Occupy Sweetwater Jeers Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence for 9-11 Victims

Steve GrammSteve Gramm 21 Comments


The “Occupy Sweetwater” group, most likely acting as a political front for Sweetwater Union High School District Board Member Bertha Lopez, hit a new low this week by disrespecting the Pledge of Allegiance and victims of 9-11.

Listen to Occupy jeering the request that the Pledge of Allegiance take place.

Intent on disrupting the Sweetwater School Board meeting on Monday night, September 10, perennial malcontents Stewart Payne, John Brickley, Maty Adato, Gene Chivara, Bernardo Vasquez and Wanda Pairse were among those who booed, yelled and made rude comments, interrupting while speakers and trustees tried to conduct the District’s business. The group trotted out their current political candidate George Cameron and former failed candidates Karen Janney, Stan Canaris and Jaime Mercado.

At the beginning of the meeting, leftist Wanda Pairse was blowing a whistle trying to insight the crowd to throw objects in the air to disrupt the meeting. Slimy insurance salesman Bernardo Vasquez made wildly false statements that the board meeting was illegal. Political agitator Maty Adato, an Eastlake Educational Foundation member, threw her usual temper tantrum, blaming interim Superintendent Ed Brand for a host of wrongs. Attention seeker John Brickley used profanity once again in his speech to get attention for his tirade, while children were present at the meeting. The crowd yelled out the names of Janney, Mercado and Canaris to promote them politically.

The group’s members are upset because they recently failed in an attempt to qualify a recall of Board Member Jim Cartmill. Although Bertha Lopez’s home was raided by the District Attorney during a corruption sweep in December last year, the group decided to try to recall Cartmill, who is not under investigation, to deflect criticism away from Lopez. The recall failed for lack of community support, the group only winding up with a handful of signatures.

The Occupy group then showed their true colors when Trustee John McCann, an Iraq War Veteran, noticing the Pledge of Allegiance had not been conducted, asked that the Board state the Pledge and have a moment of silence for the victims of 9-11. The group erupted in anger and ridicule, with jeers, hoots and laughs. Stewart Payne from i9Sports jeered and group members can be heard yelling Trustee Lopez’s name.

Listen to the recording (linked here again) and please remember the names in this post, including the group’s chosen candidate, George Cameron.  Remember how these individuals treated the victims of 9-11, our Pledge of Allegiance, our flag, our military and the United States.


Comments 21

  1. To quote that great politician Ronald Reagan, “Here we go again!”!

    I was there. No one was being disrespectful of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, or 9/11 victims.

    This is a blatant attempt to discredit the citizens who are not happy with the egregious behavior and unilateral decisions of Ed Brand, (currently the Interim Superintendent-in-Hiding for Sweetwater UHSD) and the oddly run meeting, chaired by Pearl Quinones. Pearl forgot to say the pledge at the beginning at the meeting. A member of the public, in her 2 minutes of allowed speech, brought that fact to everyone’s attention.

    John McCann must have seen an opportunity for himself, and jumped in, after the meeting had been adjourned.

    The calls of Bertha Lopez’s name were because–for some reason known only to the current head of the board, and the former head of the board (John McCann), Bertha Lopez has been refused the opportunity to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. And the public was calling out, requesting and suggesting that it was her turn.

    John McCann has the unfailing ability to turn any situation into a very juvenile scene. One wonders why? Some need for attention that goes beyond what is healthy?

    I hadn’t ever seen a man, ostensibly an adult, grown man, act out in such childish and petty ways as I have seen from John McCann.

    Get a grip, man.

  2. this article is based on a john mccann lie.

    mr. mccann was NOT the person who ‘realized’ that the Pledge of Allegiance had not been honored. it was a community member by the name of mrs. cheers, who was approximately the 15th speaker to comment. it was approximately 10 minutes AFTER she (mrs. cheers) raised the issue that john mccann jumped up – the crowd was not reacting to the flag of our GREAT country. they were reacting to the ‘eternal opportunist’ mr. mccann.

    may i recommend that you do an article in which you interview and ask mr. mccann the following;

    * why did you take thousands of dollars from the contractors involved in the pay to play corruption trial set to begin in january even after he promised the community he would not do so? one contribution he took a year after he was in office to help pay off his campaign debt. (see registrar of voters for verification). no doubt some of those who plead guilty will be asking the ‘real’ john mccann to stand up in their testimonies.

    * why is he protecting brand? brand who was double dipping (receiving his retirement from school employment days while taking the 20K salary).

    * why is he allowing brand to abandon his position. brand walked out, which has resulted in a ‘duty officer’ running one of the largest school districts in the nation. why is john mccann buckling under the democrat brand? look up what is happening in calexico – their super also walked out – hmmm wonder if bonny garcia, calexico’s legal counsel has anything to do with that idea “hey walk out, it will force mccann and cartmill to take you back and the icing on the cake will be the perks you can demand”. you got ’em brand, you are in control not them.

    THOR, it would be a good idea for you to listen to board docs, as this entire article has been based on john mccann claiming that he raised the point of disrespect with regards to the Pledge of Allegiance not being said.

    one would think that the information would have been vetted for accuracy. i expect more from the SD Rostra, I expect the truth, this was far from it, but no doubt you, have been used by mccann & associates as the voters were used. but not to worry we see this article for what it is, a desperate attempt by a desperate man. this will do much to rally even more supporters to turn out in an effort to cleanse the south bay of the assault on Patriotic American taxpayers.

    eastlakes very own neighbor calling them ‘unpatriotic’ – wow mccann has single handidly hit the ‘self destruct’ button with this lie. guess he forgot that the proof is there for all to listen to.

  3. “…interrupting while speakers and trustees tried to conduct the District’s business.”

    And exactly what was the District’s business? There appeared to be no business on the agenda. Since the speakers are legally allowed to address all items on the non-agenda, from what you write, it appears the speakers were busy interrupting themselves. Since not one speaker spoke favorably of John McCann, it appears that John McCann is losing favorability among the south bay community.

  4. Gloria, I couldn’t agree more. I can’t believe after all the blogs on the Channel 10 article that McCann would attempt to perpetuate the same lie that got him such bad press already. I agree there is something drastically wrong with this man. It’s a bit scary. I wonder if he suffered from tantrums as a child. I’m serious about this. Does he really think people will believe this,after reading the Reader article? The writer was present at the mtg. Why is the Rostra allowing this nonsense. I know it’s a Republican paper, but isn’t credibility important.

  5. well… after listening to the tape, I sure don’t hear any booing or jeering. I do hear laughter being directed at John McCann, for asking for the Pledge to be recited AFTER Pearl adjourned the meeting. Where was his patriotic request at the start of the meeting? Oh yeah! He forgot about doing it too.

    As to the member of the public requesting that Bertha Lopez be offered the opportunity to lead the Pledge, that person was me. Bertha Lopez has been consistently and methodically eliminated from leading the Pledge, by Pearl Quinones, and before her John McCann, and before him Arlie Ricasa. Not once in the two and a half years I have been attending the board meetings, has any president of the board honored her by requesting she lead the Pledge. If John McCann was any sort of true American, he would remember the last words from the Pledge “… and justice for all.”

  6. I find the name calling and unsubstantiated claims in this article disturbing. Mr. Gramm, were you at the meeting? Or are you basing your comments on a 10 second video clip? Or John McCann’s version? I believe that there had already been a reminder about doing the pledge, from a speaker, earlier in the meeting. President Quinones had already gaveled the meeting closed when McCann finally spoke up. The crowd was laughing because suddenly, after the meeting, McCann was acting like it was all his idea. During the pledge and moment of silence the crowd was respectful and quiet.

    Why do you only mention Cartmill’s recall – the recall targeted Ricasa and McCann too.

    Have you been reading the news about the Sweetwater District? The district has been mired in bad publicity, and now falling test scores. The community has a plethora of reasons to be legitimately asking for a change of leadership. That is their right.

    Why belittle people who previously may have participated in the local political process? I believe we should respect people who want to serve their community. In any election there will be winners and losers – but our country is better because of people who participate in the process. Many won’t run because of the risk of public ridicule, like what you wrote here. That is a shame and weakens the democratic process that makes this country great.

    Our country was built on the ideal of Freedom of Speech, but I believe we need to take the responsibility that goes with that freedom very seriously. Truth should be our quest, not making the political party we favor look good at any cost. The sort of writing in this article makes me embarrassed to be a Republican and much less likely to take the writer seriously. As we teach our students – consider the source….

  7. “Why is the Rostra allowing this”…

    Some of you may not understand how this works. Posts and guest columns here are based on the opinion of the writer, within reason of course. The brilliance is that those who disagree can comment and say so, also within reason, which it appears is taking place.

    In fact, if this was about Rostra “allowing” one thing vs. another, the opposing viewpoints wouldn’t be approved.

    Also, so you know, because this is a discussion forum, the comments on Rostra get just as much readership as the original posts, so they have just about equal standing — unlike newsprint, where the letters to the editor may not be seen by those reading the original story.

    So, have at it. We don’t censor the blogger and we don’t censor the commenter — keeping in mind that things like foul language, libel, and other common journalistic concerns are taken into account.


  8. TA is right. And, John M seems to be getting owned in the comments. Does he have anyone to provide some insight, because I can’t tell what to believe.

  9. first of all Thank You THOR for approving our posts, many in the south bay decided not to bother offering their view points since it has taken most of the day for the majority of the comments to be put up.

    having said that –

    Yeppers: you might want to listen to the suhsd board meeting of last monday, the comment by the community member is towards the end. there you will be able to hear a ms. cheers chastise quinones on her neglect in not honoring our Country by failing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Again, contrary to Mr. McCann’s claim it was not him – does it matter who did it, no, but here is a question for you why is john mccann telling everyone he did? painting himself as the constant hero.

    THOR, you are right i did not understand that anyone could post anything on this website without vetting the truth. i was mistaken in believing that true information was provided which in turn was offered up for various opinions to be shared.

    I Thank You for your time.

  10. Yeppers,the reason you do not hear from the other side that you obviously want to hear from is there is none. McCann will have to get his friends to lie for him, because we were all there and know the truth.

  11. I was at the Board meeting and in fact spoke right after Ms. Cheers. It was she who pointed out that they had forgotten to open the meeting with the Pledge and a moment of silence as has been the Board custom and practice. When she brought this to their attention the laughter and jeers were of derision aimed at the Board President who is definately operating one or two rungs above her “Peter Principle”.
    Later, at the virtual end of the public meeting, when John McCann wanted to say the pledge, he was met with laughter and catcalls as it came across as very self-serving. As soon as he began the Pledge, the community immediately quieted down and joined in. You don’t have to take my word for it, It can be heard clearly on the tape. The selective snippet of tape proferred by Mr. McCann does everyone a disservice.
    The dynamic between the public and this Board is dysfunctional. That is unfortunate and arises from the frustration of not being heard.
    The pejoritive descriptions given of some of the speakers does not further any productive purpose. The Board members believe that there are 4 or 5 people who want to destroy the District. The meeting Monday was standing room only and represented a wide cross section of intersts within the community. That sort of turnout, on a last minute meeting, with no discernable agenda, on the same night as the Chargers opener smacks of manipulation. This has been born out as the Board and District denied it was about the Superintendent’s contract, yet Dr. Brand in multiple interviews with the press stated that it was.
    They have been caught out in a lie and I suspect that the issue of disrespect for the Pledge is an attempt to divert our attention from the real sin.

  12. I am a long time employee of the District and this is the best account of a meeting I have heard. The audio clip doesn’t lie. The entire community is abuzz about how disrespectful Stewart ‘Restraining Order’ Payne’s crew of malcontents are out of control and don’t even respect the Pledge or 9-11 victims. I hope everyone will listen to the audio and go to the Channel 10 news site and see their news story about the situation.

    Question to Brickley? Did you use profanity in your speech?

    Isn’t that you yelling and interrupting people on the tape like a crazed maniac?

    Would you have allowed children in the classroom to behave like that?

    Why are you screaming Bertha’s name if you don’t support her?

    If you are about fighting corruption, then why do you support her, when her house was raided by the DA, in e-mail she told SGI she would take care of their $50 million in projects, then asked for $20k?

    Cartmill the most honest guy at the District has been on the Board for decades, but he isn’t being investigated, but you want him recalled. That doesn’t make sense.

    The community deserves an answer from you! Be a man! Tell us how she wasn’t part of the corruption!

    Why were you taken out of the classroom at Sweetwater?

    If you want transparency, then why don’t you release your personnel record to the public?

    Please answer if you truly are an honest person!

    The reality is the Occupy Sweetwater Bullies are a bunch of failed individuals that act like children and are set on hurting the district. The community knows how evil you are and how you dishonored the Pledge and 9-11 victims.

    Stop Corruption! Stop Bertha! Vote Burt Grossman!

  13. WOW! These people are sick! The parents at my soccer game were talking about how these people were jeering the victims of 9-11. I googled this and listened to it and it is one of the most disrespectfull things I have heard about. The entire Occupy movement needs to go. No more flag burning, No more booing America. The entire South Bay Community is Outraged by anyone who took part in the meeting!

  14. These Occupy people are sick! They need to respect America!

    From Admin: We appreciate your passion. But, we’re also a bit more partial to discussion that heightens the debate.

  15. The late arrivals have chimed in–but those of us who were actually there know the truth.

    I stand by my statements. Forensic analysis–if one were to be made–would identify the adulteration of the audio. So, the truth sets free those who know it, speak it and live by it.

    Those cheap tricks that linger in the memory only serve to strengthen the resolve of those who rise above.

  16. The Occupy people need a reality check, they are attacking McCann because he asked for the Board to do the Pledge of Allegiance, I applaud McCann for asking for the pledge, how is that self serving asking for the pledge and who cares if someone else mentioned it first. I’m sure Occupy thinks he was self serving when he was fighting in Iraq, while Occupiers were home watching TV. Someone should listen to the tape again, McCann doesn’t ask to do the pledge, the President chick asks him to do the pledge. Occupiers can’t even get their facts straight.

    McCann is a hero! He should get a medal for standing up to the Occupy irrationality.

  17. There is a reason why these people call themselves occupy sweetwater. It’s because they modeled themselves after the national political group occupy, which included drugs, violence and in Oregon they burnt american flags. Does it surprise anyone that they would boo the pledge and have no respect for 9-11 victims?

  18. It is simply amazing, the subtle tricks performed by a politician to distract the public from the real issues.

    All it took was a carefully selected segment of a recording, and now the attention is focused on the “unpatriotic”, “sick”, “failed, “evil” occupiers, instead of where it should be; focused on the board, and the unsatisfactory performance of the interim superintendent.

    I am a resident in the South Bay, a tax payer, and parent of students who attend school in the Sweetwater District. Like many, I really did not pay too much attention to the workings of the district and the board. But, recently, I’ve been trying to pay attention; to the operations and procedures, as well as the members of the board and the superintendent. I did not attend this last meeting, but I did listen to the audio files on the board’s website.

    I find it laughable that the news reporter states that McCann “realized” that the pledge had not been recited. (Well, yeah, I would have realized it too, when someone in the public announced it.)

    I also find it laughable that the reporter “discovered” that a restraining order was issued back in April. Really? 5 months ago? How is this news? And even more importantly, how does it even relate to this story?

    And in the news story, footage of the board meeting is not even this meeting. It was when the board held the meeting over at Hilltop High, not at the district office where this meeting took place. 10 News wasn’t even there at this meeting. NBC7 was there, as well as CW6. Does anybody know why neither of those two stations reported on the “disrespect” from the public? Maybe there was nothing of the sort? Neither 10 News nor the audio clip linked to this story ever show the whole segment. I heard both of those, as well as the actual audio from the boards website. The crowd quieted down and recited the pledge.

    As I said above, all it took was just a carefully selected segment provided to distract our attention from the real issues. The real issues of the evening the dissatisfaction of many in the public of the actions and policies of the board and their interim superintendent. From the use of Prop O funds and Mello Roos taxes being used on iPads, to cutting of busing routes while opening borders, to arbitrarily raising Mello Roos rates without public input or vote, to the unnecessary high costs to remove a huge pile of unnecessary dirt from a school site. All these actions are costing our district, which are funded by OUR tax dollars, whether state funds or Mello Roos. Yet, efforts to cut spending include staff, while decisions are made to fund charter schools. This board and their decisions are so far out in left field, their out of the ballpark and down the street.

    This meeting was a special closed session, apparently ONLY dealing with some sort of employee issue (discipline or reassignment). Allegedly, it wasn’t about our superintendent, who it was said by a board member, had not resigned. Yet, Mr. Brand had already spoken with reporters (Chula Vista Star News for one) that he had resigned Aug. 31, and was waiting for the board to decide on a contract. Gee, more truth from our board?

    Yet, all it took was a short segment carefully chosen from the audio to redirect the public eye.


    I have a question for administration here… I noticed an edit that was made in a post from somebody a couple posts above mine. Somebody had a personal insult directed at someone else above, a mis-spelling of another’s names. I noticed it was changed from the derogatory name to “Someone should listen…”

    I see you made the quiet edit, where in the past, I’ve seen an edit made, with the policy reference about personal attacks, or the attempt to “out” another post. Out of curiosity, why was the edit made, without any mention of it or the policies?

  19. We could say that how we occasionally edit comments (although not for substance), is our business. But, good question in this case. In actuality, we make edits regularly without referring to the policy every time. In most cases, we are correcting spelling and grammar, constantly (sigh). If it’s for something against our rules, sometimes we refer to the policy, when a string of comments seem to be going a particular direction. That specific edit, we weren’t sure what to make of it, or even to whom it was meant to refer. Sometimes we make the edits remotely “on the fly,” with little time to get into the details (the case last night). In some cases, even referring to the change could be embarrassing to the person the commenter intended to attack. But, if it’s a reminder that is needed here, yes, assuming it was the intent to insult someone with a derogatory name, come on “J Oro,” wouldn’t it be common sense that changing a name for the purpose of an insult would clearly qualify as a personal attack? Consider yourself warned. Next step is to block your comments, which we will if needed.

  20. Thank You for the explanation, Thor’s Assistant.

    I feel your pain on the grammar edits. (Though, looking back at my own post, I notice an unclosed quotation, and I used the incorrect “they’re”. Facepalm.)

    That particular edit was easily discernible to me as to whom it was referring to above, by the very nature of his spelling. But, as you say, mentioning whom it was directed at, while not necessarily embarrassing, really does nothing to help the discussion.

    I can only hope everyone here can remain civil and keep derogatory comments out of the discussion.

  21. So, getting back to the actual meeting–the public is still trying to determine what is going on in Sweetwater.

    Ed Brand claims that the purpose of the meeting was to consider his new contract. He stated in an interview that he had resigned effective 8/31. He had previously stated that he would work the month of September for no salary. Which is apparently not happening, because he is not working–and I would hope, isn’t drawing his $20,000/month salary, although he should still be drawing his retirement allottment.

    So–can anyone tell me–since this is apparently really about the money Ed Brand thinks Ed Brand should get–does anyone think Ed Brand is worth $20,000+ a month, plus benefits, especially when he is already drawing retirement, AND has been twice given substantial settlements to “go away” (from Sweetwater and from San Marcos school districts).

    Talk about your checkered past! Multiple escapades with proposition funds being misapplied…..catagorical funds being misapplied…the history is there, and it is appalling.

    Ask those in Sweetwater who would like to straighten out the financial nightmare of convoluted overly “massaged” books if Ed Brand should ever again be in a position to make a decision using public funds.

    John McCann can try and distract us from the larger issues, but–if any minds remain focused on his redacted and contrived scenarios, they will leave plenty of room for others to focus on righting the great wrongs that have been done to the students and teachers in Sweetwater.

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