Rankled by Sweetwater district meeting cancellation

Teachers, public, and a trustee espouse importance of dialogue before strike

An impersonator of superintendent Ed Brand (right) showed up to picket.
  • An impersonator of superintendent Ed Brand (right) showed up to picket.

A Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting was scheduled for March 17. The trustees were to consider several contentious issues: the annual evaluation of superintendent Ed Brand (which is months overdue); negotiations with the teachers (who have voted to strike and are close to doing so); and putting up district property for sale to buy a new building (even though the district property is already listed for sale.)

But, late March 16, the Sweetwater Education Association put out this notice: “This evening we received word that the tomorrow's SUHSD Board meeting has been cancelled. The District claims that this is because [trustee] Mr. Cartmill is ill. He may well be incapacitated, but that is not a legitimate reason to call of this meeting. Even with Mr. Cartmill out, there is still a quorum, still a majority to conduct District business…” (Three boardmembers constitute a quorum, according to board bylaws.)

But on the evening of the 16th, if the general public clicked on the district website, they would have seen that the board meeting was still planned. The district did not make a website announcement until mid-morning the next day.

Though the district said the meeting was canceled due to Jim Cartmill’s “pending surgery” and labor negotiations, several people reported seeing Cartmill at work on March 17 and later sitting down in a smoothie joint.

Many — including trustee Bertha Lopez — considered the reasons for cancellation spurious. As the day went on and the district rolled the “Meeting Cancelled” notice on the marquee, word went around the community that there would be a board meeting.

So, at 4:00, teachers showed up to picket, setting up chairs in the parking lot with the names of the missing trustees and conducting a mock meeting. An impersonator of Brand was also there to participate in the non-meeting. Every news outfit in town also showed up.

Outside the boardroom, Lopez told the Reader that it was ridiculous for the meeting to be postponed. She said she had received legal counsel that the trustees could hold a meeting. She also stated, “We need this meeting to settle these negotiations. If there is a strike, 150 kids at each school site will be herded into an auditorium — that’s not education and that’s not what my students deserve.”

She said she had an email from trustee John McCann stating he would really like to see the meeting take place, which led her to believe McCann would show.

Meanwhile, trustee Pearl Quiñones waited in the parking lot behind the district office on the chance that a meeting would begin and her presence would be needed.

Lopez took her place on the dais, ultimately Quiñones left, and sometime after 6:00, McCann showed up. He told NBC7 that he was not there for the board meeting as he had been advised that it would be a Brown Act violation for three members to be together after the meeting had been cancelled.

The Sweetwater Education Association summarized its view in the March 16 email:

“The truth is that Ed Brand and Co. are scared that with Mr. Cartmill absent, there will not be enough votes to secure the purchase of a new district office building, $1.3 million in iPads, and a stellar evaluation for the Superintendent himself.”

Cartmill has been a strong supporter of Brand and his initiatives. But one more reason surfaced that might have put the kibosh on the board meeting.

The district’s agenda states, “As part of the district Asset Utilization Plan, the property located at 435 Third Avenue, Chula Vista, CA, will be sold in order to fund the lease/purchase of new District Offices and Corporate Yard.

But Marc Litchman, CEO of Plan Nine, a trust that holds the title to some Sweetwater property, said maybe the meeting couldn’t go forward because of the letter Plan Nine’s attorney sent the district on March 15.

Here is a partial excerpt from that letter: “This letter is to put the District on notice that the Third Avenue Property is one of the properties covered by the Exchange Agreement between the District and Plan Nine. Under the terms of the Exchange Agreement, any proceeds from the development or sale of the Third Avenue Property are contractually committed to be used to pay down the Bonds. Note the Exchange Agreement is still in full force and effect and has not been modified or amended.”

New development: Wendy Fry of NBC7 reported on March 18 at midday that Pearl Quiñones pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor. She will be stepping down from the board.

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Exactly. There was a quorum, but it wouldn't have been the "right" quorum for Ed Brand's taste.

Guess this proves we are not living in a democracy here in Sweetwater, are we? But we already knew that. We have known for some time that Ed Brand functions as an autocrat, or worse.

I also think that Ed was somewhat afraid of what Ms. Quinones might have said, as she must have known that that could be her last opportunity to speak publicly as a Sweetwater trustee.

Wouldn't it be great to actually hear what some of these people have to say. Maybe Al Alt and friends can go on a lecture circuit around town telling us what was going on? Where the tax and bond dollars ended up? What properties Sweetwater is developing? The full length and breadth of all the schemes? The deals with the iPOD suppliers...all the back-scratching.

Wow,the Brand plot thickens. Cartmill spends time with the family in Disneyland over the weekend,shows up for work on Mon.picks his daughter up from school and has a smoothie but can't make it to a board mtg. What a set up. BMcCann doesn't show up in time for the meeting but conveniently is available to show for the press before they left the district office. Somehow this just doesn't feel right to me. At least we now know thanks to Susan,that Fast Eddie and company can't purchase the new district office with the sale of the other properties monies. Someone please make a movie this can't all be really happening. How could Brand not know that he couldn't use these funds for purchasing the new property without Litchman being compensated first??? No wonder on the board agenda Brand needs $400,000 in additional legal defense funds to make it through the year. Can't be just HAR now can it.

Does anyone know when Jim Cart-run-of-the-mill's daughter is going to graduate? That's supposed to be the year he no longer runs for re-election.

As young children we were taught the difference between right and wrong. As we grew we learned the importance of accountability. While none of us is perfect I believe what separates good from evil is the ability to atone for our misdeeds - to learn from our mistakes

No longer will I listen to 'give John some time' - he has been sitting in that seat for four (4) years. No longer will I listen to 'Ed is leaving in October' - that is STORY and he is sticking to it. He should have NEVER have been brought back by John McCann.

Neither Mr. Cartmill or Mr. McCann should be in office - they are a blight on our community. The controversy surrounding this Board goes back, way back to Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa's earlier years. Add to it Ed Brand 'its all about me' and what we have is a District that has been involved in one controversy after another.

In the audience last night were NEW parents from Eastlake High and Bonita High. One entire row on the right hand side from Eastlake, five (5) seats on the left. They took the time to come and speak and what were they met with was NO BOARD meeting. They sat quietly and observed and listened and when they left they were clearly upset. One couple shared their amazement that Cartmill and McCann, two persons they voted for clearly were poor choices.

John McCann who allegedly just happened to be in the area- what a crock of horse manure. You want to know John McCann's future for public office - just take a look at the Star News poll - a pitiful 5%. In truth McCann is his own worst enemy - he does not have the tenacity to stand up and be his own man he needs approval from Jim Cartmill and Ed Brand. So it is with John McCann - all of the broken promises of his campaign, all of the controversies that he has laid at his own footsteps. Heck rumor has it he is not the Chambers choice for City Council person, so what does that tell you?

While Mr. Cartmill was too ill to attend the Board meeting he was well enough to work, well enough to drive , well enough to go to a Fruteria YET he was emphatic that he was extremely ill and in need of surgery. Cartmill offered a Dr.s excuse - do not insult our intelligence Sir!!!!! Come on folks last night was a pre planned set up - the two members who were not privy to the plan - Ms. Quinones and Ms. Lopez. How do you adjourn a meeting that never started? Donna Frye are you watching this, we need you????

Meeting next week? Again I ask part of the plan?

It is with a heavy heart that I say all of the hope that I held out for Cartmill - gone! He is what he is and that is all that he is. The truth of the matter he cares little what anniej thinks of him, it is what it is. Ed Brand, now he matters to Cartmill. Remember that.

John McCann - pitiful!!!!!!!!!!!

just my opinion, for what it is worth

We need to make boycott signs for Fruteria, because obviously the smoothie made him ill enough to need surgery.

Erupting - the HAR legal expenses are being paid for with Prop O funds. Hmmmmm, so what are all of those legal expenses for? Is there a chance some of it is being skimmed for other previously denied legal expenses of Board members. I know legally no - but,,,,,,,, this is SWEETWATER we are talking about home of corruption, conspiracy and scandal.

Just my opinion

When is a quorum...a quorum. This excerpted from Wendy Fry's great story on Quinones:

" When contacted by NBC 7, district spokesperson Manuel Rubio said that there is a quorum of trustees. The district is working very closely with the county board of education to determine the process."

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Pearl-Quinones-Sweetwater-School-Board-Trustee-Pleads-Guilty-San-Diego-250829411.html#ixzz2wMLmpKJP

Ms. Luzzaro: So, which attorney will be used to figure out the mess - will it be the legal counsel of John McCann's or,,,,,, the legal counsel of Bertha Lopez's?

Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa and Ed Brand - all part of the L street slight of hand. They use our tax dollars to purchase L street and then sign the title over to Plan Nine Partners - perhaps Jim Cartmill and Ed Brand might want to explain to us WHY??????

Misinformation coming from somewhere regarding Third Ave and the District office. The District representatives are advising parents that the proceeds from Third, L street and District office property are going to be used to purchase new property - we are upside down on L street right? So how in the world will there be enough from the proceeds of these propertieS sales to purchase the new property?

VOIT was used in the initial purchase of L street, now we see they are being used yet again for Third Avenue, coincidence? Who is handling the proposed new District office property?

At this point your expertise on the subject are not only NEEDED but trusted. So sad that we can not trust what Board president Cartmill or Vice President McCann tell us.

The meeting was NOT postponed it was adjourned. How do you adjourn a meeting that was never called to order? Oh that is right this Sweetwater, and in Ed Brand and Jim Cartmill's world 'we don't have to do anything' - listen to the end of last months meeting when Brand, Cartmill and McCann simply stood up and walked off the dais. When the public questioned the disrespectful ending Brand announced they did not have to adjourn the meeting. Yes folks, and Cartmill and McCann did not even blink an eye.

I have come to the conclusion that Brand, Cartmill and McCall are slime-merchants more than anything else. Because they may like to call themselves professionals, or elected officials, or educators, but they really aren't. They are trying to sell the public on all sorts of schemes that really end up giving the public nothing, but lining pockets...of whom? Must be some kind of friendships going on here.

Posturing that the teachers can't go on strike because the district is negotiating in good faith? What a laugh and a half.

As if there has ever been any good faith with any of these three. Low, lower and lowest, what's the next installment?

Fast Eddy's University of Universal Truths, Course Listings:

Give Us Your Money, and We Will Mortgage Your Future. There Is Always Another Deal To Be Made, Especially When You Are Working With the Public's Money. Learn How To Finagle Your Way By Cheating Those Who Trust You. Make Sure You Are Always Smarter Than Your "Friends", So They Won't See It Coming When You Stab Them In The Back. Success Means Learning When To Skip Town. If People Are Willing To Give You Money, That's Their Problem.

Time for a recall campaign beginning with an aggressive petition drive. Anyone?

Well, with Perla "I am innocent" Qui~ones pleading "guilty" now, it narrows it down.

FatCatSegat - recall effort has been attempted. Every time we set up shop at a grocery store a certain Board member allegedly would call the store and claim they were being harassed. While the store management was astute enough to know the truth the 'caller' threatened to call corporate if we were not asked to leave.

Public exposure is the road to new beginnings. Attendance at Board meetings, bring friends. Pass along all articles to all you know and ask that they too forward. The word is getting out and voters are not liking what they see.

A referendum will be delivered in November - McCann's lack of leadership was exposed last night. Ed Brand basically served McCann and Cartmill up on a silver platter. Silly little men.

Each and every story brings new readers, more informed voters. Continue to keep your heads buried in the sand Mr. Cartmill and Mr. McCann - wonder how you will view this in about six (6) months????? Should a, could a, would a ???

I understand Mr. Peraza of Southwestern has publicly called for Brand to go!!! Will Cartmill or McCann listen, ah, that would be a NO.

ALL political groups are calling for change - yet Cartmill and McCann are not listening - WHAT ARE THESE TWO AFRAID OF????? Hmmm.

Dr. Edward M. Brand could not do the things he does to disgrace this once reputable school district without the complicity and tacit approval of the Board. To end this reign of disrespect for the rule of law, disrespect for the students, community, and staff, and above all, the disrespect of ethics, morality and even simply, common sense, it will not be enough to remove Dr. Brand from his position as superintendent. It will also require the removal of those board members who have aided and abetted this travesty of leadership by actively demanding their resignation.

To wait for the court to force resignations is not enough. We, the public, need to demand that Jim Cartmill and John McCann resign from the Board immediately. They have failed us, and have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of competent leadership, and that we hold them personally responsible for all and every ill that has befallen SUHSD. This demand for resignation should be at the forefront of every member of the public who shares the info on the current state of affairs of SUHSD, whether it is in conversations with friends, colleagues, news media, public officials, etc., and especially when directly addressing these two men in public and also when addressing them at board meetings.

To wait for them to do the right thing is folly. As the old saw goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Well, just how many times have we been fooled so far? The number of times is beyond count. It is time for them to go.

Isn't it time for the county board of education to step in?  We are now down to three, with the possibility of soon losing two more board members, leaving only one (John McCann) in charge.  Am I misreading the ed code?

(Education Code 5091) When a vacancy occurs or when a deferred resignation has been filed four or more months before the end of a Board member's term, the Board shall take action, as specified below. In the event that the Board fails to make a provisional appointment or order an election within 60 days, the County Superintendent of Schools must call an election to fill the vacancy

(Education Code 5091, 5093) When a vacancy occurs longer than four months before the end of a Board member's term, the Board shall, within 60 days of the date of the vacancy or the filing of the member's deferred resignation, either order an election or make a provisional appointment, unless a special election is mandated.

Jmbrickly - absolutely - the attorney who recently filed the new lawsuit against the great intimidator seems a good contact. Get them out before they take more.

I can't get past Anniej saying we all learn right and wrong. Not True. Might as well say there's no personality disorders.

joepublic--what you say about the County Board of Ed and the ed code is correct, of course.

However, the reality is that this County Board of Ed has been ineffectual since the get-go, and the likelihood of that entity actually doing anything is not great. They like their nice offices and the meetings where nothing really has to be done, and that is about it. Another huge disgrace for San Diego.

Will they wake up and actually do what they are paid to do? Can anyone make them?

They have comfy jobs for life, and apparently don't feel the need to actually serve the public and make sure students have a chance for a decent education.

Shame on them, and all who stand by doing nothing as Sweetwater disintegrates.

anniej and anyone who cares to try a petition drive. Walmart not only allows petitioners, they have an area by the front of all stores dedicated to this. Several years ago I assisted in the drive to oust the head of Santa Ana's schoolboard. This guy has a brother whom owns a contracting business in AZ or NM. Guess who got all the school contracts. Wish I could remember the guy's name. There are several petition circulating companies here in San Diego who are only too happy to assist. Of course, this costs money. However, if theres a better way to get these people out, "Git 'er done!"

I'd sell cupcakes to get that done - or just give something to whoever is honestly helpful and knows how to collect $ online, like, Now. The new attorney is the same guy that got Filner booted by the way.

My daughter says there is a website that helps collect if you can explain your cause but they take something out for themselves too. FatCatSegat - tell me which petition circulating company. I think the one they used to put everybody on street corners the weeks before Bob Finer couldn't escape. Turn up the volume, I'll give that company 100$ and they will gitterdone with a bit more $. Come on CAVE people!

And whoever that impersonator was of the world's most hated superintendent that must be kicked to the curb ASAP because he is the problem, had it so right on I had to really look to tell it wasn't him.

I'm proud to be an SEA member and cannot wait until the day that I can once again say that I am proud to be a Sweetwater teacher.

20 LONG years - that is how long Jim Cartmill has been a SUHSD Board member. Trujillo, Ed Brand reign 1' 'the Gandara', Ed Brand reign 2 - and there Cartmill sat voting in line with those Superintendents.

When someone shows you who they TRULY are - believe them! Jim Cartmill needs to leave his seat, he has done NOTHING for our students or this community that can be applauded. His reminders to Board meeting audience members that he is a Pastor - really???? Pastor - Board Member - titles impress us little. Honorable actions, integrity, honesty - these are what we are looking for. Cartmill's votes, documented history. He recently stated that a review of Board votes indicate that a high percentage of the time this Board votes unanimously - ah, Mr. Cartmill perhaps you might want to categorize that data; provide the numbers on the controversial issues at each Board meeting for the past five (5) years, broken down by year. While you are at it, show us how many times you and Ms. Ricasa voted as a block. Then share the percentage of times YOU, Ricasa, and McCann voted as a block.

For close to five (5) years I have continued to hold out hope that Mr. Cartmill would turn things around - stand up and draw a line in the sand. The past few days I have been going over all that has gone wrong with our students education, our District, with our tax dollars - one factor has remained constant, one vote that has enabled all of the ills - all arrows point back to Jim Cartmill.

anniej has attempted to bring humor to most conversations - trait of my 'daddy' passed down. However Monday nights events and the role I believe Jim Cartmill played has left me sad and humorless. Just another false prophet, wolf in sheep's clothing. What a legacy...........

Lairs and Swindlers. I hope you don't give them severance cash and benefits after they've left a long path of destruction. Ridiculous. What happened to the teachers benefits?

Anniej - You are probably right. Cartmill and Brand should be named in the petition for a recall or impeachment or whatever it's called.

Annie you have written the truth about Jim lets hope he reads it.

jajajajajaja I happened to be there with my comadre since she is a teacher and man o man this district never ceases to blow my granny underwear off. Sr. Cartmill if you werent having surgery the day of the meeting and you were at work then you should have shown up for the meeting. Maybe you and Johnny Boy planned this with Fast Eddy since none of you wanted to face the public or staff. Tisk Tisk just remember boys karma is a bitch and you are going to get what you deserve. These supposed men are cowards and Jimbo you are the worst.

angrybirds - it's not a maybe that they plot together and run from their responsibilities. We need to squash this. Anniej, when I say "you" I mean the reader, anybody who will show up with usable info. Nobody is coming to save this situation but grassroots courage and actions. I already have a court case I've been working on pro-persona again, or I'd be looking up how to help hang 'em high.

I apologize to anyone who finds that expression offensive. It's a Clint Eastwood western.

So the bashing continues I find it odd that no comment has been made regarding Quiones pleading guilty and now there are only 3 members left. One with 6 counts Carmill, Lopez with 18. I wonder when they will plead, to me having no Board to transact business is far worse than Brands evaluation at this time.

Bashing or truth,,,,,, guess it depends on your moral compass. I am looking for a School Board and Superintendent whose efforts support quality public education.

It is clear IF Jim Cartmill would have partnered with integrity we would not be here. He should have demanded far more from those Superintendents he sat on the dais with, he chose instead to partner with 'the Gandara' and Brand. His votes, historically documented, those define Cartmill.............

Perhaps he might want to explain those partnerships.

LIghtSaber....according to the State School Board Association, when there are less than a majority of board members (the number necessary for a simple quorum) the County Board of Education is required to appoint members of that Board to serve and conduct the District's business until an election can be held to fill the vacancies. Until that time (when the remaining shoes drop...Cartmill and Lopez) the existing board has a simple quorum...just not one entirely to Brand's liking.

oskidoll. While I continue to be concerned that the County Board, specifically our elected representative, have done nothing to help in our long struggle to restore credibility to SUHSD I would like to commend their actions and statements last evening.

Hopefully lessons have been learned by ALL and will never be repeated. With ALL of their connections to Sacramento, surely the County Board of Ed could have raised the issue with those with the power and sent help our way. They say no, I, respectfully, disagree.

As I sat there last evening I observed their body language - they truly exhibited an earnest interest in ALL speakers topics - even those who were not complimentary. Additionally they were not shy in sharing their opinions.

As I have always said - "I, anniej, am NOT looking for representatives that agree with me; I am simply looking for a representative with integrity that I can respect".

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