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Group starts recall efforts Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Apr 21 2012 12:00 PM

A press conference by members of community activist group Occupy Sweetwater on Monday started collecting signatures to recall Sweetwater Union High School District board members.

The group is attemtping to recall Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa and John McCann.

McCann has also been served with a notice of intent to recall petition but the group is still waiting for it to be certified.

“We are calling on all members of this community to join with us in this recall effort and regain control of our schools and our children’s future,” said parent and Occupy Sweetwater member Stewart Payne.

Payne said the board repeatedly failed to act in the best interest of students and has betrayed the trust of the community.

If the group, comprised of parents, community members, educators and students, can get 18,000 signatures per person by Aug. 27, they can put a recall measure on the November ballot.

Occupy Sweetwater organizers said they are not trying to recall board members Pearl Quinones and Bertha Lopez since they are up for re-election in November.

McCann issued a statement in response to the recall saying the group is set on wasting more than $1 million of taxpayer money by diverting it from education.

“After being elected a little more than a year ago, I have led successful efforts to reform the district, increase test scores and balance the budget,” McCann said.

Ricasa repeated what she said said in a February statement.

 “My resolve is undaunted and I will continue with great passion and commitment to serve the best interests of the students… The political motivations and personal agendas of the recall backers will not deter me… I have never done anything to harm the children of our district and I never will and I expect that at the conclusion of this case, that will be proven.”

The news conference Monday was held just before the district’s monthly meeting, where board members voted to approve contracts with three vendors that previously donated to several trustees’ campaigns.

An amendment to a site and sublease agreement was approved with contractor Balfour Beatty Construction, formerly known as Barnhart Inc.

According to Registrar of Voter documents the firm donated $2,500 in June 2010 to Cartmill and Ricasa and $5,000 to Lopez in October 2008.

The deal is for more than $3.2 million for the Montgomery Middle School project.

The board also approved a report on a consultant agreement with Construction Testing & Engineering, Inc., for work on Montgomery High School and Southwest High School.

Company president Thomas Gaeto made political donations of $1,000 to Lopez and $500 to Quinones.

Finally, change orders were ratified for Swinerton Builders, which is doing work on Montgomery High School and donated $5,000 each to the campaigns of Cartmill and Ricasa, according to candidate campaign statement forms.

The attempted recall follows the indictment of current and former district board members and contractors on corruption charges.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the alleged corruption case is the largest she has seen in San Diego County history.


Correction: An earlier version of this story listed Carlos R. Davalos as the author of this story.

The story was written by staff writer Allison K. Sampite.

The Star-News regrets the error.

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anniej Says:

Sat, May 05 2012 09:05 PM

Mr. Davalos:

i apologize that i did not respond earlier, but i just realized you had answered me.

i hope you did not take my comment as a criticism, as that was not its intent. i appreciate any and all coverage. presenting the facts and allowing the reader to decide whether they agree or disagree - that is, after all, the American way.

Ms. Sampite has done, and continues to do an excellent job.

Again, Thank You and Ms. Sampite for the news, all of the news, regarding our little piece of heaven down here.

Carlos Davalos Says:

Wed, Apr 25 2012 10:44 AM

Hi, anniej.

We agree with you regarding students and parents who deserve the best their school districts can offer.

We also agree that education is an important topic that merits thorough coverage.

Unfortunately the reality is that with one staff writer it's not always possible to devote the kind of in-depth coverage you or I would like to see. We're doing our best and in the meantime hope you and readers like you will work with us in keeping parents and voters informed.

Carlos Davalos

anniej Says:

Tue, Apr 24 2012 07:54 PM

while i appreciate any/all coverage of the sweetwater issue by this newspaper - hopefully we will see more.

education is one of the most important issue that this nation faces. we the taxpayers in the sweetwater/southwestern community are watching while one focuses on reform and the other has done nothing to change the culture of pay to play.

our students deserve better, we taxpayers deserve better. the answer will be found in the voting booth.

Carlos Davalos Says:

Mon, Apr 23 2012 12:51 PM

John Brickley:

The campaign contributions mentioned in the story were initially
provided by the public and members of Occupy Sweetwater. After we
corroborated the amounts that were used in the group's public handouts
and public comments, we included those figures in this story.

The focus of this particular story was Occupy Sweetwater's progress on
its recall efforts. Because it was not intended to be a compilation of
recent campaign contributions we did not present an up-to-the-minute
accounting of campaign funds.

Hope this sheds some light on why we published what we did.

Also, unfortunately the wrong name appeared under the byline credit. A
technical glitch put my name where staff writer Allison K. Sampite's
name should have been.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Carlos R. Davalos

Sam Says:

Mon, Apr 23 2012 10:20 AM

Mccan is a joke. I heard he has filed a complaint against Mr. Payne? OMG, complaining because Mr. Payne did not want to shake your hand. Get ready for graduation people. The kids will be refusing to shake his hands as well!

Frances Brinkman Says:

Mon, Apr 23 2012 09:43 AM

Thank you for staying on top of these events with accurate reporting. This community needs the real picture to make the recall happen. We need our schools back.

John Brickley Says:

Sun, Apr 22 2012 09:19 AM

@ Carlos R. Davalos

Gee Carlos, It sure looks like you did a minimal amount of research on the campaign donations from the contractors. Most of your references were "so two to four years ago" Were these the easy ones?

anniej Says:

Sat, Apr 21 2012 10:06 PM

john mccann's refers to the RECALL costing the District $1 million dollars in tax payers monies, yet he refuses to answer the taxpaying communities questions regarding the excessively large amounts of monies donated to his campaign by contractors and the management company that was charged with prop o. WHILE NOT ILLEGAL, the practice lacks integrity, and i am sure all taxpayers would agree.

additionally it should be noted that mccann received a donation in the later part of 2011 from an executive of bca (paul bunton who recently pled guilty in connection with the pay to play culture at sweetwater and southwestern). why would bunton donate monies to help mccann pay off his campaign debt? (see registrar of voters for confirmation)

perhaps someone should ask mccann why he FAILED to move on an agenda item that would have limited campaign contributions? while mccann was not the only board member who failed to honor the communities requests, his constant self praise for all "HE"has done is becoming most nauseous.

"reform the district"- ah, how might that be?

i believe the community led by the 'commander' at the hilltop high meeting served mccann with the wishes of the community - RESIGN or RECALL!

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