Friday, January 25, 2013

Dan Winters to be first principal of Camarena Elementary

I agree with Mr. Winters that building kids up starting at an early age is extremely rewarding. And I think "Camarena" is an excellent choice as the name of the new school.

Dan Winters to be first principal of Camarena Elementary
By Caroline Dipping
JAN. 21, 2013

CHULA VISTA — Veteran South County educator Dan Winters has been named the inaugural principal of Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School, which is slated to open its doors in July. Winters is currently principal of Salt Creek Elementary.

Winters, 50, has been a principal in the Chula Vista Elementary School District since he was hired at Halecrest Elementary in 2004. Before that, he spent 17 years at Castle Park High School as a teacher, basketball coach and administrator.

The Eastlake resident said making the move from the high school to elementary school level was a culture shock “all in a good way,” and he never looked back.

“I loved high school and loved that age, but found I really had an opportunity in elementary school to build kids from day one educationally,” Winters said. “It’s been a great blessing.”

Winters is already crafting his vision for the success of Camarena Elementary, which was named last spring to commemorate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was kidnapped and killed in 1985 while on assignment in Mexico. Located in the Otay Ranch Village 11 area, the 11.85-acre campus will accommodate up to 800 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about schools,” he said. “I would say if there is one thing I’d like to accomplish, I think of it as being when a kid wakes upon a Saturday morning, I hope the first thought is ‘Darn! It’s not a school day.’

“That is the picture I want to paint. Learning is exciting. My goal is to increase and multiply that in every classroom every day.”

Dual immersion studies and technology will play a big part in the school’s curriculum, Winters said. A passionate reader of fiction and nonfiction, he said literacy will still be the cornerstone of learning.

Winters graduated from Castle Park High in 1980. (“Once a Trojan, always a Trojan,” he said. “I bleed red and black.”) A graduate of San Diego State University, he earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from National University and his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of La Verne.

He joined Castle Park High’s faculty in 1986, where he taught English and ESL for seven years. An avid basketball player, he then coached Castle Park’s junior varsity and varsity teams for several years before moving into administration as attendance coordinator and assistant principal.

“I never intended to get into administration, but I found I loved it and I was good at it,” Winters said. “I connected with the kids and staff.”

Winters is married to his high school sweetheart, Leila Kashani, who is the assistant principal at Hilltop High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District. They have two children, one in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hepatitis A case reported at Castle Park Head Start program

Hepatitis A case reported in Chula Vista
Person at Castle Park Head Start program diagnosed
10 News

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A person at the Castle Park Head Start program in Chula Vista was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, and the county of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency reported Thursday that parents and staff are being notified of potential exposure.

Staff and children who ate breakfast at the facility at 1375 Third Ave. between Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 are at risk for contracting Hepatitis A. The illness is usually spread when someone ingests microscopic amounts of fecal matter from contact with food, drinks or objects contaminated by someone who is infected, according to the HHSA.

"The risk to the public is low, but anyone who was at the Head Start who was notified about the exposure should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

"Anyone who has been immunized with Hepatitis A vaccine or previously had the disease is considered protected from the virus, but we encourage anyone who has not had the vaccine and who may have been exposed to contact their health care provider to discuss options for prevention," she said.

Wooten said the early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure and commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, light color stools, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowness to the eyes or skin -- a condition called jaundice.

The illness varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer, according to the HHSA. Some people, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all, but mildly ill people can still be highly infectious and should consult a physician.

The HHSA said Hepatitis A vaccine is routine for infants when they reach their first birthday, and is the preferred preventive treatment for healthy persons up to 40 years old, and may be considered in older patients because it provides long-term protection.

Individuals can obtain Hepatitis A immunizations through their primary care physicians. Children without health insurance can obtain the vaccine at County Public Health Centers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Race For South Bay School Board Seat Gets Ugly

I remember that a few years ago a CVESD board candidate running against Bertha Lopez said that some young men forced him to leave a street corner where he stood with one of his campaign signs. It sounds like Pearl Quinones friends use similar tactics.

Race For South Bay School Board Seat Gets Ugly
By Diana Guevara
Oct 31, 2012

A race for a seat on a South Bay school board is getting ugly as one candidate accuses another for terrorizing her family.

When Jesseca Saenz-Gonzalez decided to run for Sweetwater Union High School District's Seat Two, she knew it was not going to be easy. But she says things have gotten out of control.

Gonzalez claims a 12th-grade boy has been stalking her, taking photos of her young children and has damaged her campaign car with rocks.

She also alleges one of the rocks went through the window and struck her husband in the face.

“I know that we open ourselves up when we're running for a campaign," Saenz said. “But when it comes to children, that's where I draw the line."

Gonzalez has filed four police reports with the Chula Vista Police Department with incidents dating back to September.

“As far as throwing something in the vehicle, if the person’s intent is to cause harm, it could be a felony," said Captain Gary Wedge with the Chula Vista Police Department. "If a person is throwing water balloons in car, it could be a misdemeanor."

Wedge says they are still looking into whether there is any connection to Gonzalez's campaign.

For more voter information and news related to next week's election, check out our Vote San Diego section.

Gonzalez believes her opponent Pearl Quiñones is behind the boy's antics.

“She doesn't have a platform,” said Quiñones, the current Board President for the Sweetwater Union High School District to NBC 7. “So she's just trying to run on something that she's going to discredit me."

Quiñones says the boy, whose name we are not disclosing since he is a minor, is a friend of the family.

“He's working for my campaign, not against hers, “said Quiñones

Gonzalez told NBC 7 she has since hired private security guards to escort her and her family.

Gonzalez and Quiñones are two of four candidates who will face off for Sweetwater Union High School District's Seat 2 on November 6.

Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Maura Larkins defamation suit finally takes a step toward wrapping up

Good news for Bertha Lopez three days after her arraignment.

Today Stutz law firm finally filed a request for judgment in the Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Maura Larkins defamation case. The lawsuit has been going on for over five years, and it has already gone to the Court of Appeal once, resulting in a loss for Stutz in its effort to enforce a bizarre injunction.

Stutz waited over five months to file for judgment since my answer was stricken on July 27, 2012. I have know idea why they waited so long.

I imagine Judge Judith Hayes wasn't happy about the long wait. Here are some quotes from the court transcripts showing how intensely Judge Judith Hayes wants to silence me.

Judge Hayes absolutely refused, even when striking my answer, to state whether she was aware that she was accusing me of currently publishing statements that had actually been erased from my website or were from public court records.

Even James Holtz seems to have some qualms about the judge's actions. He actually waived the $5000 sanction she gave me on May 30, 2012.

I am very confident that her decision to strike my answer will be overturned on appeal.

There is good news for each of the 100 people sued without being named by Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz in its defamation case against me. They've all been dismissed from the case!

Chula Vista Elementary School District is part and parcel of the case. My website discussed in detail the illegal actions of Bertha Lopez, Pam Smith, Larry Cunningham, Cheryl Cox and Patrick Judd. Nobody wants to believe that there is corruption in schools (that's where we send our babies!), and I was slow to believe it myself, but White Chalk crime is real.

In 2008, Bertha Lopez and the rest of the CVESD board gave tax dollars to support Stutz law firm in this case, although it is illegal for public entities to sue for defamation. CVESD hired Stutz to quash my deposition subpoenas for board members. Why didn't they pay one of their other law firms to do it? Perhaps they didn't want their other lawyers to know the facts of the case.

The request is a bit odd in some respects.

Stutz sued me in October 2007, but its prove-up of damages only mentions hits on my website for December 2010 and beyond. Where are the damages that Stutz claimed to have in 2007 when it filed suit? How about 2008, 2009 and 11 months in 2010?

Isn't it likely that by suing me, they themselves caused my website to have more hits?


Also, I imagine most people look at my site and think, "Ah! A disgruntled ex-employee!" Of course, other people might think, "Ah! Only the disgruntled ex-employees will tell the truth about what's going on inside their place of employment."

But the point that Stutz is supposed to address in its prove-up is whether it was actually damaged. Did it lose clients because of my website? How can they tell? It is true that some clients left, such as Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College, but wasn't it most likely a result of all the legal problems that the college had when Stutz represented them? (Think Omero Suarez, David Agosto.) If they'd been happy with Stutz, they wouldn't fire their law firm just because I had issues with Stutz. I'm sure Grossmont-Cuyamaca knows much more about Stutz than I do.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Bertha Lopez fit in perfectly at Sweetwater Union High School District

I always suspected that Bertha wanted to move to Sweetwater Union High School District because there was even more corruption there than at CVESD. SUHSD has long been home to attorney Bonny Garcia and other cronies of Jaime Bonilla of Otay Water District. One of those cronies was Bertha's husband, Jose Lopez, so she must have known what she was getting into.

Someone asked me the other day about my reaction when Bertha got indicted.

"It wasn't altogether surprising," I said. "I knew that when she was on the CVESD board she supported the policy of violating the law to cover-up crimes and other wrongdoing."

Bertha Lopez was on the CVESD board that fired me for reporting wrongdoing. I was specifically fired for filing grievances and a lawsuit. This is a violation of California Labor Code Section 1102.5.

Patrick Judd, another one of the board that fired me for filing grievances and a lawsuit, was found liable for sexual harassment.

Sadly, the system of mutual support between contractors and board members continues at both CVESD and SUHSD. CVESD even named a school after Corky McMillan. The students don't benefit just because the board members change; the system stays the same.

See San Diego Rostra to get information about Bertha Lopez' campaign donations from contractors.

Lopez: 'We are singing in the rain, all of us together!'
Aaron Burgin
North County Times (owned by San Diego Union Tribune)
January 5, 2013

Bertha Lopez, first elected to the Sweetwater board in 2008, won re-election in November when she defeated former Chargers defensive lineman Burt Grossman in a heated race. She works for the National School District where she has served as a bilingual teacher and reading/language arts specialist.

District Attorney’s investigators raided Lopez’s home on Dec. 20, 2011, though she was not initially charged with her board colleagues Ricassa and Quiñones.

Lopez has long contended that she came forward as a whistle-blower early in the investigation. Pokorny reiterated this earlier this week.

Court documents make numerous mentions of Lopez, including lunch and dinner meetings with officials from SGI Construction and Gilbane Construction. The partnership won a coveted contract to manage Sweetwater’s $644 million Proposition O building campaign.

July 13, 2008: Lopez, then a Chula Vista Elementary School District board member, was one of several people who went to Morton’s Steakhouse for an event for the group La Raza. The $1,700 meal was paid for by Henry Amigable, a construction executive who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in May and is cooperating with county prosecutors.

July 29, 2008: According to search warrant affidavits, SGI executive Jaime Ortiz emailed company President Rene Flores stating that Gandara suggested SGI and Gilbane should donate $10,000 each to Lopez’s campaign for school board. Lopez previously told The Watchdog that she had no knowledge of Gandara’s solicitation on her behalf.

Oct. 2, 2008: SGI donated $15,000 to the “Yes on Prop X” campaign on Lopez’s behalf, according to court documents. Proposition X was a $17 million bond measure passed in the South Bay Union School District. Lopez previously told The Watchdog that she wasn’t aware of the donation.

April 1, 2009: SGI donated $2,000 directly to Lopez’s campaign.

June 8, 2009: According to an email from Sweetwater school board clerk Sandi Smith sent to Flores, Lopez requested that Flores attend an award ceremony hosted by the YWCA. Flores agreed to attend and paid for a $1,500 table and gave the rest of the seats to Lopez and her guests, court documents say.

Oct. 14, 2009: Ortiz emailed Arlie Ricasa telling her he was trying to set up a meeting with Flores and Lopez at El Vitral downtown the next day.

Dec. 2, 2009: SGI hosted a holiday party at El Vitral Restaurant. In attendance were Ricasa and her husband, Lopez, Ortiz and Flores, among others.

Feb. 11, 2010: Flores emails Sweetwater general counsel Bonifacio “Bonny” Garcia to confirm dinner with Otay Water District board member Jaime Bonilla and Lopez. Garcia was working for the water district at the time.

Aug. 30, 2011: In an email conversation between Flores and Bertha Lopez, Flores says, “You looking on spending in the low 20?” She replies, “Yes! Remember my husband just retired. I need to send him to get another job! HA! HA! Thanks for help.” Two other emails, Lopez said, were about $55 million in state matching money given to the district for construction purposes — and a district plan to temporarily use it for other purposes. “The cookie monster eat the 55 million,” Flores wrote. Lopez responded, “Don’t worry I’ll take care of the 55 million dollars! Yes, we are singing in the rain, all of us together! HA HA.” Lopez said the “spending in the 20” was in reference to her search for a car to buy and that she had asked Flores if he knew of any good dealerships in his area. She said the $55 million refers to $55 million in state matching money given to the district for construction purposes that the district then proposed using to pay other bills due to shortfalls in funding from the state.