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Contributions unlimited Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Feb 23 2013 12:00 PM

A resolution to limit campaign contributions to candidates for the Sweetwater Union High School District board failed Tuesday for lack of support.

Trustee Bertha Lopez made the motion to pass the resolution, which sought to place a $750 limit on contributions and limit contributors to individuals. She did not receive a second.

The district does not currently have a limit on the amount or type of campaign contributions that a school board candidate can accept.

The agenda item has been brought up in recent years by community members as a means to eliminate bad public perception and show transparency among board members.

Members of the public weren’t surprised at the decision during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

Community member and parent Maty Adato has attempted to get the resolution on the agenda for the last year.

During a January board meeting, Adato advised the board she retained an attorney in order to get a court order from the superior court to have the item agendized.

“They weren’t going to put it on the agenda if I hadn’t consulted an attorney,” she said.

During public comment Adato asked the board to pass the resolution.

“All eyes are on you tonight,” she said. “Will you do the right thing? Will you recuse yourselves or will you let the resolution die?”

Board Vice President Arlie Ricasa told Adato that through the work of a committee to be formed to craft another resolution, it could be amended and considered without waiting a year.

Adato said she intends to email board President Jim Cartmill, seeking a volunteer position on the committee.

Adato wasn’t the first to bring the resolution to the board.

Former Sweetwater district educator Nancy Stubbs first presented it during a December 2011 meeting, based on the majority of donations from vendors rather than the general community. The request failed.

Board trustee John McCann said while he supports the idea with the committee, changes  need to be made to the resolution.

“It has a gaping hole for special interests,” McCann said. “We need to make sure that it’s legal, proper and I’d like to see an analysis to see what other municipalities are doing throughout the state. I do think we need campaign finance reform but it doesn’t need to be half-baked.”

The three-page resolution states: “no person, other than a candidate, shall make a contribution in excess of $750.00 for a single election contest. No candidate shall solicit or accept a contribution in excess of $750.00 from a person for a single election contest.”

It also states that no organization, business proprietorship, labor union, firm, joint venture, business, trust, company, association or committee, among others, could make a contribution be it a gift, loan, advance, deposit, pledge, contract, agreement or promise, directly to any candidate for more than $750.

San Diego County, the city of Chula Vista, city of San Diego and San Diego city schools have adopted ordinances regulating campaign contributions.

In 2012 the Southwestern College governing board passed a campaign finance reform initiative placing a cap on political contributions at $1,000 per donor.

SWC board member Humberto Peraza brought the motion to the board based on city and community college models to minimize the influence on board elections and district decision-making.

“High schools and elementary school districts don’t have limits,” Peraza said last year. “Unlimited is unacceptable…

When you start having checks for $30,000, I think that’s a problem.”

The resolution comes during a tumultuous time — four of the five board members face criminal charges, some of which relate directly to campaign contributions.

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anniej Says:

Mon, Feb 25 2013 07:52 PM

sosocal - with Brand and Russo being friends with Ducek and Ward (super at the County) I am doubting if anything will be done until the County receives a knock on their doors demanding answers. Just what this City/County does NOT need is another scandal. But hey, we tried to warn the, didn't we?

It is clear the majority of this board tuned us out a very long time ago - name me ONE TIME when John McCann, Jim Cartmill or Arlie Ricasa have agreed with us on an important issue - JUST ONE TIME. Yet the FBI and DA thought what we had to say was MORE then credible.

WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT Mcann, Cartmill or Ricasa? If we have been right on the issues what does that make them? Tongues are wagging and heads are shaking - and these three are viewed in a very negative light.

sosocal Says:

Mon, Feb 25 2013 09:26 AM

anniej, this majority board has taken an extremely defensive position, which considering how offensive they are, collectively and in person, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. All that aside, the big question is still why? I can only conclude they are circling the wagons because they are trying to hide something, and the closer we get, the more frantic and antic they become. Eyes on the prize--that forensic audit.

When the new financial system (that the county is at long last requiring Sweetwater to participate in) kicks in, will we find out what has been going on? Or will the County B of E decide that discretion is the better part of valor, and hide everything, so the public won't know how much of their tax and bond funds have been frittered away, given away to cronies, or even just palmed?

We must demand the most thorough accounting of all of Sweetwater's accounts, because I am sure there are some long-hidden secrets that should be made public.

anniej Says:

Sun, Feb 24 2013 03:00 PM

so social - many are wondering about the whys. why is this board continuing to make such obvious choices. there is only one rational answer - they see this as THEM AGAINST US.

in truth it has nothing to do with them or us - but everything to do with the STUDENTS. when are they going to take their wounded egos out of their votes as board members?

an indisputable truth - this group is not capable of choosing a strong superintendent who will lead with integrity and who is truly interested in educating our students. NO, 'the gandara' and Ed Brand are proof of that - both were/are in it for SELF.

sosocal Says:

Sun, Feb 24 2013 09:44 AM

If John McCann thinks there are loopholes in this resolution, is he capable of standing up publicly and stating just what those loopholes are?

I didn't think so.

ANYONE who reads the resolution--and it isn't very long--can conclude that it contains a very complete list of those entities that are not allowed to contribute more than $750 for "a single election contest".

Try as a might, I cannot come up with a group that could still contribute more than that $750--because "organization" as a term covers a great deal of ground.

Once again, those of us who follow these issues carefully are fully aware that John McCann is stonewalling--standing in the way of the public's right to reclaim their input into the direction of Sweetwater Union High School District. His posturing doesn't fool anyone.

Does he still fool himself? Or is it dawning on him that his chosen course of (non)action renders him a complete nonentity politically? Meaning: he is sinking his own ship.

Why would someone do that? Is there anything for him to gain by continuing to do the bidding of Fast Eddy, or whoever it is who calls the shots for Fast Eddy?

If McCann doesn't end up as mayor of Chula Vista, what is plan B? Just what would make McCann continue to defy the wishes of his constituency--and just what is it that would make him think that his constituency would want him around if their wishes are continually ignored and subverted?

anniej Says:

Sat, Feb 23 2013 07:55 AM

I believe this article CLEARLY INDICATES that John McCann failed to EVEN READ the agenda item. The question is, how many of the board members were in on the plot to, once again, deceive the taxpayers by claiming their were holes in the resolution that would exempt special interest groups. Ms. Ricasa agreed with McCann - look lets cut to the chase all of these people know how to read so, either did didn't read the agenda item or, as I believe THEY PLOTTED AGAINST IT.

Neighbors THIS is indicative why the majority of the board has to go. Ms. Lopez IMEDIATELY spoke up in favor , but all of the rest, being led by Brand were of a different mind. LOOSE ALL THAT MONEY?, surely you jest! Have to get out there and actually campaign based on their record, - not going to happen.

Neighbors, this is what we are plagued with currently and this is why John McCann, Pearl Quinones, Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa have got to go. They are warring against us, we who pay the bills. They do not truly care about the education of the children of the South Bay, they care on,y about self.

Once again Brand has steered this group into a public relations, reputation thrashing wind storm! But, truth be told they were led willingly.

Ms. Sampite-monte also - THANK YOU for writing an excellent FACTUAL piece, which included the precise wording.

Star News, prepare yourselves - Brand will, most likely demand a meeting, he will attempt to silence you - he did it before with the UT, and he will do it again.

Maty Adato Says:

Sat, Feb 23 2013 07:14 AM

The trustees were given this resolution many times over the past year and they still said they need more time. As I said all eyes were on them and they didn't want reform they just want the money. I have submitted an e mail to Mr. Cartmill to serve on this committee and have not heard back. This resolution was written and is very thorough so I do not understand what more they want maybe Mr McCann wants to insert the loopholes he so admittedly said were present. Pathetic absolutely pathetic.

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