emails, meal receipts, tax documents and a Blackberry cell phone were taken from his residence.

Alioto was, in his capacity as vice president, intimately involved with awarding contracts for the college's $389 million Proposition R construction.

In addition to Alioto, the attorney for Paul Bunton, CEO of Bunton Clifford Associates (BCA), appeared in court today. Bunton's architectural firm has done business with both Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union High School District.

Bunton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that carries with it the penalty of six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fine(s). Bunton's plea said, "I paid for emails and entertainment for Southwestern College officials, my actions triggered reporting responsibilities by these officials under the rules for Fair Political Practices Commission..."

The district attorney's affidavit says in November 2009: "Trip to Pebble Beach...Bunton hosts Amigable [Henry Amigable, Southwestern's Proposition R program manager], Alioto and Steve Breakfield, golf, lodging, food, and beverage..."

After Pebble Beach, according to the affidavit, Bunton wrote to Amigable: "Thanks Henry. Whatever you did with him [Nicholas Alioto] was perfect. You're like his best bud now. I'm going to continue to stay in front of him and am planning on bringing him some sketches each time I meet with him to try and narrow down on the design of the corner lot with him. I get the impression if I can find the design he wants, while I stay before him and entertain him constantly, that we'll get the deal. Giddy-up."

In April 2010, BCA was awarded the $5.3 million corner lot project for Southwestern. The college has recently cancelled the contract with BCA and is revisiting the corner lot design concept.

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anniej March 26, 2012 @ 9:56 p.m.

hmmmm, BCA, BCA, BCA (Paul Bunton) - why did that trigger a memory? Oh, now I remember, Kim Crimele, CFO of BCA donated $500.00 to JOHN MCCANN's campaign debt on 10-31-2011, a year AFTER he was elected to the board. Now why would BCA do that????????, why would this architectural firm be interested in helping to pay off mccann's debt????? could all of those contracts that BCA was the architect for regarding prop o have something to do with this donation? could all of the future potential contracts have something to do with the donation? and then there was the vote in november of 2011 regarding southwest high and middle, the two schools that har, the lead contractor, lost - and who is the architect listed on the board docs - well it is none other that good old BCA, the very firm that Paul Bunton is president of.

more to come


anniej March 26, 2012 @ 10:18 p.m.

ha ha, you make me laugh. not me, i am far tooooooooo opinionated for politics. besides can you imagine me and 'the little man who wants to be king sitting at the same board room table? it would be more than johnny boy could take.


Jmbrickley March 27, 2012 @ 12:26 a.m.

Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union HSD are like two siamese twins joined at the hip Almost any contractor working for one is/has working/worked for the other. Board members for SWC work at SUHSD, Board members at SUHSD work for SWC. A common denominator is corruption... pay to play!

SWC has begun cleaning up their mess... new Board, new Superintendent, etc. Out with the old, in with the new. Looks like what can't be cleaned up internally will be dealt with by the District Attorney.

SUHSD under the leadership of the same Board members as before still flounders like a ship upon the rocks. The superintendent was changed, but the new superintendent really isn't much better than the last at cleaning house. The ship is still on the rocks. Perhaps the District Attorney's office can do some house cleaning for us.

In the meantime, Bunton joins Amigable and the glee club now has two tenors.


SWC_Teacher March 27, 2012 @ 9:35 a.m.

SWC and SUHSD were "disconnecting." But then SWC hired a new Public Information Officer.

Guess who?

Lilian Leopold, who, of course, was Jesus Gandara's spin doctor.

She'll be making $10,300 a month--more than I make as a full-time teacher with 25 years of seniority. And she gets 12 paychecks every year. Teachers get 10.


anniej March 27, 2012 @ 11:23 a.m.

i always try to be fair - while i totally agree with the majority of your post i would like to voice my opinion on the paycheck comment. before i do i would like to state for the record that i do believe that teaching is the hardest job one can have other than serving our country and i do believe that compared to the educational costs the pay for teachers is low.

having said all of that i would to remind you of the fact that there are several weeks in the course of the year when you are off. if i am not mistaken, and perhaps things have changed, but do you not have the option of having 12 paychecks vs 10 if you so choose?


taxpayer April 1, 2012 @ 9:31 p.m.

With all due respect teachers CAN get paid for 12 months but its still their 10 month salary. Its just spread out across twelve months. They are just asking payroll to do the saving and distribution differently. And, I challenge you to find a teacher anywhere in this country who doesnt work their butt off during breaks, whether its lesson planning, going to conference to develop professional skills, or simply researching and preparing for the next school year. No teacher ever really gets a "vacation". And, even if they did vacations cant even make up for the hours of lesson planning, preparing materials and grading teacher do one their own time every single day school is in session. I guarantee you the majority of teachers on spring break will be working preparing lessons for when they go back to school in a week.


michaelreid March 29, 2012 @ 7:37 a.m.

I'm a friend of Paul Bunton's and I'm sure you have the schools' best interests at heart, as does Paul. I also know you don't want to be responsible for passing on untruths. So, please consider these facts and understand Paul’s plea to a misdemeanor was negotiated by the DA because Paul’s involvement was no where near as serious as others involved. Paul is now working with the DA to help others understand the state's complex reporting laws. He is a good and honest employer in the state where, as you know, jobs are hard to find. I'm sure teachers can appreciate that fact and don't want to damage reputations and families. So, here is the truth: Paul did donate $500 to help with campaign debt, all legal. His firm got the contract through a process that was totally open to public scrutiny. His contract with the administration was signed in 2007 and there were no contracts awarded to Paul's company since 2007. Paul's company was the architect for Southwest Middle School only, not the Southwest High School. On the Southwest Middle School project, the contractor went bankrupt. The Bonding Company replaced them with other contractors and the District continued with Paul's Construction Administration Services to help the new contractor get the project complete. The two main projects at Sweetwater Union High School District were tremendously successful. Chula Vista High School Performing Arts Center won a National Design Award through the American Schools and University publication. Sweetwater High School was nominated in San Diego County for the Purple Orchid award. The schools, administrators, parents and students all conveyed their satisfaction with the work.

Please, all of you be careful with unfounded accusations as you don't want to suffer the same. Thanks for listening.


Jmbrickley March 29, 2012 @ 12:08 p.m.


Michael, your post is full of half truths. First, Paul Bunton commited crime(s). As such he was charged and indicted. His GUILTY plea to a misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain only infers that there were other more serious allegations against him. As payback for the dismissal of the inferred more serious charges, he now sings in the "South Bay Glee Club." Please spare us the "Paul’s involvement was no where near as serious as others involved." Paul was part of the action, and as such got caught with his fingers in the cookie jar. As far as I am concerned, eating only a few illicit cookies is the same as eating a lot.

Second, Your statement about Paul "helping others understand the state's complex reporting laws," is patently false. The County DA's Office doesn't need help in that matter, and even if they did, they wouldn't be getting advice from a convicted criminal. The DA's Office has experts in issues surrounding the State's reporting laws already on their payrole. If you need proof, just count all the indictments they have issued in these matters of "pay to play."

Third, if your statement of Paul being "a good and honest employeer" were true, than why did Paul not advise the Board members not to forget to report the gifts? And, if Paul was such a great expert in "complex reporting laws," why did he even participate in this "gift giving" in the first place. Paul forgot to "CYA" in this situation, because if he was such an expert, he had to know that if the Board members failed to report the gifts, the resulting mess would come back on him.

In regards to the history of Paul Bunton and his two projects for SUHSD, all is still suspect. Saying the the bid was on the up and up, knowing who the Board members of SUHSD are , and also knowing that Jesus M. Gandara was the Superintendent (eight felony indictments for pay to play), leave some room for doubt.

As to all these awards Paul's projects won, good for him. But, these awards have nothing to do with "pay to play."

And BTW, your veiled threat at the end of your post only serves to to inform me of your lack of honesty and does not serve you well.


anniej March 29, 2012 @ 8:24 a.m.

i can only speak for myself, and please believe me when i say that my intentions are NOT to hurt anyone in anyway.

having said that i would ask that you put yourself in the position of the community members and taxpayers of the south bay - look what we have come face to face with over the past 9 months or so (i am speaking of the unraveling of 'the gandara' era and all of the mess he brought with it.) none of us are looking to destroy anyones reputations or businesses, what we are however determined to do is STOP THE PAY TO PLAY i.e. corruption that has and continues to plague our district.

you speak of sweetwater high and i would like to share some information that i have been given: are you aware that 'the gandara' took the balances of the majority of the prop bb monies from the individual schools and poured them into sweetwater high? while 'the gandara' claimed that the prinicples donated those monies for some odd reasons none of those priniciples seem to remember those conversations. additionally i received a phone call last evening alerting me to the following information: the chula high project had 'the committee' aka the group that was responsible for hiring the lease-leaseback contractor: let me provide for you the names of those individuals (appointed by 'the gandara'): 'the gandara', amigable, gcr, karl bradley (fired by 'the gandara' for refusing to do his bidding), jaime ortiz, paul bunton, rudy gonzalez, and tom silva. now what about the majority of these names jumps out at one - their names have been associated with the 'pay to play' and 3 of them are facing or have plead to charges by the da.

regarding the $500.00 - while you are correct the campaign donation was legal, the question is why??????????? why would any businessman donate ANY money in november of 2011 to a person who had already won the seat in november of 2010? why would BCA be interested in helping pay off john mccann's campaign debt? surely there are charities out there more deserving of $500.00, why a politician who is in a position to vote for certain business to be awarded future business?

Mr. Bunton may be the nicest guy in the world, i do not know, i do not know the man, my purpose in my post was to raise the question WHY DONATE MONEY TO A POLITICIAN WHO HAS ALREADY WON THE SEAT???????????? simply makes no sense, unless you are doing business with sweetwater that is.


anniej March 29, 2012 @ 8:33 a.m.

i would like to refer to your comment "to help other's understand the states complex reporting laws" - with all due respect you are insulting our intelligence and the intelligence of Mr. Bunton - the laws that were broken were not done so because they were complex, they were broken because they were not adhered to. you are REQUIRED to report such things as gifts, financial incentives - the majority of those who were indicted or faced charges FAILEDTO DO SO/CHOSE NOT TO DO SO. sounds pretty elementary to me.

for the record, i am not nor have ever been an educator or worked for the educational system.

i too have close friends, and you know what i value the most in them? when they can look me dead in the eye and say "anniej, you are wrong" rather than smooze me with BS.

while we will most likely have to agree to disagree on the this subject, i respect your opinion and the fact that you took the time to share it.


SydneyJean March 29, 2012 @ 4:01 p.m.

I admire people who have the courage to stand up for their friends in the face of wrongdoing or embarrassment. Paul Bunton is very lucky to have a friend like you. I for one do not know him, however, if you court alley cats, your gonna get fleas, and his courting of SWC cats is very apparent. I feel sorry for folks who can't say "NO", especially if they feel their meal ticket could be compromised. So for $500 bucks he gave to John McCann'z debt payoff. Isn't it a shame Paul will not be remembered for what he accomplished, but for the games he played to pimp the beautiful politicians and former administrators of SWC to garner the $$$. But worse than that, isn't a shame the taxpayers of the South Bay will pay for this for a long time. He is not a beautiful person as he sings like a canary to the DA. There is nothing complex about this, he knew what he was doing was wrong, and now let's not call him a victim. Arrogance and greed makes an ugly cocktail.


209 March 31, 2012 @ 2:21 p.m.

Ah, San Diego. Home of public corruption, slander, and libel. It's never changed, and doubtless never shall.


anniej March 31, 2012 @ 8:40 p.m.

209: hopefully what we are seeing now (indictments, pleas, RECALL) is a sign of winds of change.


taxpayer April 1, 2012 @ 9:45 p.m.

This is incredible. I've been reading in several articles the argument by these people's lawyers how no taxpayer money was never spent or misused. I think this issue needs to be addressed once and for all. This is how corruption works in Mexico and I am sure its the exact same system here. These contractors, architects, management companies all made a bid. Some of them were chosen even when they didn't put in the lowest bid right? This is because, just like in Mexico, you always add 10% to your bid for the bribes of public officials. It's automatically added into the bid. The contractors know this and the public officials expect it. It's assumed that whoever wins the bid will pay 10% in bribes. I am not sure what percentage they asked for but it all points to the same system. So please, defense lawyers, don't insult our intelligence. It WAS taxpayer money. It was money that could have been used for the benefit of the schools and students. This is just shameful. And now the district is being run by indicted crooks, Interim superintendents, temp workers, and consultants who have no one to answer to but themselves. Can you imagine how they are going to get rich off their big iPad plan? Just wait for it. If we have learned anything from these people is that no big purchase comes without some kind of dishonesty


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