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Snubbed candidates not happy with teachers union Robert Moreno | Sat, Aug 23 2014 12:00 PM

The Sweetwater Education Association's endorsement process has come under fire by several candidates running for the Sweetwater Union High School District school board.

The teachers’ union Aug. 11 endorsed candidates Arturo Solis, Adrian Arancibia, Frank Tarantino, Nick Segura and Paula Hall.

But several of the 20-plus candidates claim that the endorsement process was not fair.

Area one candidate Kevin O’Neill said he received an email from SEA president Roberto Rodriguez stating the union already knew who they were going to endorse— before the endorsement interview process began.

‘”The whole thing of interviewing, I think was just a sham,” O’Neill said. “They didn’t have to interview because they already knew who they were going to endorse.”

O’Neill said this practice was not transparent and unethical, and he accused the teachers’ union executive board of hypocrisy.

“What bothers me is that SEA has complained about the manipulations of Dr.  (Ed) Brand and the school board and from where I sit their whole interview endorsement process was a play directly from this Sweetwater Dr. Brand board.”

Rodriguez said SEA’s endorsement process isn’t any different from other unions.

“Our process is similar to every other labor union that I know of, which is you to try to find candidates that represent the values and their interests of the members and ... the students as well and the community,” he said.
Arancibia who received the endorsement for area one said the  endorsement process was fair.

“I think I got the endorsement because I am active in teachers’ rallies and they saw that I am interested in protecting teachers’ values,” he said.

Chris Shilling, area three candidate said he wasn’t invited for an SEA interview because he said he was told that another candidate was going to receive the endorsement.

“I don’t think it was fair because it wasn’t inclusive to everyone going before the teachers, providing information about their candidacy,” he said.

“They can endorse who they choose but they shouldn’t go on afterwards and say that they thoroughly vetted all candidates when it’s not true.”

Former Sweetwater board president Jim Cartmill said he too did not receive an invitation to be interviewed.

He also said in all his year’s running for the Sweetwater board this was the first time that the interview process took place before the end of the filing period.

Rodriguez said the reason the endorsement process was earlier than usual was because SEA needed their endorsements done soon in order to get their candidates to seek endorsements from the South Bay Democratic Central Committee  and to get them to try to receive other organization endorsements.

SEA's announced their endorsed candidates three days after the candidate-filing period closed.
Former board member and current candidate James Cartmill said the whole process wasn’t fair.

“I don’t believe it could be considered fair or transparent if not all the candidates were given an opportunity to be interviewed,” he said.

Cartmill said he doesn’t think being indicted in a pay-for-play scheme had anything to do with him  not receiving an interview because his former colleague Bertha Lopez was interviewed.

An SEA committee interviews the candidates then that committee makes a recommendation to SEA’s executive board, then the executive board will discuss and make a recommendation to its rep council and the rep council votes on the final endorsement.

Rodriguez said ultimately the union can do what it wants.

“The union has a right to choose and endorse whatever candidates it wants to endorse, using whatever process they want to use.

Shilling said he supports teachers but if elected will vote for what’s best for the students.

 “I am supportive of teachers  but I will never be anyone’s puppet.”

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jauhn hinkle Says:

Tue, Oct 07 2014 08:33 PM

I apologize that my union did not give everyone a fair shake at the interview, that's what it sounds like. I can only say that Mr. Tarantino is a no brainer for excellence. The rest seem like fine folks except for the fact that Grossman was a Brand favorite and the fact that we need to step away from former mistakes... I think we're ready for a new board. Hope the electorate takes a minute to get to know the candidates.

anniej Says:

Wed, Aug 27 2014 10:49 AM

Unhappy student, yes the strike took its toll on many students that is fact. I would offer the opinion that it also took its toll on teachers and good administeators as well, then of course the many parents who found themselves unable to do a darn thing about any of it.

Sweetwater has been broken FOR YEARS! It was being led by superintendents and board members who cared little about education and seemed to give little, if any thought to their fiscal decisions. What said parties did focus on was SELF - dinners, tickets, beauty pageants fees for daughters, wine, hosting District events at their church etc. - but what about the students?

Now it would be easy to simply blame the unions, and please understand they are not perfect; however, what of the games and schemes decision makers made that brought about all of the unrest and the 'working to the contract'? The union alleged the District had the money, the District cried broke. The controversy is settled and low and behold the District finds the money to negotiate a 9 million dollar new District office. The District cries broke but engages in a contract that will pay consultants 1/3 of the profits on property deals they are in the process of trying to make.

AND, where are the parents, where are the taxpayers? While attendance at Board meetings has grown - we are considered to be one of the largest school Districts in the nation; and therefore in my opinion every seat in the audience should be filled with a posterior.

We can sit and point fingers all we want and jump in the sludge of 'it's all the unions fault' but at the end of the day WE ALL NEED TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THIS TRAIN WRECK. We will call a network and raise hell if a Charger game is blacked out, yet we fail to show up, stand up and speak up at school Board meetings for our very OWN CHILDREN. Priorities people, priorities. A current article in The READER regarding certain 'persons' (I would have used the word leaders, but it would have been a real stretch) shines a spotlight on must how bad things have gotten, the article shows several well know persons in the picture - read the comments, its a real eye opener.

We are all set to go to the polls in November, have you begun educating yourself on the candidates? Have you read their statement? For some it presents itself as chest beating - but the challenge is - do they know the issues? What are their individual strategies for correcting the problems? Which one of theM are truly in it for the students and which ones are in it for self?


Think about it, was it ALL the unions fault? Or did we all have ownership in what was broken?

Otay Ranch SEAmen Says:

Wed, Aug 27 2014 09:11 AM

Guessing your son went to OTRH

Kevin O'Neill Says:

Wed, Aug 27 2014 08:36 AM

There are two items that did not come out in the quotes attributed to me.
First and foremost, the SEA or any other group has the right to endorse or not as is their wont. But if they choose to identify their candidates early, why put the rest of us through the charade of an interview process? The time we spent completing the questionnaire and attending the interview was wasted time. I find that somewhat disrespectful.
The second part is that although the SEA represents the teachers, the endorsement process as implemented does not sit well with all members. I also believe that the endorsement mechanism was chosen by the union officials and not the rank and file.
I do like "cheese with my wine", but I like a sense of fair play better.

unhappy student Says:

Tue, Aug 26 2014 06:20 PM

My son really likes his high school teachers, but he was a very unhappy student with the union and the strike. His teacher told him they were pressure by the union not to tutor them and help him improve his grades. His grades last year went down because of the strike. His friends too. I don't think the union puts students first if they think its ok to sacrifice the students grades and getting to college.

Aurora Says:

Mon, Aug 25 2014 09:47 AM

I was interviewed by SEA, once I realized that their fake endorsement interviews where just what SUHSD has been doing to students, parents and community I decided to not run. I was asked to move to my other house and run in that seat. I found it to be similar to what we are fighting - a corruption act. That is why I did not file and decided to continue being active as I have been since 1997 -- I don't become active a few months before elections to get endorsed.. I am active because I care, not for profit or exchange for a seat.

Erupting Says:

Mon, Aug 25 2014 06:17 AM

Extortion,the only agenda Susan Luzzaro has is to keep the South Bay aware of what's going on,in a truthful,fair and unbiased way. Sounds to me like you may have been someone she has had to mention in an article.It's obvious you are the one with an agenda,especially when bringing in family members.

Chris Shilling Says:

Sun, Aug 24 2014 07:18 PM

These were clearly not mistakes that will be learned from. These were calculated steps that were planned and executed. A letter will not reverse what has been done or where the union is headed. It has been made clear by multiple people, including the president, that the union will, "do whatever they want."

As a parent I will spend my time talking with voters in my area about the issues that really matter and outlining exactly what I plan to do about them. A vote for me is a vote for student focused decisions while everyone else is asking you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. We have been down that road too many times before, our children and community deserve better.

Money4NothingChicks4Free Says:

Sun, Aug 24 2014 06:02 PM

Teachers and City Employee Unions favor the weakest (whether physically, mentally, or morally) common denominator in that respective workforce. Do some Principals in SUHSD really cozy up to the union?

Dana Toogood Says:

Sun, Aug 24 2014 04:11 PM

I am one of those candidates who were not even given a courtesy interview by SEA, even though I was a dues paying member from 1992-2003. I was told by Roberto Rodriguez that SEA interviewed Bertha Lopez, Kevin O'Neill, and Adrian Arancibia for endorsement for Seat 2. I learned later that they also interviewed someone who never filed to be a candidate at all.
I was also interviewed for this article. I refuse to whine about it. SEA is a private organization and they can conduct their business any way they want --- it's up to the members to protest to their leadership and fix any lack of ethics or appearance of a backroom deal.
As a former member of SEA, it is disappointing that they are not stepping up with a show of transparency and honesty -- it's what this school district really needs.

anniej Says:

Sun, Aug 24 2014 03:37 PM

Ben Cassell - forgot to mention - yes. Mr. Tarantino is a fine man of the utmost integrity, additionally, has great history in this community. I do believe that he will work fairly for all if he wins the vote.

Not to say that others running would also be viable Board members that we could be proud of.

anniej Says:

Sun, Aug 24 2014 01:50 PM

Ben Cassell - I Thank You for your response. It serves your members and the Union well. 'When you know better, you do better' words I use to preach to the Sup(S) and the Board members. None of us, no entity is perfect, live and learn, isn't that what they say?

Teachers and employees work far too hard to have their efforts forgotten in leu of controversies like the one we are discussing here. Rodriguez could have used a bit of PR skills when replying to Mr. Moreno - might I suggest that others better skilled in the Union conduct future interviews - this controversy could have been avoided.

Thinking out loud here, what if one or more of those snubbed is voted in - what then when negotiations roll around? Will they then assume 'we can do whatever we want attitude' - for most of them most likely NO, but then there is that small %.

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