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No vote needed Allison K. Sampité | Sat, May 19 2012 12:00 PM

Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand made an executive decision to have the district pay for a board member’s legal fees in a civil matter involving a frequently outspoken critic and a restraining order.

In April, trustee John McCann filed a temporary restraining order against Stewart Payne, alleging Payne threatened him after a district board meeting.  While the court granted a temporary 100-yard restraining order against Payne, last week a superior court judge refused to make the restraining order permanent and lifted the stay-away order.

Brand said the school board has the discretion to approve or deny requests for attorney fees that cost the district more than $2,500. However board policy allowed him to decide that McCann’s approximately $2,400 in attorney’s fees could be paid for without a board vote.

“I OK’d it Wednesday after the Monday (April 16) incident when I had suspicion that there was probable cause to move forward with that,” he said. “I believed there was sufficient evidence to move forward. There’s an obligation by the organization to defend the employee.”

Brand said it’s the same protocol he would have followed had the person been a secretary or any other employee of the district.

“This is a civil case. If it was a criminal case, I wouldn’t have done it,” Brand said, adding that a criminal matter has to go before the board.

The payment came to light during the board’s May meeting when board member Bertha Lopez asked that staff provide a report detailing why McCann’s legal fees were being paid.

“It’s a waste of taxpayers money,” she said Tuesday. “Especially when he (McCann) went ahead and was so adamant about not paying our legal fees.”

Lopez was referring to a January meeting when the district was asked to pay for the legal fees surrounding a district attorney corruption probe that resulted in the indictment of former superintendent Jesus Gandara, former board member Greg Sandoval and current trustees Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa.

Lopez, who made the request to include her fees after her home had been raided by investigators, later withdrew the motion.

Following the January meeting, a list of frequently asked questions was placed on the district’s website specifically addressing questions surrounding paid legal fees for board members.

The district’s website states that in order to approve a request, the board must make certain findings, such as whether or not the individual in question was acting within the course and scope of their duties when the actions took place.
Brand said the circumstances in McCann’s case made his decision appropriate.

“I have no doubt that we did the right thing,” he said.

Brand, whose performance evaluation was to be discussed at a recent board meeting, was recruited by McCann last year to take over for Jesus Gandara after Gandara was fired by the board. 

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Ricardo May Says:

Wed, May 23 2012 11:57 PM

How come Bertha Lopez does not mention the 200,000$ that the District had to pay for her legal fees when dealing with an employee that sued the district because of Bertha Lopez lack of professionalism stop being a hypocrite Bertha. This mess at Sweetwater is all your fault just like you did at Chula Vista.

anniej Says:

Wed, May 23 2012 09:30 PM

Ricardo May: or could you be dr. brand?


anniej Says:

Wed, May 23 2012 09:28 PM

Ricardo May (jm?) the common sense you refer to - that is what the Judge had when she found inconsistencies in the statements by mccann. initially mccann alleged that payne lifted a hand and put a finger in his face - then for some odd reason the alleged hand turned into an alleged fist. thank goodness for the intelligence of the Judge who referred to the inconsistencies in statements.

now mr. mccann, can you explain those campaign donations from paul bunton of bca and Mr. Flores' company? (both of whom plead guilty in the current district attorney investigation involving certain sweetwater folks). we find it very interesting that bca's and others monies were donated AFTER THE ELECTION - bca's - that was about a year after you took office, hmmmmmmm

'district business' those words gave you away. let it go, the entire south bay knows the real johnny boy. let it go.

Ricardo May Says:

Wed, May 23 2012 08:43 PM

Ah John Brickley everyone knows you are friends which Stewart Payne stop making an issue of common sense.

John Brickley Says:

Tue, May 22 2012 10:09 AM

Dr. Brand would have paid the legal fees for John McCann no matter what. Quid Pro Quo, AKA pay to play. However, a few FACTS ought to be made known.

1. John McCann is NOT an employee of the District. He is an elected official. So it is incorrect for Dr. Brand to categorize him as such. To lump John McCann in with employees of the District, is an insult to those hard working people.

2. John McCann was NOT outside giving his interview as a member of the SUHSD Board. Pearl Quinones, President of the Board, went outside to John McCann before the cameras began rolling and reminded John about Board protocol, and John McCann stated he was out there as an individual, and it was his right to speak to KUSI about the recall.

3. As an individual person, John McCann accosted many people after his taped interview because he hoped to rile one or more up. He even had on his person a DVD of Board speeches made by members of the public, to turn over to the police to use if such an event happened. John McCann came prepared to cause a disturbance.

Yes, John McCann and Dr. Edward M. Brand are as "thick as thieves." John McCann, the fiscal conservative, unless the money is coming out of his pocket. John McCann,"Mr. Law and Order," who abuses the legal system to silence the public. Dr. Brand, the Steward of Sweetwater, who has begun so many frivolous and expensive projects at a time when there is simply no money available to spend. Dr. Brand, the Superintendant of SUHSD, who cares more about keeping this particular group of four Board members in their seats because he knows, WHEN THEY ARE GONE, HE IS GONE.

erupting Says:

Mon, May 21 2012 02:26 PM

Interesting that the costs are so high for a restraining order. I believe that the loser should pay and everyone knows who the loser still is.


Sun, May 20 2012 08:58 PM

You have got to be kidding me!!! Are there no bounds by which this board and district leadership will go to serve, pay, or cover one another's posterior end?? Has not this Temp 'superintendent' seen enough corruption? Enough, you do for me and I'll do for you style tactic?

I'm both outraged and mystified how those who are the product of higher learning can be some of the dumbest, most idiotic, clueless excuses for a human being. Let's recap the chain of events; John McCann instigates a frivolous and fraudulent claim which results in a certain sum of legal fees. The legal challenge is defeated, found to be without merit. In the real world, that cost shall be borne by the Loser or Non-prevailing party. Ed Brand, who's number one priority is to the community for which he serves, decides, singlehandedly, to pay the legal fees for the Loser Party. Ladies and Gentlemen, what does that mean for you and me? In essence it means, there is NO COST, NO CONSEQUENCE, to the instigator, John McCann, and we, the community, are left once again holding the bag.

Is anyone, anyone at all more stunned than I? This is precisely why the Recall of select board members is so important; to remove those who have been in the position for far too long and to remove those who have brought disgrace upon the community for their actions and/or inactions.

anniej Says:

Sun, May 20 2012 12:38 AM

"brand whose performance appraisal was to be discussed at a recent board meeting WAS RECRUITED BY MCCANN LAST YEAR"

well folks that about sums up how this district does things, how this district spends our money.

lets see we are paying the INTERIM superintendent, the super that mccann brought here 20k a month. many are still questioning why brand? why did johnny boy bring brand back? why would mccann bring a superintendent back who was running the show when prop bb was the subject of a grand jury investigation? one of the last lines of the grand jurys decision allegedly seemed to indicate that further investigation into prop bb and the district was in order. soon after brand was gone as were a few others - hmmmmmmmmm. with the departure the investigation was never done.

why wasn't brand asked about the discrepancy in mccann's statement - YOU KNOW THE ONE THE JUDGE CAUGHT? or about the discrepancy in the security guards statement, why? it seems to me that stories should have remained the same, with the truth being so important and all - and brand still authorized payment for mccann's legal fees?

and why did this article fail to mention the security guards license, or lack thereof. these guys were wearing guns strapped to their legs, guns with no license. surely if Mr. Payne and other members of the community found the proof it would seem as though this paper could as well. oh brand or mccann will no doubtedly present a letter stating that the security firm has licenses, but what about THOSE PARTICULAR GUARDS, THAT EVENING - you know the partner who is no more, within two weeks of the incident. ask for THOSE PARTICULAR GUARDS LICENSES, ASK FOR THE THOSE PARTICULAR GUARDS PICTURES - you see you have to really dig deep when dealing with todays sweetwater -

curious if this paper was contacted by brand or mccann, as the community is extremely upset that mccann would find it necessary to change his account of that evening - and the fact that their hard earned dollars are being used to pay for his theatrics.

a follow up story by the union tribune seemed to throw johnny boy into a tizzy based on his response to the author of the article. there it was in black and white for all to read.

what will mccann do next? surely mccann is beginning to realize that he and his 'peculiar outbursts' are becoming a real source of concern around the many water coolers and in the grocery lines of the south bay.

really looking forward to the upcoming trials, i can just imagine what testimony will be shared regarding those infamous campaign donations.

now there is a story - why not print a list of those campaign donations and then ask john mccann, jim cartmill and arlie ricasa WHY? WHY WERE THEY GIVEN ALL OF THOSE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS? (go to registrar of voters and type in candidates last name, its real simple, and its on line).

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