Posts Tagged ‘Sweetwater Union High School District’
In case you missed it a few days back…
In a political season in which campaigning by deceit has almost become the norm, two local campaigns stand out for their flimflam — the City Council campaign of Steve Padilla in Chula Vista and the City Council campaign of Carol Kim in San Diego.
They just don’t get it in the Sweetwater Union High School District — or at least some of them. Maybe they never will.
A few years ago, as news about the district’s culture of corruption was first coming to light, one of the stories — broken on SD Rostra — was about the use of public funds to promote then-Board President Arlie Ricasa during her re-election campaign. She has since resigned.
Sweetwater may have learned from that episode not to use taxpayer funds to promote its own. Now, the district has apparently decided it’s better to promote selected candidates running for other offices.
By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the troubles at Sweetwater Union High School District: corruption, scandals, and even a “naked chick” joke.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the political opportunity to be seized amid the drama — but, what if the supposed “fall guy” for much of the trouble at Sweetwater was the one being targeted?
I’m referring, of course, to John McCann.
Yesterday, the U-T broke the news about Arlie Ricasa receiving clearance to return to her 6-figure salaried position at Southwestern College.
Ricasa, a boardmember of the Sweetwater Union High School District, has plead not guilty to eight felony corruption charges.
Do you think Ricasa should return to work? Vote in the U-T’s online poll and let your comments be heard!
However, the same night Mitt Romney clinched the GOP nomination, 8-term Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes was denied a return pass to Congress — despite recent high-profile endorsements and events hosted by former President Clinton, and President Obama.
Former El Paso City Councilman Beto O’Rourke defeated the embattled Reyes by less than 3,000 votes.
Why does this matter? The Sweetwater connection.
Smart governing decisions saving taxpayer dollars and collaborative initiatives took top honors, while cavalier attitudes and lost opportunities were called out and shamed at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA)’s 17th annual Goldens Awards Dinner, held at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.
Remote controls were nowhere in sight as the evening’s theme “Taxpayer TV: We Can’t Make This $#!% Up!” entertained the appreciative audience who shared the details of the exclusive video parodies highlighting the program via social media. As in past programs, elected officials, members of the news media and other public figures willingly humiliated themselves in a good-natured send-up of the year in government news and achievements in San Diego.
One might think you would read about the ongoing criminal investigation of the Sweetwater Union High School District, but this is about politics in the normally quiet coastal community of Carlsbad.
Recently, Rostra ran a series of posts questioning the personal finances of Carlsbad City Councilwoman Farrah Douglas, which became an issue in her campaign seeking election to the California State Assembly for the newly drawn 76th District. Those posts, considered controversial by some, resulted in responses from the Douglas campaign including one from a bankruptcy attorney which represented her when her private residence entered the foreclosure process.
In addition to reporting on Douglas’s personal finances, the information posted to Rostra also included what appeared to be financial irregularities and possible conflicts of interest regarding the candidate’s campaign finances and service on the Carlsbad City Council. The Fair Political Practices Commission eventually acknowledged receiving a compliant and subsequently determined that they would not be investigating the claims of alleged financial wrongdoing.
An interesting story posted the other day in U-T San Diego, questions whether or not the recall attempt against three members of the Sweetwater Union High School Board is union-driven or a broader coalition of community members, parents, and taxpayers.
Of course, we’ll run down the facts and let you decide…
Wow. Just saw this article from the U-T where Sweetwater school board member Arlie Ricasa, through her attorney, is claiming that she’ll have to gut her own children’s college fund to pay for legal services stemming from her alleged indiscretions — 4 felonies, 2 misdemeanors — if the school board (ahem, taxpayers) won’t approve the legal payments.
This brings up a philosophical question for you, folks: should governments provide legal services to trustees mired in corruption scandals?
Politics & Media Mashup: your weekend news aggregator leads off with a Q & A with Ricky Young, the editor of U-T San Diego’s Watchdog Team. Also included: Gobs of links to some of the week’s best stories about local, state and national politics as well as social and traditional media.
“Journalism that upholds the public trust, regularly.” That’s how the U-T San Diego defines its Watchdog Team. Rostra’s Richard Rider, a constant critic of politicians and the reporters who cover them, had this to say recently about the team: “Reporters are now practicing REAL journalism with their generally excellent ‘Watchdog’ work.”
Sweetwater Union officials announced plans today to change the name of the school district to the Randy “Duke” Cunningham Union High School District, in honor of the former congressman.
(If you have been sleeping, here’s some background.)
From the UT…
“Calling it perhaps the worst case of public corruption uncovered on her watch, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Wednesday announced 26 felony charges against four current and former South Bay schools officials…”
See all the Rostra entries on Sweetwater here.
Politics & Media Mashup: your weekend news aggregator leads off with the most interesting local stories of the week and includes stories about statewide politics, national politics and social media.
You can hear Tony Manolatos talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Friday at 3:50 p.m. on 95.7 FM starting Jan. 6.
UPDATED DEC. 24, 9:05 A.M.
After Craig Gustafson wrote a very positive piece on San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher he heard from the opposing Republican camps.
“They wanted to know, ‘Are we gonna get a story like that?’” Gustafson said.
The U-T has the story…
“District Attorney’s investigators raided the homes of three Sweetwater Union High School District board members and a former community college contractor today.”
Read it all here.
The Union-Trib‘s coverage of Sweetwater has been superb. Kudos to Wendy Fry and Ashly McGlone. The school district has seen lots of coverage on Rostra as well, including a story by Barry Jantz that was recognized by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association as a finalist in the media watchdog category last year. The overall focus on Sweetwater landed the district the Grand Fleece from the Taxpayers Association in 2010.
After the close of a marathon 7-hour meeting at Southwest High School, the Sweetwater Union High School District Board on a 5-0 vote decided to terminate Jesus Gandara’s employment as superintendent.
A big round of applause and kudos must go out to the board members and Board President John McCann for making the right decision and working to get the district back on track.
The only downside to the joyous news would be that the stipulation of the termination agreement means that Gandara will take 18-months worth of pay, plus take vacation and leave until September 1st — on which date he becomes vested into CalPERS. *sigh*
It’s interesting that Board Member Bertha Lopez keeps throwing stones at everyone else for taking money from contractors and the law firm for Sweetwater Union High School District. Most concerning, however, is her complete lack of forthrightness when it comes to her own campaign donations. Lopez attacks other board members for their donations, while continuing to say her votes are independent, but where is her openness about the campaign money she took from the very same contractors and contributor connected to the legal firm?
Just go to the county website and search under Lopez’s last name to check out her filings. You will find the following campaign contributions totaling almost $20,000:
Just a few minutes ago, Ashly McGlone reports that the Sweetwater school district was caught erasing Ds and Fs from report cards, only to replace them with higher grades. The result? Inflated graduation rates for one of the nation’s largest school districts.
Here’s my favorite part of the story… Castle Park High School Principal Diego Ochoa signed off on the grade-change forms, but said he should not have done so.
In yet ANOTHER headlining story written by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Ashly McGlone, the Sweetwater Union High School District is taking up ink in the paper because of shady practices.
Not even six months into his term as school board president, it would appear from the outset that the sky continues to fall around John McCann and the school district. No wonder there’s rumors of a mayoral run in Chula Vista — he wants to get away from all the drama that is the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Just as we’ve given him kudos for taking action before in this post, I am strongly encouraging more action on John McCann’s part to act swiftly if he wants to save himself, the district, the city, and politically. Here are 10 reasons why he should fire Sweetwater Superintendent Jesus Gandara.
From our own Gayle Falkenthal…
SDCTA Announces Golden Watchdog & Golden Fleece Award Recipients
(San Diego) – Smart outsourcing and public financing initiatives took top honors while spending boondoggles and pension gimmicks were publicly shamed at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA)’s 16th annual Golden Watchdog and Golden Fleece Awards Dinner, held at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.
A boisterous crowd cheered —and tweeted – as recipients were announced and elected officials bravely went for laughs at their own expense, playing on this year’s program theme, “San Diego’s Hangover.”
From last weekend’s Sunday San Diego at the FlashReport (and slightly adapted)…
My recent selection by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association as a Media Watchdog finalist in the print media category for the October 2010 Flash and SD Rostra story, “Sweetwater Schools Using Public Funds to Promote Ricasa During Re-Election?,” was quite a surprise! Especially considering how much I get paid for this gig … in comparison to the deserving real journalists from San Diego City Beat, the Union-Tribune and Voice of San Diego on the list (see all the Watchdog finalists here). Thanks to Gayle Falkenthal for her post on the finalists last week at Rostra.
This year’s list of Golden Watchdog Award and Media Watchdog Award finalists is out from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association (full disclosure: SDCTA is one of my public relations firm’s clients). On behalf of San Diego Rostra, we congratulate all the nominees. A full list is available here.
We take particular pride in one of our OWN being on the list: Rostra’s Barry Jantz is nominated for a Media Watchdog Award for his October 14, 2010 story, “Sweetwater Schools Using Public Funds to Promote Ricasa During Re-Election?” Nicely done and well earned!
In a headlining story posted by the San Diego Union-Tribune today, Sweetwater School Board President John McCann has finally stood up for South Bay taxpayers, and has cancelled Superintendent Jesus Gandara’s taxpayer-funded credit card.
As reported by the U-T, Gandara has racked up nearly $31,000 in charges to the card which include $11,500 on meals alone. On top of the exorbitant $250,000 salary he receives, his contract allows for an allocation of $750/month auto allowance, and an $800/month expense account with — get this — no required documentation.
As an update to the ongoings in the South Bay, I’m sure some of you have heard by now that Democrat Sweetwater School Board member Arlie Ricasa was hit with a $2,000 fine by the FPPC. As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, she was caught not fully reporting an $18,000 loan on her campaign financial documents.
Good, now that that’s over with… the 2012 Chula Vista City Council races are coming up. The seats of Councilmembers Steve Castaneda (termed-out) and Pamela Bensoussan are up for election. Word on the street is that South Bay Irrigation District Director Jose Preciado is planning on running for one of the positions, I’m assuming it will be for the open seat.
Quite an interesting headline for a blog post, right? Well, as I was blog trolling this morning, I found a new post over on the Recall Ricasa blog regarding the recall of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, but also some interesting tidbits on Sweetwater Union High School District’s superintendent Jesus Gandara and his family’s involvement in crooked politics in Texas.