Sweetwater school district’s weird, failed real estate deals

District property to be apartments or soccer stadium?


The latest deal with the district’s partner may involve a stadium and almost a dozen soccer fields
  • The latest deal with the district’s partner may involve a stadium and almost a dozen soccer fields

In 2005, in conjunction with a nonprofit group called California Trust for Public Schools, aka Plan Nine Partners, LLC, the Sweetwater Union High School district borrowed $25,415,000 and $8,235,00 in variable-rate bonds to buy property on L Street in Chula Vista.

In a 2004 U-T article titled “Sweetwater wheels, deals for new offices,” reporter Chris Moran described the complicated machinations the district was using to acquire the L Street property and make a profit from their surplus properties:

“The district would solicit developers to build homes on three plots of district land..the developers would lease the property from Sweetwater for a nominal fee —$1 per year…and build homes on it. That would allow developers to avoid huge upfront costs in land acquisition and property taxes while the homes were being built…the developers would agree to share with Sweetwater possibly tens of millions of dollars in profits from the sale of the homes….”

Aside from cutting the public out of taxes, the transactions would help the district avoid a cumbersome legality. The article stated: “Normally, the district would not be able to sell the parcels itself without declaring them surplus, which would give other public agencies the first chance to buy them….”

So, where have all these complicated and curious transactions taken the district? The L Street property, which ostensibly was going to be used for district offices, is now worth less than what was paid for it and the district is doing a lot of fancy dancing to recoup. Here’s how:

On March 12, 2012, then–interim superintendent Ed Brand asked the board to approve $347,500 “to begin the process of re-entitling the district non-school properties in preparation for future L Street development.”

Community advocate Kathleen Cheers protested the expenditure and pointed out that the district had spent millions of dollars on L Street property over the years. Nevertheless, in a 3-2 vote (Pearl Quiñones and Bertha Lopez opposed), the board approved the $347,500 and hired a firm called E2 ManageTech, Inc.

The firm produced a report, obtained by the San Diego Reader through a public records request. The L Street prognosis is not pretty.

“The district purchased the L Street property in 2005 at a price that exceeds the current value of the property by approximately $12 to $15 million. Since purchasing the L Street property, the District has been making interest only loan payments to its lender and it is estimated that over $6 million of expenses have incurred.

“These expenses include annual reoccurring fees that are paid to Plan Nine Partners and other bank and financing fees.”

The report details work done for the district that might surprise Chula Vista residents and Sweetwater employees.

The district is exploring development on their “surplus” properties: L Street, Fifth Avenue (on which the district offices currently reside), Third Avenue, and Moss Street. The district is working toward “shovel ready” apartments or condos on all of these sites and also looking at a place to rent for the new district headquarters.

Other details in the E2 ManageTech progress report included mention of the district's intent “to resolve liability due to P9 Partners” and "revise legal documents to eliminate the District’s financial obligation of $28 MM."

Also, the district is working with the City of Chula Vista to “identify candidate Brownfield sites for relocated Transportation Center” (Brownfields= environmentally compromised pieces of land). The Transportation Center is currently located adjacent to the district office on Fifth Avenue; relocating it would free up more property for development.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the California Trust for Public Schools/Plan Nine Partners, Marc Litchman, has been collecting princely sums for “owning” the L Street property.

According to the 2010 tax statement for the California Trust for Public Schools, Litchman was paid $115,611 salary. The trust had an automobile payout of $12,441, telephone bill of $3162, a print and publication expense of $2095, and postage and shipping that cost $1852. (California State Assembly member Bob Blumenfield sits on the nonprofit's board.)

According to the trust’s 2010 nonprofit tax statement, “The organization, through Plan Nine Partners, LLC, has facilitated the acquisition, renovation, construction and equipping of an approximately 23 acre parcel of industrial/mixed-use land located at the corner of L Street…. The organization leases the property to the Sweetwater Union High school district for use by the school district as administrative offices, corporate yard facilities and Chula Vista adult school campus.”

On Monday, Litchman is setting up interviews with Chula Vistans. He will be pushing a new scheme for the L Street property. Among other things, he will be proposing a soccer stadium and ten training fields.

Comments

What are the names of the Plan Nine Partners?

Marc Lichtman, according to filed documents gave himself a 30,000.00 dollar advance, while it is indicated that he paid it back, how do we know this for fact?

The L Street deal began around the same time as Brands last tenure as superintendent - another failed deal folks.

The districts intent is to move the transportation dept to "environmentally compromised land" - code word for HAZARDOUS???? But what the hey, they are mere minion bus drivers, they matter little to the SUITS.

And where will the SUITS be housed pray tell? Surely it will not be on COMPROMISED aka CONTAMINATED land sites.

Taxpayers of the South Bay - how many more millions are we going to allow our district leadership to throw away.

The charter school proposed for this property, are we going to fund it?

One more question - - WHAT IS IN IT FOR BRAND??????????????? One of the persons brokering the deal is allegedly the same guy who brought Ed Brand the Grand Canyon U potential lawsuit fiasco.

Why are we the taxpayers the last to know?

Are the board members aware of all of this, specifically Jim Cartmill, Bertha Lopez, and Pearl Quinones? If not, why not?

More later,,,,,

Plan Nine?

"Plan 9 From Outer Space", maybe...

If it weren't so tragic that this bunch has nearly taken down a very large school district, staffed by some great teachers...I'd say that incompetence with the Sweetwater Board of Trustees and their deluded leader, Fast Eddy, is so vast and monumental that it actually astounds me that this bunch manage to dress themselves and find their desks...

But yet, they eternally manage to dream up more ways to steal from the public.

How can this be?

Why are they not stopped. I don't think this is the way things are supposed to be run in a civilized community. Low-lifes--elevated to public positions of trust. What a shame this is what our children have to look to for examples of public leadership.

I thought all the buses were moving to "L" Street. SUITS don't want the buses or the drivers anyway. Going to Brown Field maybe one way to get ride of the Transportation Department once and for all.

anniej, I am wondering who brokered the deal to sell this property to the district for $28 million, and who sold it...

Do you think it is someone new, or one of the usual "suspects"?

Sure would be nice to know who sets these things up!

I think all would agree that investing in any business, real estate or whatever, is a gamble. My question is how can it be legal for a school district to gamble with the public's money? Are casino trips next?

Property development can be very lucrative, if and I stress IF, you know what you are doing, and are willing to take risks and be patient for many years. The business of a school district is not to speculate in land and play developer. Once again, this district is off the rails, and will probably justify all these machinations as a way to bring more funds in that will "benefit" the students. But we can see that it is already in a loss situation, and a more appropriate step would be to stick to its legal mandate and cut its losses. No more "good money after bad."

These actions can be likened to a scandal that ripped through the Capistrano Unified School District about a decade ago, when the rubber stamp board allowed its empire-building superintendent to construct a huge palatial building for its new district headquarters. It was more than twice the size needed for district offices, and his idea was to rent out the surplus space and make a fat profit. Not only did that not work, but the local voters were outraged at that sort of activity by their school district. Before it was over, a number of board members had been recalled, and there were even some criminal charges filed over bribes and nepotism.

But that was in affluent south Orange County, not south San Diego County, and the voters there were aware of what was going on, and they cared.

Visduh, were any of the criminal charges ever carried through, or were they just made and then dropped?

At the time, I didn't follow the story closely, partly due to the thin news coverage in our local SD media. So, I cannot answer that question. But I do know that the DA finally charged the former supe, Fleming, and a deputy of his with some sort of felony after it was revealed that they had assembled an "enemies list" during the early days of the controversy. My take was that they wanted to nail him for something, and that was, when all had shaken out, all they could get. The trials kept being delayed, years went by, and finally the court of appeals threw out those charges. The earlier ones, I don't know.

But what was a happy and generally contented district now has two bitter factions that fight for control, and that doesn't make it a better place to learn.

Meanwhile, class size has increased from 28:1 to 31:1, which is manifested as a cap of 182 students per day per teacher. I had 43 students in one of my classes last semester.

This is a concern many of us parents have with the Districts new 'open boundaries' decision, another of Brands schemes. We met with Maria Castilleja and saw Eastlake High's master schedule. Some classes with 40+ students, many hundreds of students transferred in from other areas, furniture having to be transferred into Eastlake, bathrooms not operating, HVAC equip broken down, not enough textbooks or seats in some classes. Her response is that the union negotiated the teacher student ratio! Cmon district you can do better than this!!

The Sweetwater apologists and toadies are somehow able to carry off the "bald-faced lie" strategy. But they should know that there is not a single individual with synapses a-firing who believes a word they say.

In case anyone is wondering, now is a good time to come clean and rid yourself of the weight of all the lies and wrongs that supposedly have been said and done "for the good of the district". Right. Like it is a good thing to steal, cheat, lie and teach children that--by your very example.

bvagency, first "Open Boundaries" is a spin that The district and Brand have put on something not so good, Academic Probation. The district has to accomidate anyone in a school with low academic scores by allowing them to transfer elsewhere in the district.
Dr Brand is only giving us what he had to and is trying to make the bad situation, schools on Academic Probation not smell so bad.... On the current issue, I am sure the property boom and bayfront development was a goldmine too big to ignore by our "smarter than the average bear" sorry Yogi, school trustees and superintendent, with experience in education not business.
Again I question why we need to expand the Education business beyond a failing 7-12 model at all. Why can't the District rally the wagons together and focus on the current situation with regards to our schools. THAT'S THEIR ELECTED AND HIRED JOBS!!!!!

Bbq, open boundaries was another Brand scheme to compete with CVESD k-8 charters, like the ipads, k-12 charter, Grand Canyon U, etc. A number of us residents fought it, and we hope to end this practice for coming years. Its a short term solution to a district wide problem. Its just going to drag the remaining schools that are not in program improvement into program improvement! If this train continues on its current course, we could be one of the first school districts to have every single school in the district on program improvement.

Of course, Brand wont care as he will be long gone! But my 3 children in the district, along with thousands of others, will pay the price of all these schemes.

We need to keep the pressure on this board and remind them at every board meeting, when we see them in the community, at church, the grocery store, everywhere, that we don't approve of this!

Why did you meet with Castilleja? What can she do? And BTW, who is Castilleja?

bvagency: when all else fails, blame it on the unions. How about placing the blame on the shoulders of those who have steered this ship into the rocks - Brand and the majority of the board. JOHN McCann, Mr fiscal conservative NOT, where are you???????? Brands decisions are draining us dry.

TIME FOR BRAND TO GO! TIME TO CUT OUR LOSSES.

Our board is not representing us, they have failed to carry out the responsibilities they were charged with when they took office. They have become invisible and expendable. Whose interests are they representing, NOT OURS......

anniej: there can only be one captain of any ship. The captain is totally responsible for what happens to the ship, even if (s)he is asleep in their bunk. No matter who is to blame, the captain is responsible.

And, the captain of SUHSD is...?

Just when I think I have heard everything, Sweetwater comes up with something new--and it isn't good.

How long has this board--have these board members--known about this particular mess? Since 2005?

Has it really been a big secret, that the district is OUT many millions of dollars...that money, those funds, once again, reduce significantly the educational opportunities of the children of this district.

Can we please call a halt, immediately, to all this FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE of the educational system, of our educational dollars and of Ed "Fast Eddy" Brand's massively failed "leadership"?

Can we even list the fiascos in chronological order?

The saddest thing is that we still haven't reached full disclosure--because records are still being kept from the Bond Oversight Committee, because there has been no forensic audit, because the public has been kept in the dark on so many issues, schemes and what look to me like attempts at blatant thievery.

Again, can we get some assistance here? Can someone clap some irons on Ed Brand so that he won't slither away this time the way he did last time?

Can we please get some relief from this sickening miasma that appears to have paralyzed many of our legal authorities?

Thank our lucky stars for Bonnie Dumanis. Maybe, just maybe we have a chance to blast away at the bottom-dwellers who think it is fair game to rip the futures from our students FOR YEARS TO COME!

Just wondering where those who would defend Brand, Sweetwater, et al, are now.

What possibly could be the defense of this enormous scheme--more job creation for friends of Ed Brand, perhaps?

Maybe this was why Al Alt signed on--what a great opportunity to make a name for yourself as Sweetwater is consumed by more and more lawsuits--steer the ship onto a reef, let it founder, and who really cares about the students with no life rafts or life jackets.

Guess they will have to fend for themselves, as there will be no educational system to support them.

What is the best way of dealing with individuals who would perpetrate and perpetuate such massive public fraud? Keel-hauling?

Cat chasing its own tail -

L street - 1st prospective new district office

3rd Avenue - 2nd prospective new district office. This would have been good for CV, brought revenue to businesses already there from employees working in the District. Good for revitalization of downtown. But then..........

"the gandara" comes to town and wants no part of CV for the district office, he prefers National City. WE PAY for drive by appraisals AND fly over appraisals of property on the Mile of Cars. Nothing comes of this expenditure of taxpayers dollars.

And the property on Third Avenue sits, and sits, and sits, and is STILL SITTING - a freakin bare lot, not a thing on it but brush growing up thru the concrete.

The property on L Street, we pay interest only, Where did the revenue from rent go? Do we know? After the board meeting when Ms. Russo appraised the board that Cal 1st was getting to foreclose Marc Lichtman was contacted, the next day as a matter of fact. His response "i don't know what you are talking about, surely if there was a problem with the bank I would be the first to know since Plan Nine owns the property, may I get your phone number and I will get back to you?" One day, two days go by, no return call. A second call to Lichtman is made, voice mail, message left. Several more days pass- no return call. Anniej is still waiting for that call back, but hey, it's only been close to two years.

No doubt Brand sent the message, DO NOT SPEAK TO HER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, she is a taxpayer, the enemy!!!!

Someone needs to investigate this situation, starting from day one. Beginning with Brands first words back in 05' "BOY! DO I HAVE A DEAL FOR YOU"!

anniej, why is it that the public knows so little of what the Sweetwater Board of Trustees and the superintendent are doing?

Don't you think it is very odd that all these lame-brained, bone-headed and completely without merit PROJECTS just stumble along from year to year...while students and teachers are not given the right tools to work with? Classrooms too crowded! Classes no longer offered! Teachers pink-slipped! So many corners cut...the district steals 5% from the ASBs now--from the money the kids make so they can have sports teams, because the district has already stolen that money for decades to come.

If there is a living, breathing human being who would care to defend Ed Brand and the mindless, splineless toadies who support him in every single despicable scheme his demented brain comes up with, I would so like to meet them. Because then I could say I had seen the face of sheer willful stupidity.

One more thing--it's probably a good thing for Ed Brand that he lives in north county--because if he were ever to go out for a pint of milk, who knows what kind of comments he'd have to put up with.

Makes me wonder what some of the local trustees are doing? Opting for home delivery these days?

Eastlaker: the answer to your question -

The students education matter little to Brand or the majority of the board, the taxpayers hard earned monies - even less. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE DEAL, you know

SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!!!!

Again I ask WHO ARE THE NINE PARTNERS?????????????????

Also of interest - guess who is one of the companies that are renting space from the district on L street? The security firm involved in the absurd allegations filed by John McCann against Payne.

Folks we are NOT entering the TWILIGHT ZONE - we are living in it!!!!!!!!!!

The proverbial quick google search lead me to Marc Lichtman being involved with Plan Nine Partners, LLC of Studio City, CA and also California Trust for Public Schools, also of Studio City. Bob Blumenfield's name popped up as well. There were two other names that appeared--Argentum Air Corporation, President Christian Esquino of Coronado, CA and EviaCorp International, Luis A. Evia of Bonita, CA.

It looks like Lichtman has purchased 9 parcels in Chula Vista, and his company owns the parcels.

I am concerned about all of this, but am especially concerned as I wonder if any of these people are involved with the bonds for our district. How do we find out what that entire structure is when Brand and crew won't turn over information to the Bond Oversight Committee?

oneoftheteachers: So class-sizes are rising while the district plays "Monopoly" with taxpayers' money. Though some, like San Diego Unified's new CFO, Stan Dobbs, say class size doesn't matter, there are studies supporting that it does. SDUSD superintendent Kowba later apologized for his CFO's false assertion:

[From the Voice of San Diego-Feb 7, 2013] Dobbs is incorrect that class sizes do not affect student achievement. There is a "body of research supporting smaller class sizes," Kowba writes.

Exactly--make that a vast body of research supporting smaller class sizes.

Is Dobbs still employed by the district? Seems to me that if he's out making unfounded claims his credibility is zilch, and if there's one thing a CFO must have, it is credibility. (Disclosure: I once was a CFO in the private sector.)

I am not really familiar with Brand's views on class size...

but I don't think we need studies-- just imagination and common sense. Would a teacher be more effective teaching 30 first graders or 20? Would a math or science teacher in middle school have a better chance of reaching students with a class size of 40 or 20.

But we don't need to worry about that question with Sweetwater--they're no longer in the business of educating kids -- hopefully the administration does better with soccer stadiums and apartment complexes.

If the results in their area of expertise - education - is any indicator, soccer stadiums and apartment complexes are going to be more bad news for our community and taxpayers!

Except you know with the track record being what it is (enormous shambles), this bunch would make a mess of selling water in the desert...they need to get back to the business of educating children and young people...NOT deal-making. Not acting like a big shot, trying to compensate for who knows what sort of personal deficiency...

We need a strong Board of Trustees, composed of people who can actually cogitate their way through material presented to them. We do not need people who vacuously and vacantly do as they are told, sleepwalking through their own lives and creating devastation in the lives of the thousands they are supposed to be serving.

"Fast Eddy" and his team of bozos continue to play fast 'n loose with all they touch. It's hard to keep track of the constant shell games, augmented by floating craps games that pop up here and there and then disappear when the spotlight gets too close. A true circus staffed by con artists and flim-flamers, all in the name of 'education'. Do ya think that David Malcolm might appear in the 'fun' house? It's getting that swarmy. Welcome Al!

Your use of "Bozos" is condecending to a fine profession of Clowns, I for one grew up with Bozo the clown sponsored by Twin Pines Dairy in Detroit, many fine winter afternoons watching and learning the philosophy of the cartoon. I used to use a quote from Yogi Bear, Yogi -"Hey BooBoo let's go steal some Picnic Baskets" BooBoo -"But Yogi, Ranger Smith does not like when we steal Picnic Baskets!" Yogi - "Hey BooBoo, What Ranger Smith does not Know will not hurt Him" I never thought it would come true, SUHSD aka Jellystone Park: staring Yogi Brand, the BooBoos of trustees and the voters of SUHSD as Ranger Smith.

Sweetwater the gift that keeps giving our tax dollars on demented schemes. Obviously the district is in trouble with the Lst.property,but is this the way to recover? I doubt it seriously with fast Eddy at the helm. How many board members are in the know? Remember they gave him the keys to the district with a 3:2 vote. Fast Eddy can hire fire and spend more money without conferring with the board than any previous supt. They did this because they could pretend to be surprised after the first round of indictments. They can pretend to not know what has transpired. Bet the DA's office knows better.

Does anyone know if special zoning is required or permission of the city of Chula Vista?Does the mayor know about any of this? We seem to be in some kind of competition with duplicating services with the city and SWC.

On 12 Oct 2004 the then City Manager of Chula Vista sent a letter to the Sweetwater Board through Dr. Brand that stated the Cities misgivings about the purchase of the "L" St. property that in pertinent part states;...we cannot assure the District that we can be a "partner" until later this year...I belive it is important that your Board understand that they may be committing to expend $28M on a piece of property before they have reached agreement with the City. There are obvious risks involved in such a decision; however, your Board can choose to assume such risk with full disclosure of our position."

Wow. Way to really plan and work with the community. Once again, Sweetwater/Brand is warned, and ignores the message.

What does that tell you?

Brand is a pompous -------, YOU FILL IN THE NOUN!!!!!!!!!

While we realize that Brand is not vested in our community since he does not reside here - HAS HE NO INTEGRITY???????

Board, where are you? We know you read these articles, we know you are following our comments, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR NON SOLVENCY??????

The concept of a Soccer facility on the "L" St. property has merit. It would bring some nice amenities to western Chula Vista. The Arena could host other events such as concerts, revivals, and graduations. The location would present some traffic issues with the configuration of the present on and off ramps but there could possibly be a trolley stop added at "L" St. that would operate only during an event. The biggest impediment to the project is the $30M plus the District has in the land. No sports venue will support such a crushing land cost. The devil is in the details but the concept is good. A school distrioct should not act as a land speculator or developer and they would do well to divest themselves of this Albatross even if they take a haircut on the deal. Educators may make good Board members but they rarely have the skills to act as Developers. The K-12 Charter makes me vervous as there may be the temptation to over price the land under that in order to lower the cost of the sports dirt.

It would serve the community well if they only knew the amounts of monies that this district has spent on the three proposed district office sites - and I am not speaking of just L street - also included are Third venue and then 'the gandaras' brainiac idea 401 Mile of Cars Way (see above post).

California Trust for Public Schools - what do you know yet another NON PROFIT that the district has its fingerprints all over. These non profits now there is an issue that needs to be investigated. National City adult school a few years back, some very interesting data on that one. Brand may believe that all of that muddy water was washed out to sea when he left the first time - but alas, one thing about financials and numbers - while they may be old they NEVER GO AWAY.

Allow me to jog your memory - remember the non profit that Alvey was involved with, remember those PDF's the UT printed? Wasn't there something in there about a relative of someone playing DJ for a certain event - at a cost of course.

While we continues to pay our taxes the 'good old boys network' continues to think of ways to take ownership of them.

How many back room, get rich schemes are we going to stand for? As mko stated above, these guys have thrown away millions, millions that were dur our children.

HOW MUCH MORE ARE WE WILLING TO TAKE?????

Eastlaker: The BOC (Bond Oversight Committee) is the ONLY GROUP worth the powder to blow to hell.

There are 7 of them I believe and I would give ANYTHING for five of them to take over the board, 1 of them to take the Superintendents position and the remaining 1 to become CFO. Now then we would have a district machine running like a fine tuned clock, tic toc, tic toc.

This bunch of professionals with financial experience who happen to be of the highest integrity would lead us back to the black. They are not afraid to ask the tough questions and do not shy away from demanding the true answers.

NOW THESE ARE THE OF FINANCIAL WATCHDOGS WE NEED, THESE ARE THE KIND OF INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL NOT PUT SELF OR POLITICAL INTERESTS BEFORE THE RESPONSIBILITIES THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH.

mko, and so the district's expenditure in 2004 was predicated on a buy in from the city? In any case the purchase sagged under the variable bonds and then $6mill in expenditures to maintain the odd deal.

There are still questions to be answered.

And the weight of behaviour begins to accumulate.

Don't know if I agree that a soccer field has merit though there are those in my house that are fanaticos. The district and transportation center should have a solid tract of land... alternately western CV needs to be upgraded. A quality development with a view. Not as many apartments as the land would bare.

The "L" St. site is not a good one for residential use for a number of reasons. Current planning wants walkable neighborhoods with easy access to groderies and other services. The Bay Front development has as its main connections to Chula Vista "H" and "J" Streets. "L" Street has no direct access due to the overpass. Additionaly, the train tracks and freeway are not conducive to quiet healthful living. So lets recap, "L" Street has no convenient services, is isolated from both the Bay Front and the City Core, and has the environmental issue of the transportation modes adjacent. On the other hand, CV needs job opportunity. The site is presently zoned for industrial/warehouse and commercial uses both of which will be in increased demand when development on the Bay Front finally comes to fruition. Resedential uses, as a rule, cost a city more in services than they receive in property taxes. so Chula Vista should concentrate on higher density residential in the City core, thus building a population that will support the restaurants and stores we would like to see along Third Ave. Chula Vista should not allow density islands such as might be created by higher density residential at SUHSD's "L" St. and 5th Ave. sites.

Who sold this to the school district, I am wondering? Who made the $28 million off the taxpayers?

Why would the school district go forward with the purchase when the city of Chula Vista informed them they were bowing out?

Again, more friends of Ed?

Chula Vista was never in. The District wanted millions of dollars in Tax Increment Funds from the CV Redevelopment Agency. The deal they proposed would have CV more heavily invested in the District's projects by orders of magnitude than the District itself. You can go to Youtube and watch a meeting of the Agency as they are given a presentation by the District. It is in three segments starting with; WWW.youtube.com watch?v=2dS6FL01fve. The comments by the agency members and staff will leave you confused and angry at that which was so clear to the City but so obscure to the District.

It is axiomatic that the people who put a plan together become emotionally invested in it and are not the best source for evaluation of that plan.

Keep in mind, the District deperately needs a new Administrative Center. In California there is no mechanism for financing non-classroom buildings save the General Fund. The goal was laudable, they just went a couple of bridges too far.

Lest we get too involved in the blame game, remember that this was done in our name and we are responsable for picking up the pieces. It is in everyone's best interests to find a successful outcome to this situation.

If the district really wanted to get the public's support for a new Administrative Center, they could start by cutting out all the nonsense, lies, schemes and fraud.

I have attended board meetings and other meetings at the district office. Yes, it is rather down-market. However, this district does not need something like the downtown police station with marble and other high-end finishes.

We need sensible people who make sensible decisions--clearly not Ed Brand and his host of minions, hangers-on, and friends with felonies.

Still unanswered--who sold the district the land for $28 million?

As recall, the purchase was an arms length transaction. I believe the Ratner Family Trusts openly marketed the property which had been a clothing manufacturing plant when we still made things in this country.

For those who have followed me I have attempted to interject humor with the very serious business of educating the students. I have seen the good side of this District and what it is trying to do…the Compact for Success for example. I know Dr. Brand knows education and for that I trusted his out of the box innovation that is attempting to get this District moving forward in the 21st Century. I did not want to see what I thought was a few malcontents at Board meetings and Union activists dominate the landscape and public discourse to the detriment of the District.

I have been close to the District and its management by Dr. Brand for years. This article and the “L” Street has caused me “extreme pause”. The facts stated in the article and I have no reason to believe that this kind of stuff would be made up are very concerning to me. I had no idea this was going on…or the deal was this bad for our kids as it relates to the financial condition of the District. Frankly there is a difference between innovation and recklessness. I now wonder whether the other so called “out of the box” innovations could also have this element of a “cowboy entrepenuer”.

Frankly I am now thinking I may be wrong in my past accusations. Those malcontents may in fact be the right ones…and I may have been fooled. This really disturbed me after I read it. I now have serious doubts about everything. Have I been fooled or did I not want to believe?

Just for curiosity sake I checked out the last 990 Form for the California Trust for Public Schools. I noticed Mr. Litchman put down that he works 40 hours a week for this Trust. I hope he does work full time for that salary...I hope too that Mr. Litchman when he signs under penalty of perjury the 990 Form that he does not have other jobs and endeavors that do not interfere with the education of our kids. I hope Mr. IRS is reading this.

More to follow from me. Frankly I am devastated by this article. I knew this District owned L but I had no idea that its financial risk was this bad. I wish I could use some of my past humor to lighten this conversation up but it would be inappropriate. Perhaps more info from the District may help. But for now I offer a qualified apology to those I have attacked. Just as I have preached tolerance and understanding of things like the meeting time…..I have now realized I may have been wrong. This is very troubling and has put a damper on me doing the District’s business when I show up on Monday.

I guess I should be more observant and realize that some bad things may be going on right under my nose. This story has put a pall on the whole weekend. Rest assured if my understanding of the District has been all wrong I will be there with those calling for reform and report misdeeds. It is not about Ed Brand or any one Board member. It is about the kids. That is where the ultimate loyalty should reside.

You may have thought that the conflict in this district was the "typical" sort of thing that can arise in school districts. It has to do with competing philosophies of education and the role of government. In most cases, both sides sincerely believe in what they espouse. We had conflict aplenty in the Vista district about twenty years ago when some stealth candidates with strong support from fundamentalist churches took a majority of the seats on the board. They began to reveal their true intentions almost immediately, pushing for abstinence-only sex ed and for creationism in the classroom. They believed in those things. That those things did not meet state requirements was immaterial to them. After two years, two were recalled and one was not reelected. Vista got much publicity out of that, all of it negative, at least as portrayed in the national media. That recall was led by the teachers union, and ever since the "conservatives" in the district attack the VTA (union) and anyone it supports for a board seat. Oddly, I'm quite conservative, and that crowd doesn't speak for me at all.

This is different from what I describe in Vista. This is about money, resources, and gross mismanagement. The thing that bothers me about the SUHSD is that it reveals how many misdeeds can go unchallenged in a school district and how long it can go on. Now I'm no longer so sure that we don't have this sort of thing happening here in No County, and that maybe we live in a fools paradise of ignorance.

WTFED. Since you have begun to open your mind about Brand, here is some information about his questionable management of monies of his non-profit. Ed Brand's questionable charitable organization Organization in question: Partnership for Success Public Benefit Charity FEIN: 030601031 Corporate or Organization Number: 28886192007 – Partnership for Success founded with mission to “Partner with high school students to achieve graduation from college in four years or less”; Ed Brand as President, Barry Dragon as Treasurer and Maureen Roadman as Secretary http://www2.guidestar.org/organizations/03-0601... 2007 – Partnership for Success lists the following on its Form 990 $210,614 in direct public support $195,974 in total expenses including $1,500 grant to Sweetwater Foundation $80,000 to Ed Brand’s salary as President $2,373 in meals/entertainment $96,491 to “Consulting” $4,527 in travel $753 in automobile expense $14,704 in net assets http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/030/... 2007 – Stensrud Foundation lists $200,000 contribution to Partnership for Success on its Form 990 http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/330/... 2008 – Partnership for Success lists the following on its Form 990 $303,000 in contributions and grants $272,085 in expenses, including $258,615 in “consulting” $5000 to California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators $1478 in meals/entertainment $45,621 in net assets http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/030/... 2008 – Stensrud Foundation lists $300,000 contribution to Partnership for Success on its Form 990 http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/330/... 2009 – Partnership for Success lists the following on its Form 990 $0 in revenue $45,621 in expenses, including $43,060 in “consulting” $702 in meals/entertainment $1,038 in automobile expense $0 in net assets New Board of Directors Loren R. White – President Diana Alexander – Treasurer Milton Roa – Secretary http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/030/... Questions: 1. What do the “consulting” expenses listed on Partnership for Success’ Form 990’s entail? Who are the consultants 2. Nothing is listed under program service accomplishments on any of Partnership for Success’ Form 990’s. What did Partnership for Success actually do? 3. Should Ed Brand have voted to pay himself a salary in 2007 that amounted to 38% of the contributions Partnership for Success received that year

Thanks for this--does anyone know anything about the Stensrud Foundation? Why would they donate to Ed Brand's group? Would Brand have misrepresented what he was going to do with the money, because it appears to simply be another moneymaking scheme for himself.

I looked them up--William and Carol Stensrud, nice people from north county. Too bad they were taken in by any claims Ed Brand made regarding his bogus non-profit. I hope someone tells them so that they never again give to anything Brand is associated with. Once again, Ed Brand proves himself to be the lowest of the low.

WTFed. Are you on facebook? Can I friend you? What about twitter? What's your twitter handle?

As for the best interest of the district? They need to ditch the Ipads. Perhaps not entirely, but 7th graders shouldn't have them. Perhaps older students could handle the responsibility.

Interesting. Let's see how you land on this one. Your support of Brand has me doubting your sincerity.

WTFEd - when you know better, you do better.

The districts business has become a run away train. Imagine a train rolling down the tracks with stacks of lumber on it. Now imagine the stacks of lumber rolling off the sides - maybe one log at a time maybe twenty - now imagine those logs being tax dollars.

Where is the conductor? Where are the others charged with the trains safe passage? Now imagine that train is unmanned and the conductor is out wining and dining - where does it end - TRAIN WRECK!!!!!!!!

No doubt our board members are overwhelmed with their legal cases and so in essence there is no one left - which leaves BRAND TO DRIVE SUHSD INTO FINANCIAL RUIN

WTFED, sorry you were disillusioned by the district,but you are not alone. Many including myself were on that train for a very long time. Only a suggestion, we know Mc Cann reads and responds on the blogs. It may have been better to just have disappeared than to go against the district in print. They will be trying to find out who you are now. Watch your back you might end up in a mess. There are a lot of administrators,classified staff and secretaries that work behind the scenes to help find your own niche.

I agree with Visduh. This is not about educational philosophy or ideology, nor is it about union vs. management (although Brand and Co would like to have us believe that it's all the fault of union discontent and influence.)

Rather, it is plain and simple corruption, at the top, that has gone on for years -- at least since Superintendent Trujillo and his alleged theft of grant-funded computers to resell in Mexico.

It is time to stop the corruption. I hope the results of the upcoming trials will put the District on a better path, with an honest new Board who will appoint an honest new Superintendent. That is what it will take. No less.

I am told that at 1:00pm Monday the 11th at the Marie Calanders on "F" Street there will be a presentation on the "L" St. proposal by Mr. Licthman. It is open to anyone who wishes to attend.

mko--Thanks very much for what you have told us.

We have been requesting a forensic audit for about three years now.

The taxpaying public deserves to know how their dollars are being spent--and we really have no idea right now--because of Brand's stonewalling.

It does seem as though little by little we are learning about the upcoming somewhat inevitable grand wreckage of this school district.

What's next? I can't wait.

I'd still love to know who brokered the deal. And I am with anniej in also wanting to know who all the partners are in this venture.

Who's for full disclosure on the part of Sweetwater for all their schemes, plots, plans and revenue-generating pie-in-the-sky self-deluded crackpot machinations? All in favor, say "Aye". Opposed?

The L Street property was receiving $800,000 a year from redevelopment until that folded and $300,000 from rentals on the property.

So those funds went to Lichtman? Or the school district?

Ladies and Gentlemen again I say cheers for going after the current structure and infection at the SUHSD. However with all of the attention on the current and past transgressions of the Board and the latest couple of Superintendents, where is the common sense requirements for the future. It is time we as concerned citizens develop a move forward plan that sets some realistic goals which include checks and balances. Proper oversight does not just lie (sic) on the backs of the chosen few on the Board, it’s all of our responsibility. I have been joking about Yogi Brand, the BooBoo Board and us as hapless Ranger Smith from Jellystone Park, but it has to end. I would like to propose a gathering to list what we as citizens want from our High School District, develop an agenda that we can have our elected officials respond to and use to screen future Candidates or Adminstration Officials. I will be at the Starbucks on Otay Lakes and H st at 7:00pm on Monday Feb 11, looking for conversation for the future of the district, IF NOT US, WHO?

ANYONE PLANNING ON ATTENDING MONDAYS MEETING

Hopefully you will update us on the presentation and what is discussed. I have another meeting that I must attend.

Perhaps it is time for the public to consider the option of dismantling the Sweetwater Union High School District (which is the largest high school district in the state).

The District's electorate has the right to call for and vote upon something called 'unification'...wherein the secondary schools in the SUHSD are joined with the existing elementary school districts in the communities they serve. For example, the secondary schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District jurisdiction would become united with that district, giving the Chula Vista community a K-12 system; similarlily, those secondary schools in National City would become united with the National School Distrct; same for South Bay School District and San Ysidro District.

Perhaps it is time to give the neighborhood schools back to the communities they are supposed to serve. Such a project would dismantle the costly, hugely ineffective and corruption-prone SUHSD...its assets would be distributed to the local communities and smaller, more manageable districts. Further, the gargantuan administration of Brand would no longer have a purpose or legal standing.

In fact, such an effort was made about 25 years ago, but it failed. However, the circumstances and motivations were different then and the SUHSD fought off the challenge. Times have changed indeed.

Generally I'm not in favor of unification, because in its aftermath the high schools suffer. When an elementary district takes over a high school, it has no notion of what it is getting into. A high school is ten to twenty times more complex than an elementary school, and even a middle school is a number of times more complex than an elementary school. The last unification in the county came about 15 years ago when the small and rural Valley Center and Pauma Valley K-8 districts combined and unified. That came almost immediately after the Escondido Union High School District built a lovely new high school in Valley Center, which was snatched away by the newly unified district. A couple years after that, the Lakeside district tried to unify and get El Capitan High away from the Grossmont high school district. That Grossmont operation at the time was torn by controversy and a little scandal, yet the teachers at El Cap led the fight to keep the status quo, and they succeeded. Today on the north coast of the county, there is a district with arguably the most prestigious high school in the county, Torrey Pines High. That is the San Dieguito Union High School District, and it is fed by five small, generally k-6 districts. So, it also runs middle schools. It does a great job, and there's no agitation there for unification. The 'hoods have control over the elementary schools, but when it gets complicated the overarching high school district steps up to the plate and gets the job done. Grossmont is a bit different in that it doesn't also run middle schools, but it is fed by about a half-dozen elementary districts in the eastern suburbs.

All that being said, you may have the solution here. Just watch out for the "law of unintended consequences", wherein breaking up the district and passing out the high schools results in infecting all those elementary districts you mention with the disease that's now generally limited to Sweetwater. Uhh, it looks as if it has already spread to San Ysidro, and who knows about the others. Certainly it should get rid of the huge, slobbering bureaucracy of Sweetwater and get things closer to home and (we can pray) the voters.

I proposed that about 12 years ago. It can be a long, drawn out affair as there are a number of governmental approvals that have to be obtained both before and after you get it in front of the voters. The largest problem is that the elementary districts would take on the Sweetwater debt. I can't see a fiscaly sound district like CVESD emracing such an idea.

Although we really don't know the full extent of Sweetwater's financial position, all indications are that it is pretty bad...so maybe if Sweetwater declares bankruptsy, CVSD would be more interested in a partnership, with, of course, new and responsible people serving. Just a thought from someone with no authority!

Oskidoll- That is a very interesting thought and should definitely be considered.

mko - yes, there is a debt, and a big one however, long term CV would be able to do with the middle and high and high school revenue what the leadership at SUHSD has not been able to do, operate in a fiscally responsible manner.

We are not getting any help from the board since Lopez is the lone member who seems to consider the best interests of the students and taxpayers, which would indicate when dealing with the board we are banging our heads against a concrete wall.

One thing for sure it is indeed time for some new faces on the board that have integrity and can not be bought. Our board has chosen to abandon us, they turned ALL OPERATIONS AND DECISION MAKING OVER TO WHEELIN' dealin' Brand - SO WHAT ARE WE PAYING THEM FOR?????? They received their 800+ stipen and their benefits and we are getting nothing in return.

Why wasn't Alt's hiring brought before the board and public? Because Brand changed the rules - he now hires people in closed session thereby locking us out of the process.

Will Cartmill bring about change? He has a shrt window of opportunity to prove himself, a ver short window.

Ever ask yourselves why there is no discussion amongst board members regarding the agenda items, well it appears Brand has met with them (Board) prior to the meeting - and THEIR VOTES HAVE BEEN PRETERMINED.

AND we call this government by the people? It is operating more like a DICTATORSHIP!

While I hate to emote, I feel privileged to be part of promoting public dialogue with content...

Please, allow yourself a moment of quiet satisfaction!!

You're one of the exceptional journalists in San Diego, Susan...a cut above the rest by actually following this story, following it, updating the community, not getting distracted, continuing to learn and report. The more you show the world about what's going on, the better hope there is that things may change...I'm impressed with what you are doing.

Fred Willaims: The READER and Ms. Luzzarro have indeed become an intrical part of the south bay's reality - where else can we turn to read what is/and is not going on with our children's education and our tax dollars.

Zoro - Thank You for this information. This added to what others and I have found demands answers.

Who are The Nine Partners????????????

Wonder why I keep asking this question? Think about it

Would the nine partners have anything to do with board members of Sweetwater, or their friends or relatives? Or are they others in the area of 'development'? How do we find out?

It would be very interesting to be able to map all this out, wouldn't it?

Yes who are those behind the deal. Lichtman is suppose to be wprkng 40 hrs a week, doing what?

And what is all of the postage being used for?

MANY questions remaining to be answered,

I have started to wonder if there are other businesses that somehow have been "expensed" to this.

So I'm going to play devils advocate for a minute. I do not condone nor endorse Brand nor the trustees. Just something to think about.

The district needs to be run more like a business. i know Education is not a business, but if money is involved, you must use sound and fundamental business practices to run any entity. The core business is educating 7-12th grade students. But a lot of things need to happen to make sure that is happening effectively.

Lets look at a few things - we will start with the financials. A look at the budget for the last 3 years is very telling. For example, revenues have decreased by about 17% over the last 3 years. Expenses have also been cut dramatically (about $55 million dollars over the last 3 years). This would obviously explain the reduced student services, class size increases, etc. that kids have been experiencing in the district.

A closer look at expenses reveals that employee compensation (all employees, not just teachers) makes up the largest expense item. Not unusual in most industries or for most organizations. What is a bit concerning is that employee comp makes up about 80% of expenses , with a 3% INCREASE in the last 3 years. This is much too high as it only leaves 17% to cover the rest of all the many expenses needed to run the district

Most would agree that we've pretty much cut to the bone - where else can we cut expenses? Salaries and benefits are under contract, so those are hard to reduce. We need busses, supplies, equipment, maintenance, etc to keep the district going. So what to do?

We have a core business thats in demand and is required, but we don't have enough revenue to effectively provide our core business - educating 7-12 grade students. We cant continue to borrow from Mello Roos, Prop O, issue high interest bonds, etc to get us out of this mess. Prop 30 will help, but we cant rely solely on increased taxes to increase revenues.

So, how do we increase revenue in education? Well, we increase the number of students coming to our schools. With increased competition from elementary charters and private schools, the district has lost thousands of students, thus the loss of revenue.

So, the district needs to consider how to compete to grow enrollment as the status quo is not working! The district needs to get creative to attract students and grow revenues, thus funding smaller class sizes, increased bus routes, better maintenance, more supplies, no teacher layoffs, etc.

We need the revenues to make sure our district stays competitive and is the first choice for families in the community.

How do we increase revenues? Think outside of the box, offer something better, give choices, options and enticements. The district needs to compete with elementary charters and privates. The elementary district is not a feeder district anymore, its competition!

Thoughts?

Outside the box?

Well, there's a 3rd world country next to us.

Keepibghetto, you are right, and you know what? The education in that 3rd world country might be better than some of the schools in our district!

Respectfully disagree. Schools in SUHSD are above the curve when it comes to teaching, most of them anyways.

However, I would agree with you when it comes to San Diego City Schools and perhaps South Bay Union School District.

BTW, you never answered my question. Who is Castilleja?

Bvagency: please tell me you are not drinking the Brand kool aid.

A few thoughts here's what about Chula Vista Elemantary, explain their surplus in these tough economic times. No doubt it is due to better financial decisions made a board and superintendent who are focused on the business at hand. BV, it was members of THIS board who brought "the gandara" here.

You speak of the students we are loosing, why are we losing them, because they are going elsewhere and getting better, getting more. These other educational entities, why can they do it and we can not. You speak as if all of a sudden Brand has found the key to educating our students, ok, so what is it - the label of charter? What about your children? What about your tax dollars? Do you NOT deserve the best for them.

Name me one idea Brand has had that makes sense for improving the education for 7 - 12th graders?

Since day one it has been all about the gymic the deal - with the promise of more money. More money for WHO????? Do some research on non. Profits. Read Zorro's post above. Look at the amounts coming in (revenue) vs. expenditures, Look at who are on the boards. Look at the fact that the filings were not done on time, and the warnings indicating issues regarding accounting.

BV, if you are expecting us to believe that all of a sudden Brand has grown a conscience and now has become credible and is filled with integrity, I am sorry, I am buying.

This is the same man who just hired ALT, without public comment. Why was Russon on that hiring panel????????

Cmon anniej, you know better. I don't and wont drink the Brand koolaid. Just a different point of view to consider.

Just a word of advice--don't get on Eddy's crazy train just as he is bailing!

BV - talk to me about L street. Explain to me why we paid this guy the kind of salary he received, Explain to me his authorizing himself a 30k plus advance. There is more to the L street, Ca Trust for Public Schools - much more.

You need to explain to me why we should trust Brand and his financial decisions. We have a board who act like a bunch of mummies, the only one who questions anything is Lopez. You have obviously attended these board meetings, YOU TELL ME THAT THE PACK HAS NOT FORMED ALLIANCES it is Brand, Cartmill, McCann, Ricasa vs Lopez - Quinones, well it depends on ? Why is our superintendent meeting board members prior to the monthly meetings and obviously going over the agenda.

Recent topics, why would Brand think so little of SOME of his employees that he is choosing to move them to a contaminated location? WHERE IS THE DISTRICT OFFICE BEING MOVED TO?, bet it is not next door to the bus location, on contaminated land. How much more on rent is Brand willing to spend since it is for him and the other suits?

New revenue sources you ask, trusting Brand to obtain it -

TALK TO ME FIRST ABOUT EDUCATING MY 7th GRADE DAUGHTER and all of the other students. GET ME A NEW SUPER AND BOARD AND THEN WE WILL TALK.

Your request to even consider this new leadership is ludicrous. No disrespect meant to you.

The majority of our board CHOSE to use vs serve, they brought in Brand who has a very tainted history - we all gave Brand a chance and he CHOSE to deceive us.

Remember this is the same Brand who CHOSE not to meet with the Eastlake folks until forced to, the same Brand who CHOSE to open the boundaries, the same BRAND who chose to name a part time teacher as Chief of Staff, the same Brand who CHOSE to intimidate the BOC with the 700 forms, the same Brand who CHOSE to QUIT TO GET MORE MONEY AND POWER, the same Brand who chose to drive out an employee simply because that person blew the whistle on an illegal act, the same Brand who brought I. IPADS with NO data to back up their usefulness, the same Brand who continued to borrow from PROP O and then when forced to stop began borrowing from MELLO ROOS and, and and, and and.........................

Brand, trust? - THE TWO DO NOT EQUATE

INCREASE REVENUE (Common Brand statement), how about

INCREASING EDUCATION ?????????

Anniej, reality is that money drives results. Regardless of who is in leadership, that is the new reality. I agree focus on education, the core business of the district. But they dont have a monopoly on educating middle school aged kids any longer,

As kids continue to leave the district for k-8 charters, ada will go down, which means less money for those kids in the district. That means larger class sizes, less teachers, and less services.

At some point some enterprising k-8 schools will offer k-12 in the cvesd. They have them from kinder, so relationships with the families are established. The district is financially sound, well run and an excellent option. Again, choice and competition!

After attempting to start an outside conversation about our district, I was sorely disappointed that no-one showed up to give any ideas about long term changes to the district. I spent yesterday as a vacation day attending Parents day at Olympian High School when my Freshman son asked me to go with him! I will say that education has changed over the 35ish years since I graduated High School, but I did see some excellent Teachers keeping their students engaged. I also saw some poorly planned activities, wasted time and effort with kids just sitting through class with little or no structure or alternatives to sitting around talking, texting etc.

Our district has so many possibilities but we keep getting wrapped up in Issue of the day, letting personalities get in the way of progress.

I will keep harping on where do we get to hear about the Vision of the Board of Trustees, staff, voters, teachers for where the district needs to go and a reasonable timeline for such.

There are no quick fixes to the institutionalized mis-management of education both the state and the district. The deeds of the past will take time to resolve but without meaningful discussion instead of multiple single-minded agendas, education will never change, note I did not say be forced to change.

For the umpteenth time, both sides neither is completely right or wrong, Our elected officials at one time had the right reasons to be on the Board, they have lost their way. I will give our Superintendent the benefit of the doubt that he has some compassion for the job of Educating our youth, however I do not think he knows what we want with regards to the district future.

Just for the record I am not a teacher, School staff, adminstration staff, just an Engineer working everyday to support my family. I hold no grudges, just opinion of what I've experienced with both sides of the issue, again neither is completely right or wrong, there is space to work if both sides consider it worth the effort. If not we are all part of the problem, not the solution.

BBQ - I was unable to attend because I was at another meeting, perhaps the time of the meeting was the reason.

Sorry that I couldn't get to Starbucks on H street yesterday.

I agree that it would be very positive for a consortium of parents, taxpayers, etc, to work on some plans for the district.

Personally, I think that Ed Brand has burned all his bridges with this community--his decision-making is beyond arrogant.

We need to clean house.

If you are still interested in hearing more from me, please, I care deeply about education and educational issues, especially as they concern the community in which I live.

Personnally, I am very fed up with the Board of Trustees, as well. Feckless, hopeless ninnies for the most part. I've seen more and better leadership among Brownies at a troop meeting, and better behavior to boot.

My great frustration lies in the reality that nothing seems to get through to Brand and the members of the board who always vote according to Brand's interest of the moment. Consistency? Not there. Reason? Missing. Fiscal responsibility? Absolutely absent.

Again, there is a level of arrogance that is beyond description. Winston Churchill once described someone as, "a modest man with much to be modest about".

This board has much to be modest about, but they do not seem to recognize all the areas in which they fall far short...work with them? Maybe after each of them have experienced life-changing epiphanies and suddenly can actually assess, think straight and act according to some recognizable sense of ethical responsibility.

Still want to meet with me and hear more?

Please, this district needs all the help it can get. I just don't think it will ever get any help from Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill, John McCann, Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quinones. They have done enough already, and it hasn't been helpful.

Churchill was describing the man who succeeded him as prime minister, one Clement Attlee. After all he had done to buck up the British during WWII, the voters turned Winston out of office before the war was over (the European part was ended, but Japan's surrender was some months away.) The man who followed him was easy to underestimate, but in those years of holding power, he and his Labor (socialist) Party made a major transformation of Britain, nationalizing the railways, steel industry, power grid, coal industry, and health care. Don't underestimate what these modest fools can do to the district.

Really, you think there is hope for the non-fabulous four? You think that Quinones, Ricasa, McCann and Cartmill would ever actually do something positive for this district?

I believe in being optomistic, but that is going too far for me.

It would be great if they would actually pull themselves together and become sentient beings, but the odds on that happening aren't too good, based upon past performances.

You must know something that I don't know!!!

No, NO, you misunderstood my comment! I regard those moves in postwar Britain as the confirmation of its decline into a rather boring and overpriced country filled with malcontents. I was trying to say that that board could be far more damaging than the worst that even you or anniej have ever feared. They look like a pack of bumbling petty crooks, and before they are forced from office could literally bankrupt the district and its schools and leave a mess that might take decades to repair. Don't underestimate their ability to do damage!

Whew, on the one hand.

Yeah, it could get worse, on the other hand. How to stop it is the question.

BBQ and Starbucks don't go hand & hand. Next time try meeting at Phil's or L & L.

Imperial beach, If I were interested in food rather than conversation, I would have hung out with the SUHSD board of trustees and Gandara (Brand?) and gotten it for free. But we all know about a FREE LUNCH, don't we.

Bonita high schools newspaper, the Crusader has in its latest edition regarding the board (fromt page picture) and Prop O. While I have not read the article I am looking forward to. It is important that these future voters develop a thorough understanding of how things work. The student rep that sits on the board is indeed a positive reflection of our student base.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not hold anyone fully responsible for the lack of interest in last night's meeting attempt, it was just a start. The main thing for me is to set a level of expectations for anyone interested in challenging the status quo or even maintaining the status quo of the district. There is plenty of opportunity to be had in any direction there is to go. I agree with the arrogance of our current adminstration and board, but they have everything in the bag right now, there is no agenda to enact change. No rallying call for better governance within SUHSD. Within reason tell me when we can have a productive meeting, please don't say at a School Board Meeting, I have found those to be agrivating and condescending, never productive. Acting CFO Kneel had some great discussion points in the DEC/JAN Budget review meeting agenda.

Bbq dont take it personal. Myself and another parent tried for months to hold parent meetings on the Mello Roos and Open Boundaries issues. After numerous attempts, we were able to get about 20-30 parents together for a few meetings. This was after months of working on it. We were ultimately able to draw close to 100 community members at Eastlake High to meet with Brand. So it will take constant work to get this community engaged in large numbers.

I will be involved in future meetings you would like to hold - this Monday we had a Boy Scout meeting.

Dont give up!

Folks, I am on the Board of Directors of a charter in the CVESD, and let me tell you they smell blood! They are likely going to start accepting 7th and 8th graders next school year. They recognize the weakness in the high school district, and parents want and deserve better!

Im telling you, education now includes competition and choice, and Sweetwater will lose on both of those fronts.

The CVESD charters recognize this - 18% of students in our community attend k-8 elementary charters. This number is likely to increase as Sweetwater continues its downward spiral and elementary charters continue to offer parents better quality!!

This will lead to reduced revenue at Sweetwater as ada continues to decline.

After a few days hiatus and sitting back and seeing whether the two District issues of “L” Street and the new CFO would die down it clearly has not much to my chagrin. This is very discouraging. I still feel there are many good things this District does and it ok to think out of the box like Ed Brand has done to a point. However there is a difference between innovative and reckless. I now fear the worst. The hallway chatter is not good. We all have to be careful of what we say but you know in the long run one does have to consider personal values and morals.

I know it is easy to take pot shots from the outside on District matters. However I can read the tea leaves. We are in a much more serious situation that I realized. I have to be careful. I could lose my job. Indictments, a reckless real estate investment, and now a CFO who has extreme controversy. What will it be next?

You know when I started commenting on this blog I wanted given my intimate knowledge of District matters a different yet humorous perspective. I have seen the good side of Ed. However it has become clearer to me now that I have observed recent events that I may have been fooled by the very person I trusted. You know smart people can be persuasive. He must have also got a PHD in Spin!!!

I think we are in a very serious situation. Mr. Knott, if you read between the lines, warned us by saying we are spending more than we receive in recent years. Four Board members under indictment and a real estate investment that could hurt our kids. Internal processes that did not or refused to uncover a virtual blemish free CFO. Where is the next shoe to drop?

I have put my heart and soul into this District and tried to believe we were on the right track. I was sick of the negativity and naysayers. While I do not like their hurtful words the real take away from all this rancor over the last few years is that they were probably right. For that I now must say I am sorry to them. I am definitely in the cover my ass mode.

More to follow. I must once again go off again to do District work and keep my nose to the grindstone and do my job. I hope the Board and Administration read this and realize your District friend is very disillusioned. We are in serious trouble.

WTFEd: it is indeed a sad situation. It appears the board is attempting to get even with the taxpayers for exposing the alleged corruption that has weaves it way into the districts very fiber - they have in essence walked away - said "here ED it is all yours, nothing left for to gain politically or personally as we have been exposed"

And how can that gain them anything?

Yes, they have been exposed. Does that mean they cannot try and scrape some semblance of ethical responsibility together and act in the manner they were supposed to act?

Does this majority board really wish to go down in local history as complete bumbling keystone cops characters? Really, shouldn't they be mildly interested in humble recognition of their abject failure and then attempt to do better?

Which is why there must be a complete forensic audit, dating back at the very least to the first Brand administration.

When I saw today that the district is planning on more pink slips for teachers, etc., I was not surprised, but was AGAIN outraged at Brand's nerve. Of course, he gets everything he wants, hires pals, hires a convected felon, does who knows what (because he does not have to ask anyone or tell anyone what he does)--and he can further disempower the teachers.

Why? Probably because it suits his ego. He enjoys being the puppeteer, as evidenced by our majority board members.

Why do they let this continue? Why don't they cut the strings? Why don't they pull themselves together and remember they really are not puppets? What control does Brand have over them? Is it blackmail? Promises of further perks and appointments? Jobs down the road?

When will this board realize that the taint of Brand will one day be an enormous barrier in all sorts of situations--

Why not change the pattern of behavior now, so that the upcoming collapse can be mitigated by facing it and taking the right action?

We really need strong honest fiscal leadership in Sweetwater, and the combo of Brand, Russo and Alt is not going to make that happen. They will do their best to hide problems, bring new schemes into the mix and stir the pot until there is nothing but chaos.

Think of how that will affect the children who are trying to learn.

What does waiting do? It does not benefit the students. It gives Brand more time to grasp for more and more of the public's funds.

Are we not sick of this?

Have we not had enough?

Can the D.A. order a forensic audit?

What can be done to limit Brand's power now that even the board members with heads firmly in the sand must realize what a total disaster their approval of Brand's contract was?

Could they not foresee the ramifications and the consequenses of their action?

If not, I will put forth that they have no business being a trustee, that they do not have the intellectual or ethical strength and power to serve in that capacity. Or all of them just thought they could get away with the complete destruction of a large school district.

Shameless in addition to being hopelessly ineffectual?

Where did these people come from? Who on this green earth backed them for public office? Maybe we should find out, because maybe someone else is benefiting from all this, this horrific mess. This great disgrace.

It is possible that the DA is still digging up dirt and that more charges will be made. You are seeing how frustrating it is to deal with a culture of corruption, because the replacements are soon sucked into the same pattern of misdeeds that characterized those they replace. I don't know that the DA can "order" a forensic audit. They are most costly and time consuming. What you have here is not a branch of state government. School districts are separate legal entities that have their own governance, and do not operate under direct control of any other agencies. There must be provision for some other body to step in under certain circumstances, but those backstops are probably rather ineffective. Tthe county board of education has some oversight responsibility, but that may not be much more than to "direct" a district to make reports and account for its actions if they are at variance with state law.

What must happen here is that the voters vote the bums out. And in the last election, reelected two of them. The ultimate safeguard, the ballot box, isn't working here. Criminal convictions will remove trustees, but the voters need to insure they don't vote for a pack of venal jerks like the ones that were turned out of office.

Bvagency: it is a well known fact that the students of Sweetwater are being short changed when it comes to everything. Grant monies allegedly being dumped into non profits where for some strange reason the expenses far outweigh revenue, where persons who sit on the board are able to charge for their services.

No wonder parents with children with in our elementary schools are looking for options for middle and high school.

Brand attempting to change the name of the education by labeling it charter.

YOU CAN OUT LIPSTICK ON A PIG BUT IT IS STILL A PIG!!!!

To bvagency, eastlake, anniej, WTFEd, as I have repeated there must have been a reason teachers teach, Boards of Trustees serve, adminstraters adminstrate, Staffers staff. I truely believe deep inside before absolute power corrupting they all had noble reasons to run, serve, teach, etc, it cannot have been all about MONEY and POWER, let's face none of the above groups is all that Powerful including Dr. Ed Brand. All of the above are Big Fish in a middle sized Pond. I am not sure but if the half-dozen or so of us communicating through these comment pages are the only people who care, WTF!!!! Susan Luzzaro, its time to shake up the lazy (I'd write appathetic but I'm not sure how to spell it) public. Where/who do we contact to get some traction under the whole mess? The County Board of Education, UT, Television .....

Yes, getting traction is a problem, because as we all know, the U-T is not allowing its reporters to dig into anything. I guess they are allowed to do surface reporting every now and then, but not really follow an issue and build the story. So much for journalism. (And isn't there a rumor that Manchester is interested in the LA Times...not that they have reported on this mess, but it really does not bode well for the news business if Papa Doc--oops, I mean Papa Doug gets the Times in hand).

Maybe someone with some powers of persuasion can speak with people at the Star-News and see what their plans are on covering the trials. Again, they report dribs and drabs and do not really attempt to paint a full picture of what is and has been going on. Surface, sporatic reporting.

Just what Ed Brand and friends ordered, most likely.

Or maybe they will say this is just in their best interests. Reporters do not want to get fired, so they toe the line. Editors do not want to be fired, or lose revenue, so they don't really take the story where it should go.

Real estate and development interests, some of whom have very vested interests in the people on trial I am quite sure are cautioning some newspeople in this regard.

Where is our mayor on this, Mayor Cox, that is? I think we know where Mayor Filnor is on this, he has made his opinion quite well known. Whether that was intelligent or not on his part remains to be seen.

I did make a couple of efforts to contact Bill Moyers and/or his staff regarding what has been taking place in Sweetwater, but have not heard anything. Mr. Moyers has, I believe, one of the best reputations in media at present, if not the best reputation, and if he were to shed light on this story in its fulness and misery, we might be able to get somewhere.

However, I would like to say that Ms. Luzzaro has been doing a great job with all the various angles of this story. I was glad to read that the high school students at Bonita Vista ran a story in their school newspaper--maybe that is something that should be encouraged--perhaps all Sweetwater schools with student newspapers should be encouraged to cover this! Or at least be aware of it.

Maybe today will be a breakthrough, as quite a few of the defendants did show up at the Chula Vista courthouse. Here's to the truth being told, heard and acted upon rightly!

BBQ: if one takes the time to read the most recent Christy White audit one would find that there are some serious questions that must be asked and answered by Randy Ward, super of the County. Did he allow the truth about SUHSD financials particularly PROP O to be hidden.

Keep in mind, as posted before, I wrote Mr. Ward, back when "the gandara" was here - his curt response, in a nut shell, WE HAVE NO AUTHORITY OVER SUHSD. Hmmmmmmmm.

You are correct BBQ, it is time once again, to seek assistance from a higher power regarding the financial solvency, or lack thereof. And there is interest. Let the chips fall where they may.

We have been abandoned by the majority of our own school board.

Well, isn't that interesting.

I guess life is just too comfortable to actually have to perform the duties of the job...wouldn't want to disturb the status quo.

Dereliction of duty? Or is that only a crime in the military?

OH, but the County Board of Ed DOES have oversight, especially fiscal, of those school districts in their jurisdiction. Just saying otherwise does not make it so. Check out the purpose and role of the County Boards of Education. Does anyone know if our new representative on that Board, Lyn Nealon, has been approached? She was recently sworn into office.

That I do not know, but I recall that people have been confident that she would represent the district faithfully.

And, as the song goes, "Tomorrow....tomorrow....is only a day away". That would be February 15, when I those charged in the most recent indictments, or additional counts added to prior charges, are to appear in the South County Court for the first of what will likely be many, many, days in court.

That would include those who are accused of accepting bribes, perjury by declaration and other dicey allegations: Ricasa, Quinones, Gandara and Sandoval, whose charges also include EXTORTION; as well as Cartmill, Bertha, Chopra, Salcido, Wilson, Dominguez, Alioto ; as well as others such as Cabello and others who represent the alleged 'bribers'.... Should make for interesting viewing and reporting.

Fred Williams, Slow to respond, but a compliment from you is a badge I can wear. Thank you. Susan

I believe this article is not an end in itself, but a beginning into an inquiry. If a district, any district, has surplus or real estate property--should voters have been asked to approve a construction bond? What are the limits of tax payer monies? Should district financial resources go to making property shovel ready for condos?

oskidoll: I admit I am a bit pessamistic, but aren't we the same community that voted quinones back in - regardless of the fact that the vote was split, the only persons who should have colored in the quinones circle were family members.

Could it be that Filner has worked some magic and is behind moving the case down south? The south bay is not equipped to seat those community members who wish to attend. Yes, anniej will be there each and every day.

Perhaps we should all call Ms. Nealon on Tuesday, goodness knows we voted her in in November, surely time enough for her to make her presence known; but then if we are not waving the yellow flag perhaps she is believing Brands old "they are just a bunch of antagonists" speech.

A few months back, before the elections, there was a group that spoke before the County. After their comments one of the board members was upset at the comments and Rindone had to state for the record that he had not put those taxpayers up to speaking. Look unless you live under a rock you know there is trouble with SUHSD, and what is the County doing about it NOTHING. WHEN, not IF the truth is exposed pressure will be put on Ward to answer for his choosing to not step in and demand a thorough accounting. Mr. Ward, if you are reading or if one of your counter parts are reading, do NOT listen to Brand, you do need to take us seriously.

CONSPIRACY???????? What is going on with our judicial system? The hearing today was a joke. The judge transferred the case to another judge, then everyone had to wait 30 minutes for the new judge who then POSTPONES THE HEARING until April.

Ah, hello S D COURT SYSTEM, we have been waiting over a year, just how long do we have to wait to see justice? Our tax dollars are at issue here. Is this a precursor of how THE LARGEST CORRUPTION CASE IN SAN DIEGO is going to be treated, like a freaking joke???????

I SMELL ROTTING FISH !!!!!!!!!

Oh yes, this leaves me really wondering who is pulling the strings now. Any guesses? How many letters? Starting with? How many syllables?

Hark, methinks I hear the sound of an accordian playing the the Theme from the Godfather...wouldn't it be grand if our authorities would actually accomplish something instead of getting in the way?

Maybe we should treat our tax assessments like a joke if they are treating all this corruption like a joke.

Will we have to put up with being stabbed in the back by the courts after we have already been bled dry by the corrupt school district?

Is there no one in this county who will stand up for honesty?

Please see staff blog by Susan Luzzaro for info on today's proceedings.

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