Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Does Lowell Billings' secretary support cover-ups at CVESD?

See all posts about Lowell Billings.

Two stories about Lowell Billings:

STORY #1 JULY 2007
Billings explains why he is paid so much money

"I think a big part of it has to do with accountability,” said Chula Vista Superintendent Lowell Billings, when asked by Channel 10 News why the taxpayers give him $205,000 per year to run Chula Vista Elementary School District.

This makes me wonder all the more about Mr. Billings' approval of this document.

I'd understand the big salary better if he'd said, "I'm good at keeping the school board's secrets" or "I know better than to show up for a deposition regarding crimes committed by CVESD."

Being accountable means NOT keeping secrets, Mr. Billings. Being accountable requires transparency.

When Billings was Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Chula Vista Elementary School District, he ignored a teacher's report that she had been tricked by a man who had been chosen by the district to go into classrooms and talk to teachers about investing. The man was Anthony Pavia.

Fortunately, the teacher was able to get her money out of the account that had been sold to her as a different type of investment.

But it turned out to be a double swindle. It wasn't until much later that the teacher discovered that money was being taken out of her paycheck every month for an account which she had specifically disapproved. Pavia presented the teacher with a form that had two companies names written on it. The teacher had never expressed any interest in the first company. She did want to invest in the second company.

Pavia told the teacher that he didn't have any extra forms, so she would have to cross out and intital the name of the company she didn't want. Then he said the company she did want would also have to be crossed out and initialed and its name had to be rewritten on the first line, above the crossed-out words.

Then came the real fraud.

Without the teacher's knowledge, Pavia (or his assistant) wrote in the name of the company the teacher did not want. Lowell Billings approved this bizarre document, and money started flowing out of the teacher's paycheck every month. She didn't notice it for a long time, because she was not in the habit of carefully examining her pay stubs.

How many such documents, with both first and second lines scribbled out, did Lowell Billings approve? How many complaints did he get from teachers? Why did he refuse to talk to teachers who complained? Did Billings have an account with Anthony Pavia that gave Billings financial advantages in return for looking the other way as Pavia swindled teachers?

When she reported the second swindle, Lowell Billings again refused to talk to the teacher. Billings even refused, until after repeated requests, to give her a copy of the document that had allowed the monthly withdrawals from her paycheck.


Does CVESD manage to keep wrongdoing secret from the Superintendent's secretary?

A short letter by CVESD Superintendent Lowell Billings' secretary appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on Nov 16, 2006. (See letter below) Linda Robertson, whose name was misspelled as "Lidda Robertson," claims that challengers to board incumbents told "untruths." Ms. Robertson does not say what these untruths were. She apparently feels no need to back up this extremely pejorative allegation.

Perhaps Ms. Robinson is so comfortable with the status quo at CVESD that she is in a state of denial about the wrongdoing by the board. It may also be true that she is not privy to information about such wrongdoing. I have plenty of documents I'd be happy to show her, if she is interested in dealing with facts.

Ms. Robertson claims that the incumbents won because voters saw "through the candidates dishonesty." This is a completely unwarranted assumption. Incumbents always win almost ALL elections in the United States. One reason is that they are able to raise huge amounts of money from people that do business with their agencies. This was certainly the case for CVESD incumbents. Designers and builders were very generous to the board. I don't think this generosity had much to do with wanting the best for children. There were San Francisco designers contributing to a Chula Vista school board race! You don't think they're expecting to get back their investment when the board is handing out contracts, do you, Ms. Robertson?Otayranchheritage.com notes that Douglas E Barnhardt, school builder/renovator planner (Salt Creek, McMillin, Tiffany etc) gave $10,000 to support the incumbents. His design partners Ruhnan Ruhnan Clark and Assc. recently put a bid in at CVESD for work the Otay Ranch Village 7 elementary school.

Here's another reason incumbents tend to win:
Leslie T. says, "self-aggrandizing bombast and big spending on advertising ...give the name recognition so many voters (unfortunately) use to cast their ballots these days."

Here is Ms. Robertson's letter:
As an employee of Chula Vista Elementary School District and a Chula Vista resident, I was disgusted with the untruths told by school board candidates Tamara Arce, Felicia Starr and Steve Yagyagan, and Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla. For school board candidates, this election was a vindictive time. For Padilla, it was a slap in the face to call this district "failing."

I am so thankful that the voters were able to see through the candidates' dishonesty and voted for board incumbents Larry Cunningham, Bertha Lopez and Pamela Smith, and for Cheryl Cox, soon to resign from the board because she was elected mayor of Chula Vista. They have always given 100 percent for every student.

Chula Vista

No comments: