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Superintendent wants volunteers to reveal their income Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Oct 20 2012 12:00 PM

A new rule from Sweetwater Union High School Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand that requires members of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee to fill out conflict of interest forms has left some of them feeling intimidated and bullied.
They've also questioned his authority to do so.

In an Aug. 29 memo, Brand requested that all Prop. O Citizens’ Bond Oversight members fill out 700 forms, typically completed by elected officials to disclose personal financial information such as sources of income, and submit them by Sept. 30.

When he only received one, Brand followed up with another memo in early October to district school board members, advising them of his request, then requiring members to comply or face removal from the committee. He also extended the deadline until the end of the month.

In his Oct. 4 memo to the board he stated: “Ultimately, you and I will face criticism if we have members that are found to be involved with certain aspects of the community such as developers, and have not disclosed this to us upfront.”

Brand said his requirement would help eliminate potential conflicts of interest.

“The district’s had some controversy in the last couple years and when I came back about 15 months ago there was a lot of criticism about transparency and … about potential conflicts,” Brand said.

He called the requirement “a natural progression” to exercise caution and level the playing field.

“We have all the board members and administrators fill out the form,” Brand said. “At the end of the day it’s a $644 million taxpayers effort and we need to justify that there is no conflict on the recommendations or the decisions that are being made.”

In January, the district began requiring all coaches to fill out the same forms, citing a potential conflict of interest with vendors.

Brand maintains the requirement falls in line with state bond oversight committee best practices.

“…I think it just gives peace of mind to the public and peace of mind that we’re doing it the right way,” he said. “I fill out the form … everyone fills it out. I don’t think there’s anything that’s all that personal.”

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission spokeswoman Tara Stock said the general rule is that if a committee, board or commission has decision-making authority, its members are required to file statements of economic interests.

However, Stock said in an email Thursday, “Generally if a committee, board or commission is solely advisory, the members are not required to file Form 700s.”

Three-plus year committee member Bernardo Vasquez vehemently disagrees with Brand’s directive, saying they are not legally required to fill out 700 forms according to the education code.

“Four of six (committee members) agreed that we should adopt the standards in full, but two of us didn’t think we had to adopt it with the requirement of filling out the 700 form,” he said.

Vasquez said the push for full disclosure is very personal.

“For him to do this now that I’ve become a vocal committee member … I’m not (going to)  let Ed Brand bully me,” he said.

Vasquez said he’d force the district to kick him off the committee before he signs the form.

“What they’re doing is wrong,” he said. “I’ve been on the committee during the heaviest spending of bond money, the firing of (former superintendent Jesus) Gandara, when the criminal indictments came down… At no time was my integrity or anything else questioned.”

For those who do not comply, Brand said he would replace them with others who would agree to the stipulation.
Brand maintains the request is for everyone’s protection.

“Making sure that the district’s interest is the community’s interest and most of all the children’s interest is job one,” Brand said.

Vasquez said he doesn’t trust giving the district his personal financial information.

“How ironic is it that within 30 days of us giving a vote of no confidence … this happens,” he said. “I absolutely feel like I’m being bullied. Ed brand did not earn my trust to give up private information.”

Last month, the committee took a vote of no confidence in Brand and has been vocal in criticizing his decisions, saying they are not in the best interest of the students.

“I’m not in position to spend any money,” Vasquez said. “All we do is oversee how money is spent and report back to the public. We can’t approve or decline anything.”

While committee member Kevin O’Neill currently has a 700 on file with the city, he said he doesn’t approve of the requirement.

“I’m not comfortable with the way this came about,” O’Neill said. “First and foremost under the FPPC, we’re not required to fill one out because of the position we fill, we don’t make decisions on money or anything else.”

O’Neill said requiring the committee members fill out conflict of interest forms is a double standard.

“Dr. Brand wants transparency from us and yet he sends the district a letter of resignation that sat somewhere for better of five weeks and the board doesn’t announce that the board doesn’t have a superintendent,” he said. “How does that happen?”

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anniej Says:

Sat, Oct 20 2012 03:50 PM

for the record, anniej truly believes that Mr. Vasquez is one of the most honest persons she has ever met. name me but ONE situation where Mr. Vasquez has acted in a questionable manner while serving on the BOC - NO, instead he has fought for us, the taxpayers of the south bay and he has fought for the students, and for this he has had a bounty placed on his head.

lets see when brand was here last time he allowed arlie ricasa's husband to serve on the Prop BB board. you remember BB, the grand jury investigation that recommended that a subsequent investigation be done - shortly after this recommendation brand and a few of his closest friends?district administrators QUIT. then there was ricasa's sororiety sister who served. and least we not forget the san ysidro board member who was named in parking lot exchange of monies - you remember her, the very good friend of 'the gandara' true there have been other BOC members who served with integrity - but lets cut to the chase here - brand is running scared, the truth is going to be discovered and he is doing anything he can to deflect the real issues. YOU WATCH AND SEE - performance audit - brand, mccann, cartmill, and ricasa will do everything in their power to either manipulate it or derail it - they want to do it their way.

Mr. Vasquez was the first to raise the concern that information needed by the BOC was being delayed by brand and the then CFO.

brand is worried about answering to the communities concerns about alleged corruption - well, ed old boy, why didn't you listen to the community last monday night when they called for campaign contributions? why did you refuse to refer to the erick hall audit when it was handed to you - which stated that campaign contributions were a serious issue, yes, why mr. brand??????????

integrity - perhaps brand might explain his backing of grossman. but then in all fairness john mccann seems to be becoming close friends with grossman as well. please follow along as these are burt grossman's own words:

when asked about women reporters in the NFl locker rooms - "I personally think woman sportswriters should have the right to go into an all male NFL locker room, but only after the men have showered and left, THAT WAY NO ONE WOULD GET IN THEIR WAY WHILE THEY CLEAN THE TOILETS AND URINALS. - he describes the National Organization of Women as "a gang of Feman-nazis and gender feminist, allegedly saying they are wackos and radicals that deserve to be verbally smacked around. what message does that send to our female students?

the back cover of his book "the way things oughta be told" lists an endorsement that really says it all "THIS BOOK MAKES ADOLF HITLERS BOOK MEIN KAMPF LOOK LIKE A BEDROOM STORY".

no doubt many remember his interview with Jim Rome "Gay Pride? Perversion, ain't much to be proud of". what message does that send to our gay and lesbian students?

the 'n' word allegedly was used in his book. what message does that send to our african american students?

like they say you are who you associate with - grossman, brand, mccann, and cartmill - heck mccann introduced grossman at the olympian football game. why?????????????

finally, grossman, without being asked at a recent employee forum stated "look, i know everybody thinks i'm friends with ed brand, we're not friends, he's never been to my house, i've never been to his, WE'VE ONLY BEEN OUT TO LUNCH LIKE 5-6 times" hmmmm, so why did brand take grossman out to lunch so many time. and what about those football games that grossman allegedly took brand to.

grossman allegedly took pride in being referred to the Rush Limbaug of the NFL.

South Bay neighbors, take a look at the cast of characters I have just described, do they concern you as much as they do me?

Surely what the community needs is for Lopez to re elected and George Cameron to take Quinones' seat. a self proclaimed bigot is the last thing this district needs.

sosocal Says:

Sat, Oct 20 2012 10:18 AM

I think we can rely on the opinion given by Tara Stock, "California's Fair Political Practices Commission" spokesperson--the form is not a requirement for the position. Ed Brand does indeed show himself for the bully he is--and interestingly, as he had prepared and sent his letter of resignation weeks prior to sending the letter to the BOC members, what does that tell us?

It tells us that Brand is the one who needs to be monitored, whose financials need to be completely made public, and he, of all people, is trying to cast aspersions on honest volunteers who are just trying to do their volunteer work.

For Brand, that is the problem, those volunteers are just too good at what they do!! They have voted "no confidence" in Brand, and for several good reasons.

Brand should go, not the committee members!

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