Ed talks out of school

Sweetwater High teachers complain of class size, move one step closer to strike

Sweetwater Education Association Vice-President Colleen Cooke Salas addresses trustees
  • Sweetwater Education Association Vice-President Colleen Cooke Salas addresses trustees

The imminent strike action of teachers, librarians, and nurses in the Sweetwater Union High School district has gone one step forward and two steps back.

On March 27 Superintendent Ed Brand called a press conference and explained the district’s recent contract proposals. According to several media, the proposals bring the two sides closer.

However, on the same day as the press conference Sweetwater Education Association president, Roberto Rodriquez, responded to the proposal with an angry letter which reads in part:

“…by disclosing details of the proposals exchanged during the mediation process (which are not binding) to our members and the media, Ed Brand also violated the confidentiality that both sides agreed to when we entered mediation.”

On March 27 the district was also denied a petition for injunctive relief against “unlawful strike activity.”

The background to the petition is that on March 14 the majority of teachers voted to authorize their association board to call a strike when necessary. The district responded to the vote the same day, according to a letter by superintendent Brand, by putting together 127 pages of “voluminous factual evidence” which sought a court order to stop “unlawful strike activity.”

The Public Employee Relations Board, the state agency called in to assist in negotiations, responded with one sentence — denying the district’s petition for “sufficient grounds not having been demonstrated.”

There was yet another setback in negotiations when the mediator for the Public Employee Relations Board moved the negotiating process from impasse to the final step — Fact Finding.

During fact finding, a three-person panel reviews material for both sides and proposes an agreement. After fact finding, which lasts approximately two months, the district can impose a final agreement. At this point teachers can legally to decide to strike or not.

The district’s latest offer, as presented on March 27, includes a 2% wage increase for 2013-2014 and a 3% increase for 2014-2015 — but the sticking points continue to be health benefits and class size.

Regarding class size, the district has proposed a class ratio of 30 students to one teacher.

In a March 29 interview Colleen Cooke-Salas, a 25-year teacher and Sweetwater Education Association vice-president said:

“While that looks good on paper, you have to remember that librarians, nurses, speech therapists and specialized classes are factored into that equation, which makes the average class size much higher.

“With a 30:1 ratio the teachers can still have up to 180 student contacts a day. Some classes might be very large. Physical Education classes, for example, are so large they pose safety issues. While we were negotiating recently we had a student injured in a P.E. class — there were just too many students in that class.”

Negotiations can continue during fact finding and the association has promised to notify parents and bargaining unit members 24 hours before a strike.

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The headline of this article sounds like it might actually be interesting. But what a letdown. I thought this article was going to be about a great educational leader who is called on to make some tough decisions to keep his impoverished school district afloat. The picture is also uninteresting. Haven't we all seen enough of these teacher's union people? Who do these teachers think they are? This is not how you get respect, teachers. You want respect? Sorry to inform you, YOU CHOSE THE WRONG PROFESSION. Politicians , computer salespeople, student assessment Corporations, and our teams of attorneys run the big ball games here at Sweetwater. Let's work together?

Ed - The saddest thing about your post is the truth! Why should anyone want to become a teacher if they have a "leader" like you? Your portrait is indicative of your attitude…mean and intolerant. Teachers choose their profession, as you and Betty did, because they have ideals and hopes for the future generations. Where and when did you go wrong? We need this information to make sure education helps NO ONE ELSE to follow your dirty footsteps.

SpecialEd is a piece of satire: "the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues." But I'm glad it gave you the opportunity to vent. SpecialEd - it seems you need a disclaimer after your post.

So after watching the "Camping Trip" press release last Thursday, complete with sleeping bags and toiletries (sp), I knew it was another of the Board and Ed's spins....

Ed has more spin in his office than Curly Neal did on the ball when he played for the Harlem Globetrotters, unfortunately he makes John and Jim look like they play for the Washington Generals (1 win/10000+ losses).

Usually an organization in negotiations lets the agrieved side (SEA) announce a settlement or at least a joint announcement with both sides smiling and shaking hands.

This out of touch, nearly quorum-less, group of so-called experts keep illustrating their lack of sincerity for having a quality School system.

With the lack of negotiations, inability to move anything forward until January? Why do we still have them on the payroll? Maybe if the Teachers strike we should layoff the Adminstrators.

Where is the County or State Office of Education? We are at a stalemate and require cooler minds, heck any minds to give the district, Ed and the remaining board members a big push towards normalcy.

Education should be the Business of SUHSD adminstration and the SEA, both sides need to quit their grandstanding and fix the district.


What is it we hear time and time again - 'if Ed Brand's lips are moving he is lying'.

The community does not want to be told of averages when discussing student teacher ratio - we want SPECIFIC LIMITS ON EACH AND EVERY CLASS.

Jim Cartmill and John McCann ought to be embarrassed with their little 'sleeping bag' gag. Hell they beat feet within two minutes of the end of each Board Meeting.

Try observing them during board meetings when agenda items are discussed - they are clueless - even after meeting with Brand and being told how to vote.

Folks, what we have here is leadership by the 3 Stooges - guess which one is Curley??????

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a textbook case for 'bad faith' negotiating.

By hook or by crook, Ed likes to get his way. We are sick of Ed, sick of his ways, and sick of Cartmill and McCann's inability to act in any way as a responsible, thinking, breathing trustee should.

Again, I call out the words of Ruth Chapman, who apparently figured Ed Brand out before anyone else did. "If Ed Brand's lips are moving, he's lying."

Yes, BBQ, the county or the state, or some authority should step in, as Ed continues to trample over the rights of the teachers for fair negotiations, the rights of the students to be taught in classrooms that are not a crowded mess and the rights of the taxpayers to pay for educational materials, not new headquarters for Ed, not offices for figurehead jobs for friends of Ed, not real estate deals, not deals with sketchy "universities", not any of the nearly innumerable schemes and scams run by Fast Eddy, he who must view himself as somehow immune to the rule of law.

Education in this school district will be destroyed if he is allowed to continue in this way.

McCann? Cartmill? As they are already laughingstocks, maybe they could become a team act and go on the road, but who would hire them?

Yeah, and to think he received some award from KGTV 10 during his first tenure!

Jim and John both know that the number of kids in the classroom are not adding up to Ed's claims but neither one seems to care.

Cart-run-of-the-mill certainly doesn't care. Once his daughter graduates, he's flying the coup!!!

It seems to me that the 'closed' press conference (allowing only the media in) somehow violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Brown Act. Where does it say that the public can be excluded from anything except a closed session, and the reasons for that are very well outlined in the act. Press conferences do not fit the description of closed session!

Tick tock, tick tock.....Trials in April, elections in November... tick tock, tick tock

Much is being done to educate the Hispanic community on the topics. Oskidoll you make reference to the upcoming trial for Cartmill and McCann's bid for the city council. Our community is getting more familiar with both and all they have not accomplished. Ed Brand has never been a favorite with us.

There will be most, if not all, of the SUHSD board seats up in November. There are already two vacancies ( Ricasa and Quinones); Cartmill's and Lopez's fates yet to be determined in court, possible pleas, etc. (Cartmill's seat would have been up anyway); and McCann's term is up and it looks as though he is not going to run for the SUHSD board, as he has already declared for CV. However, don't be surprised if he doesn't make the November run off round for CV Council in June, he may decide to continue to try and milk the SUHSD for yet another term.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an entirely clean slate to be sworn in December?

SpecialEd - are you Special Ed Brand? Hiding behind the lawyers again. Ed is the reason the district is currently impoverished and I hope they find out where the money is. He doesn't care to help, not in his vocabulary. For Ed, working together is doing what he dictates. More people are figuring you out, high and mighty super Ed. You don't negotiate and would love to see you fired, skater boy.

he thinks he is special...at your expense. He is certified SAOS (slick as owl shit) Ed is an ole fashion bully. But all of his insider dealings will some day have to be accounted for. (don't forget his bud Tom Hassey) that's double slick.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hubris Look at the first example and substitute "His" with Brand, McCann and Cartmill. In other definitions, hubris indicates a loss of contact with reality. These three men are so full of themselves that they care nothing about what is going on around them. Is Fiscal Stability still part of the SUHSD Delta? If so, it needs to be changed to Fiscal Stupidity. oskidoll, the tick tock has been going on for far too long. How much worse can it get before they are stopped? A lot worse, I fear.

I agree miagd that we have been waiting way too long for this perfidy to come to an end. However, we have experienced that the 'wheels of justice do turn slowly' . If the April trials, pleas, or whatever turn out as the Ricasa and Quinones did, we can look forward to interim new board members appointed from the sitting members of the County Board of Education to steer the ship until the November election. Not the best scenario we could have hoped for, or as soon as we would like, but at least that is something certain we can count on. All of our collective outrage is just that....collective outrage. I am sure it can get worse before it gets better, but the optimist in me is looking toward the getting better part. It does mean that our collective outrage has, in fact, brought attention to the perfidy. Justice just takes too long these days.

Without that long overdue (negative) evaluation, super-ed must be feeling pretty well set. So close to that, I'm free and clear finish line. Sure, take the money and don't look back, indictment free after all those years, unlike so many of your close associates. Lucky you.

I find the inability of Jim Cartmill and John McCann to schedule AND attend a Board Meeting quite troubling. County Bard of Ed appoint someone(s)? And you all believe that Ed Brand is not attempting to influence those appointees? Sorry I do. This is the same Board of Ed who has been consistently stating that from 'their perspective' all is well??????

Our representative Neylon has failed to represent those of us who voted for her, those of us who believed she would bring about change. From my perspective we simply traded a senior, balding, good old boy male for a younger, attractive blonde female who too plays the good old boy game. That, in my opinion, is NOT representation.

Jim Cartmill, what tricks has he and John McCann got up their sleeves. More props from Cartmill, more speeches from McCann?

When the Chula Vista Chamber fails to support you (McCann) that sends a clear message - that message (my interpretation) you failed when you were here before and you have done worse as a SUHSD Board member - so why on earth would we recommend you for the position.

I am wondering if Cartmill will give Judge Espana the old 'I am a preacher speech, followed by a blessing' - nothing worse than a false prophet. Goodness knows we have seen false prophets before - watched as they crashed and burned. As my daddy use to say 'enough to make a maggot gag'!!!!!!

Is Ms. Neylon speaking with anyone these days, or is she "out of the office" or "in a meeting", or "on the phone" with someone else, or "behind closed doors", or any of the other euphemisms employed when those in authority are not interested in hearing what the community has to say?

Can someone please tell me why all these politicians promise to be our voice, our contact, our touchstone, our representative when they are campaigning, but once they hold office they do absolutely nothing?

Special Ed speaks the truth. His ball game is one sided and run by a former coach gone rogue (Special Ed, Fast Eddy, whatever you want to call him). This is a huge district filled with dedicated teachers and students who deserve better than clowns with red sleeping bags.

I know that negotiations can continue during this last stage of state mediation--I believe I heard there is an April date???

Sweetwater teachers went out once before-it was a one day strike but I haven't found the year yet. Just curious if anyone knows.

It was in the early 80's. Most who experienced it are now retired. It was short, but brutal. Brand and his wife were both teachers at the time. I don't know if they crossed the line, however. Probably not, as those teachers were blacklisted forever. Special Ed needs to go. NOW. Southwest High was filled to get rid of Gandara. Let's OCCUPY Sleep Train at the same time as an expensive graduation…NO, that would be mean to the seniors graduating. This man HAS TO GO!!! I can't believe I was optimistic when he came back. What can we do? We have tried. Tick tock isn't fast enough for me.

anniej, It's hard to believe there was no March meeting for the Sweetwater board. It's something to research--how long can a board go without meeting...

Good question. At what point would this be determined to be job abandonment?

The county board is undoubtedly watching this situation closely. I'll bet they've engaged legal counsel to assist in determining whatever steps they may be required to take in regard to Sweetwater. Notice that I said "required", not anything about doing things that are needed but not required. That board would prefer to do nothing, and may still get its wish. But if there is no meeting and regular meetings are required by state law and district by-laws, then someone has to take charge. We still have the two shoes, Cartmill and Lopez, to drop. Once one of those is off the board, and no replacements have been appointed or elected, then I believe the county board must act. Just what they will do is not clear; indeed, they will do no more than the minimum. Otherwise, Brand just does whatever he wants to do with no restraint from any board, and only judicial orders could stop him. Oh, and then there's the small matter of a strike. You ain't seen nothin' yet, folks.

Take, take. Nothing left. miagd - I have mentioned here that our mother died April 1, now it's 25 years ago. He blamed my innocent antics for her illness, conveniently for financial benefit. I realize now it was him, always manipulating, she gave him more than she could because he only knows take, take. He fooled my whole family.

Susan Luzzaro - according to Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill, and John McCann they can do whatever they want! Laws, rules, felony charges against Jim Cartmill are a mere nuisances.

It should be interesting to see how the April 21st meeting goes. The County Office of Ed.says a quorum is needed to pass a vote. One of the attorney's said,that's only for financial and important matters,not evaluations type things. I wonder what the truth is? It certainly is an important issue. But I guess it will be whatever Fast Eddy really wants. I just heard that the Chamber of Commerce and now the Lincoln Club refused to endorse McCann. I'm selfish I figured if McCann won we would be relieved of his block voting with Cartmill. The City Council people know he would be ineffective there because they know him and could block his votes. If he wins the primary He can't run for Sweetwater,so I guess we still have some hope. After is appearance on TV with his sleeping bag with Larry and Moe I'm not so sure he has any chance of winning an election for dog catcher.

I would not hire that attorney for anything! A quorum is a quorum is a quorum required for a vote on ANYTHING. I believe that at least the County Office of Ed has that one right. By the way, note today's article in the LA Times about the very high salary of the Supt. of the Centinela Valley Union High School District. What is of interest is that the California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is quoted on the matter, saying he believes it is excessive. Now, if Mr. Torlakson can come out of his cave to comment on the Centinela School District paying their supt. too much, SURELY he can comment on the perfidy that pervades at Sweetwater! So, Torlakson, we are waiting to hear from you at long last.

Reminds me of these quotes....

Lawyer: One skilled in the circumvention of the law. - Ambrose Bierce

Lawyer: A professional advocate hired to bend the law on behalf of a paying client; for this reason considered the most suitable background for entry into politics. - The Cynic's Dictionary, pub. by William Morrow

miagd - handing out fliers will in no way disrespect students - quite the opposite - it will inform those senior parents who have younger children of the facts about Jim Cartmill and John McCann.

Let me be clear, while Ed Brand is not good for this District, the focus needs to be placed where the responsibility lies. - Jim Cartmill, facing felony charges and John McCann, who brought Brand back.

Cartmill and McCann - they are the ones we ALL need to focus on. We need to ask ourselves how many people in the South Bay have I reached out to today and shared the disappointing actions of Cartmill and McCann - or discussed the felony charges against Jim Cartmill and the broken promises/irrational behavior/failed protective order (at our expense) of John McCann.

shirleyberan - I am sorry for your loss. Anniversaries of our parents passing are tough, real tough. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Lincoln Club not endorsing John is no surprise. Both Jim and John are proving to be a liability that many of us are trying to distance ourselves from.

Anniej - I know you know I don't share for sympathy but hope to give light on a problem. Too many people have trusted the con-man, especially me. This person pretends to care about what he says he does, but is intentionally deceiving. I couldn't believe that a "brother" conspired with his lawyer and other friends to cause anguish to his own sister who didn't get why he did the cold things he did. I was close to my mother in high school years and he made sure to mess that up for control.

If SpecialEd is satire it sounded just like Ed thinking, who doesn't know he is ridiculous.

shirleyberan - I do know you are not looking for sympathy. At least he is not related to me. I feel for you.

Ed, Jim & John are losing the PR battle, IMO. I wonder what they are plotting as a next move. I am thinking something along the real estate line, as they don't seem to need board meetings or votes to do what they want there.

Keeping tabs on Fast Eddy's schemes is important--I just have a feeling something is up. Maybe it is real estate, maybe it is another deal with one of the less-educational 'institutions of higher learning', maybe it is a bargaining point that he will appear to agree with, and then when things look like they are set, he will back away...untrustworthy in the extreme.

I hope the teachers are ready for anything, and have very solid procedural and legal advice, as Ed Brand is as shifty as they come.

eastlaker, Based on Mr. Wynnet's (District Legal Counsel) opinion stated above, one would think that Major purchases, contract (including the Superintendant's), or scope issues w.r.t. Prop "O" projects would all be "Financial" and require a unanimous vote of the remaining (3 of 5) Board Members to be approved.

If the District moves forward on any of these issues without a proper Board they have failed in their fudiciary (sp) duties protecting the public from improper expenses and purchases.

I do not think it's beyond Ed and the boys to try something but will anything be legal? I am most fearful like the Allient Agreement we, the public, get stuck bailing out the illegal contracts approved by this "Mini" Board.

Again where are the authorities over school districts in this state? BBQ CAVE

Yes, I know that officially there is supposed to be board approval, so my post was semi tongue-in-cheek, as that doesn't seem to have stopped Ed Brand's real estate schemes in the past.

I just wonder if Voit is the only company he is dealing with, or if there are others.

We--the public--really need to have full access to what is going on in Sweetwater. All the accounts, all the deals, all the side arrangements, tie-ins, sweet and cozy relationships and plans for further and future Ed Brand positions.

I do think that all the charter school stuff could part of a larger scheme, i.e. potentially splitting off, thereby creating an asset and capital fortress for Ed Brand, out of public funds. I wouldn't put anything past him, master of the sleazy move as he has shown us to be.

That's a rhetorical question bbq? We know the following: The Brown Act is a state law, and violations should be enforced by the DA; the County Board of Education is charged with fiscal oversight of all the public school districts in its jurisdiction; the State Superintendent of Public Instruction must have some responsibility here.... However, and ultimately, it is we, the electorate, who are the authorities and have the power of the ballot. That is why the upcoming (tick tock....tick tock) elections in November are so critical to cleaning up this pitiful situation. Let's not mess it up at the ballot box this time.

oskidoll, I completly agree with you on the November voting issue, it's what will happen over the next six plus months that is more immediate concern.

Will Ed and the Boys continue down the slippery path they are already on? I suspect so and the District or the New Board or Us the taxpayer will have to pick up the pieces.

The "Mini" Board could for example give Ed a new contract with a termination clause that is too expensive or painful to enact, or a messed up purchase contract for a new Adminstration Building, or a 3rd St. sales Contract without the proper Board reviews. Any or all of these things are possible, what about "L" St?

We cannot wait out these issues with the "Mini" Board. Again what are the real short term solutions?


Don't have a crystal ball bbq, but agree heartily with your concerns. The timing of what happens next with Cartmill and Lopez will be critical....once (and if) they are bounced out via pleas or trials, then the County Office will appoint their own members to fill the vacancies. We can hope that which of the seated County Board members will not pass such egregious measures as you suggest, although anything is possible with Fast Eddy in the picture. By the way, I don't see Berth Lopez agreeing to any of the possibilities you suggest, which will render the mini board powerless to take any action at all...seems the votes would be 2 -1. Rather, I would suspect that Ed and Co would ply their underhanded shell games to proceed with the real estate deals without board sanction. I would also hope that any such 'deals' would be rendered null and void if done without proper board action. How they might be rescinded is another question, perhaps one for the 'reconstituted' board to consider once the temporary replacements are seated by the CBOE. It is truly one heck of a mess.

"It is truly one heck of a mess." oski, no truer words were ever written. Just when you think it is "safe to get back in the water", Fast Eddie and his henchmen come up with a new ploy. In about 1943, Winston Churchill, always the optimist about the outcome of the war, was asked by some citizen, "Is this the beginning of the end?" His reply, a classic for all times, was that he wasn't sure, but that it might be "the end of the beginning." That's about what citizens of So County may be looking at here; not the end of this mess, but the start of an even bigger campaign to get their school district back under local control, and to clean up the generations-long pattern of corruption.

You have already seen that the DA isn't the solution to the mess. She's gone wobbly with all the pleas to date, and it isn't clear that anything beyond the original round of indictments is forthcoming. The FBI? Who knows? If the feds come through, there might be something resembling a real housecleaning in both Sweetwater and SWC. Don't hold your breath on that. The feds may have deferred to Bahnee D, and we've seen how diligent she's been with her own charges. The real solution is for voters in the So County to stop the block voting and to look for integrity, not as a campaign slogan, but as a real qualification in board candidates in all the local school districts, and that applies to Nat'l City, CV, So Bay Union, San Ysidro, Sweet"stuff", and SWC. In the final analysis, the voters get what they deserve and vote for, and so far the record is really cruddy.

News Flash, just saw in court calendar Bond Financier Cabello, and Raj Chopra are being sentenced Monday April 7th around 9:00am. Ricasa, is being sentenced on Wednesday April 9th at !:30pm. Nothing on Gandara,Sandoval, Cartmill, Lopez and Flores related to the disposition of their cases word has it there will be no trial.

Looks like Judge Ana Espana will manage to continue giving away the store without having to do any trial management work at all. While I realize the DA's office is complicit with the 'give it all away' plea bargains, the Judge has the discretion to accept them or not...Who wants to litigate anything when we can settle, settle, settle, which is oh so much easier on everyone.

Justice is now 'easy' and does not necessarily prevail. Who is looking out for the public interest in these matters. As I have pointed out before, these were NOT victimless crimes. It is too bad that Judge Espana is not able, or willing to visualize the victim -- the entire South County community that depends on the school systems to educate its populace.

LightSaber - I am told tomorrow 'the gandara' and Sandoval will be in court tomorrow.

Certainly those are the two biggest fish of the lot, given the number of indictments and the extent of the $$ involved. Both were also initially charged with extortion (along with Ricasa and Quinones), although I believe the DA eventually dropped those charges.

Let's see if her honor is significantly and appropriately impressed by the extent of their perfidy to change her M.O.

oskidoll - no doubt they ('the gandara' and Sandoval) too have added many good deeds to their repertoire - all in an attempt to impress Judges Espana.

ESPANA remember that name - next time she is looking for your vote, do to her what she has done to the students education of this community, ignore her, and vote for someone, anyone else!!!!!

There is an article in the UT that both Sandoval and Gandara plead guilty. The article, by Greg Moran, was wrong in stating that Gandara was fired, and the article did not specify what charges these to plead guilty to.

Someone posted a comment that Gandara plead guilty to one misdemeanor and one felony, but as far as I could tell, there were no further details.

Looks like no one wants to go to trial.

So what will Cartmill do?

First a thank you to all the reporters and sources who cover this story/topic for the last several years. I think you did a fare and comprehensive job. I am sure you took criticism for it as no one wants to hear oh we made a bad decision. I met Ed Brand and Tom Hassey while consulting to open a group of four banks across multiple states in 07/08. At every corner with them it was cover your ass or whats in it for me. Ed was to be the Chairman of the San Diego Group. As a group they took a significant level of criticism from the regulatory agencies for the lack of doing thorough work as a group. After the community selected Ed to return to education I knew it would only be a matter of time and they would learn again first hand how Slick As Owl Shit he really was.

bankalchemist - I have followed your posts regarding Brand and Hassey over the years.

With all due respect, it was NOT the community that wanted Ed Brand to return - in truth we had about enough of him, the first time around - it was John McCann and Jim Cartmill who wanted him back.

When Cartmill needed help with his bankruptcy Brand and Hassey each gave him 50k. ( though Cartmill continues to deny it)

Glad to see you are still around!!!!

Thank You, the best quote here is "if Ed's lips are moving he is lying" so so true.

I heard it from a totally reliable source that the late/great Ray Charles used to say the same thing about Jesse Jackson.

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