The Star-News

Group starts recall efforts

Sat, Apr 21 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite

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.

© 2009 The Star-News