Sweetwater Board Takes Heat at Meeting

Attorney Kevin Carlin served subpoenas to district board members.
  • Attorney Kevin Carlin served subpoenas to district board members.

The first meeting that Ed Brand presided over since being appointed superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District took place on October 15.

Brand sought board approval for a conflict-of-interest bylaw change. His proffered analysis was: “This bylaw is being revised to include language regarding gifts, as recommend by Eric Hall & Associates in the Proposition O Audit.”

Community advocate Maty Adato brought it to the board’s attention that the Eric Hall audit said, “The District should work with its legal counsel and develop a policy for board consideration restricting all gifts and donations from consultants [and] contractors.”

District trustee Bertha Lopez asked if any board members would be willing to include donations in the language. Trustee Pearl Quiñones said she was uncomfortable voting on it and wanted more time to review it. Brand urged the board to pass the resolution because it was “time sensitive.” Lopez voted against it. Board members Quiñones and Arlie Ricasa — both under indictment for allegedly failing to report gifts — abstained. The resolution failed.

Later, Proposition O bond oversight committee chair Nick Marinovich gave his committee’s report. He shared with the board the committee’s concern regarding the manner that Brand imposed the new requirement of conflict-of-interest forms subsequent to the oversight board’s vote of no confidence in the superintendent.

Marinovich also reported that in an August meeting with then-interim-superintendent Brand, Brand told him and committee member Kevin O’Neill that he had “a network of people out there” and that oversight committee members had better not be involved in anyone’s political campaigns.

Brand “categorically” denied having said that. He stated that Thomas Calhoun, chief facilities executive, was his witness. From the podium, Marinovich characterized the night’s exchange with the superintendent as “a pissing match” and “intimidation.”

Board members were also served with subpoenas by Kevin Carlin of the Carlin Law Group. The subpoenas are seeking, among other things, information about board members’ relationships with contractors in the past.

The subpoenas stem from a lawsuit filed by Sweetwater parent Stewart Payne and Davis Moreno Construction, Inc. It is in regard to a $17.3 million construction contract the district entered into with Balfour Beatty Construction to build Montgomery Middle School’s library, cafeteria, and other buildings.

The agreement uses the lease-leaseback method, which allows the company to lease district property for $1.00 a year while constructing the building; it also allows the district to circumvent the bidding process.

The state allocation board has concerns that “significant numbers of projects and significant sums of public funding are not being subjected to the checks and balances of the competitive bid process.”

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Thank you again, Susan, for letting us see this in "print".

Regarding the $1.00/year lease--does this token payment really allow the no-bid condition to prevail for the entire project at Montgomery Middle School? I can't imagine that this usage is what the "lease-leaseback" arrangement was meant to handle--I would think that that type of arrangement came into being in order that specific projects that were outside the area of expertise of the usual project managers would be handled (better) by those with the knowledge--or some such line of thinking.

It can't really be in place merely to allow a company to do and charge whatever they want and then have the district pay for it!

How does anyone even know what is being done? How do we know they aren't just taking the money and pretending to do something? Or, doing a really bad job while charging top dollar? Who signed off on this? Can someone tell me why Balfour Beatty got such a contract?

eastlaker: regarding balfour beatty - take a look at the campaign donations of past years - oops, there it is - your answer.

Yup, just wanted to make it perfectly clear!

it was clearly apparent that mccann and cartmill DO NOT want campaign donations LIMITED. why would they? jim carmill has been wallowing in the trough of massive contractor donations FOR YEARS. john mccann jumped right on that band wagon in his past run for the board seat. john mccann took money from mr flores and mr bunton, both owners of companies that have plead guilty in the PAY TO PLAY scandal that is plaguing our community. both will no doubt be testifying in the upcoming trials, all eyes and ears will be on these two contractors as they tell the stories of the demands for campaign donations and other gifts that were generated by sweetwater board members. jim cartmill SINGLE HANDIDLY received $30 thousand dollars from mr. flores's company - (see registrar of voters for confirmation) WHY, why would flores donate such a large amount? why would bunton donate to help pay mccann's campaign debt a year after mccann won the election? (see registrar of voters for confirmation) now keep in mind these donations are legal, but that is exactly my point. when community members attempted to change the bylaws and limit campaign contributions they were denied - here comes that question again WHY>>>>>>>>>>>

brand had the gall to sit up there and act as though the erick hall audit did not mention the real need to limit campaign donations - when offered a copy by Mr. Marinovich, president of the BOC, to confirm brand declined to even look at it. WHY??????? yes why is brand hell bent on seeing to it that those campaign contributions from contractors and vendors are not stopped ?

what about this agenda item was so time sensitive? the erik hall audit was released HOW MANY MONTHS AGO??????????????

Major thanks and kudos to Maty Adato for standing up and challenging Brand with the true Hall audit recommendations!

Talk about grace under fire and a terrific sense of timing!

An informed public is a public that refuses to be fooled!

Maty Adato, one of the most respected women in the South Bay. a woman with integrity who continues to fight for our children.

she challenged brand to look at the audit, the president of the BOC handed it to her for brand's preview - but truth of the matter is brand knew what was in that audit - his good friend barry dragon works for hall..............................................

I have a question about that P-1 and it refers to McCann, Cartmill and Brand trying to push it through...If they had passed it now the way it stands, without any mention of the campaign contributions, would their little rule recently added about not placing items on the agenda that had been discussed within the last 12 months have prevented them from having to deal with this for a year?

This has got to be one of the most, if not THE most dysfunctional school boards and superintendents, ever. Now we have a volunteer oversight committee chairperson being harassed. Why? He questioned them. That's his job! This is ridiculous. On top of it all, these subpoenas will ultimately co$t u$. What's new?

Public opinion--the sector that is informed--is building toward "something being done". Let's all wake up and participate--and not have this election turn out like the poll in the Star-News of a couple of weeks ago. We all know there are no depths to which Brand will not stoop, so we do need to be prepared for all sorts of dirty tricks.

The dysfunction can end if enough of us intervene to restore transparency and fair practices to this district, in all areas, for all people.

joepublic: i am thinking of another descriptive word - it begins with c, end with t, and the middle letters are orrup.

CAN I HEAR AN AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!

Anniej correct as usual. Brand tried his best to get this pushed through without all the correct information being put forth. What a dirty dog he is.Everyone but Bertha is lined up at the contractor feeding trough. Wait til the DA gets done with them they will be squealing but it won't be all the way home. We at least will be done with Ricasa and Pearl. How to get rid of the other two porkers McCann and Cartmill? Any ideas? Then there is Brand,maybe the spiking contract that was just given to him will come to haunt him like it did Gandara.

erupting: the community is enraged over brand's new contract. one thing we do not want to hear when it comes time to negotiate with the district employees is WE ARE BROKE - no, we will not stand for that.

mccann, little man that he is blames all that is wrong on the unions. yet when this munchkin ran for his offices he was out there pretending to be unions best friends.

HEAR YE, HEAR YE ALL UNIONS - come to the board meetings and learn what mccann really thinks of you.

brand is given a 2 year contract at the age of 58 - one of the clauses of this 'gag me with a spoon' contract - we, our tax dollars, will continue to pay for brands medical, dental and vision coverage until he is 66 - which just so happens to be when he will elect medicare.

so tell me how are you liking john mccann, jim cartmill and arlie ricasa NOW????????????????????

erupting, do all those expensive meals Bertha eagerly accepted from contractors count as "feeding from the trough " ?

This school district is a problem for more and more people. We are coming together on these issues and the district will feel our numbers.

Lakefront: the time has come for us to take our district BACK. open the door and tell cartmill and mccann bye bye - don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

the trials will do much to expose the real jim cartmill - his peeps will see the real man - i have no doubt that the testimony given on the stand will set the record straight and we will no longer be preached to by a hypocrite. mccann, he is an embarrassment - what more is left to say. a real opportunist that guy - the laughing stock of most. the do nothing, take credit for everything, mccann will carry the embarrassment of his tenure on the sweetwater board with him the rest of his political life. no doubt once alvey takes the stand and tells all mccann can put his mayoral hat up for sale on craigslist.

the south bay will be able to attend those trials or read about them and learn the truth about PAY TO PLAY. wonder how cartmill is going to explain away all of the upcoming revelations of the past? wonder how mccann will try and turn this into a 'i served speech'. wonder how good it will be to look cartmill and mccann in the eye and utter the words 'allegedly' CORRUPT.

Jibaro, yes she ate from the trough not as much as the others for sure but you are correct. The saving grace to me is she went to the DA,so there was an awakening I believe. Look at the dates, only in the beginning did she particapate. Read the indictments and the people who are the whistle blowers. Look at the voting records. Those are the reasons I feel she stands above the others. I also feel that on Jan. 13th when they are all held over for trial some of the information will become crystal clear. That's when we will find out from the contractors themselves what really went on and what they did to ensure they got the lucrative contracts. Time will tell Jibaro.

erupting, others have experienced such an "awakening ", usually just before the DA is to hand down an indictment and shortly after having been served with a search warrant. Bertha was recruited by Gandara to run against Jaime Mercado, a vocal critic of Gandara, Bonnie Garcia, and illegal practices of the district. Gandara actively sought and obtained ten of thousands of dollars for her campaign from contractors. Once on the Board, she was a supporter of Gandara, accepting gifts in numerous forms from companies doing business with the district. Yes erupting, I have read the indictments, several times, and am very aware of timelines. It sickens me to think that the best this community can come up with to run against Bertha is Bert Grossman. Shame on me, and shame on all of us.

jibaro: you are a poster that i respect, on this issue we will have to agree to disagree. yes. lopez did take campaign contributions, yes, lopez as the new board member did participate in a few dinners and such - i, however, saw no mention of gifts. having said that - it is important to look at the actions and voting record of the board members. lopez went to the da BEFORE any of this started - lopez has voted in line with what is best for the students and taxpayers.

when you know better you do better - when lopez saw what was going on, she made it clear to gandara and the rest of the board - no way no how.

regarding Mr. Mercado, i have a great deal of respect for this man - i believe he was one of the best board members sweetwater has had - i did however, take exception to the familial personal attacks against lopez's family - that was out of line. as matter of fact as i am about the issues involved - family members and situations ARE OFF LIMITS, and rightfully so.

anniej, "familial personal attacks against lopez's family " ??? Do you refer to one of my posts? I CERTAINLY TAKE EXCEPTION to your inference that I attacked the family of Bertha in ANY way. I respectfully request that you indicate to me the specific incident. Regards

Jibaro: I think you misread my post, I was not referring to you I was referring to the person I named in the post. I do not recall reading anything you said that had to do with Lopezs family.

What the heck is wrong with these people? These stories are better than watching any reality show on TV. Seeing how ignorant people can be without trying to act in front of a camera is actually priceless. These board members and superintendent just dig their hole deeper and deeper dont they? Why wouldnt they vote to add campaign contributions to this gift thing it is so stupid for two of them to recuse themselves WTH. My question to Brand would be why the rush? Why not make sure you get it right so the public will leave this alone? He is just as corrupt as the board he serves. Kudos to that Ms. Lopez for making a decision and voting no since she didnt like the way it was written, I truly think this lady has balls (no offense Ms. Lopez).

What gives when a board lets a superintendent call a member of the public a liar in open session. I hope the people that were at this meeting when this conversation took place come forward to show Brand as the one for being the liar. This superintendent has issues major issues and folks you got a long road ahead of you. Good luck

Regarding why Brand was in such a hurry...could be a couple of things. Could be that he just needed reassurance that he held all the reins of power, and getting this approved would provide that small but needed jolt. You see, I think Brand is a type of addict--one who gets his kicks out of manipulation and boundary assaults. Each (extremely negative) "victory" emboldens him for subsequent moves--which might mean an attack of sorts on other people, or it could mean working out a plan to extend the corrupt arm of the district in some other way.

That is why it is so important for the public, as a group, to stand up to this man. While calling him a megalomaniac has already been done, that may only be scratching the surface of the pathology of Ed Brand.

Why Cartmill and McCann are still willing sheepdogs is beyond me. Pretty sure they have always considered themselves to be much smarter than the three women on the board, but remember folks, there is IQ and there is emotional intelligence.

Red faced Ed Brand sputtering and calling a member of the public a liar. What a picture of responsible leadership? Obviously this man is untrustworthy.

He was in a big hurry last Monday night, because he needed the psychological boost that would have come with the successful completion of one more part of his assault on the legitimacy of SUHSD. His illness demands that he "own" the district.

The man should not be in a position of responsibility over other people, other people's money and the collective future of the young people of Sweetwater.

FYI--another attack piece in SD Rostra--this time against a member of the Bond Oversight Committee.

eastlaker: little man who wants to be king has obviously found his shetland pony and rides again ------------------------

Here is the sad thing--those of us who live in Chula Vista, or the south bay in general, could really use a politician who 'does right'.

McCann could have been that politician, but he has chosen to go a different route. It must have looked more appealing, but, as the saying goes, appearances are deceiving. Just like in some of the old folk tales, young people go out into the world and have to pass tests of character in order to grow as individuals and members of society.

True leaders need to rise to the occasion and do the right thing even if the cause isn't a guaranteed win--they need to demonstrate backbone, honesty and long-term planning for the betterment of the community.

Can we say we have that here in the Sweetwater Union High School District? Not to my mind. What we have is a majority of petty-minded, selfish board members who have lost touch with what the community needs--and to make matters worse, they are "lead" by someone who is seriously in need of help.

Jibaro I guess we will agree to disagree about Bertha,but I believe Gandara would still be here if it were not for her. My concerns about Burt Grossman are ever increasing since I got to view his book for a short time,it's truly scary. This man I believe would actually be worse than little man McCann.

Regarding the election, I'm wondering who Supe Brand wants to win. Would he be for Quinones?

I've seen some Cameron signs around but none for this Grossman phantom. Is he a real candidate?

Lopez--sounds like her track record isn't perfect but steadily improving?

Another FYI--the Star-News has a new poll--on the subject of Brand and the BOC. Please share your opinion!

cvres: brand is allegedly taking grossman introducing him - interesting story - they were at a function in c.v. there was brand introducing grossman - as they turned to walk back to their table someone at 'the' table commented "puts and super puts - where does brand find these guys?"

i am looking to get some of the info shared on grossman's book at the last board meeting which i will post here. i would say it will be interesting reading, but truth be told 'it will be scary reading'. it is hard to believe that brand, mccann, and cartmill would be openly promoting someone like this guy grossman. grossman's own words are concerning, very concerning..............

Brand's history of bullying is already enough to be very concerning.

Wish we could hear from some of the San Marcos people who were instrumental in getting rid of Brand. I would guess they have some stories to tell.

In this era when bullying is being legislated against, is a topic of education, is the cause of quite a few law suits due to everything from hazing injuries to suicides, in this era, why do we in Sweetwater end up with a bully as our superintendent? What type of individual deliberately recruits a bully? Hires a bully? Gives a bully everything on their wishlist?

Someone who wants to stay on the good side of a bully? Someone who is afraid of a bully? Or several people who are afraid of a bully?

No wonder Ed Brand is trying to recruit Burt Grossman to his "team". Burt is experienced in protection on the field, and Ed "The Bully" Brand wants backup.

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