Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CVESD gets the fire department to back off

NBC News San Diego
Students in Danger?
December 20, 2008

I knew that Chula Vista Elementary School District was able to get the Star-News, Union Tribune, and the Police Department to neglect investigations of problems in schools, but I was still surprised to learn that the school district was able to get the fire department to back off.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New CVESD board holds its first meeting

At CVESD's Organizational Meeting of December 9, 2008, the following Board of Education Officers were elected:

President - Pamela B. Smith
Vice President - David Bejarano
Clerk - Russell Y. Coronado
Member - Larry Cunningham
Member - Vacant
Secretary - Lowell J. Billings, Ed.D.

Come back to fight the good fight, Jimmy Groth, Jimmy Groth

Jim Groth is the former CVESD teacher who went from president of Chula Vista Educators to the state board of directors for California Teachers Association. Jim is also currently on the board of directors for CVE.

Jim seems to have quit writing his monthly column for San Diego Education Association; no new columns have appeared during the past nine months. Here's his last post (March 2008).

Jim has, fortunately, left us with some wise words that we would do well to take to heart:

1. "Solutions used since 2001 will no longer work."

[I'm wondering if perhaps Jim took his own advice, and he's off trying to figure out a new approach to his job as a union official. The approach he came up with in 2001, and stuck with for the last seven-and-a-half years, has not worked particularly well.]

2. "Together we must educate the public about.. the need for leadership to find a better way."

[I'm 100% behind you on this one, Jim. I hope my website has helped let the public know that leadership--in Sacramento and Burlingame (headquarters of CTA)--has shortchanged the public in a catastrophic way, and needs to start looking for a better way. Have you made any progress, Jim?]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cheryl Cox should resign or be recalled; she has brought corruption, not character, to the Chula Vista mayor's office

In 2006 Cheryl Cox told the voters that she was the candidate with more "character." That gambit was a hoax.

Cheryl Cox's character has been revealed to be cynical and corrupt. Not only is Cheryl dishonest and secretive, but she abuses her power. And worst of all, she happily watches as the District Attorney's office abuses its power on her behalf.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' office investigated and prosecuted a young man for taking two hours off when he worked for mayor Steve Padilla. Why? Because Cheryl Cox supporters were outraged that the young man used the time to try to get a photo of Cheryl Cox with disgraced politico David Malcolm. Dumanis topped off her gift to Cox cronies (including San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, Cheryl's husband) by prosecuting another Cox opponent, Steve Castaneda. That political prosecution ended with the vindication of the victim.

Below is a story about Cheryl Cox and her chief of staff, Dan Forster. Forster should go now, not in June, and Cheryl Cox should go with him.

Mayor's top aide got pay for other job on city time
By Tanya Sierra
December 12, 2008

Mayor Cheryl Cox's chief of staff was paid at least $25,000 as a consultant for his previous employer, with some of that work done on city time, according to documents released this week.

Dan Forster, who has worked for Cox since December 2006, said last month that he made $10,000 plus expenses for his consulting work for the North Slope Borough, a government agency he once worked for in Alaska...

North Slope Borough records show that officials agreed to pay Forster up to $27,030 between September 2007 and August 2008...Forster said Wednesday that he might have underestimated how much he was paid when asked about the work last month.
Invoices show that Forster has so far been paid $24,957, about $2,000 shy of his $27,030 contract maximum...

It is unclear how much of the work was done on city of Chula Vista time, but numerous e-mails – many with lengthy attachments – were sent to and from Forster's city e-mail account during his regular work hours at City Hall.

Last month, Forster said he did very little consultant work on city time. Cox said she gave Forster permission to consult during work hours because he was a good employee with an excellent record of being available when needed.

[This attitude is a complete contradiction of Cox's attitude toward city manager David Garcia. Being available when needed was not an acceptable defense in Cheryl's opinion just one month ago.]

The city's Internet and e-mail policy, however, prohibits employees from operating a business through the city's Internet link.

[Cheryl made it clear when she was a Chula Vista Elementary School board member that she didn't think policies applied to her.]

...This week, Cox proposed eliminating Forster's position because the city is struggling with a projected $20 million budget deficit next year...

Forster, who makes $124,000 a year at the city, said the idea was his and that Cox initially objected...

[Mr. Forster's idea is a clever one. Why did Cox object to it? Because Cox is not a gifted problem solver, nor does she believe in doing the right thing.]

If his position is eliminated, Forster would stay through the end of June, when this fiscal year ends.

[Nice try, Mr. Forster, but not quite good enough. You should leave now, and take Cheryl Cox with you. And you should both be grateful that San Diego has a District Attorney who protects corrupt public officials.]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why I've delayed writing about Cheryl Cox's support for Dan Forster

I think I'm suffering from Cheryl Cox fatigue. No matter how many times Cheryl Cox behaves as if the rules don't apply to her, I still get taken by surprise. When will we get a rest?

Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox's "character" campaign caused a young man in the previous Chula Vista mayor's administration to be charged with five felonies for taking two hours off of work without filing a leave slip before he left the office.

And very recently she helped fire city manager David Garcia for perusing the Pamela Anderson webpage during work hours.

I understand that Cheryl Cox is corrupt. I just don't understand why she doesn't try harder to pretend she's not corrupt.

Chula Vista mayor defends her chief of staff
Forster helped other agency on city time
By Tanya Sierra
November 21, 2008

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox's chief of staff is doing consulting work for his previous employer on city time – with the permission of the mayor.

Three councilmen said the practice in unacceptable, but Cox said she supports her chief of staff, Dan Forster, as he helps out the North Slope Borough, the government agency he once worked for in Alaska.

“I can tell you that Dan is a dedicated employee,” Cox said. “An hour or so a month helping out another governmental agency is part of Dan's track record.

“He's always there when I need him.”

Councilmen Steve Castaneda, Rudy Ramirez and John McCann said Forster should not be using city time and city equipment to carry out personal consulting work.

Dan Forster
Position: Chief of staff for Mayor Cheryl Cox
Salary: $123,748 a year. Also receives a $4,800 a year car allowance and a benefits package of about $50,000.
Age: 58
Family: Married, two children
Education: Bachelor's and master's degree in urban planning from University of Washington; master of public administration from Harvard.
Experience: More than 25 years in public administration, land and resources, development projects, planning, and program design and implementation.

...Forster, who earns $124,000 a year at the city, said he felt an obligation to help his former employer find a replacement after he left in 2006. He also said he wanted to finish an oil and gas project he started there.

Forster said he traveled to Alaska on his own time for projects but was in contact with officials on Chula Vista's time via e-mail and phone.

[Blogger's note: So why wasn't City Manager David Garcia allowed to use his own time to look at a computer? He worked plenty of nights, and was authorized to take time off during the day as compensation.]

...Cox hired Forster from his job as deputy director of planning in North Slope Borough, in the Arctic territory of northwest Alaska, because of his land-use background, she said.

Forster received written permission from Cox to do the consulting work for his former employer between Sept. 1, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2008, but the city's Internet and e-mail policy prohibits employees from operating a business through the city's Internet link. Forster is still consulting. He and Cox said he is “weaning” North Slope from its dependence on him...

City e-mails show Forster was leading a recruiting effort for a new deputy director of planning for the North Slope Borough. He also played a significant role in setting up an oil and gas forum in Alaska, which he also attended.

Excerpts from city e-mails show that while he was in his Chula Vista office, Forster:

> Received lengthy letters and reports from a North Slope Borough official for the oil and gas forum via e-mail at 10:41 a.m. Oct. 31, 2007.
> Tried accessing large reports from a document distribution server.
> Worked on recruiting a replacement for his old post, including
offering to drive to Las Vegas to attend a job fair. “Let's hope
we can find someone earlier but in the event we can't this is an
option, and is drivable from San Diego,” he said in an e-mail
he sent at 10:35 a.m. Nov. 13, 2007...

He said he only received pay when asked to travel, which he said amounted to about $10,000 plus expenses. He did not provide documentation. Calls to North Slope Borough officials were not returned yesterday...

Forster said he traveled to Alaska four times since 2007. State law does not require him to disclose the amount he was paid because it was from a government agency...

[Blogger's note: Of course, the public is entitled to the information through a public records request.]

Two years ago, when Cox was running for mayor, she objected to an aide to then-Mayor Steve Padilla doing noncity work on city time. The city worker was photographing Cox and her guests at a fundraiser. The incident led to a county grand jury investigation.

[Blogger's note: The incident led to five felony indictments. Cheryl Cox clearly supported the efforts of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to play dirty tricks on her behalf. The worker who took two hours off pled guilty to a lesser charge; the justice system was abused for Cheryl Cox's political gain. But that wasn't all. The prosecutor in the case, Patrick O'Toole, also went after another opponent of Cheryl Cox, Steve Castaneda.]

In September, City Manager David Garcia was fired over his personal Internet use at work.

Castaneda said Forster's consulting work was brought to his attention earlier this year by then-City Attorney Ann Moore. She learned about his Alaska work when a citizen activist requested Forster's e-mails.

“She told me she was concerned about the fact that e-mails existed and that there were more than just a few of them,” Castaneda said. “I'd like to find out exactly what the scope of all this is, understand why this is permitted and if it legitimately is permitted, I want to start a process to unpermit it, immediately.”

[This page contains a link to Dan Foster documents.]

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox doesn't want an elected city attorney

San Diego Union Tribune, South edition
By Cheryl Cox, Mayor of Chula Vista
October 25, 2008

Do voters really want one more politician in Chula Vista?

[Blogger's response: The City Attorney already IS political in Chula Vista. The job of the appointed city attorney seems to be to make sure that the voters don't know what's going on behind closed doors, and to insist that conducting business as usual is perfectly legal. The city attorney's current job is to help elected officials do whatever they want to do by coming up with a legal justification and sticking to it, no matter how much it violates the letter or the spirit of the law. We learned how much you like to operate in secrecy, Cheryl, from your shenanigans when you were a board member in Chula Vista Elementary School District. We just don't like it.]

Proposition Q would create more politicians and more politics. Proposition Q is bad for Chula Vista.

Does turning the position of Chula Vista's city attorney into a political one make better government? No.

Does it make what a city attorney does more transparent? No.

Does it make the position more accountable and less corruptible? No.

Chula Vista's city attorney is an appointed professional whose duty is to protect Chula Vista taxpayers by providing legal advice to the mayor, City Council and city staff. While saying that the city attorney should be more responsible to the electorate sounds like a good idea, it unwisely burdens the city attorney with representing a consistently shifting idea of what the “public interest” really is.

[Protect the taxpayers? Is that what you call the Laurie Madigan deal pulled off by the law firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, that has represented both you and Ms. Madigan? And how about protecting the people? You weren't doing that when you authorized the expansion of a power plant near Otay Elementary, and a big giveaway to Gaylord.]

The city attorney's primary role is to represent and advise the municipal government. This initiative would create a city attorney whose primary role is to get re-elected, regardless of the impact of campaign politics on the best interests of the city and the increased possibility that officials and departments might consider hiring, at taxpayer expense, their own legal counsel to represent them.

[Come on, Cheryl. The appointed city attorney knows very well that his/her job is to get the people in power reelected.]

The City Council, city departments and agencies rely on fair, objective and nonpolitical advice from the city attorney. Proposition Q isn't about good governance. It puts in place a politician with a built-in incentive to grandstand, litigate and use the office for political purposes.

We should not replace a competent professional with a politician. For one thing, politicians have to solicit campaign contributions. Contributions from those with an ax to grind?

[Your appointed city attorney has to grind your axes, Cheryl, and those of the entire city council.]

An elected city attorney has nothing to do with the size of a city's population. It sacrifices competent, professional legal opinion for being good at politics.This would not be an independent voice! It would be linked inextricably to the political influences of special interests and electioneering.

[Heavens! Do you mean that someone might point out to you the negatives of something you want to do? Horrors! Keep your hands tightly clamped to your ears, Cheryl.]

If Chula Vista elects a politician as its city attorney, the city is in trouble.

Has an elected city attorney worked well for San Diego? Ticket guarantees, pension underfunding...

[Pension underfunding??!! Okay. Stop right there, Cheryl. Casey Gwinn, the city attorney who was involved in the pension underfunding scam was sitting solidly in the lap of Mayor Dick Murphy. He was exactly the person that city officials wanted; he sat silent when he should have given negative feedback. He was just your cup of tea. It's city attorneys like Mike Aguirre that give you the shakes, because they really do represent the people.]

...and millions wasted on politically motivated lawsuits? Proposition Q doesn't restrict this type of behavior. It allows an elected city attorney to file lawsuits without prior council approval.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said that he has “never asked Mr. [City Attorney Mike] Aguirre for anything other than good, timely, well-researched legal advice. To this date, I have not been able to get it. Mr. Aguirre continues to wait until the last minute to put out legal advice, and it's frequently in conflict with what he's told us before. . . . I can't get legal advice that is really necessary when you run a $3 billion corporation.”

[Jerry Sanders was playing politics when he said this. But I think that we should give him his own appointed attorney. I think cities should have two city attorneys, one for the public and one for the officials. And I think the public should hear what BOTH the elected and the appointed attorneys have to say about each issue. This would put pressure on officials to make good choices. An appointed attorney thinks his job is to protect officials from accountability.]

Today, Chula Vista's appointed city attorney doesn't have a vote. He's not the sixth member of the council. And he (or she) shouldn't be.

[An elected city attorney wouldn't get a vote either, Cheryl. Why do you misrepresent the facts?]

The piece above was written by Cheryl Cox, mayor of Chula Vista. Maura Larkins wrote the responses.]

Does Chula Vista need TWO city attorneys?

I suggest that cities need two city attorneys--one to give honest, accurate legal advice, and the other to defend officials.

The voters of Chula Vista want the city attorney to look out for them, and not just for elected officials. Shamefully, Cheryl Cox and other officials want to keep the status quo, in which the city attorney's job has been to help officials do whatever they want, and get away with it. Alternatively, the attorney tells the council what to do, and acts as a de facto city council without being elected.

Election of city attorney to add to political storm
By Tanya Sierra

November 8, 2008

CHULA VISTA – In June 2010, the political landscape in Chula Vista will change again, this time in the office of the city attorney – which some say will be a powerful position at City Hall.

Voters said clearly on Tuesday that they want to elect their city attorney, the way it is done in San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach and other cities.

The elected city attorney, though, will be stepping into a political tempest.

Chula Vista's four council members and the mayor have said they do not believe that politicizing the City Attorney's Office is in the best interest of the city.

Councilman Rudy Ramirez, who debated the issue in community forums several times, said it will be difficult to hold the elected city attorney accountable.

“We are so dependent – as nonattorneys – on that advice for a lot of the decisions we make and the direction that our city goes in,” Ramirez said. “We're at the mercy of that person and that person's advice.”

Community members who lobbied for an elected city attorney say City Hall needs accountability, and that will come with an attorney elected by the people.

No residency requirements will be placed on the position, so an attorney who lives in North County could run for the office.

“Hopefully the person that runs does so because they respect and honor the law and truly represent the people and city of Chula Vista,” Councilman Steve Castaneda said.

As with City Council candidates, those interested in the city attorney position can take out nomination papers with the City Clerk's Office 113 days before the election.

Last month, Chula Vista resident John Moot, an outspoken attorney who is a partner in a San Diego law firm, said he would run for the office. This week, after the proposition passed, he said he would have to wait and see.

“A lot depends on how this economy plays out,” Moot said in an e-mail. “Fortunately, the election is not for two years and there is time to see where both the economy and the City Council is in a year or so.”

Having Moot, a former Chula Vista councilman, in office could further divide the council.

Moot has been an vocal critic of Castaneda and is closely aligned with Mayor Cheryl Cox, even though he is a Democrat and she is a Republican.

In the meantime, officials must decide whether to make interim City Attorney Bart Miesfeld permanent until the election. Miesfeld has been filling in since Ann Moore retired this summer, saying she wanted to be an attorney, not a politician.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Patrick Judd is turned out by new CVESD board member Russell Coronado, but Judd's pal Bertha Lopez wins in SUHSD

Russell Coronado brings a breath of fresh air to Chula Vista Elementary School District



20-year incumbent Patrick Judd failed to keep his board seat in Chula Vista Elementary School District in spite of the efforts of Aurora Murillo-Clark to split the vote.

Clearly, voters had had enough of Mr. Judd, who was recently forced out of his job as superintendent of Mountain Empire Unified School District due to sexual harassment charges.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%


Spoiler Norberto Salazar, however, was successful in splitting the vote for seat 2. Salazar, who can't seem to open his mouth without praising former San Diego police chief David Bejarano, managed to get his idol elected for the first time. Bejarano got his position on the board through appointment.


Precincts Reporting: 100.0%



Patrick Judd's obedient servant Bertha Lopez, however, will apparently carry his torch to Sweetwater Union High School District. This will give Bertha Lopez' cronies on the CVESD board the opportunity to appoint her replacement, instead of allowing the voters to choose. Obviously, the voters' top choice is ARCHIE MC ALLISTER. The board should either appoint Mr. Mc Allister or hold a new election.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%
BERTHA J. LOPEZ - 42.99%



Pearl Quinones kept her SUHSD seat, as expected.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Has the Lincoln Club taken over Chula Vista?

Former CVESD board member Cheryl Cox has brought strife to Chula Vista since she began her race for mayor in 2006

Voice of San Diego
Oct. 31, 2008

...During the past couple of weeks, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council has spent a total of $31,449 supporting Democratic council candidates Pamela Bensoussan and incumbent Councilman Steve Castaneda, according to campaign finance disclosure statements. The San Diego Democratic Party, meanwhile, has spent more than $10,000 supporting Bensoussan in October, the statements show.

The late spending by organized labor and Democrats is an effort to keep pace with outlays in Chula Vista throughout the campaign season by the Republican Party and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County. The GOP this year has spent $43,072 on behalf of Republicans Scott Vinson and Russ Hall, while the Lincoln Club has plunked down $47,543.

The money comes in the form of independent expenditures and so-called "member communications," missives sent only to members of a certain organization. These avenues allow parties, groups and individuals to collect money far beyond the city's individual contribution limits and pour them into campaigns for or against local candidates or initiatives, as long as certain rules are followed.

This cash-infusion, which is a significant step up from previous years, represents an attempt by both labor and business to influence the direction of San Diego County's second largest city as it struggles through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.

Long considered the economic and political center of the South Bay, Chula Vista's coffers ballooned during the past decade as explosive growth in its eastern suburbs came to symbolize the real estate boom.

The city has gained even greater prominence countywide since 2006 when Tennessee-based Gaylord Entertainment unveiled a proposal to build a massive hotel and convention center on the city's bay front. More recently, Chula Vista has ascended to front-runner status as a possible site for a new Chargers stadium.

It has also become the epicenter of the real estate meltdown, with several zip codes that rank among the highest in foreclosure rates in the county. Tumbling with the city's real estate values have been its sales tax revenues. As a result, the city will have to cut $6.3 million out of this year's $143-million budget, and as much as $19 million out of its fiscal 2010 budget.

A year ago, former City Manager David Garcia said the city was facing insolvency due in large part to its profligate spending during the housing boom. Garcia, who was ousted earlier this year, was the second city manager to lose his job within two years.

The GOP and its backers want a business-friendly atmosphere for Gaylord and other bay-front developers. The Democrats and organized labor want the jobs created by new development to be union jobs.

"You cannot understate the importance of the city of Chula Vista and its prosperity to the overall health of the county," said T.J. Zane, the executive director of the Lincoln Club.

Evan McLaughlin, the Labor Council's political director said the prosperity Zane is speaking of is one sided, adding that business interests can no longer be allowed to rule the roost in Chula Vista.

"Under the old way of doing things, the bay front would be done with no one looking out for the quality of the jobs -- only the interests of the developer," McLaughlin said. "Environmentalists have become very active in Chula Vista, as well as the labor community."

Perhaps partly because of all this campaign money and pressure, Chula Vista City Hall has become a snake pit in recent years. Meetings of the five-member City Council, which is made up of two Democratic and two Republican councilmen, and Republican Mayor Cheryl Cox -- often devolve into open and angry warfare over the city's direction.

Zane said the Lincoln Club first began to step up its spending in Chula Vista during Cox's successful 2006 mayoral run against incumbent Steve Padilla.

Long-time Chula Vista community activists and political watchers Peter and Susan Watry said they've felt they city's political climate change for the worse since that election. And they say they are appalled by the spending this year.

"We couldn't believe how much money the Lincoln Club was pouring in last spring," Peter Watry said. "Now the labor people are responding."

Susan Watry, who supported Cox in 2006, but now calls the mayor "divisive," said Tuesday's election is a battle for the "very soul of Chula Vista."

John McCann, hit man? Nasty attacks on Marty Block are in the media, not face-to-face

California Progress Report
78th District
by David Glanzer

Marty Block, the Democratic candidate hoping to win the seat being vacated by termed out Republican Shirley Horton... has a long educational resume and continues to be a tireless advocate for youth. He is currently President of the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees, a former professor, dean and director at San Diego State University and a former President of the San Diego County Board of Education. His wife, as well, is an education advocate and is a teacher with the San Diego Unified School District.

...Conspicuously absent from each community gathering, however, was Block’s Republican opponent John McCann. The statement read each time by the moderator for whatever group was holding the assembly was similar: “He hasn’t replied, but we hope he’ll show up.” And at nearly every event, Marty Block was left sitting opposite an empty chair, the only visage of McCann was a cardboard name placard placed in his stead.
...So upset was one group who was cited in a McCann hit piece, the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club, that their president Vivian Sherrill wrote letters to the editors of several local newspapers. In those letters she said, in part:

“Republican candidate John McCann is deliberately distorting the truth… he is using the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club to do it… he incorrectly quotes Marty Block … and I know this because I am President of the Club, and chaired the event.”

She continues:

“…incidentally, Mr. McCann did not even attend the event…McCann, it seems, is more interested in slinging mud than in getting his facts straight… Mr. McCann should be ashamed of himself.”

If that were all, it would be enough.

But the McCann camp even went so far as to claim that Marty Block was weak on crime. Another perplexing accusation, as Marty Block is endorsed by the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA), The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Peace Officers Research Association and others. Is the McCann camp saying that San Diego Law Enforcement is weak on crime?

This so angered the SDPOA that they issued a stinging condemnation of McCann and went so far as to contribute to a television spot that is currently airing on San Diego network stations...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bertha Lopez opens her personnel file--but she illegally refused to let me see my own CVESD personnel file

In 2002 I sued Chula Vista Elementary School District for violations of the labor code and other illegal actions. Bertha Lopez refused to produce my personnel file.

What are she and the rest of the CVESD board hiding? Is it something that's in the file, or, more likely, is it something that's missing from the file? Among the very few documents produced by CVESD were documents that were altered, pre-dated or post-dated. CVESD hid or destroyed other documents, and failed to create any paper trail at all on important occasions.

Bertha Lopez violated the law in a regular manner during her years as a CVESD board member.

Jaime Mercado, on the other hand, is clearly a person of decency who doesn't step on other people to get ahead. He cares enough about others to give a pay advance to an employee whose salary schedule included two months with no pay each year.

Former superintendent Ed Brand and Bertha Lopez are very much a part of the unethical and greedy inside circle that controls schools in San Diego County.

Here's today's SDUT article about Bertha's request to open personnel files:

Candidates open personnel files; 1 has reprimand
By Chris Moran
October 25, 2008

CHULA VISTA – Rivals in the race for a seat on the Sweetwater Union High School District board opened their personnel files to The San Diego Union-Tribune, revealing overwhelmingly positive evaluations of the 30-plus years each has spent as an educator in South County public schools.

The file of candidate Bertha Lopez, a National School District teacher, contains positive evaluations and no reprimands.

In addition to positive evaluations, incumbent Jaime Mercado's file contains a 2002 letter reprimanding him for using Associated Student Body money to make a loan to an employee. Mercado was principal of Palomar High School in Chula Vista at the time.

Then-Superintendent Ed Brand declined to suspend Mercado in part, he wrote, because “although your judgment was poor, your actions were not self-serving.”

Mercado said he authorized the loan because the employee faced two months without a paycheck because of a lag in the district's payroll system. Mercado said the employee told him that without the money, he would not be able to pay his rent.

The money was restored to the account a month later. Mercado said he used his own money to pay back the account and that the employee reimbursed him in installments.

In a letter of response to the reprimand, Mercado wrote at the time, “I was making up for a payroll system that has for years shamefully abused the basic right of employees to get paid in a timely manner.”

In an interview this week, Mercado called the reprimand letter retaliation by Brand.

[Blogger's note: Ed Brand has become famous for illegal retaliation. He was connected to widespread wrongdoing when he was superintendent of SUHSD, including the Mary Anne Weegar case, in which he retaliated against an administrator who complained that the law was not being followed by the district. He suddenly resigned from San Marcos Unified School District in August 2006. I'm not surprised to hear about more illegal retaliation by Ed Brand.

In the months before the letter was issued, another Sweetwater principal had filed a sexual-harassment claim against a high-level district administrator, and Mercado had agreed to make a declaration that the same administrator had mistreated him. The principal eventually filed a lawsuit alleging that she was wrongfully demoted in retaliation for the sexual-harassment complaint. The district paid $150,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Lopez asked the Union-Tribune to review the files after being asked about a petition dated April 21 signed by her co-workers at John Otis Elementary School. It states that Lopez “is not a team player, and in actuality she has worked assiduously at creating division and tension among staff members.”

Lopez transferred to another school in August, and her personnel file shows that she volunteered for the transfer. The petition and its allegations are not part of her file.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Patrick Judd accused of sexual harrassment

Update: My source turned out to be absolutely correct regarding Patrick Judd's sexual harassment of an employee at Mountain Empire Unified School District. The employee was a principal who was fired after she complained about Judd's behavior. She was awarded $150,000 in San Diego Superior Court.

Several months ago I became aware of a rumor that former Mountain Empire School District superintendent Patrick Judd had been accused of sexual harrassment, but I didn't print it because it was simply a rumor. Judd went on some kind of leave early in 2008, then never went back to work, and retired in June.

One Mountain Empire board member, apparently someone trying to cover for Judd, said that he was on sick leave.


Judd said it wasn't sick leave, but he wouldn't say what it was. Yet Judd had the nerve to run for re-election as trustee of Chula Vista Elementary School District, apparently on a platform of silence. This much is clear: Judd does not believe in openness or honesty.

And neither does Lowell Billings, superintendent of CVESD.

Lowell Billings (photo at left) is Judd's employee in CVESD. But the reverse relationship holds true at The Accelerated School (TAS) in Los Angeles, where Billings is on the board. Apparently Billings felt sympathy for Judd, or political obligation to Judd, and hired Judd as a consultant at the Accelerated (Charter) School.

Recently I read a letter written to the San Diego Union Tribune. It said in part:

"...Every educator in Mt Empire and the entire east county seems to be aware that the former Superintendent (P. J.) did not go out on sick leave because of an illness, but rather because of the same type of claim that Mr. Sandoval, Mr. Lopez and Mr. Poveda would be familiar with, he was not sick rather he was in hot water. You should ask some questions in Mt. Empire and perhaps request a copy of the claim..."

I am inclined to differentiate between true sexual harrassment, the abuse or exploitation of a human being, and the less serious problem of enthusiastic admiration of an attractive individual, which is sometimes inappropriately labeled.


Patrick Judd has a history of abuse of and contempt for women. One example is the Danielle Cozaihr case. Last December CVESD was ordered to pay $1 million for Lowell Billings' and Patrick Judd's actions against a young teacher who made the mistake of having a baby at a program improvement school.

Another example of Judd's misplaced loyalties is the Fred Kamper case.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

John McCain and the CVESD board--which one fomented hysteria?

Why didn't CVESD board membersw or CVE leaders Jim Groth and Peg Myers act more like John McCain when the rumor was going around that a teacher at Castle Park Elementary was on the verge of committing mass murder?

Here's what John McCain said:

"No. No, ma'am. He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."

McCain said this to a woman in Minnesota who said she was scared of Barack Obama because "he's an Arab."

Both the district and the teachers union was determined to keep the Castle Park Elementary staff functioning like serfs during the Dark Ages, uneducated, superstitious, prone to hysteria.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

CVESD and Maura Larkins: a summary of the case

>Many people have told me that my case is so complicated that they simply don't understand it. They have asked for a summary, and here it is.

Maura Larkins v. CVESD was the result of an odd confluence of circumstances, and at the same time it was a typical event in the system that prevails at many schools across the United States. This system values politics and personal loyalty among adults over the duty to educate and protect children.


I had been teaching at Chula Vista Elementary
School District
for 27 years when the problem began.
It started with a family problem: I was
co-administrator of my father's estate,
and one of my brothers was secretly
unhappy about it. He and his ex-wife decided
to use the police to remove me from my position.


I was removed from my classroom
on February 12, 2001 due to a false police report
(see "A False Police Report" on this page)
made by my mentally-ill and substance-abusing
ex-sister-in-law. However, the district didn't
want to admit this, since using the
illegally-obtained police report
(no charges were filed against me)
was a misdemeanor.


There is no chance that the district
would have been charged with a crime
for its silly little misdemeanor
(Labor Code section 432.7), but the district
decided it would rather spend $100,000s
of tax dollars to pay its lawyers to cover up the mistake
than to simply admit it made a mistake.


The reason given by the district for my removal was that
two teachers had called assistant superintendent Richard Werlin
at home on a Saturday evening and said they believed
I might be about to kill them.
Oddly, the district
created NO DOCUMENT at this time to explain
the reason I was removed from my classroom,
nor did it investigate the alarming report.


Within a month, the district changed its story,
saying that only one teacher, Jo Ellen Hamilton,
had called Richard Werlin about me. Hamilton later
testified under oath that she had simply called
Werlin at his invitation to discuss a planned meeting.


On April 3, 2001 I sent a
fax to the district. The next day I was abruptly
asked to return to work, and at the
same time the district belatedly
prepared a document to explain why
I had been removed from my classroom
in the first place. The document
contained a new, completely false
accusation by Richard Werlin and
never mentioned the teacher reports.


I went back to teach in April 2001 because
it seemed clear that my accusers had
been deemed unreliable (either crazy
or dishonest or some combination of the two),
and I assumed that the fabricated excuse in
Richard Werlin's document , was merely
an effort by an embarrassed human resources director
to cover up his mistake.

But I was wrong. It was more than a cover-up;
it was, in fact, a set-up.


A week after returning, Linda Watson, one of the
who had accused me earlier,
and a new accuser who made a written report,
came forward with bizarre allegations.


I did not know it at the time, but the teachers
union, Chula Vista Educators, was
working with my accuser Linda Watson. CVE President
Gina Boyd had worked at my school until 1995, and
although she did not share the motivations
of her friends
at Castle Park Elementary,
she was running for reelection and felt she
needed to keep them happy in order to win.
This effort was supported by California Teachers
Association Board of Directors member Jim Groth.

Richard Werlin, with the approval of the cabinet
(including Libia Gil and Lowell Billings),
had triggered an all-out hysteria at my school.
Two staff members told me that many teachers were afraid
that I was "going to come to school and shoot everybody.”


Without making any effort to
establish that a Columbine-type
event was not in the offing, the
district demanded that I come back
to work in September of 2001. This
time I refused.

My lawyer demanded an investigation
to clear my name and cool down the crucible
that Castle Park Elementary had become, but
the district refused. It was clear that anyone
could make any accusation against me, and it
would be believed and acted on: I was not
safe at work.


Attorney Mark Bresee, who was then working with
Parham & Rajcic and was recently chosen as chief counsel
for Terry Grier at SDUSD, had been giving legal advice
to CVESD up to this point.

When I filed a tort claim on October 4, 2001, attorney Diane Crosier and claims adjuster Rodger Hartnett of San Diego County Office of Education Joint Powers Authority, along with their favorite attorney, Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, became involved.


I filed 3 grievances on November 13, 2001. The very next day the
district threatened me with dismissal. This was a violation of
the Elementary Education Relations Act (EERA) and other laws.

The district took no action on its
threats, however, until I filed a
lawsuit on March 12, 2002. On May
7, 2002 Patrick Judd, Cheryl Cox,
Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez and
Larry Cunningham voted to dismiss
me, thus violating California Labor
Code section 1102.5 which prohibits
retaliation against employees for
reporting wrongdoing. This was also
a violation of the constitutional right
to petition for redress of grievances.


My dismissal was upheld by the
Office of Administrative Hearings.
Judge H. James Ahler conducted
a hearing that was almost as comical
as it was illegal. At one point
Judge Ahler jumped up and
ordered the panelists to join him in a
side room, where he told them to
disregard my testimony. I heard his
words because I was sitting on the
witness stand a few feet from him.
The court reporter and all the rest of us
sat at attention during the ten
minutes the panel was in the little
room, but the judge's words were
not included in the transcript
because the reporter couldn't hear

The school district spent many tax
dollars, and the California Teachers
Association spent plenty of teachers'
dues, to get my lawsuit thrown out.
Perjury by employees was also
required, but the effort seemed to pay off
for the district and CTA when my lawsuit was
dismissed in 2005.


As fate would have it, however, my case
is back in court. CVESD’s law firm,
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz,
brought this case back to San Diego Superior Court
in 2007 by filing a defamation suit against me
for publishing this website.

So it’s still possible that justice and sanity
will find their way back to Chula Vista Elementary
School District.

by Maura Larkins

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Following the Money Trail at Sweetwater Union High School District

If you are one of the people who has been wondering why Sweetwater Union High School District built two gyms for $10 million each while classrooms were overcrowded and inadequate, you will be happy to read SAVE SWEETWATER, a website on which one can find some hard evidence about what is going on.

SUHSD has long been famous for corruption. Chula Vista Elementary has only recently come to rival Sweetwater's reputation.

Mary Anne Weegar and Ed Brand at Sweetwater Union High School District

Sweetwater Union High School District is being faced with a hostile takeover effort by Bertha Lopez, a Chula Vista Elementary Board member and, in that capacity, a fan of lawyer Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, who litigated the Mary Anne Weegar case (below). Bertha has spent $100,000s on Shinoff's firm to cover up wrongdoing at CVESD, and it appears that she can be counted on to do the same at SUHSD. Sweetwater would do well to keep current trustee Jaime Mercado, and let Bertha continue her work with the cynical incumbents at CVESD.

From the SAVE SWEETWATER website
$678,000 Worth of Wrongful Termination

Mary Anne Weegar was the head of categorical programs for the Sweetwater Union High School District until 1999. Categorical programs are programs and money allocated for specific educational purposes by both the state and federal governments. Sweetwater received over $2.5 million in categorical aid from the Federal government and over $4.5 million from the state of California in fiscal year 2001. There are stringent requirements on how categorical money can be used and Weegar attempted to see that the money was spent properly. This was not appreciated by those above her and her authority as watchdog over categorical spending was slowly eroded. A computer whiz student aide who helped Weegar with her computers noticed a form in the Superintendent’s part of the computer network called “Reacquiring of categorical funds” When it was discovered that someone had accessed this part of the network, Weegar was locked out of her office, forced to retire,and the young computer whiz was accosted in the parking lot by a well known Sweetwater sociopath and threatened with denial of graduation. The young man’s father was a cop and soon straightened that out, but Weegar was out of a job and soon filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the District.

The main witnesses called from the district were Superintendent Ed Brand and Chief Financial Officer Barry Dragon. Dragon was formerly with Arthur Anderson and when he was asked recently by a concerned citizen what the Superintendent’s annual salary was, ($200,000), since no one else at the District Office knew, he reacted as if the concerned citizen had threatened to crash a plane into the District Office. When reminded that he and the Superintendent were public servants and that their salaries were from public funds, his venom and hostility subsided and he belatedly divulged the evidently little known fact that Brand (at $200,000 per year) makes more than the Governor of California ($175,000 per year).

When Brand testified, he stated that he had a vast and thorough knowledge of all of Sweetwater’s policies and regulations, but when asked which policy gave him the authority to lock Weegar out of her office, he sat slack-jawed and speechless for over a minute and never could come up with any legal justification for locking out the 30 year veteran employee.

For some board members at Sweetwater Union High School District, it's not about the kids

For many school board members, keeping their power and position is more important than the education of students. Few board members can hold a candle to Jim Cartmill, the favored recipient of developer dollars in Sweetwater Union High School District.

Board member Jaime Mercado has opposed the shameful use of bond money to build two gyms for $20 million instead of building classrooms, the advertised purpose of the bond.

San Diego Magazine
February 2003
Walking the Districts
By Thomas K. Arnold

...In November 2000, South Bay voters approved a $187 million bond measure to pay for improvements at 21 middle and high schools through a property tax surcharge for 25 years. But more than two years later, the only big-ticket projects that have been completed are new gymnasiums at Mar Vista High in Imperial Beach and Sweetwater High in National City.

Officials with the Sweetwater Union High School District, with nearly 38,000 students, maintain the two gyms—each costing more than $10 million—were put on the fast track at the behest of committees of students, parents, teachers and community members. But that hasn’t silenced critics like Bryan Felber, a graduate of district schools who lost his bid for a seat on the Sweetwater board in last November’s election (in which all three incumbents won).

Felber believes it’s time for an outside audit to determine where, exactly, all the Proposition BB money is going. He accuses trustees of building the gyms as a “monument” to impress the community. “Everyone sees the gyms right away, at basketball games and rallies,” he says, “while the community at large can’t go into classrooms. This way, they can point to the gyms, say, ‘Look at what we’ve done’ and pat themselves on the back.”

Meanwhile, conditions are steadily worsening at South Bay schools. Parents in the community of EastLake say their 10-year-old high school is woefully inadequate for the population explosion occurring in the area. Enrollment exceeds the school’s capacity of 2,400 by more than 1,000, and at the beginning of this school year, students were forced to sit on window ledges because there weren’t enough chairs. Sixteen classroom trailers have since been moved on campus to help alleviate overcrowding.

Similar overcrowded conditions exist at Rancho del Rey Middle School, while teachers at Chula Vista Middle School have drawn picket lines to protest the building of an administration center before a new cafeteria to replace the previous one, which had burned down. There’s also grumbling over the fact that a new high school was built in San Ysidro before one in Otay Mesa that was supposed to be built first. The San Ysidro school opened with just 576 students.

“The number-one question I heard when I was out walking precincts,” Felber says, “is ‘Where are the funds? Why aren’t they building classrooms?’”

Board member Jim Cartmill responds, “We formed community-based committees to determine priorities at each school site. Because of the logistics of moving students during construction and the needs of the schools, Sweetwater and Mar Vista opted to build their gyms first, with classrooms attached. The next phase will include additional classrooms and infrastructure improvements.”...

Sweetwater: The Best School Board Money Can Buy?

If you are one of the people who has been wondering why Sweetwater Union High School District built two gyms for $10 million each while classrooms were overcrowded and inadequate,

SUHSD has long been famous for corruption. Chula Vista Elementary has only recently come to rival Sweetwater's reputation.

is a website on which one can find some hard evidence about what is going on.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bertha Lopez and CVESD incumbents rely on spoilers to split the anti-incumbent vote


Below is a discussion that took place in the comments section of "Jaime Mercado, board member of Sweetwater Union High School District."

I am surprised that anyone connected with the CVESD board would have the nerve to bring up the subject of getting people to run to split the anti-incumbent vote.

The CVESD board incumbents and their cronies at Chula Vista Educators seem to keep Norberto Salazar on speed dial for the frequent occasions when they need a spoiler to split the anti-incumbent vote. This year they also seem to have recruited Aurora Murillo-Clark in an effort to stop Russell Coronado. I guess Felicia Starr wasn't available.


Anonymous said...
I have read a lot of your columns. While I don't always agree with your point of view, I respect it. However this action of endorsing Jaime Mercado in light of the blatant and Felonious activities he has participated in, and admitted to, you have lost all credibility in my mind that you aren't really the corruption fighter you claim, you simply have a personal vendetta against those you feel have wronged you and you are just as bad as all the others. So much for reading any more of your stuff.

You SHOULD have endorsed the campaign of Stephanie Alcaraz, who although seems to be politically naive, hasn't broken the law in the last 3 months.

10:39 PM

Maura Larkins said...
I'm willing to learn. Please tell me more about your point of view. I will consider changing my mind.

8:17 AM

[Maura Larkins adds: I've met Stephanie Alcaraz, and she is a gentle person who, I suspect, has no idea how dirty the politics are in Chula Vista Elementary School District and Sweetwater Union High School District, and is almost certainly not associated with the person who started this discussion. That person is obviously opposed to Jaime Mercado, but is not really a Stephanie Alcaraz supporter. A friend wouldn't call the candidate "naive."]

Anonymous said...
I get that you have a problem with those on CV board, including one of Mr Mercado's opponents.

From a standpoint of Integrity and Honesty, breaking the law by encouraging someone to run in his race (where there is only one winner) simply to confuse the voters is very disapointing. While it may not be purjury, it is, according to the Attorney General's office, is against Election Law. At least the stool pigeon he put up to the task turned around and admitted to what they had done. He needs to admit what he did was wrong, instead of spinning some BS about getting more people to run and then apologize to the electorate for assuming that we were idiots.

I don't want someone with that kind of disregard to the law, or our intelligence, and quite frankly other vunerable people, making descisions about the education of my children, and spending my tax dollars.

Again, I know you don't seem to have the time of day for Bertha Lopez, but to simply endorse Mercado given what he has done smacks of anything but Lopez.

1:13 AM

Maura Larkins said...
Thank you for responding. It appears that your accusation is that Mr. Mercado encouraged Trini Lopez to run in order to confuse Bertha Lopez supporters. In fact, Bertha Lopez is guilty of wrongdoing far more serious than this. She has suborned perjury and has spent $100,000s of taxpayer dollars to cover up wrongdoing at CVESD.

11:27 AM

[Maura Larkins adds: When you talk about getting someone to run to split the vote, you need to admit that CVESD board members are the worst offenders, having done precisely this time and again. They have a habit of getting someone who actually supports the incumbent to run in the race in order to split the anti-incumbent vote.

Example 1: Trying to stop the smart and passionate Archie McAllister from unseating David Bejarano, the spoiler is Norberto Salazar, who is on the ballot as an alternative to David Bejarano. Norberto spent the evening of October 1, 2008 singing Bejarano's praises. He is clearly not trying to unseat Bejarano. Norberto Salazar did the same thing in 2006, running as a spoiler to protect incumbent Larry Cunningham from outsider Steve Yagyagan. And Norberto Salazar isn't the only candidate with no apparent reason to run (except to split the anti-incumbent vote).

Example 2: Trying to stop experienced and talented educator and administrator Russell Coronado from unseating Patrick Judd, the spoiler is Aurora Murillo-Clark, an unknown who has no apparent reason for running except to protect the disreputable and longterm incumbent Patrick Judd. Judd recently left work as Superintendent of Mountain Empire School District under mysterious circumstances, and then after a few months announced his retirement. His explanation? None at all--except to say that he was not on sick leave. Judd was also absent from the candidate forum on Sept. 30, 2008.]

Anonymous said...
So you are simply going to endorse the crooked one that didn't work for the district that fired you?

Oh well, check your credibility flying out the window.

12:27 PM

Maura Larkins said...
Okay, you clearly want me to explain why I'm not supporting Stephanie Alcaraz. I know that candidates like to accentuate the positive, but Ms. Alcaraz has taken that dictum too far. She has not expressed any concern about SUHSD's relationship with corrupt lawyers. If Ms. Alcaraz has the courage and determination to refuse to bow to the pressure of those lawyers, she has kept those qualities well-hidden under a facade of docility. If Ms. Alcaraz is naive about what's going on at Sweetwater, then she is not likely to change anything. I don't have a vendetta against anyone, but I am fighting a system of corruption in schools. Bertha Lopez has supported that system with every decision she has made. Why is Lopez challenging Jaime Mercado? Clearly, because he is a challenge to her group of corrupt friends. Why is Stephanie Alcaraz challenging Jaime Mercado? Perhaps she thinks he's too liberal. She says she wants more focus on patriotism and the pledge of allegiance, which sounds nice, but why not more focus on American Government? Too many people think they are patriots, but they don't really want kids to learn too much about American history and values, because then the kids might notice that many flag-wavers are actually hostile to basic American values. Kids need knowledge, not indoctrination.

12:56 PM

[Maura Larkins adds: I think there may be something to the idea that a Bertha Lopez supporter initiated this discussion. The personal animosity of the commenter simply doesn't jibe with a Stephanie Alcaraz supporter. Alcaraz isn't desperate for my support. Bertha Lopez has been desperate for years in her efforts to silence me, going so far as to force employees to commit perjury, and paying $100,000s of tax dollars to lawyers to get my case thrown out of court. That case has recently been reopened in San Diego Superior Court; the issue being litigated is whether the facts I have presented on my website are true.

The commenter is in San Diego, and uses Cox Communications IP address The first comment was posted on September 28, 2008 at 1:00 am. This person came to my blog by doing a google search for "jaime mercado maura larkins."

It also appears that someone who works at the Chula Vista Elementary School District Office is using a CVESD computer for political activities, recently conducting searches for Sweetwater USD trustee Jaime Mercado. IP address visited this blog just minutes before the last anti-Mercado, anti-Larkins post was made. Previously, there have been repeated visits from this IP address, which comes from a Cox Communications server called "" that is different from the regular "" server. This user regularly conducts searches about people and issues connected to CVESD, but has shown little interest in the large amount of information and opinion I have posted on my various blogs about other topics. I became convinced about a year ago that this visitor was working from the CVESD office.

On a positive note, however, this public employee seems to have read my page "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." Let's hope he/she learned something from Patrick Lencioni's excellent analysis of dysfunctional organizations, and will stop trying so desperately to cover up wrongdoing at CVESD.

I suspect that this person is high enough in the organization to be able to come forward with the truth, and to take action to stop the deterioration of Castle Park Elementary School.]

P.S. When will the San Diego Union Tribune start telling the truth about CVESD? I suppose that will have to wait until the paper finds a buyer with some integrity, and Don Sevrens gets fired.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Photos from Chula Vista Peaker Plant Protest October 2, 2008

The young man in the middle drew the colorful posters his family is holding.

The Russell Coronado family

Meanwhile, inside the council chambers, the hearing was taking place. The crowd outside could be heard now and then.

Protest planner Hugo Ivan Salazar at the hearing.

After dark, a crowd waited outside while the CEC (California Energy Commission)hearing went on.

Diana Vera spoke to the crowd.

Why 91911 residents are protesting the Peaker Power Plant

The folloring excerpts were found HERE.

"...The plant was placed practically in the Otay River, which is becoming a county regional park. It is an ugly grey building visible from Montgomery High School across the river and the bridge between Chula Vista and San Diego on Beyer Way. Montgomery High School is a year round school and we observed the heat waves from this peaker every day during the warm summer months. It was used frequently until the owners went bankrupt. The plant is so inefficient that it costs more to operate than SDGE is willing to pay.

"In 2001 the owners applied to add an additional plant of 62.4 mw to the site. This was fought by the city of Chula Vista. The city sited among other concerns Cumulative Impacts. These arguments are valid for the current proposal.

"Those of us living in this section of the Southwest must deal with a large amount of diesel fumes and the particulate matter generated by Hanson's cement making operation in the river bottom. Any additional air pollution is significant in this specific location due to the cumulative effects.

"The zip code 91911 is number 3 in the county in quantity of criteria pollutants and number 7 in toxic pollutants. Our neighborhood does not deserve any more.

"It is rather odd that the city is not making the arguments they made against RAMCO again to fight this new proposal. The council authorized the sending of the RAMCO letter on June 5, 2001. Two of the current council members were on the council then. It is difficult to understand how they could now support a 100mw plant in the same spot..."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don Sevrens and the SDUT help Bertha Lopez hide wrongdoing

On August 30, 2008 the San Diego Union Tribune published a sorry excuse for an editorial in its south county edition that includes the following statement:

"We have criticized from time to time Bertha Lopez, a busy individual, for failing to respond to media and public inquiries. We have never criticized her integrity."

This editorial appears to me to be the work of Don Sevrens, who regularly manages to avoid logical consistency in his opinions. In fact, Don Sevrens and the SDUT have been kept well-informed about Bertha Lopez' wrongdoing, but they have kept her secrets for many years. Even when writing about the "Castle Park Five," Sevrens and the SDUT kept quiet about the concurrent court case that involved wrongdoing by Bertha Lopez and the rest of the CVESD board as well as several members of the group of five teachers transferred out of Castle Park Elementary.

Photo taken at Castle Park High School candidate forum October 1, 20008. Bertha Lopez is at right, and candidate Stephanie Alcaraz is at left.

Jaime Mercado and Pearl Quinones October 1, 2008.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why doesn't city manager Dave Garcia claim executive privilege?

The legislative body of Chula Vista (the city council), spent the evening a couple of days ago examining what they suspected (hoped?) were pictures of Pamela Anderson and other women downloaded from the Internet by the executive branch of Chula Vista, specifically city manager Dave Garcia.

Why didn't Chula Vista's executive branch refuse to turn over the documents? Mayor Cheryl Cox is an expert at keeping secrets, a skill she developed at Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Perhaps Cox needs a review course in how it's done, so I offer the following:

Palin Claims Executive Privilege
Think Progress
Sept. 10, 2008

The Washington Post reports that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is “being asked by a local Republican activist to release more than 1,100 e-mails she withheld from a public records request, including 40 that were copied to her husband, Todd.” Invoking a favored practice of the Bush administration, Palin has claimed executive privilege to keep the e-mails secret — despite the fact many of them were sent to Todd, who is not an elected official.

What’s more, Palin and her staff intentionally use her personal Yahoo e-mail account, perhaps to avoid document release requests:

Palin also routinely does government business from a Yahoo address,, rather than from her secure official state e-mail address, according to documents already made public...

The lawyer filing the request pointed out that the point of government e-mail is to ensure “security and encryption.” “She’s running state business out of Yahoo?” he asked...

Palin’s move is eerily reminiscent of Bush administration ploys to dramatically increase secrecy in government, such as when White House aides switched to personal e-mail accounts to avoid subpoenas during the investigation into U.S. Attorney scandal last year:

"But just a week after E-mails in the U.S. attorneys case became a main focus of congressional Democrats probing the firings, several aides said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence..."

As Josh Marshall pointed out at the time, if the White House was using personal e-mails, “they can’t have even the vaguest claim” to executive privilege [regarding the emails that used the government email]...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Southwestern College administrators Arthur Lopez and Greg Sandoval in sexual harrassment lawsuit

School attorneys in San Diego county don't settle claims. They love the money they get from lawsuits.
By Chris Moran
September 2, 2008

A student services assistant at Southwestern College has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against three administrators, including a vice president.

Martha Jimenez alleges in a suit filed in San Diego Superior Court late last month that she “involuntarily accepted” demands for sex from Arthur Lopez, the director of financial aid. Lopez resigned in June.

According to the lawsuit, Lopez would tell Jimenez during their sexual encounters to remember that her evaluation was coming up and who got Jimenez her job.

Lopez's attorney has denied Jimenez's accusations against his client.

Greg Sandoval, vice president of student affairs, is also named in the suit...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Why was a mild essay about Patrick Judd blanked from my website?

Patrick Judd has a lot of control over the media. He succeeded in keeping the story of my lawsuit against CVESD out of the Chula Vista Star-News (above) and the San Diego Union Tribune.


I have long wondered how sentences, paragraphs and entire pages have suddenly disappeared from my Yahoo website from time to time. Attorney Ljubisa Kostic told me recently (when he was deposing me) that all someone has to do to get something removed is to complain to Yahoo. My guess is that the "someone" has to be a lawyer threatening a lawsuit for defamation. Yahoo hasn't admitted this to me, but Mr. Kostic could be right.

So the question becomes: Why did a particular paragraph or page disappear? Was it offensive? Illegal? Defamatory?

No, apparently that's not necessary. Take for example the following passage that disappeared from my "Seven Happy Clowns" page recently:

Judd says that having even one member
on the board who supports teacher unions
would destroy the board’s “collegiality.”

But what does “collegiality” mean?

In this case, it means that the current
board has agreed to hide its conflicts
from the voters. Important
differences exist between Judd and
the two board members who respect
teachers, Cheryl Cox and Bertha
Lopez. Judd's opponent, Jill Galvez,
would bring MORE collegiality to the
board because she shares the
positive attitudes of the board’s two
most forward-thinking members, Cox
and López.

[Blogger's note: Cheryl Cox and
Bertha Lopez, as it turned out, joined
Judd, Pamela Smith and Larry Cunningham
in a long series of unanimous and
irresponsible decisions. They were not
as forward-thinking as I had imagined.]

School boards who keep secrets DO
NOT benefit taxpayers or children;
they only benefit incumbents.

They conduct trade-off diplomacy: I'll
vote for yours if you'll vote for mine,
and the public will never know what
our disagreements were.

Why not do the RIGHT THING EVERY

Probably Mr. Judd genuinely believes
in what he is doing, but his rigidity is
an obstacle to progress in Chula Vista
Elementary School District.

The five-member school board is not
smarter than all the people of Chula
Vista put together.

The decision-making process needs
to become open to all. Does
disagreement result in worse
decisions? No! It results
in BETTER decisions because more
ideas are considered. We need to
hear from educators who DON’T

I honestly can't figure out how anybody could convince Yahoo to remove this mild opinion piece.

So I'm back to wondering if friends of Patrick Judd have been hacking my website.

P.S. A few months ago, part of my California Teachers Association webpage was blacked out, as opposed to being blanked out.

A note to Patrick Judd: Teachers play politics with education just like you do. They need leadership to learn collaboration. I suggest you read "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jaime Mercado, board member of Sweetwater Union High School District



Precincts Reporting: 100.0%
BERTHA J. LOPEZ - 42.99%


Patrick Judd's obedient servant Bertha Lopez will apparently carry the torch to Sweetwater Union High School District. This will give Bertha Lopez' cronies on the CVESD board the opportunity to appoint her replacement, instead of allowing the voters to choose. Obviously, the voters' top choice is ARCHIE MC ALLISTER. The board should either appoint Mr. Mc Allister or hold a new election.


I am well-acquainted with Jaime Mercado's most serious opponent in the upcoming SUHSD election, and that familiarity causes me to support Jaime Mercado's candidacy. Bertha Lopez has proven that she can be controlled by those in power, even to the point of agreeing to violate the law with them.

Sweetwater would do well to keep Mr. Mercado.

February 25, 2005
By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Board member says he’s ‘student-oriented’

In January, Jaime Mercado began his first term at Sweetwater School District Board

Jaime Mercado knows the Sweetwater Union High School District right to its core.

He is a former student, teacher’s aid, teacher, assistant principal, principal, and, after winning a tight election in November, a board member...

But it is his new role as a board member what he considers to be his most important period at the district, because he said he now can take part in the decisions being made...

Mercado has always been critical of the district’s administration, and during his campaign he said he would always vote in favor of the interests of students, even if it meant going against the current...

Mercado said that he has three main points he would like to tackle during his term:

1. District is top-heavy with administration: Mercado proposes the reorganization of administration in order to achieve positive changes in the district.

2. Classroom space: Mercado said the district needs more classrooms, so he is in favor of building more. “I’m very vocal about this issue,” he said.

3. L Street District headquarters: Mercado said he is completely against the proposed building of the District headquarters on L Street. “As long as students don’t have a proper environment for learning and teachers don’t have the right resources for teaching, the district’s leadership doesn’t deserve the privilege to have new offices,” Mercado said. “I don’t believe it’s right to take money away from the classrooms and invest it in office space.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lowell Billings on board of Accelerated Charter School that hired Patrick Judd as consultant

Patrick Judd and Lowell Billings: old friendships never die?

For many months school districts all over southern California have been doing Google searches for mysteriously retired superintendent Pat Judd of Mountain Empire School District. They all decided against him--except for a small charter school in Los Angeles.

It seems there's always a charter school with interesting board members who will give a job to a guy who has left his job under suspicious circumstances.

Judd is now a consultant at Accelerated Charter School in Los Angeles.

I looked at the school's web page and was taken aback to see that one of the trustees is none other than Lowell Billings, who is superintendent of Chula Vista Elementary School District in San Diego county, where Patrick Judd sits on the board.

What is Lowell Billings doing on the board of a charter school in Los Angeles, you may ask? It turns out that the world of education is a small one, which helps explain a lot of things, including the lack of new ideas.

I was chagrined, but not surprised, to also find that Charles Oppenheim, of the law firm Foley & Lardner, is on the board. Education attorney firms are given huge amounts of money to protect the status quo in education.

Judd is being paid as a consultant, and he's acting the only way he knows how to act: lots of hostility, little insight. Judd once memorably stated that we've known for a hundred years how to educate kids. This is a man firmly planted in the early 1900's. Apparently he hasn't noticed that kids have changed.

Reports have already started coming out of Accelerated Charter School about Patrick Judd's shenanigans.

Patrick Judd causing problems at Accelerated Charter School in Los Angeles

Thank you to Jill who answered my question about Pat Judd:

"Patrick Judd has moved on to The Accelerated Charter School in Los Angeles. Quite obviously they were not one of the many who did a google search on him.

"In the first week so far he has made a horrible environment for everyone, using a strong arm approach and blaming teachers for all previous problems. He has made it clear that things will be very negative this year, and that teachers are the main cause of any problems at a pretty good school. Everything he does sets a tone for an angry staff, and I do foresee new lawsuits to arise from his inappropriate behavior.

"They must have been nuts to let this guy into another school. He is pulling a consulting fee so that he still gets his retirement package. He has no business around any school, at any time."

I was wondering how Judd got this job, and I quickly found the answer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No laptops, just lapdogs, for Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox

Cheryl Cox’s May 28, 2008 memo to City Manager David Garcia is chock-full of pettiness and hypocrisy. Her directives make no sense, except as an effort to harass Mr. Garcia:

Cheryl Cox: “Do not use your personal laptop in your office.”

This is nitpicking, overbearing interference. Cox sounds like she’s reverted to her days as an elementary school teacher. But was she that unreasonable when dealing with children? Show some respect, Mrs. Cox.

Cheryl Cox: “While we appreciate that you often work long hours and you are entitled to take time off, this time off should primarily be spent out of the office.”

That directive is harmful to the City of Chula Vista, Ms. Cox. When the City Manager spends time in the office when he could rightfully be on the beach, he is available to deal with emergencies and routine questions and issues that come up, whether from another employee or a member of the public.


Cheryl Cox: “You are reminded that retaliation against any City employee... is a violation…”

Cheryl Cox is a big fan of retaliation, particularly that carried out by the Director of Human Resources as directed by the public entity’s attorney. As a Chula Vista Elementary School District board member, she violated California Labor Code 1105.2 by firing an employee for filing grievances and a lawsuit.

Cheryl Cox: “However, you should understand that your failure to abide by [the rules]… may result in the termination of your employment.”

If Cheryl Cox were held responsible for her violations of the laws of California, she’d be out of a job. Yet she wants to fire the City Manager for using his personal laptop computer in his office?

Cheryl Cox: “We share your hope that these steps will bring these matters to a close.”

I don’t believe Cheryl is telling the truth here. I think she wants to fire Garcia because he’s too honest and open, two traits she neither shares nor approves of. It seems Cheryl wants to replace a laptop with a lapdog.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When Teachers Abuse Power by Heather Johnson

When Teachers Abuse Power

"Teaching is a noble profession, one that demands a great deal of patience and flexibility. A teacher plays different roles in the lives of students; besides giving them an education, they also act as guides and mentors. Children spend most of their waking hours at school, which is why it’s important for teachers to be accessible to the students not just as educators but also as a friend. While there are some teachers who live in your memory as the ones that did make a huge positive impact, there are others who are remembered for reasons that are both shameful and a disgrace to the field of education as a whole.

"Teachers are given a degree of power over the students they teach – they are trusted by both the school authorities and the children’s parents to use that power judiciously and for the general good of the children. But there are some bad eggs who give the entire teaching fraternity a bad name; they’re the ones who use their position and authority for their own purposes, some more horrendous than others.

"We routinely hear of teachers sexually abusing children in their care; some of them are so perverted that they film their dirty deeds and sell them for profits. As if this were not enough, they hold the threat of bad grades over their students’ heads if they tell anyone what happened. Statistics state that around 5 percent of teachers and coaches abuse minors, but this is not a true reflection of the state of events. The number of incidents that are unreported are much more than those that are. Most students are afraid to come out in the open fearing the repercussions – the ostracism from their peers, the future of their education and the effect the media impact would have on their lives and that of their loved ones.

"Abuse need not be sexual to be detrimental to the well-being of students – some teachers send children on the wrong path by encouraging them to smoke, drink and do drugs. Others play favorites in a blatant manner, with the students who are affected being powerless to do anything to bring the offenders to book.

The reason that such incidents are widespread is that most students look up to their teachers and are willing to go to any lengths so that they are not disappointed in them. A subtle word here and a small hint there are enough to make these immature minds fall prey to the more cunning brains of their educators. The only way to prevent this from happening to your child is to educate him/her in the ways of the world and warn them of the dangers that could befall them if they are not careful. Parents must play an active role in every aspect of their children’s lives and encourage them to report any untoward incident, no matter how trivial it may seem."

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.