Monday, December 31, 2007

A third of the world's 6.6 billion people are infected with TB

"A third of the world's 6.6 billion people are infected with TB..."

Click here to see the original article.

"TB alone already has a profound impact on global health. Two million die of the disease every year, and nearly 9 million new active cases are diagnosed. TB can be cured with drugs that cost only $14-$18 per patient but may take six to nine months to work. And as a consequence of poor treatment, some strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes TB no longer respond to treatment with the standard first-line drugs (see Antimicrobial Resistance Jeopardizes Medical Advancement). Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has emerged in nearly every country in the world and accounts for 14 percent of all TB cases. The risk of MDR-TB is higher among HIV-infected persons than those who are not.

"HIV is also advancing rapidly: 40 million people worldwide were living with HIV at the end of 2005, 5 million more than in the previous year. Many infected with HIV develop TB as the first manifestation of AIDS, because HIV infection is the most potent risk factor for converting latent TB infection (which affects one-third of the world's population) to active disease or relapse in previously treated patients..."

Click here to see the original article.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Government + secrecy = stupidity

By: North County Times Opinion staff

Our view: MiraCosta board's secret meeting partly to blame for president's bloated buyout

Samuel Johnson once said, "Where secrecy begins, vice or roguery is not far off." He seems to have forgotten stupidity. In fact, it's a fair bet that most of the stupidity conducted by your elected representatives on your behalf happens in secret.

Our latest reminder of this eternal truth came in revelations that two MiraCosta College trustees secretly met with former President Victoria Munoz Richart just days before they approved her extravagent golden parachute.

On Oct. 4, the North County Times' Philip K. Ireland reported that MiraCosta College Trustees Rudy Fernandez and Carolyn Batiste met June 8 with Richart, her attorney and the retired judge who mediated the dispute between them at the San Diego offices of the college's lawyer. The participants signed some kind of "confidentiality agreement." The three trustees in the board minority -- Gloria Carranza, Judy Strattan and Jacqueline Simon -- say the board never voted to approve the meeting and that they were kept in the dark about it.

A college official told Ireland that the meeting was convened to discuss Richart's claim that some board members' comments about her amounted to a public evaluation of her performance. In other words, the board was being accused of violating the practice of conducting the president's job evaluations in private and Richart was threatening a lawsuit.

Truth is, we don't know exactly what transpired at the meeting -- that's secret. It's probably a safe bet, however, that the trustees hatched their plan to sell out the taxpayers they were elected to represent in this heretofore secret meeting. Just 11 days later, the board reached an agreement -- in the dead of night -- that allowed Richart to walk away from the college and begin her life as a woman of leisure, along with $1.5 million of North County's tax dollars for her trouble.

Defenders of the board may argue that because the matter involved a potential lawsuit, the board had the right -- in fact, the duty -- to meet in private, and they would be right. But that's not what happened here.

Instead, it appears that two board members, either on their own or in conjunction with other board members, made a decision to begin severance negotiations outside of normal, legal channels, such as the formal "closed session" of a board meeting. That dumb decision inevitably led to the stupidity that followed almost two weeks later, when the full board was presented with the bill for Richart's now infamous buyout.

Of course, we've come to expect this sort of news from MiraCosta, which has spent two years mired in the "Palm-gate" scandal and its aftermath. There's been enough blame to go around : Richart's imperious style created too many enemies, but the faculty resistance to the investigation she needed to conduct was itself overblown.

But the more we learn about the Richart buyout, the clearer it is that the college district's board bears most of the responsibility for the school's recent embarrassments. Similar conclusions have fueled a recall campaign against board President Charles Adams and Trustee Gregory Post, who along with Fernandez and Batiste comprise the board majority.

We understand the impetus for the recall, but ultimately disagree. Recalls ought to be reserved for when there is evidence of criminality or malfeasance. And in this case, a recall isn't necessary.

For one, Adams will cede the board presidency on Dec. 1. A recall could also cost the district as much as $1 million that could be better spent on actual education.

Finally, if voters are as unhappy with the board as recall proponents assert, they'll have a chance to change its course next year by dumping Batiste in favor of a reform candidate, while re-electing incumbents Carranza and Simon from the board minority. With Strattan, a new majority would then be able to set the board agenda.

Before then, however, the board should promptly make one change that would halt its stumbles in secrecy. They should vote to lift the ban on speaking to the media that muzzles board members other than the board president, now the elusive Adams. Why should the duly elected representatives of the voting public be routinely silenced?

Without dissenting voices, without the scrutiny of public deliberation and decision-making, governments tend to tilt toward stupidity and worse. Decisions made in the dark have a funny way of costing taxpayers a lot of our hard-earned money. This summer's MiraCosta mess appears to be no exception.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bearers of bad news labeled as "800"

After a 17-year-old boy was killed by a tiger at the San Francisco zoo, workers did not believe a bleeding survivor's story of the attack. They thought he was crazy.

Here's the first radio transmission about the attack by a cafe worker:

"A very agitated male is claiming he was bitten by an animal."

The Los Angeles Times reported the Christmas Day 2007 attack:

"Police were immediately dispatched to the scene, and in the chaotic situation that followed, the victims were initially regarded as mentally disturbed, the notes indicate.

"'Zoo personnel dispatch now say there are two males who the zoo [considers] 800 [police code for psychological impairment] . . . But one is in fact bleeding from the back of the head . . . at the Terrace Cafe.'",0,1398084.story?coll=la-home-center

Autocrats have ruled CVESD since Dr. Cummings' days

Autocrats have always ruled Pakistan

The essence of democracy is conflict and competition. There has been little of this in any of Pakistan's political parties.

In any election, the people of Pakistan get to choose which autocrat they want.

Here's an article from Bloonberg news:

Bhutto Party Faces Power Struggle Choosing New Leader (Update1)
By James Rupert and Janine Zacharia
Dec. 29, 2007 (Bloomberg)

"...[Benazir Bhutto's party] The PPP, a leading voice for the restoration of democracy since Musharraf's 1999 military coup, has no obvious successor because it has always been an autocratic institution.

Since its founding as a populist movement 40 years ago, the PPP has been led only by Bhutto, her mother or her father, former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Months before her Dec. 27 assassination, Bhutto, 54, assumed the party title of ``life chairperson.'' Her teenaged children are too young to assume her mantle.

Pakistani parties, including the PPP, ``are not internally democratic and do not transmit the democratic aspirations of Pakistanis,'' said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a political science professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The autocracy of the mainstream parties, including Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, has cost them popular support, at times allowing others to fill the void by leading the fight against Musharraf. After the president sparked a crisis by trying to oust the independent-minded Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, lawyer-led street protests and aggressive coverage by independent television stations forced Musharraf to back down, at least temporarily.

``Our political parties have lagged far behind popular expectations'' by failing to aggressively promote democracy, commentator Ghazi Salahuddin wrote Dec. 2 in The News, an English-language newspaper...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oregon teacher wins 9th Circuit Court appeal

This teacher was fired for asking that the law be followed for her students.


Presented by Steven B. Rynecki, David Strom, and Lisa Salkovitz Kohn
January 2005

Click HERE for entire article.
A. Protected Speech

...12. Settlegoode v. Portland Public Schools, 371 F.3d 503 (9th Cir. 2004). A teacher sued her school district and supervisors alleging, inter alia, her contract was not renewed in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech. Settlegood was an Adapted Physical Education teacher working for the Portland Public Schools. She was an itinerant teacher and was exposed to multiple schools in the district on a daily basis. Plaintiff became concerned about the treatment of disabled students in the schools and problems with the physical plant and resource deficiencies at several schools. She attempted to speak with her supervisor who dismissed her concerns. Extensive oral and written communication ensued between Settlegood and several supervisors. Eventually, the school board decided not to renew her contract citing poor performance reviews, including poor reviews of her IEP reports.

The court followed the three part test set forth in Keyser v. Sacramento Unified Sch. Dist., 265 F.3d 741 (9th Cir. 2001) to determine whether Settlegood was fired in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights. The first of the three parts asks whether the plaintiff’s conduct was constitutionally protected. Here, the court found that under the Pickering test her whistle blowing speech was a matter of public concern. The court stated that not only were her free speech rights implicated but the content of her speech was of paramount concern to the parents of disabled children. “Teachers,” the court stated, “are uniquely situated to know whether students are receiving the type of attention and education that they deserve.” It cited to the Pickering case, itself, for the proposition that courts have long recognized, “the importance of allowing teachers to speak out on school matters.” The court repeatedly stated that it could find no instance in which the plaintiff’s speech was harmful to the school, the district, or the children. It stated that the fact Settlegood went to her supervisors with the complaint, rather than the press, is an important factor to consider in a Pickering balancing test. Essentially, her speech was of public concern, it was protected, and it was helpful, rather than harmful, to the employer.

The second prong of the Keyser test is the requirement that the plaintiff show her speech was a substantial or motivating factor in her punishment. Here, the court cited to the fact that the plaintiff’s evaluations went from positive to poor once she began to complain about the problems she perceived within the schools. This was noticeably so regarding the evaluation of her ability to write IEPs. The court said that the writing of IEPs is a dynamic and collaborative process. None of her IEPs was specifically criticized by anyone who actually read them. Importantly, the court discussed the fact that if the reports did have problems it would have been incumbent upon her supervisors to adjust and review the reports. They did not do so.

Finally, under Keyser even if the plaintiff proves the second prong the employer can still escape liability by showing that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the protected conduct. The court stated that this is a very high burden to meet. Proof that the IEPs were not adequate is only proof that the employer could have terminated her, not that it would have. Defendants were not able to offer any evidence that other teachers had been terminated for drafting inadequate IEPs. The court found that the defendants were not able to meet their burden of showing the plaintiff’s contract would not have been renewed.

Story written after first verdict:
Dismissed teacher wins $1 million lawsuit

By The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — A physical education teacher who worked with severely disabled students was awarded more than $1 million Nov. 16 by a federal jury that found she was unfairly dismissed.

Pamella E. Settlegood alleged in the lawsuit, filed in Portland’s U.S. District Court, that her contract was not renewed last year because she accused the Portland Public School District of not complying with federal laws that protect the rights of disabled students.

Jurors on Nov. 16 awarded Settlegood $902,000 from the school district and $50,000 each from two district administrators.

District spokesman Lew Frederick said the district disagrees with the verdict and is considering its legal options. Maureen Sloane, the school district’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

Settlegood worked with disabled students at six Portland-area schools from September 1998 to June 2000 on a probationary basis. The district cited incompetence when it did not renew her contract in March 2000, said her lawyer, Greg Kafoury.

Kafoury said his client had told supervisors disabled students weren’t treated the same as nondisabled students. Federal law says school districts must provide equal equipment and education to disabled and nondisabled students, no matter the difficulty or expense.

“It was very unsettling. I saw kids having to use freight elevators. I saw kids getting only one day of physical education a week when the other kids were getting five,” Settlegood said. “Our kids got broken-down leftovers.”

Settlegood eventually told district administrator Susan Winthrop about her concerns, she said. As supervisor for orthopedic services for Portland Public Schools, Winthrop investigated Settlegood’s allegations for nearly a year and did nothing, Settlegood said.

Settlegood “wrote to these administrators saying, ‘We are in violation of federal law, and no one seems to be doing anything about it,’ ” said Kafoury.

Winthrop on Nov. 16 referred questions to Sloane, the district’s attorney.

Settlegood then went to Robert Crebo, who was director of special education services for the district, with her concerns.

Settlegood said once she contacted Crebo, the district began taking away her responsibilities at certain schools and ordered her not to volunteer for a reading program during her lunch hour. She learned in March 2000 that her contract with the district would not be renewed.

Settlegood is currently unemployed, though she was a visiting professor at Linfield College in McMinnville last year.

She said last week’s verdict — even if it is appealed — can bring change to the Portland schools.

“I feel renewed as an educator,” she said. “This has restored my faith in how important the First Amendment is ... that people do believe in teachers and our duty to our students.”


Kentucky teacher's free-speech lawsuit reinstated
Federal appeals panel rules fifth-grade teacher can proceed in claim that school fired her for allowing Woody Harrelson to give pro-industrial hemp lesson. 11.12.01

Teacher looks back on letter that led to firing — and Supreme Court victory
By David L. Hudson Jr. Marvin Pickering reflects on seminal U.S. Supreme Court case bearing his name that backed public employees’ free-speech rights. 07.20.01

Cigna HealthCare refused to pay to transplant an available liver into a 17-year-old

How does an insurance company make $1.2 billion in profits? By allowing this teenager and others to die.

December 21st, 2007
Insurer's U-turn too late to save life of transplant teenager

By Ed Pilkington / Guardian

The family of a California teenager plan to sue her health insurer which refused to pay for a liver transplant until hours before and she died on Thursday night.

Her family's lawyer, Mark Geragos, will ask the Los Angeles district attorney to press murder or manslaughter charges against Cigna HealthCare, arguing that the firm "maliciously killed" Nataline Sarkisyan by its reluctance to pay for her treatment. The company reversed its stance after protesters called for a rethink, but the decision came too late.

The 17-year-old from Glendale, California, had been in a coma for weeks after complications following a bone marrow transplant to counter leukaemia.

After the operation, her liver failed and doctors referred her for an emergency transplant. Although she was fully insured and had a matching donor, Cigna refused to pay on the grounds that her healthcare plan "does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services".

Cigna's rejection on December 11 led Sarkisyan's doctors at UCLA medical centre, including the head of its transplant unit, to write a letter to protest that the treatment which they proposed was neither experimental nor unproven. They called on the firm to urgently review its decision.

In the absence of a response from Cigna, doctors told the Sarkisyan family that the only alternative would be for the family to pay. But they could not afford the immediate down payment of $75,000 (£38,000).

..."This is what's wrong with our health system - insurers decide treatment, not doctors."

The protests over Sarkisyan's case point to growing public disenchantment with the healthcare system in America...

The company recently posted figures for its third-quarter performance this year, which showed profits up 22%. Next year it expects to earn an income of up to $1.2bn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An interesting site in Capistrano Unified School District

Click HERE to see an interesting website.

Are school board elections simply exercises in ignorance?

CVESD trustee Larry Cunningham says that CVESD incumbents were reelected because voters saw the truth.

Kelly Kilpatrick (Capistrano Unified School District) and I would beg to disagree. This is what Kelly has to say:

"...The act of voting for school district officials is more or less a crap-shoot for the average voter. Most of us make the most educated choice that we can, cross our fingers and push the button. We really have no idea whether the person we’re voting for is truly up to the task, nor do the majority of us even have an adequate understanding of what the task actually entails..."

Click here to see Kelly's original post.

I would go Kelly one further. I believe that those in power in schools join with other politicians to hide the truth from voters. This website is devoted to counteracting the ignorance that education officials try to cultivate among voters. (Some other time I'll talk about the ignorance that is cultivated among teachers and students.)

The article that got Will Smith in trouble

Daily Record
Will Smith: My Work Ethic Will Make Me A Legend
Dec 22 2007 By Siobhan Synnot

Will Smith already has it all...

But the 39-year-old says the secret of his success isn't down to acting.

According to Will, he's not a great actor but he's a hard-working one...

"Where I excel is with a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy's sleeping, I'm working. While the other guy's eating, I'm working. While the other guy's making love, I mean, I'm making love, too, but I'm working really hard at it!"

"I grew up in a spiritual household where my grandmother made it very clear we were not alone."

The star has kept clear of alcohol and drugs throughout his life saying that, when he was younger, he was moe interested in women than wine...

Smart, friendly and funny, you have to wonder if anything ever upsets Will Smith's good nature.

"Well, if I understand the problem then I don't get annoyed," he explained. "People driving past in the car and giving me the finger annoys my wife but it's because they think you did something to them.

"They think you're driving too slow and keeping them from getting to their daughter's birthday party, or you cut them off and didn't see."

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.

"I wake up every day full of hope, positive that every day is going to be better than yesterday. And I'm looking to infect people with my positivity. I think I can start an epidemic..."

Will Smith thinks everyone means well, and evil people don't realize that they're doing evil

When people do evil things, do they know that their actions are evil, or do they think they're doing good?

Almost everybody on the planet thinks that George Bush's Iraq war is an evil thing. But does George Bush think so? I doubt it. George Bush seems to honestly believe that everything he does is what God wants.

It's the same in everyday life. People who are genuinely convinced that they are morally superior do a great deal of harm to others.

I think this what actor Will Smith was trying to say in his recent remarks.

On the other hand, the media outlet that claimed that Will Smith believes "Hitler was a good person" knew very well that it was twisting the truth. Sometimes people do know that what they're doing is wrong, but they do it anyway.

Smith's Hitler Comment Sparks Criticism

(Dec. 23) - Movie star Will Smith has stirred some controversy with his musings about one of the most notorious figures in history.

In a lengthy piece in Saturday's Daily Record, Smith discussed his feelings about the good in people.

Will Smith is being criticized for comments he made about Adolf Hitler. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good,'" he told the Daily Record.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Smith. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming."

Since then, World Entertainment News Network has released a story over their wire feed bearing the headline SMITH: 'HITLER WAS A GOOD PERSON,' which is quickly spreading.

Here's the URL for the Daily Record article by Will Smith:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bonnie Dumanis: Democrats and Republicans want you to take on GCCCD

Click HERE to see the original post.

July 09, 2007
Needed: an aggressive DA to take a look at Grossmont-Cuyamaca

For years, the senior management and electeds running the Capistrano Unified School district bullied critics, browbeat the press, played fast and loose with rules. It would occasionally admit error and vow to improve, then go back to its same old ways when the cameras were gone and the media stopped paying attention.

Finally, there are repercussions:

Former Capistrano Unified School District superintendent James Fleming was indicted on charges of misappropriating public funds in creating "enemies lists" of political foes, making him the highest-ranking school official ever indicted in Orange County, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. ...

Rackauckas said there may be more to come from the grand jury, which has heard testimony from 14 CUSD employees on allegations ranging from conflicts of interest to violations of open meetings laws to the use of taxpayer funds for political activities.

If only Rackauckas were free to investigate the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, who knows what he might find. Last October, it was revealed that district Chancellor Omero Suarez had surreptitiously altered his contract to make it more likely he'd get a big buyout if he were fired. District board majority members Deanna Weeks, Rick Alexander and Bill Garrett first tried to insist that the revelation of Suarez's wrongdoing was the real sin, with Weeks likening it to a "political dirty trick."

After a U-T editorial dissected all the hanky-panky going on in the district 10 days before election day, Weeks put out this statement:

I am appalled by the actions taken by Chancellor Suarez concerning his contract. I want a full and immediate investigation. The investigation needs to be by an independent entity with no involvement or participation by the chancellor. He can direct Vice Chancellor Austin to see that it gets done. This governing board has made tough personnel decisions in the past and will continue to do so. I want the results of the investigation placed on the November governing board agenda, closed session, as required by law, and the board will take appropriate action at that time.

The board majority got re-elected, and has since resumed its practice of treating Suarez like an educational giant and indispensable leader. Alexander, insultingly, goes around offering such observations as, "This whole thing got blown out of proportion because it was election time."

Got the sequence of events? Suarez does something that would get him fired in any private sector job; his bosses call exposure of this scam a "dirty trick"; his bosses realize they can't get away with such a bizarre claim in an election season so they pretend to be upset; his bosses get re-elected and promptly lose their ire; now his bosses pretend the contract alteration scam was trivial, "blown out of proportion because it was election time." Unbelievable.

This stinks. A lot stinks in GCCCD. I have no proof that anything criminal went on, but the idea that board majority members Weeks, Alexander and Garrett could execute such zigzags without coordinating them outside of board meetings -- which would constitute a violation of open-meeting laws -- seems farfetched. Tony Rackauckas, come on down.

Alternately, Bonnie Dumanis, deploy an investigator or two. What's gone on in GCCCD begs a closer look.

Posted by Chris Reed at July 9, 2007

Happy Chrismukkah!

And happiness to all who celebrate in other ways religious and secular.

CVESD board members use public funds to fight grassroots "trustee area" campaign

Is this legal? Are school board members allowed to use public resources to affect elections?

Is Pamela Dempsey of Parham & Rajcic the lawyer who is being paid to do this?

Here is a quote from the minutes of a recent CVESD board meeting:

Regular Meeting
November 13, 2007
7 P.M.

"...President López recessed to public session at 8:47 p.m and reported the following: The Board directed Legal Counsel to take all steps necessary to avoid litigation while educating the County Committee of the negative repercussion of the political actions related to the Petition for Trustee Areas..."

Capistrano Unified Former Superintendent & Assistant Indicted; used funds for enemies list

Capistrano Unified district officials are not exactly the "white knight" role models that the district offers to students.

Click HERE to see the original post.

Friday, May 25, 2007
The Orange County Register

Saturday, June 16, 2007
The Orange County Register
Arraignment Postponed Capistrano
Unified School District
The arraignment of two retired Capistrano Unified officials set for Friday was put off until July 13 so the defendants could review grand jury testimony. Ex-Superintendent James Fleming and former Assistant Superintendent Susan McGill face charges related to the creation of “enemies lists.” McGill is also accused of lying to the grand jury. Ronald Brower, Fleming’s attorney, said the arraignment was delayed because grand jury testimony was unavailable until this week. In e-mails, Fleming has denied the charges and called McGill’s indictment “a terrible injustice.”
McGill declined to comment as she left court.

Capistrano Unified retired head charged with using public
funds to create ‘enemies lists' and sway elections.


Former Capistrano Unified School District superintendent James Fleming was indicted on charges of misappropriating public funds in creating “enemies lists” of political foes, making him the highest-ranking school official ever indicted in Orange County, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. Fleming, who retired in August after 15 years in charge of the 50,000-student south county district, was charged with three felony counts that could result in four years in prison. He was released on his own

Susan McGill, a retired assistant superintendent, also was indicted and failed to appear in court Thursday. She is charged with conspiracy and perjury, which could carry sentences of four years, eight months. Superior Court Judge Daniel Didier issued a $20,000 arrest warrant for McGill but said she can surrender June 15, when she and Fleming will be arraigned.

“The investigation and the grand jury inquiry found no legitimate educational purpose for any of the multiple versions of the enemies lists that were created,” Rackauckas said at a news conference Thursday. “It's a shame that resources were shifted away from students to create an unlawful list of political enemies.”

The indictment is the latest chapter in the ex-superintendent's fall from power. Fleming, 64, was once the state superintendent of the year, the highest-paid education chief in Orange County and the leader of the high-achieving south-county district. But he retired in August amid numerous accusations raised by Register investigations.

Thursday's announcement reopens old wounds in CUSD. Since August, district officials have repeatedly called for the community to move on, after a district-commissioned inquiry, a legal settlement, board policy changes, a political shakeup and the hiring of a new superintendent. Yet the controversies still stir emotions for many parents.

Fleming declined to comment as he entered an elevator to leave the courtroom. His attorney, Ronald Brower, said the indictment is an unreliable account of Fleming's actions.

“The school district commissioned retired judge (Stuart) Waldrip to investigate this, (with) no limit on subject matter,” Brower said. “He issued a report which found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Fleming.

“There are parts of that report (Fleming) does dispute. To state the obvious, he doesn't dispute the part that said there was no criminal wrongdoing,” he said.

The indictments focus on two lists of political opponents, which included some personal information and information about children.

The first, created in spring 2005, listed parents – as well as a journalist and at least one student – whose names and e-mail addresses were on an early mailing list by recall leader Kevin Murphy.

Brower said Fleming had the first list created because of fears that recall leaders had hacked into the district's database. Rackauckas said the prosecution will contradict that.

The second, created shortly after the recall failed in December 2005, compiled names of and information about people who had collected signatures in the recall effort. McGill was serving as the district's liaison to the Registrar of Voters Office when Fleming sent her and former spokesman David Smollar to examine signed petitions. While there, Smollar copied down the names of signature gatherers, and gave them to Fleming.

Fleming told the Register he immediately discarded the list. “I couldn't give it back to him fast enough,” he said. District memos, though, showed that McGill had her secretary use the district's confidential pupil record database to gather information – including spouse names, children's names and schools, addresses and phone numbers– on each name collected.

She sent the information to Fleming with a note: “Per your request, attached are the lists of individuals who were listed as petition signature-gatherers along with the information on whether they have children in CUSD.”

The first list, and McGill's visit to the registrar of voters to collect the names, were revealed by the Register in July. Rackauckas said the investigation turned up no evidence that the district had used the lists to retaliate against parents involved in the recall.

But a parent who said she faced retaliation says she wasn't asked about her experience. “Retaliation is a subtle action. There's not going to be written documentation. Fleming isn't going to have an e-mail he sent saying ‘Go get this woman,' ” said recall backer Rebecca Bauer, who said her son was left out of a video montage featuring 125 classmates and denied an award at Ambuehl Elementary after she became involved in the recall. Fleming and Shele Tamaki, principal of Ambuehl, have denied her accusations.

“My point is, what other reason would they have for creating those lists?” Bauer asked. “It should be obvious to the public there was no other reason for those lists to be created.”

Rackauckas said there may be more to come from the grand jury, which has heard testimony from 14 CUSD employees on allegations ranging from conflicts of interest to violations of open meetings laws to the use of Taxpayer funds for political activities.

McGill testified Aug. 16 and 21. Rackauckas said she lied to try to hide the existence of the second list. Fleming was called to testify and pleaded the Fifth Amendment, Brower said. The district attorney's investigators in August raided Fleming's office, taking folders and two computers. “We're not finished yet,” Rackauckas said. “We still have work to do here.”

CUSD spokeswoman Beverly De Nicola would comment only in a prepared statement Thursday.

“This is now a judicial process,” the statement read. “Capistrano Unified is an excellent school district that is committed to providing the highest quality of education possible … and we will continue to do so.” Trustees Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry Christensen – who ran on a “reform” slate in November – released a joint statement calling the indictments “validation” for parents, teachers and taxpayers who have expressed concerns in the past. “I want to move on. But I want things corrected before I move on,” Christensen said.

Fleming retired in August after 15 years with CUSD, and new Superintendent Dennis Smith was hired in March. The district initially paid Fleming's legal bills, but quit that arrangement in March.

McGill, a Laguna Beach resident who had served in multiple roles during her 25 years in CUSD, also retired last summer. She could not be reached Thursday.

[Blogger's comment: Nixon wasn't the only politician to have an enemies list!]

ENEMY LIST: During the district attorney's press conference to announce charges brought against Fleming and McGill, two examples of the so-called "enemies list" were displayed.

March 2005 — San Juan Capistrano father Kevin Murphy begins organizing a recall of Capistrano Unified trustees, alleging mismanagement.

March 2005 — A CUSD principal forwarded to James Fleming an e-mail intended for recall supporters. Later, accusers say, the superintendent instructed an assistant to take the names to create a spreadsheet on them, based on confidential district records.

March 21, 2005 — According to accusations against him, Fleming drafted a confidential memo to the CUSD trustees outlining the names of the recall proponents and their strategies. He later e-mailed a similar memo to a number of district staff and administrators.

December 2005 — The county registrar ruled there weren't enough valid signatures to force a recall election.

Jan. 6, 2006 — Susan McGill, at Fleming's direction, drove to the Registrar of Voters office with district spokesman David Smollar to review recall signature petitions. They wrote down names of people who collected signatures.

Jan. 12, 2006 — McGill wrote a memo for Fleming, listing petitiongatherers, whether they had children in CUSD and which schools the children attended, according to district documents.

February 2006 — The District Attorney's Office began its investigation of CUSD.

July 10-11, 2006 — The Register reports that the district kept a list of its political opponents, including personal information, and that district employees collected recall volunteers' names – which should have been kept sealed – during the January visit.

Aug. 16, 2006-May 9 — The grand jury heard from 14 witnesses on 14 days. McGill testified Aug. 16 and 21, and, according to the indictment, lied under oath.

Aug. 30, 2006 — Fleming retired.
May 24 — Indictments against Fleming and McGill were unsealed.

Register staff writer Larry Welborn contributed to this report.
Contact the writer: (949) 454-7394 or

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Do people keep secrets when they believe they're doing right?

Ellen Dowd post is HERE.

CIA Tapes Were Kept From 9/11 Panel, Report Says
Agency Defends Its Role as Information Provider in Commission's Investigation of Terrorist Plots
By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 23, 2007

Former members and staffers of the 9/11 Commission have concluded that the CIA withheld videotapes of harsh interrogation sessions even after specific and "very detailed" requests about the two prisoners whose tapes were later destroyed, according to a review of classified material by the panel.

Congratulations to Leon Page!

Judge Nugent says Judge Moon's private opinion will not prevent Leon Page's lawsuit from going forward.

Click here for the judge's decision.

MiraCosta/Richart attorneys Jack Sleeth and Randy Winet do not yet have the approval of the court for the $1.6 million deal to pay Victoria Munoz Richart to leave MiraCosta College and be silent about Daniel Shinoff's $1.5 million investigation which seems to have included extortion against Julie Hatoff. But perhaps the court will grant it in a summary judgment, with Stutz law firm keeping important documents and witnesses under wraps.

If this case goes to trial, I'll be really impressed with the justice system.

Message to: Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez, Cheryl Cox/David Bejarano

To Chula Vista Elementary School District trustees Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez, Cheryl Cox/David Bejarano and to other public officials who stubbornly deny all claims:

Sometimes, in order to act in your own best interest, you have to act in the interest of someone you have harmed.

You would be wise to stop taking orders from insurance company shills Diane Crosier, Rick Rinear, Rodger Hartnett and Lisa Adrience-Jensen. They are harming students, teachers, and school districts with their advice to cover up crimes and other wrongdoing. If Randy Ward won't stop the wrongdoing, you should.

*Definition of shill Unabridged (v 1.1)

1. a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc.

2. a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

3. to work as a shill: He shills for a large casino.
4. to advertise or promote (a product) as or in the manner of a huckster; hustle: He was hired to shill a new TV show.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary -

n. One who poses as a satisfied customer or an enthusiastic gambler to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle.

v. To act as a shill for (a deceitful enterprise).
To lure (a person) into a swindle.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Online Etymology Dictionary

1916, "one who acts as a decoy for a gambler, auctioneer, etc." (probably originally circus or carnival argot), probably a shortened form of shillaber (1913) with the same meaning, origin unknown. The verb is attested from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

1. a decoy who acts as an enthusiastic customer in order to stimulate the participation of others

1. act as a shill; "The shill bid for the expensive carpet during the auction in order to drive the price up"

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Apology to Randolph Ward, Superintendent of SDCOE

To Randolph Ward:
I apologize for misspelling your name on more than one occasion on this blog. Yesterday I spent a lot of time going through the blog and fixing errors. I hope I got them all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Response to "Yet another delayed decision in the Richart Miracosta Saga"

Rick Rinear, Diane Crosier's right-hand man, says all claims should be "returned as insufficient, late or rejected"

"If a claim is submitted in letter format and is sufficient (in compliance), per the Government Code, the claim should be handled as if submitted on the district’s Claim Form; i.e., returned as insufficient, late or rejected."

January 22, 2004
To: JPA Representatives
From: Rick Rinear, JPA Risk Management
Subject: Tort Claim Reporting Form – Revised

We would like to clarify the Tort Claim Reporting procedure, as there has been some confusion about requiring all potential claimants to use a district-written Claim Form.

Effective April 1, 2003, Government Code Section 910.4 (a) requires public entities to provide a standardized Tort Claim Form that claimants use to file their claims for submission to districts.

The standard Claim Form (sample attached), must include information specified in Government Code Section 910 and 910.2. Districts can still consider claims “submitted” without the required form. Districts may consider a written claim without requiring the referenced claim form. The referenced claim form must be available when requested.

We are providing a sample Cover Letter for potential claimants who request the required form. Careful review of a claim is necessary for compliance or late filing.

If considered insufficient (not in compliance), the claim must be returned to claimant within 20 days from receipt. If a claim is submitted in letter format and is sufficient (in compliance), per the Government Code, the claim should be handled as if submitted on the district’s Claim Form; i.e., returned as insufficient, late or rejected.

The enclosed sample letter should only be used to forward a claim form to those claimants who request a form from the district.

...Please continue to forward claims when received to San Diego County Schools Risk Management JPA,...Attention: Rodger Hartnett, Property & Liability JPA Claims Coordinator. Rodger or Lisa Adriance-Jensen will recommend what action to take.

The letter above can be found here, at least, until SDCOE breaks the link to this public record. In anticipation of SDCOE's breaking the link, as is its practice, I've made a copy of the document here.

I wonder if the people who lost their homes in the recent fires in San Diego would like to have people like Rick Rinear, Diane Crosier, and Keenan and Associates handling their fire insurance. The good news is that these people don't handle home insurance. (But if you belong to Kaiser Permanente, they do handle your health care provider's insurance.

The bad news is that they handle insurance for our schools. Their lawyers work to make sure that no claim, no matter how meritorious, is settled honestly. The SDCOE-JPA is administered by Superintendent Randolph Ward.

If voters don't like this unethical behavior which is supposedly undertaken on behalf of the people of San Diego County, they might wish to tell these people:

Nick Aguilar, Board Member, Second District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

Sharon C. Jones, Board Member, Third District
Phone: (858) 292-3609 Email:

Susan Hartley, Board Member, Fifth District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

Robert J. Watkins, Board Member, Fourth District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

John Witt, Board Member, First District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

- OR -

MAIL the County Committee (County Board of Education)...see attached word document.
(One signed letter with all board member names listed is fine; you can put a little note asking the secretary to copy the letter for each board member.)


Marcia Buompensiero, Executive Assistant
San Diego County Board of Education
6401 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111-7399

- OR -

If you wish to CALL and leave a message for the Board members, contact: Marcia Buompensiero, Executive Assistant to the Board, Phone: (858) 292-3515,

Russell and Alice Coronado's message regarding "trustee areas" in Chula Vista Elementary (CVESD) and Sweetwater Union High School Districts (SUHSD)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: January 9th (4:00pm) at 6401 Linda Vista Road, San Diego, CA, 92111 (County Office of Education Board Room)!

Click here for more information.

The San Diego County Board of Education (Committee on School District Organization) will hold a special meeting at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, January 9, 2008, to consider the grassroots proposals for geographic "Trustee Areas" for the school boards of Chula Vista Elementary School District and Sweetwater Union High School District. The Board MAY VOTE AT THIS MEETING WHETHER OR NOT TO PLACE THE PROPOSALS ON THE NOVEMBER 2008 BALLOT!


As you know, our two school boards currently have 8 of their 10 members residing in the Bonita area! If "trustee areas" are adopted by South County voters at a future election, the Western, Southern and Central areas of these 2 HUGE Districts would be guaranteed to ALSO have a school board member residing in their communities, in addition to the Northern and Eastern areas of the Districts where ALL 10 of the school board members currently reside!

NOTE: The County Office of Education would be responsible for officially mapping each school district into 5 equally proportionate population-based "trustee areas" prior to placing the items on the ballot for a public vote. Voters from the entire school district would still vote for the candidate of their choice from each trustee area (as required by Education Code). A candidate seeking election to the school board would compete against residents of their same general community, allowing for a more FAIR COMPETITION than the current system allows.


You can E-MAIL the County Board of Education Members ("Committee on School District Organization") directly at the listed emails:
Nick Aguilar, Board Member, Second District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

Sharon C. Jones, Board Member, Third District
Phone: (858) 292-3609 Email:

Susan Hartley, Board Member, Fifth District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

Robert J. Watkins, Board Member, Fourth District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

John Witt, Board Member, First District
phone: (858) 292-3609 email:

- OR -

MAIL the County Committee (County Board of Education)...see attached word document.
(One signed letter with all board member names listed is fine; you can put a little note asking the secretary to copy the letter for each board member.)


Marcia Buompensiero, Executive Assistant
San Diego County Board of Education
6401 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111-7399

- OR -

If you wish to CALL and leave a message for the Board members, contact:
Marcia Buompensiero, Executive Assistant to the Board, Phone: (858) 292-3515,

(South County Community for Educational Accountability)

Preuss principal steps down; so should Chula Vista's Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz

Doris Alvarez of the Preuss charter high school at UCSD has resigned.

Why haven't Lowell Billings, Tom Cruz, and Alex Cortes of Chula Vista Elementary School District resigned also?

They all violated the law.

But apparently CVESD administrators did it with the approval of the school board, which considers itself above the law. CVESD needs new trustees.

A meeting will be held at San Diego County Office of Education board meeting on January 9, 2008 to address this very issue.

A grassroots campaign has begun to create "trustee areas" in the CVESD school district. For many years all board members have been residents of Bonita. These board members have smugly ruled the district, with their leader, Patrick Judd, saying things like, "Education hasn't changed much in the last 100 years...Our job is to build schools."

With reactionaries like this in charge, it's no wonder CVESD administrators don't feel the need to justify anything they do, or to pay attention to the laws of California. Arbitrary decision-making is the preferred mode of operation of Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez, Larry Cunningham, Cheryl Cox/David Bejarano and the leader they blindly follow, Patrick Judd.

Middle School teachers don't know how to do math

Our kids are falling further behind in math as they go through school.

Education Week writes about the problems that middle-school teachers are having understanding math.

This deficit explains two things:
1) Why teachers aren't doing a good job teaching math;

2) Why teachers don't have a good grasp of how to learn (and teach) concepts that are just beyond their reach. In other words, they don't know how to think. They don't know how to figure things out, or to teach kids how to figure things out. This deficit doesn't just apply to math, but to all the problems facing schools.

December 19, 2007

U.S. Middle-Grades Teachers Found Ill-Prepared in Math
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Premium article access courtesy of

...The preparation of teachers to impart high-level mathematics skills at the middle and high school levels has been gaining attention as U.S. business leaders and policymakers express worries about the ability of schools to train a globally competitive workforce.

Now, in a study released this week, researchers are offering data on teacher education that hint at the extent of the problem...

William H. Schmidt, Michigan State University: “Our future teachers are getting weak training mathematically and are just not prepared to teach the demanding mathematics curriculum we need for middle schools if we hope to compete internationally,” said William H. Schmidt, a Michigan State University researcher who conducted the study.

Another international study, released this week by the American Institutes for Research, looks in part at the intersection between math achievement and science learning, which experts say suggests the broader importance of good math instruction.

In Mr. Schmidt’s study, U.S. teachers scored significantly lower than those in all countries except Mexico on knowledge tests in algebra and functions, which are considered critically important for teaching middle school math...

Moreover, teachers who pursue certification specific to middle school education, as opposed to elementary or secondary programs, are the least primed of all.

The study of U.S. performance on international science tests, by the Washington-based AIR, outlines successively lower rankings of U.S. students on international assessments as they age.

U.S. 4th graders, for example, were ranked higher among participating countries than U.S. 8th graders on the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study tests, while 15-year-olds were outperformed by even more countries on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA.

“As the science becomes more mathematically inclined as students move to the physical sciences and chemistry, they are going to be at a disadvantage if they don’t have the math background,” said Steven Leinwand, an author of the AIR report...

Mr. Schmidt’s findings confirm the view that more math content, as such, is not the answer.

“There are people who advocate the view that all you need to do is find people who are trained in mathematics and put them in the classrooms, and they will be fine,” Mr. Schmidt said. “... It takes a knowledge not just of mathematics, but how you bring that mathematics to kids.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shelia Jackson is right--San Diego Unified School District has not figured out how to teach black and brown kids

See all Shelia Jackson posts.

SDUSD trustee Sheila Jackson has come under attack for stating the obvious: our schools don't know how to teach black and brown kids.

Jason Robertson, a San Diego Union Tribune reader, says this can't be true because SOME black and brown kids graduate, so that proves the teachers do their jobs.

Then he says that it's the parents fault that the others don't graduate.

You can't have it both ways, Mr. Robertson. It seems to me that you've got to give the credit to the parents, not the teachers, of the kids who succeeded, if you're going to give the blame to the parents of the kids who failed.

Actually, I believe that SOME people know how to teach black and brown kids, and are caring and creative and intelligent, but the majority of our teachers are not up to the task. Far too many of the people who are responsible for teaching black and brown kids don't know how to do their jobs. They react with too much anger and judgment to children's failings, and thus create life-long problems out of obstacles that should be temporary. Some teachers of black and/or brown kids are out-and-out racists, intentionally or unintentionally undermining the very people whom they are paid to educate.

I've corrected the spelling of Shelia Jackson's name; I had spelled it Sheila.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Yet another delayed decision in the Richart MiraCosta saga

See recent updates.

My guess is that the judge in this case will not let the lawsuit go forward because it's his job to protect the status quo in the power structure. But he doesn't like this part of his job, so he delays giving the good news to the undeserving Victoria Richart and her pals on the MiraCosta board of trustees.

But this I don't understand: how can the job performance of a president of a public college be a private matter?

It seems to me that the public has a right to know, so they'll know that they need to get rid of trustees who waste millions of taxpayer dollars to enhance the power and prestige of one person (Richart) at the expense of the institution whose wellbeing they are supposed to protect.

SDCOE-JPA and Keenan and Associates are happy to give big payouts to dysfunctional college presidents like Victoria Munoz Richart and lawyers like Randall Winet and Daniel Shinoff, but use any tactic available to avoid payouts to employees or students.


Judge delays decision on suit to overturn Richart settlement

By:North County Times -
VISTA -- Superior Court Judge Thomas Nugent heard arguments Friday on a motion to dismiss a civil suit challenging the $1.6 million settlement agreement between MiraCosta College and its former president.

Nugent said he would issue a decision next week on whether the suit by Carlsbad resident Leon Page should go forward.
Page, an attorney, claims that MiraCosta's settlement with former college President Victoria Munoz Richart, reached in an all-night closed-session negotiation last June, violated state open meeting laws. Page seeks to overturn the settlement and force trustees to renegotiate the deal in public.

Jack Sleeth, an attorney representing the college, sought to end Page's suit by filing the motion to dismiss. Sleeth argued that Richart's settlement was done legally, did not violate open meeting laws and was a reasonable payment to Richart for damages to her reputation.

Sleeth and Richart's attorney, Randy Winet, said some trustees violated Richart's privacy rights when they made public statements about her performance. Neither attorney would specify what statements damaged Richart.

Winet said that if Page succeeds in his bid to kill the settlement, Richart would sue the college for far more money.

Legal ethics and San Diego Unified School District attorneys

Voice of San Diego
by Emily Alpert

"Shortly after we reported on attorney Douglas Abendroth's connections to a pro-life Irvine church today, the webpage describing the attorney's relationship with the church had been removed. Abendroth was selected by San Diego Unified School District to revise a controversial policy that requires school staff to call parents of pregnant students...

"A pdf printout of the page is available here [ abendroth.pdf]. (The beginning of the text is obscured by a photo.)

"...CCP is a member of Presbyterian Church in America, which penned a position paper in 1978 stating that "We are convinced Scripture forbids abortion ... We cannot stress too strongly our authority in this matter."

"Abendroth said views within the church differ, and he is not personally "anti-abortion."

"Under California legal ethical guidelines, attorneys must disclose in writing to clients any legal, business, professional or personal interest in a subject they review. District legal counsel Ted Buckley, who selected Abendroth to review the policy, was aware of Abendroth's church involvement and said he was confident that Abendroth would provide sound, unbiased legal advice..."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pregnancy policy regarding SDUSD student journals

Emily Alpert of Voice of San Diego wrote about students' reactions to the pregnancy policy at San Diego Unified School District.

"School nurses say they rarely enforce a disputed San Diego Unified policy that requires school staff to call pregnant students' parents. But some teens are aware of the policy -- and they aren't pleased.

"I talked with La Jolla High senior Olivia Jones, who learned about the rule in a writing class. Students' class journals would be totally private, her teacher said -- unless someone wrote that a student was pregnant.

"'It really caught everyone in my class off guard,' said Jones, 18. 'I'd never even heard of it before. Everybody was asking, what if we write about drinking, or drugs? Could we get in trouble?" La Jolla High occasionally brings in drug-sniffing dogs,' Jones said. '[The teacher] said no. But she would report it if we were pregnant, or someone else was. No one could believe it.'

"Jones said the policy worried her.

"'It's a bad idea,' she said. 'It'll keep people from being responsible and talking to an adult who might give them advice. ... You wouldn't be able to go to a counselor. If you didn't have that policy, a counselor could still convince the student to tell their parent.'"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Academic honesty policies are a joke compared to deep corruption at top of education system

Grade tampering is just the tip of the iceberg of school corruption

San Diego Union Tribune Columnist Gerry Braun wrote on December 16, 2007, "It's only appropriate, then, to award a big "F/U" to whoever is responsible for the unconscionable failure of ethics at the Preuss charter school [a public high school at UCSD]...Frankly, I'm not optimistic that justice will be served...Victoria Munoz Richart transformed her bumbling tenure as president of MiraCosta College into a pot of gold, a $1.6 million severance package."

San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority deserves an F/U for its dishonesty policy. The SDCOE-JPA is administered by Superintendent Randolph Ward and his assistant superintendent Lora Duzyk. They have seen fit to keep Diane Crosier as director of the JPA, even though they have long known that Crosier keeps unethical lawyers on her approved lists of lawyers. Crosier helps her insurance broker Keenan and Associates make money by short-circuiting the justice system to help school districts get away with wrongdoing.

Compared to this, the big brouhaha of changed grades at UCSD's Preuss School seems like child's play to me.

The real scandal in schools is not the grades that are given, but the fact that so few students get a good education. With insurance companies, bogus repackaged education program businesses, and conservative religious leaders on the right, teachers unions on the left, and politicians on the right and left jockeying for personal power, the entire system is at a complete standstill.

Former "Principal of the Year" Doris Alvarez is apparently the unethical administrator in the Preuss grade scandal, but I don't think she's any less ethical than many other popular principals.

One of the straightest paths to popularity in school administration is to be a people pleaser, especially to people higher up than you. Personal politics is one of the driving forces in education.

The cure? A lot more openness and honesty. Especially when required by a court of law, SDCOE-JPA lawyers need to start revealing the truth about what's happening in schools. Instead, they hide behind the stone wall set up by SDCOE, insurance companies, and school districts. Sadly, this stone wall is respected by the California state courts, whose judges, particularly in the court of appeal, think schools should not have to answer to the law.

This arbitrary power is the enemy of a meritocracy, and is one of the reasons that schools are not meritocracies, but rather political arenas where far too many teachers, administrators, and board members spend their time jockeying for money and personal power instead of honestly dealing with problems.

San Diego County's school system needs to get rid of Diane Crosier and her stable of lawyers and school superintendents who ignore the law.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Diane Crosier's pal Superintendent Tom Anthony has been sent packing from Fallbrook

Along with Ed Brand, Tom Anthony exerted a lot of control over San Diego County Office of Education. Or would it be more correct to say that through Ed Brand and Tom Anthony, Diane Crosier of the SDCOE-JPA exerted a lot of control over school districts? Either way, the personal advancement of individuals in high places has taken precedence over the well being of students in San Diego County. The system will stay the same as long as Diane Crosier, her insurance buddies at Keenan and Associates and her unethical lawyers call the shots.

Fallbrook has gotten rid of Tom Anthony. But has the rest of the county gotten rid of him?

December 11, 2007
Fallbrook high school district will pay superintendent $320,000 - to leave
Buyout agreement effective Tuesday calls for resignation Jan. 11

FALLBROOK -- Tom Anthony, the embattled leader of the Fallbrook Union High School District, will resign as superintendent Jan. 11 under a $319,931 buyout agreement that took effect Tuesday, officials said.

The arrangement requires the district to pay Anthony 18 months of salary -- or $281,000 -- plus health and other benefits through June 2010. Those figures are spelled out in Anthony's contract, which would have ended then.

In addition to the salary and health benefits, the buyout includes $22,731 for 30 days of unused vacation time, $9,000 for 18 months of automobile allowances, and $7,200 for 18 months of expense allowances.

... district teachers have complained for years about what they call his intimidating leadership style.

Anthony, who is 62, took over as superintendent in 1997.

The school board approved the agreement in a split vote during a regular meeting Monday night, with Trustees Bill O'Connor, Mike Schulte and Marc Steffler approving the buyout and Trustees Lynn Colburn and Dennis Allen opposing it...

The problems between the teachers and Anthony reached a head during last year's election, when the teachers association helped elect O'Connor, Schulte and Steffler on a platform that included getting rid of the superintendent.

During a board meeting in April, the teachers association presented a survey in which 122 of the district's 150 teachers responded "strongly disagree" to the statement, "I have confidence in the leadership of the superintendent."

The friction extends as far back as 2001, when then-technology director Doug Newton was fired after accessing the telephone voicemail of several teachers who were protesting salary issues.

Newton later charged that Anthony ordered him to gain access to the district-owned voicemail system.

In June 2001, 104 out of 144 teachers signed a resolution accusing Anthony of causing low morale and lack of trust among teachers, and of wasteful spending habits...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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Jim Groth and Peggie Myers: Where was CVE during the Danielle Coziahr case?

Chula Vista Educators President Peg Myers

Chula Vista Educators spent $17,000 to defend former CVE president Frank Luzzaro from the threat of losing a day's pay. And who knows how much CVE spent defending Peggie Myers, Robin Donlan and their friends from a mere administrative transfer.

But when it came to the Danielle Cozaihr case, CVE and CTA were not to be found. Perhaps CTA had used up all its money defending child molesters such as Albert G. Truitt.

CTA is a friend to union fat cats and their close friends, but ordinary, decent teachers can't expect much.

Jim Groth and Peggie Myers, and the new CVE vice-president Monica Sorenson actually helped the district violate the law in the Maura Larkins case.

Why did Chula Vista Elementary School District teachers elect these Beverly Tucker clones? Don't they care about basic human decency? Or do they simply not know what's going on?

FOR THE DETAILS OF the Coziahr v. CVESD lawsuit, click the link "A school district lawsuit (Coziahr v. CVESD) at right.

On the witness stand, Lowell Billings admitted he never evaluated Danielle Coziahr

Chula Vista Elementary School District Superintendent Lowell Billings testified in the Danielle Coziahr case, and made one thing perfectly clear: he does not now have, nor has he ever had, the slightest clue about what went on at Silverwing Elementary in 2005-2006. His mission at Silverwing was simply to keep the principal happy.

Billings says, "I delegate." To whom? To Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz.

Tom Cruz delegates, too. He also took the stand today, and made clear that no matter who first-year principal Alex Cortes wanted to fire, Cruz would not investigate. He would simply have the person dismissed.

Apparently a first-year principal was dictating decisions to the human resources department at CVESD in '05-'06, and the human resources department dictated to Billings, who dictated to the board. So why is Tom Cruz paid big bucks to run the HR department?

Clearly, there is no oversight by the district of CVESD schools, except to change principals if student test scores aren't high enough. What made Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz think that Alex Cortes was qualified to be a principal? Apparently he convinced them that he wouldn't let niceties such as human decency or the law stand in his way. They loved him immediately, and seem to have never questioned his judgment after the hiring interview.

Billings is apparently just a figurehead, and quite satisfied with his own performance, it appears.

Billings seems to think his job begins and ends with going around and being seen and making sing-song speeches about his "hands-on" approach. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to remember what he himself has seen. On the stand, he admitted he'd never even looked at Danielle Coziahr's personnel file, but he took responsibility for the decision to non-reelect Mrs. Coziahr.

Show some class, Pamela Smith and Bertha Lopez!

I'm sure that neither of the women currently on the Chula Vista Elementary School District board allows herself to be treated as less capable on the job based on the fact that she is female. Yet that's exactly how Pamela Smith and Bertha Lopez treated young teacher Danielle Coziahr because she had a baby. A jury found it to be illegal.

Show some class, ladies.

Apologize and settle the case, instead of appealing it.

Quit being rubber stamps for Pat Judd and Larry Cunningham.

You, too, David Bejarano. Is this what you signed up for when you joined the school board? To waste money on lawyers instead of teachers? Apologize, don't appeal.

FOR THE DETAILS OF the Coziahr v. CVESD lawsuit, click the link "A school district lawsuit (Coziahr v. CVESD) at right.

A plea to Alex Smith: talk to your mom!

See all posts regarding Danielle Cozaihr v. CVESD
Gender discrimination against non-reelected teacher

The following was posted on CVESD report:

A plea to San Francisco 49ers player Alex Smith

Dear Alex:
You are a hero for starting a foundation to help foster kids when they turn eighteen.

I know you could be a hero to kids and adults in Chula Vista Elementary School District where your mom is on the school board.

She's been under the influence of extreme right-wingers Patrick Judd and Larry Cunningham for many years. I don't know why Pamela Smith calls herself a Democrat, because she always votes with Pat and Larry, no matter what.

She should be ashamed of herself for voting to non-reelect teacher Danielle Coziahr. A first-year principal got it into his head that he had a right to fire a teacher for having a young child and then having the nerve to get pregnant--and everyone in the top echelons of the district went along with it--including your mom. Doesn't your mom know that you can't legally agree to something like this? Well, of course she does.

Tonight the rest of the board will vote to appeal the decision made by the jury last Friday.

Please ask your mom to do the right thing, to apologize to Danielle, and to settle the lawsuit instead of appealing it.

Posted by Marie Killelea

Is Lowell Billings the Paris Hilton of CVESD?

Superintendent Lowell Billings of Chula Vista Elementary School District made clear in the Danielle Coziahr case that he is paid one of the highest salaries of any public employee in San Diego (#11) in return for going around and smiling pretty.

He doesn't worry about legal matters. He leaves that to Tom Cruz, Assistant Superintendent, who doesn't worry about it, either. Cruz seems to go along with anything the lawyers want to do, no matter how illegal it might be. What do the lawyers want? They want to win, with no apparent concern for the law. After all, that's what Diane Crosier at San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority pays them to do.

Mr. Billings doesn't seem to remember what he sees when he's going around being seen. Here's my idea for a TV show: a face-off between Lowell and Paris, in which each of them is taken around to different locations to pose in front of cameras, then taken back to the studio to see if either one of them remembers anything about the little people they met during their outing. My money is on Paris as the winner.

Libby decides not to appeal perjury and obstruction of justice convictions

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has decided not to continue his appeal of his obstruction of justice conviction. Good idea. He was already pardoned by George Bush, who thinks that anyone who commits felonies against the United States on Bush's behalf is a good guy.

Scooter apparently decided he didn't want his felonies further discussed in the media--and in the courts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lawyers were in favor of destroying tapes

Now here's a shocker: lawyers for the CIA approved destroying videotapes. Does that sound like any lawyers you've met? It wouldn't surprise me, but then I've had a lot of interaction with lawyers for SDCOE-JPA.

December 11, 2007
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 — Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode.

The involvement of agency lawyers in the decision making would widen the scope of the inquiries into the matter that have now begun in Congress and within the Justice Department. Any written documents are certain to be a focus of government investigators as they try to reconstruct the events leading up to the tapes’ destruction.

The former intelligence official acknowledged that there had been nearly two years of debate among government agencies about what to do with the tapes, and that lawyers within the White House and the Justice Department had in 2003 advised against a plan to destroy them. But the official said that C.I.A. officials had continued to press the White House for a firm decision, and that the C.I.A. was never given a direct order not to destroy the tapes.

“They never told us, ‘Hell, no,’” he said. “If somebody had said, ‘You cannot destroy them,’ we would not have destroyed them.”...

6 and a half years for fraud and obstruction of justice

A lot of people just don't think the justice system should be allowed to take its natural course. Obstruction of justice seems to be a popular pastime in government and business.

New York Times
December 11, 2007
CHICAGO, Dec. 10 — In the months since his convictions in July on fraud and obstruction of justice charges, Conrad M. Black, the fallen press baron who once presided over the world’s third-largest newspaper empire, was not above poking fun at himself as he waited to see how long he would spend in prison.

He received his answer Monday as Judge Amy J. St. Eve of United States District Court sentenced Mr. Black to 6 1/2 years in prison on three fraud charges and one charge of obstruction of justice for removing 13 boxes of documents from the Toronto offices of his media company, Hollinger International, an infraction caught on videotape...

Jury to CVESD: Pay Danielle Coziahr $1,012,000

A San Diego jury has a message for CVESD board members Pamela Smith, Cheryl Cox, and Bertha Lopez: your decision to discriminate against Danielle Coziahr in 2006 based on her gender caused $1,012,000 in costs and damages.

These three women apparently didn't lose any sleep over dismissing a teacher who was considered a leader by teachers with much more experience. I listened to testimony with the jury, and the evidence was clear: Coziahr was fired was one reason only, and that was that she was a woman who had a young child and another on the way.

The three women on the Chula Vista Elementary School District board demonstrated again and again that they aren't one bit softer than the hard-nosed duo of Patrick Judd and Larry Cunningham. Pam, Bertha and Cheryl seemed to go along with anything the boys wanted, even if it was illegal, or even criminal.

And the illegality didn't stop when former San Diego police chief David Bejarano took Cheryl Cox's place in January of this year.

The CVESD board needs a complete overhaul. And a reconstituted board would be wise to get rid of Parham & Rajcic law firm, and instead ask lawyers like Danielle Coziahr's attorneys Laura Joan Farris and C. Daniel Carroll for legal advice.

Danielle Coziahr (not Cozaihr) is the one who won!

The correct spelling of Danielle Coziahr's name has eluded me on several occasions in this blog. (I apologize to Danielle and family and to confused readers.) I've corrected the spellings in the blog posts, but I left the links as they were.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Danielle Coziahr wins against Chula Vista Elementary School District

A verdict has come in regarding Coziahr v. CVESD.

Mrs. Coziahr has won.

This was a win for education in San Diego County.

Now comes the wait for CVESD to do the right thing. Mrs. Coziahr should be immediately returned to her classroom.

Alex Cortes, Tom Cruz, and Lowell Billings should be fired.

And then the entire board should resign. They should be replaced by people who are not in the pockets of either SDCOE or the teachers union. We need people who put kids first to be in charge of education.

The bad news is that Pamela Dempsey is scheduled to bring her severely compromised brand of lawyering back to court next week in a trial involving Mountain Empire School District, where CVESD board member Patrick Judd is superintendent.

The Danielle Coziahr case has gone to the jury

Attorneys Laura Joan Farris (left) and Daniel Carroll yesterday finished the trial of Coziahr v. Chula Vista Elementary School District, and the case has gone to the jury.

The jury has one easy job and one hard job: first, to decide if the district violated the law, and second, to decide how much the district should pay Danielle Coziahr.

Education suffers when leaders like Danielle Coziahr are dismissed at the whim of inexperienced first-year principals,while the district board and administrators ignore what is going on in schools.

When problems surface, the CVESD board and its go-between, Tom Cruz, just tell the lawyers to spend whatever it takes to keep tax dollars out of the hands of teachers, and channel those dollars into the hands of lawyers.

Bush Doesn't Recall CIA Tape Destruction

December 7, 2007
...White House press secretary Dana Perino said Friday that President Bush did not have any recollection about the tapes or about their destruction. But she could not rule out White House involvement in the tapes' destruction, saying that she asked only the president about it, not others.

Perino refused to comment on whether the destruction could represent obstruction of justice or a threat to cases against terrorism suspects. She said that if the attorney general decides to investigate, "of course the White House would support that."...

Is Pamela Dempsey the new Daniel Shinoff?

Attorney Pamela Dempsey sat for a week and a half in the San Diego Hall of Justice recently, getting paid by the taxpayers for sitting and listening to a powerful indictment of illegal actions committed by her client, Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Dempsey didn't have much to say. She isn't stupid. Her body language revealed how well she knew that her client was obviously in the wrong. After the first couple of days, she and Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz stopped the traditional practice of standing and facing the jury for the entire time that the jury was walking in or out of the courtroom. Sure, they stood, but they tended to look away, or talk to each other. On December 4, 2007, I saw Dempsey turn toward the jury and immediately bend over coughing. This is a good sign, I think. It shows she knows the difference between right and wrong.

Why didn't she insist that the district settle this case? Because she gets paid to sit in court. Also, the CVESD board, which shows no signs of having a conscience, would probably just get another attorney.

The individuals mentioned above, however, are just bit players in a show written and directed by San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority and other public entity groups who work with Keenan and Associates insurance brokers to use taxpayer dollars to support and cover up illegal behavior by school boards and administrators.

$7.3 million misappropriated from taxpayers, but Bonnie Dumanis files no charges

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis routinely protects school boards and administrators who commit crimes, yet she charges little guys with felonies for using school hoses to water their palm trees (see MiraCosta College).

Education isn't going to improve as long as it is controlled by people who use a corrupt system to get rid of the best and brightest educators for challenging ineffective and/or illegal practices.

The District Attorney has had an inappropriate relationship with the San Diego County Office of Education ever since the days of SDCOE Superintendent Rudy Castruita, when her campaign photo was published on the SDCOE website.

December 7, 2007

VISTA ---- A county report released this week says poor judgment and lax oversight led to several problems at North County's largest charter school, where allegations of money mismanagement, nepotism and conflicts of interest erupted into an ugly power struggle last year.

No criminal charges were filed against anyone at either school.

The report was released Tuesday by the San Diego Office of Education, which hired an auditing firm to look into 12 allegations against former administrators at the school that had been lodged by its board of directors.

...the report offers recommendations for how to get the school back on track, including repaying $7.3 million in state funding that may have been based on falsely reported attendance figures.

The report also suggests that Eagles Peak develop policies for dealing with nepotism and conflict of interest, and that it streamline how the school reports attendance...

[Blogger's note: Policies mean nothing if they're not implemented. In the Danielle Cozaihr case, Chula Vista Elementary School District's board completely ignored its own policy regarding helping teachers meet goals. Of course, that's because the teacher was already meeting goals, and their claims to the contrary were for the sole purpose of getting rid of a teacher for taking maternity leave. The board also ignored the penal code, the Labor Code, and the contract in the Maura Larkins case. Most school boards seem to act only to maintain the status quo by protecting the people who have power.]

The report doesn't place all of the blame on former administrators. The school's board of directors contributed to the problems by not keeping an eye on expenses, the audit states. Before last year, the school board "provided minimal monitoring, at best," according to the report.


" Same names, same behavior, same outcome... They just move from one charter to another but they had their training at GPA [Guajome Park Academy]. These folks should be held accountable ... What about the child's life that they affected, are the children able to bounce back? "

" Hum no criminal charges? Why not? The answer is simple perhaps the San Diego County Office of Education and the San Diego DA's office should be investigated for not doing their JOB!!! Where there are hundreds and thousands of dollars missing/unaccounted for/discrepancy and so forth the DA looks the other way. Then on the Palgate scandal the DA spent an enormous amount of money investigating $ 350.00 or so. What is wrong with this picture? By the way Stacy Eagles Peak is not the biggest charter school in the North County. The biggest and the meanest is Guajome Park ... "

" As magistrate Judge Barbara Major said, " If there are no sanctions, than where is the deterrence." The same can be said with these charter schools, "if there are no criminal charges, than where is the deterrence."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Reality-based decision making

Bush: Only time will tell about his legacy
Carolyn Lochhead,
San Francisco Chronicle Washington Bureau
January 4, 2009

...Babson College business ethicist James Hoopes, author of "Hail to the CEO, the Failure of George W. Bush and the Cult of Moral Leadership," sees the roots of Bush's leadership style in the Harvard management fad, still filling bookstore shelves, that promotes a notion of moral leadership and "values" over knowledge, execution and competence.

Bush resembles the late Enron CEO Ken Lay, who "was also a values-based leader, and didn't know what was going on at Enron," Hoopes said. "He thought he could run the company by just walking around being a leader and he didn't have to really manage." Bush likewise, making Sept. 11 a case of good versus evil, "is the biggest case study of a guy who thought his job was to walk around and be a cheerleader talking about values and everything else was going to take care of itself," he said.

Bush made no secret of relying on his gut, seeking divine guidance and asserting faith in his values. He did not read deeply or delve deeply into policies. "I feel so strongly about my principles and values," he said last May...

Bush bet his presidency on the war...the plan for a swift victory and quick exit turned into a bungled and bloody occupation that has left roughly 4,800 U.S. troops dead, 33,000 Americans wounded, as well as thousands of contractors and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted longer than World War II and cost 50 percent more than Vietnam: $904 billion since 2001, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. That ultimately could rise above $2 trillion, including decades of care for wounded veterans, estimated as high as $65 billion alone. Bush economic chief Lawrence Lindsay was fired for saying publicly that the Iraq war could cost $200 billion.

Bush delegated the war to the Pentagon, and fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld only after Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006.

By many accounts, he allowed Cheney, viewed by many as the Rasputin of the administration, to manipulate the White House policymaking process in a way he once himself warned was dangerous. Bush came within a hair of having a mass resignation at the Justice Department - and losing re-election - after Cheney and others left him blindsided on an internal fight over domestic surveillance.

George Bush has known or should have known since August that Iran stopped work on nuclear weapons four years ago, yet he's continued to talk about WW III and the need to sanction Iran.

The White House has shown contempt for reality-based decision making. One staffer said, "We make our own reality."*

These people think just like our own Chula Vista Elementary School District board. Perhaps George Bush has been coached by superintendent Lowell Billings in the fine art of analytical thinking.

* National Public Radio
News Analysis: Further Iran Sanctions Won't Sell Easily After Report
by Daniel Schorr
Dec-05-2007, All Things Considered
"...sometime ago Senior White House official was quoted by the New York Times Magazine as [deriding] what he called the reality based community and saying that in the Bush administration...'We make our own reality.'"

Megan Meir's death brings attention to the problem of bullies

No charges will be filed against Lori Drew, who claimed to have sent the messages that caused teenager Megan Meir to hang herself.

I'm guessing that Lori Drew may have been trying to protect her teenage daughter, who is possibly the one who really sent the messages.

The victim's parents are planning a civil suit.

I hope that this case will make the issue of bullying a matter of public discussion. It's a bad habit practiced by adults and children, and it wastes our human resources.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lowell Billings delegates

Chula Vista Elementary School District Superintendent Lowell Billings testified today in the Danielle Coziahr case, and made one thing perfectly clear: he does not now have, nor has he ever had, the slightest clue about what went on at Silverwing Elementary in 2005-2006. His mission at Silverwing was simply to keep the principal happy.

Billings says, "I delegate." To whom? To Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz.

Tom Cruz delegates, too. He also took the stand today, and made clear that no matter who first-year principal Alex Cortes wanted to fire, Cruz would not investigate. He would simply have the person dismissed.

Apparently a first-year principal was running the human resources department at CVED in '05-'06, and the human resources department dictated to Billings, who dictated to the board.

Clearly, there is no oversight by the district of CVESD schools, except to change principals if student test scores aren't high enough. What made Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz think that Alex Cortes was qualified to be a principal? Apparently he convinced them that he wouldn't let niceties such as human decency or the law stand in his way. They loved him immediately, and seem to have never questioned his judgment after the hiring interview.

Billings is apparently just a figurehead, and quite satisfied with his own performance, it appears.

Billings seems to think his job begins and ends with going around and being seen and making sing-song speeches about his "hands-on" approach. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to remember what he himself has seen. On the stand, he admitted he'd never even looked at Danielle Coziahr's personnel file, but he took responsibility for the decision to non-reelect Mrs. Coziahr.