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Board must act Carlos R. Davalos | Thu, Jan 23 2014 05:00 PM

Outspoken critic of the Sweetwater Union High School District, Kevin O’Neill, urged district officials to take immediate action to fill a vacated seat at a Thursday press conference in front of the district headquarters.

“I, as a resident, of this district have great concern about the district’s seemingly inability to move the appointment process forward on the vacancy with Ms. Ricasa’s force(d) removal,” said O’Neill, who is a member of the district’s bond oversight committee.

O’Neill accuses district officials of purposely letting the “clock run out” on a provisional appointment, so that the district can go to a special election. 

O'Neill has expressed interest in either being appointed or elected to the position.

“I believe that they can better control the outcome of an election then they can of an appointment process,” he said.

At a special board meeting in January, Trustee John McCann said he wanted to move forward with a special election by mail.

O’Neill said he questions McCann’s intentions as to why he wants a mail ballot.

“A mail ballot particularly in a special election is going to favor white male Republicans and you’re not likely to get a good response from the general district,” O’Neill said. “On the other hand, voters in this district have never done a mail ballot.

O’Neill notes in the press conference that McCann used the stance of being a fiscal conservative when running for the district, and O’Neill said he can’t understand why McCann wants a special election if the district can’t afford the $1.4 million for the election.

He also said Superintendent Ed Brand is on a two-weeks vacation during a time when a decision on the process of filling the seat needs to be made.

“The timing of it all leads me to believe that the power block doesn’t want an appointment and that they don’t mind spending the money  to get what they think will be a better outcome for their interest.

In the end, O’Neill said he just wants the district to publicly make a decision of what their plans on filling Ricasa’s seat entail.

O’Neill said he has sent e-mails and called board members to ask for an update of the process. None of his correspondence has received a reply.

McCann did not return calls from The Star-News seeking comment. A district spokesman was also available for comment.

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Dale G Says:

Sat, Jan 25 2014 06:47 AM

Thank you for trying to keep the district honest. Seriously, they need some good PR in the worst way and cannot seem to do anything right. Happy Teachers, make happy kids and happy parents and a community united...This district does nothing but divide, divide, divide.

sosocal Says:

Fri, Jan 24 2014 06:35 PM

Thank goodness for citizens such as Kevin O'Neill.

We very much need such 'watchpersons' in this district - I encourage all to listen to what Mr. O'Neill has to say, as he makes every effort to think things through, and act accordingly.

In sharp contradistinction to the current Sweetwater majority voting block board of trustees, the public can trust Mr. O'Neill to be responsible, dependable, honest and a man of his word.

anniej Says:

Fri, Jan 24 2014 04:46 PM

I applaud Mr. O'Neill's efforts towards fiscal responsibility. Why on earth any district that has a $10 million dollar deficit would call for a special election for a 4 month tenure is beyond comprehension.

I so hope that Mr. O'Neill runs in the November election. While he and I do not always agree I believe is an honorable man of the highest integrity - and I am sure all will agree that is exactly what we need NOW more than ever. No matter what side of the fence we are on politically we can all agree on honesty and integrity.AND, if I might add fiscal responsibility.

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