No process yet to replace Sweetwater trustee Ricasa

Only three board members show up at special meeting

No one was surprised to see that the Sweetwater Union High School District board failed to agree on a process to replace former trustee Arlie Ricasa at a January 14 special meeting. (Ricasa pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor December 18 and was obliged to resign). However, many who attended the meeting wondered if the lack of agreement was the usual dysfunction — or orchestrated dysfunction.

Only three board members were present at the meeting — trustees Jim Cartmill, John McCann, and Bertha Lopez. According to Cartmill, trustee Pearl Quiñones could not attend due to a trip to see her ailing mother in Texas.

Daniel Shinoff

Daniel Shinoff

The meeting began with the district’s attorney, Daniel Shinoff, outlining a process in which an ad hoc committee might be composed of the board president, vice president, and the mayors of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and National City. Following a review of applications, the ad hoc committee would interview candidates and forward prospects to the board. Public comment would be integrated into the process.

Trust in the district is so low that many speakers argued against anyone in the district office handling the applications; some suggested that all applications pass through the attorney’s office.

Lopez, a consistent critic of schools superintendent Ed Brand, argued that she was neither president nor vice president, so the proposed process excluded her. She suggested an alternative selection process that had been used by Southwestern College, one that she felt was more inclusive of all stakeholders.

The twist in the evening came when McCann called for a special election —which he said he favored in the interest of democracy. When McCann campaigned in 2010, his website declared that he “stands for Fiscal Responsibility” and that he “will require a balanced budget for the District and ensure that District Bond money is spent wisely.”

McCann’s insistence on a costly vote seemed inconsistent — and foreshadowed the direction and possibly the way the replacement process will go.

The district must fill the seat within 60 days from the time of Ricasa’s resignation — they are already 27 days into the countdown. There are only two choices: get a selection process going or hold a special election.

A special election would cost more than a million dollars for a position that would last less than a year. Former chief financial officer Albert Alt and former interim CFO Rick Knott have expressed concern about the district’s continued deficit-spending.

On the heels of McCann’s statement, Cartmill stated that it was obvious that three votes could not be attained for a selection process. He appeared to be shepherding the dais to option two: a special election.

But before Cartmill could close the discussion, Lopez stated she felt “cheated.” She said that the district knew beforehand that Quiñones would not be attending the meeting; why had they not made every effort to arrange for Quiñones to weigh in via Skype or telephone, she asked.

Then the meeting teetered out of control, with the attendees calling for a vote, for clarification, and for a process.

Cartmill made a motion in favor of the process Shinoff had outlined but warned the other trustees that only a dissenting voter could ever return this proposal to the board. The motion died for lack of a second.

Finally, Lopez urged that the board make every effort to reach Quiñones by Friday and find out if there is a way she can participate. Lopez said a special election would rob the district of resources needed for the students.

The district has until February 17 to fill the seat. Ricasa pleaded out exactly 60 days before the corruption trial is due to start. Curious timing, according to some.

Stakes are high for the vacant seat and possibly highest for Brand.

School superintendents often move their agendas forward by relying on the vote of three trustees. Sweetwater superintendent Ed Brand has enjoyed the fairly consistent support of trustees Jim Cartmill, John McCann, and Arlie Ricasa.

In September 2011, Brand told the Reader that his staying on as superintendent is conditional. He said: “If it ever gets to the point that they stop accepting my recommendations, then the good news from my perspective is, I have the wherewithal to say, ‘Thanks, it’s been fun.’”

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ALL is LOST at SUHSD as long as Ed Brand continues to pull the strings of his puppets.

Attorney Schinoff should be applauded for an excellent presentation, eventhough it was CLEAR the dye had been cast long before the board meeting.

John McCann really needs acting lessons, if he thinks his performance as a supporter of democracy was not seen as a CLEAR rouse. In my opinion he is an embarrassment to himself - however, on a positive note now the REAL John McCann has been exposed - fiscal conservative NOT.

He expects the taxpayers to pay 1.5 million for a seat that will be held for 4 months. Fiscal conservative imposter!!!!!!

I'm sorry, I believe Mr. Shinoff is as much a part of the problem as the rest of them. Window dressing and diverting attention seem to be his bag of tricks.

"The twist in the evening came when McCann called for a special election —which he said he favored in the interest of democracy. When McCann campaigned in 2010, his website declared that he “stands for Fiscal Responsibility” and that he “will require a balanced budget for the District and ensure that District Bond money is spent wisely.”

McCann’s insistence on a costly vote seemed inconsistent — and foreshadowed the direction and possibly the way the replacement process will go."

McCan't can't even be a sincere Teebircher! He is a phony and only out for himself!

There is every possibility that by the next regular board meeting that three more of them will be gone. Cartmill, Lopez and Quinones are themselves under indictment and likely to make deals. In fact, more of those pleas should have already gone down. So, by failing to make any arrangements to fill the seat they are likely kicking the can down the road to their successors. The only member who we can count on to be there when the dust settles in McCann, but he cannot be a one man board. If the process hadn't already gone wobbly, I'd have been ready to predict that all of the four indictees would be off the board by now, and for sure a month from now.

Is this the lull before the storm? How those clowns who have felony charges filed against them can keep coming to meetings, sitting up there and acting as though nothing is amiss, is astounding. But then many things in the Sweetwater district astound, and many more will astound/amaze/shock before this thing is over, regardless of how it all plays out.

"The only person we can count on is McCann." You are making a joke right?

Meaning--to physically be in attendance. Not to vote responsibly, think anything through to a logical conclusion or--do anything that does not personally benefit himself or his pals.

That's what we can count on McCann for...

Yes, McCann will be there. Nothing more was intended or implied.

Kicking the can right into the County Board of Education's playing field. If there are not enough board members for a quorum, per state Ed Code, the Board of Education is to appoint their own members to sit as interim board members at SUHSD. That might not be such a bad idea as it would, one hopes, open their eyes to the perfidy and give them the experience of actually paying attention to SUHSD and to Ed's shenanigans.

The downside would be that CBOE board members would likely not be predisposed to canning dear Eddy, leaving that chore to those elected in November to fill however many vacant seats there might be at that time.

What an evening of great acting. McCann calls himself a fiscal conservative,what a joke. Last night was bad theater for Cartmill,Brand and McCann. How will the community respond to a waste of over a million dollars.They will not vote for McCann for even dog catcher.

EVERY taxpayer in the South Bay should take the time to listen to last nights board meeting. The meetings are taped.

At the meeting Lopez asked why a certain agenda item had been pulled by 'staff' (Ed Brand) YESTERDAY. According to a different presentation Mr. Schinoff had given to the board within the last couple of months there is a time limit regarding agenda items being pulled. Ms. Lopez asked Mr. Schinoff to remind Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill and John McCann of the legal lmits - as Mr. Schinoff went to stand up to respond Mr. James Cartmill stated the following 'this is the way it has been done ever since I came to the board' (paraphrase). ----- so, in essence what he was saying is 'we have been doing it illegally and we will continue to do it illegally' (my interpretation). Ah hello, perhaps that is why SUHSD is considered the most corrupt school board in the state if not the nation they do NOT follow the laws?

Fast forward to the end of the meeting. It was approximately 9:40 pm, Mr. Cartmill began to close the meeting when Lopez stated 'ah, what about agenda item - , I pulled that item' (paraphrase). Mr. Cartmill slammed the gavel down and ended the meeting totally disrespecting her right as a board member to discuss the agenda item in public. What is Mr. Cartmill afraid of, what could Ms. Lopez want to discuss that has Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill and John McCann so afraid.

Folks, this District is OUT OF CONTROL - there are no words that can communicate the dysfunction.

Dianne Russo is back, yet the agenda item to approve her salary as a consultant was pulled - so, how is she getting paid? Oh that is right Jim Cartmill, John McCann, and Arlie Ricasa gave Brand authority to spend $200k/250k WITHOUT board approval.

Also noted was a statement that Brand allegedly told a member of the community that the folks at Castle Park Middle have asked for the Charter. Those in the audience were aghast that this superintendent is using our public school system to support his charter. Our public school monies are being/have been borrowed, are they being paid back? With interest? It was alleged at the board meeting that there is much funny business going on regarding the proposed charter. Parents not being told the truth regarding forms they are signing.

WE NEED AN ATTORNEY TO COME TO OUR RESCUE! One that has experience with Title 1 issues. It appears that some folks are bring discriminated against/taken advantage of due to their demographics.

Ms. Neylon, our 'elected'??????? representative at the County Board Ed, Mr. Ward - you want a glimpse into our world - listen to the audio of the board meeting - then tell us again why you are it ignoring our plight

How does this travesty of justice continue to occur? When will it end? How are we ever going to rebuild our district? Why aren't more people showing up at these board meeting in order to demand that the corruption end? I just don't understand. I will never understand...

In September 2011, Brand told the Reader that his staying on as superintendent is conditional. He said: “If it ever gets to the point that they stop accepting my recommendations, then the good news from my perspective is, I have the wherewithal to say, ‘Thanks, it’s been fun.’”

Yeah, right! That's pretty much what he said way back when, when he said if he didn't have the support of all five members, he would not keep the job.

Brand will leave when he is good and ready to, and not a day earlier.

Exactly. Brand will leave when he has bled Sweetwater so dry that no bills can be paid. Failing that he will leave when he is chased out of town by a consortium of angry taxpayers and law enforcement...the man epitomizes sleaze. What's that we heard about sometime back regarding Brand, his pals and voyeuristic behavior...something about binoculars and Black's Beach?! Yes, he is quite the educational leader.

To describe the district and board as out of control is absolutely true, and an understatement all at the same time. The voters lost control a long time ago, and now it appears as if the board, such as it is, is no longer in control of the admin (meaning Brandara) or itself. Evidence of double-dealing, phony uses of funds, abuse of staffers, and a host of other misconduct is reported every few days, but no new indictments or arrests have been made. It is "rumored" that the FBI is investigating, and the DA has ample evidence to start another round of more intensive scrutiny. But nothing really new emerges except for this handful of wishy-washy plea deals that send nobody to prison, or even county jail.

"The meeting began with the district’s attorney, Daniel Shinoff, outlining a process in which an ad hoc committee might be composed of the board president, vice president, and the mayors of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and National City. Following a review of applications, the ad hoc committee would interview candidates and forward prospects to the board. Public comment would be integrated into the process."

So, Dan Shinoff's idea is to give the public a token by allowing them to provide public comment (for probably no more than two minutes) regarding a group of people, whom the public had no say so in the choice of (those same people). A group of individuals who are to represent the public on the people's business. As long as the public is removed from the selection of these individuals, the process will be flawed. And, the last thing I want is a bunch of career politicians choosing yet another of their "buddies" to be on the school board.

Ladies and Gentleman, I'd like to introduce you to CAVE - Citizens Active for Value in Education, not the Ed CAVE.....

I attended the meeting and had to watch the black comedy of the "Mini-Board" and the "puppet(s)". Mr Cartmill should get the Best actor Oscar for his performance, Ms. Lopez should get a community activist award, and Mr. McCann, best supporting actor in a Comedy for supporting Ed.....

As part of the "Public Comment" I mentioned the support for a Board selection of the replacements using the Board By-law as refined by Mr. Shinoff, the rationale for that is while the board is suspect in both ethics and values, they were elected by the public and thus have the right and responsibility to perform this process.

I did state that this process, Selection of replace board member(s) has nothing to do with the District Staff or Adminstration and any recommendations or statements from Staff or the Superintendent becomes a conflict of interest. I urged the sitting Board Trustees to review their own Ethics and Values, to select the best candidate to perform the public's business, not a selection of the superintendent (who is not a voter in this district).

When pressed later in the meeting about influence or advice of Dr. Brand, an obvious gesture of Mr McCann looking at Dr. Brand with a "quizical look which I interpreted (sp) as "now what"" Maybe the puppet just let the cat out of the bag. As they say It isn't a secret once more the one person knows....

At some point this week a "secret" well "select" meeting should take place to determine the process, now is the time to be involved and as we move towards the real election in November. BBQ

An aside... with the number of questions posed about budget issues... to the staff and Dr. Brand, might I suggest that in your requests for funding you actually include real information ie the who, what and where of the allocation... Also if you have a requirement to monitor projects and tax monies should you not have staff doing that, not a consultant?
Finally, the audit contract which 202 Requests went out and only one was returned, the contract was for approx. $21,000 @ $100/hr (Cheap by the way) is 200 hrs of work, less than 5 weeks by one auditor, plenty of time to rebid and complete by the end of March, if you jumped on it.

Looks like "The way we've always done it aroung here, with the rubber stamp of the Board, may be ending and you'll just have to work harder..... Again best to you,

CAVEperson, BBQ

BBQ, It seemed like such a simple thing. I know lots of people were looking forward to having a process in place. People would have applications in already...

Ms. Adato suggested that whoever fills this vacancy should be viewed as an interim, rather than an incumbent. I believe the city of Chula Vista does it that way, I need to check on that.

But will we even get to that point?

Jim continues to be at the center of every bad decision. He and Ed joined forces many years ago. Jim preaches of the dangers of evil each week evil begets evil. His decisions are not those of a man who stands for good

Hey, Jill why the personal attacks on anniej? It's obvious that you can't deal with others opinions or the truth.

It occurs to me that it takes two to tango. In this case, the DA and the Judge both agreeing to the gross reductions of charges against those the DA worked so hard to investigate and indict. Seems the press conferences are all over for the DA and she is now willing to reduce the pleas to nearly nothing.

I think part of the outrage should be directed at the DA's office for their complicity in the plea reductions......WHY BONNIE, WHY ???? along with WHY ANA WHY?????

It seems few in the legal biz want to put their shoulders to the wheel to litigate anything...it is so much easier to take the pleas and run.

At this stage, there are still some cases to go forward .....Cartmill, Quinones, Lopez, as well as the granddaddy of charges, Sandoval. Let's make sure the DA hears our concerns as well as the judge.

erupting - not to worry, perhaps those that insult will take a few moments and find a toy poodle to pet, let the anger go and focus on being part of a meaningful conversation regarding quality education.

Wow, this "Jill" has been silenced. "Her" post does not appear.

Perhaps she was reported to Facebook as a previous post recommended. Facebook rules stipulate you may not attempt to pose as anyone other than yourself. It was most obvious this person was one of Dr. Brand's puppets. Maybe another retired administrator looking to soon be an overpaid consultant. It is not as if any of her comments were relevant or added a factual basis to the conversation.

Folks, these are the rules for posting: Interactive areas, discussion boards, private messaging, blogs, etc., are intended to encourage public debate. We expect people to differ — judgment and opinion are subjective things — and we encourage freedom of speech and a marketplace of ideas. By using these areas of SDReader.com, you are participating in a community that is intended for all our users. Therefore, we reserve the right to remove any content posted on our site at any time for any reason. We prohibit profanity, libel, spam, racial epithets, and the harassment and abuse of others. Any off-topic comments stand a chance of being removed. In other words: talk about the site content, not each other.

We retain the right to revoke the site privileges — without notice — of anyone we believe has violated any of the terms outlined herein, or if any user is deemed a problem to either the site or its other users.

Ms. Neylon was last elected in 2012, will be up again for election in 2016. Her three key endorsers were the San Diego County Democratic Party, and the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1931, and Mark Anderson, President of the San Diego County Board of Education. Any folks who have pull with any of these three supporters, please contact them and encourage them to "prod" Ms. Neylon to take a look at what is going on.

Ms. Susan

Differences of opinions are healthy. However a commentor whose only goal is to insult offers nothing for the reader to consider. Thanks to the Reader for stepping in and allowing the conversations to remain civil and focused on topic.


If one clicks on the link in the article pertaining to John McCann's 2010 campaign one will find a list of promises made to our community. Allow me to play teacher and grade Mr. McCann's efforts.

Mr. McCann:

Will bring independent leadership F. Mr. McCann has demonstrated NO independent leadership or thinking. He does what Ed Brand tells him to do.

Stands for Academic Excellence F. There are more schools under Program Improvement now then there were prior to his election.

Stands for Safe Schools C. There are schools like Bonita Vista High that are literally falling apart. Bonita students speak of hearing rats within the walls. The campus is an embarrassment to the educational efforts of teachers, Counselors, Administrators, and other employees. Mar Vista sat, since June of 2913, with damaged HVAC.

Stands for Fiscal Responsibility F- Mr. McCann has used our tax dollars for frivolous personal legal efforts and Monday evening voted to call for a special election to fill Ricasa's seat at the tune of 1.5 million for 4 months. He also allowed 'the gandara' to walk away with and receive certain benefits due to the delayed termination date.

John McCann will serve F. He has not served the students or taxpayers in the manner in which he promised.

* just my opinion

Anniej, i could not agree with you more! And by the way, good of you to put its your opinion. Otherwise, Johnny might hire an attorney and threaten to sue you for saying mean things about him. See, its my opinion that he is thinned skinned and soft hearted! That, in addition to what you state, makes for a bad trustee, which John McCann certainly is! John, that is my personal opinion of course!!!

bvasvasva - think I got that right.

It is indeed a sad day when members of our community have to read a disclaimer before offering public or agenda comment at a freakin' school board meeting. Folks, Ed Brand allegedly had the gall to phone a community members employer when she dared to recommend that our District 'study' using the 'Cloud'.

How many employers have been contacted by Ed Brand? What was President Cartmills response to the perceived intimidation? - we are still waiting for OUR ELECTED representative(s) to advise HIS (our) employee to cease these types of actions.

Having recently read about more investigations in San Ysidro (U-T article), I am wondering if the heat is on in Sweetwater.

There is enough to look into, certainly, what with missing funds which could total around $100 million. About half of that is from the Teacher's Retirement Fund...you'd think that might make a difference when it comes to disbursements.

The remaining portion of the missing funds is from Mello-Roos, which is why as taxpayers we need answers. That money could be used and should be used how it was intended to be used: for the schools in the Mello-Roos districts. Not iPADS or what Ed Brand's latest kick happens to be.

That article to which eastlaker refers says that Manny Paul is going to be indicted by the feds for his under-the-table dealings with a contractor. That looks like low-hanging fruit to me, if it is only about the $2500 in cash he took. The abuses in the Sweetwater district make his indiscretion look like small beer indeed. Is the FBI really on the job, or did they take on this easy one instead of going after the "really big show?" Maybe there is hope that someone, somewhere is paying attention and getting ready to take some drastic action.

There is a great deal more than the old charge.

Apparently there is wiretap evidence of attempted conspiracy, outright admission of guilt by Paul, etc.

Read carefully!

Sometimes I think the UT hides the articles--you can only find it via the Watchdog link, and then you need to page down. It doesn't appear on any feeds that I can see. Sort of the way some Sweetwater articles become difficult to see rather quickly.

So here it is Friday, wasn't there an action from the Special Board meeting to set-up a telephone conf/meeting with Pearl and the Board? I looked at the board calendar and see nothing, what's up with that....? (I am not a Teacher so no fault, no foul).

It looks more and more like the special election route of Mr. McCann will win out by default, A win by the Gipper, (Old Movie and Ronald Reagan Quote...).

When are the next court dates for the remaining three? If the other cases are concluded prior to an election could all of the vacant seats be filled? Just wondering?

As you may have noticed I like to know the direction and get to solutions, it's just the Engineer in me. The MBA in me wants "show me the money" because with everything the money speaks the truth...

So Board of Trustees, the ball is in your court and the clock is ticking and your currently down by 1, soon to be 3 or 4, what's your plan, take your best shot.... (It's Basketball Season, sorry for the sports analogy)

It's time to lead or get out of the way (no option to follow)....

CAVEperson, BBQ

Bbq, I believe you're correct again. Brand's puppet McCann( the fiscal conservative) is trying to force an election. They're unable to appoint a person because it has to be done in the publics eyes. That's why they want an election. Grossman only has to submit his name. The recognition from the last campaign will help get him aboard.grossman did little campaigning.I smell a big rat.

In a sane society, this is where the court, or the State Superintendent of Education, or the County Board of Ed would step in as a 'conservator'...much as what happens when individuals are unable to manage their own business. It is clear the Sweetwater Board is impaired.

In the meantime.....tick tock, tick tock....until all the perps have had their day in court.

I also smell a big rat, and timing is everything.

If the three seated board members yet to be tried (Cartmill, Quinones, Lopez) manage to stagger and delay their time (or unless they do plan to go to trial as scheduled Feb. 18 or so) the vacancy will drag on and the 60-day clock will expire, forcing an election for just Ricasa's seat while the fate of the remaining three is in limbo.

There are others yet to come before the judge: Alioto of SWC 'fame'; Sandoval; Flores; Gandara..

erupting - Grossman running? The one page fliers detailing his comments are ready to go to press, anyone own a crop duster for a fly over of the South Bay? Our community needs a NEW board member that is of the highest caliber, a person with NO ties to Ed Brand or Jim Cartmill.

FBI agents crawling all over this area regarding Paul - contractor is said to have worn a wire that has Paul dead to rights. Community members have met with IRS regarding SUHSD in the past - wonder if they are seeing any similarities? Wondering if any others are wearing wires? Hmmmmmmm

Here is a recap of this weeks episode of "As Sweetwater Turns" Johnny boy can't count to 4 and wants to spend a million dollars on an election. You know Johnny boy June to November, 1,2,3,4. Fast Eddy is having a temper tantrum "I want who I want on this board and the public cant be involved" as he stomps his feet. Johnny boy makes a deal with Fast Eddy to get him what he wants but he has to keep all their dealings under wraps. Fast Eddy with a pouting lip and a tear running down his face is in debt to Johnny boy forever. Johnny boy and Fast Eddy ride off into the sunset leaving the town of Sweetwater to fend for themselves. What will happen next week stay tuned.......

The teachers have to pay more for their stuff because this place has no money for them but they can afford an election. Now Eddie boy your unions aint going to like that.

Hey Fast Eddie stop lying and telling people the parents want a charter school in my school. You are lying to them WE DONT WANT A CHARTER SCHOOL so keep your grubby hands off our school. Stop treating us as idiots. Your going to get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Or maybe we will get a decent principal in here for a change. Writing on the wall "Bleich takes fall for Superintendent on misdeeds" another career ruined by the mighty Fast Eddie. These people just dont learn from their stupidness

Mrs. Luzarro did this attorney recommend anything on how to get this over with this quick? Did Johnny boy go against the attorney?

So with the little man (John McCann) wanting an election, where is that money going to come from? Brand is all pissed off because Bertha voted no on a few Agenda items that would have paid for certain services.

He responded to an email of mine in part " At our last meeting the Board voted 2-1(Lopez) to discontinue the review of the Mello work started by Rick Knott. This will hamper our ability to meet the original request of the group - All the best,Ed". He also made a few comments at the meeting about not being to pay for certain things because Bertha voted no.

So if there is no money, where does the little man and Brand intend on getting the $1 million or so needed to fill a seat for 9 months?

I know they are eyeballing that Mello Roos money. It has, afterall, been used as an ATM to borrow from at will. In the last 6 months of 2013, they borrowed about $120 million from the mello roos fund! What is another $1 million for an election!?!

Hey little man and Brand, its not okay to raid this fund to pay for a special election!

Bvavsvav - Brand has money for what HE wants

When will WE the public be advised of the future of our vacant board seat, why are we being left out of the process, Brand is making us sit and wait.

Where is Jim Cartmill in all of this? Why has the president of the board relinquished all power to Brand?

Apparently that $50,000 loan from a few years back bought Cartmill's undying loyalty. Guess that was just another good deal for Ed Brand.

Jim lied and said the loan never happened when first asked. Eastlaker you could be right this could all be about friends doing for friends.

anniej - I hope that any page you have written becomes available to be printed by teachers of similar desire to inform the public. Distribution in neighborhoods, malls and grocery store parking lots under the windshield wiper comes to mind as feasable but requires an organized effort. I believe Ben Franklin had to invent printing for the masses when he disagreed with current publications. The rich control media so your creativity is appreciated. Is it possible to anticipate volunteers on that level? Some fast and furious Saturday morning runners that would flood the streets with intensity and good intention?

I wonder if any high school students who would volunteer in such an endeavor could get community service hours counted toward their required hours.

Shirleyberan - Happy New Year to you. Sending wishes of health, peace and happiness!


I just had a conversation with a person who can not post. This person reminded me that The San Ysidro issued APPEARED to be over. The deals had been made.

Now we hear that the FBI is involved - is the FBI involved behind the scenes at SUHSD? What other wires may have been worn by those Brand, Cartmill, Ricasa or McCann trusted, what other small conversation that leaked serious issues might have been taped?

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