Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lowell Billings explains why he's paid so much

"I think a big part of it has to do with accountability,” said Chula Vista Superintendent Lowell Billings, when asked by Channel 10 News why the taxpayers give him $205,000 per year to run Chula Vista Elementary School District.

This makes me wonder all the more about Mr. Billings' approval of this document.

I'd understand the big salary better if he'd said, "I'm good at keeping the school board's secrets" or "I know better than to show up for a deposition regarding crimes committed by CVESD."

Being accountable means NOT keeping secrets, Mr. Billings. Being accountable requires transparency.

When Billings was Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Chula Vista Elementary School District, he ignored a teacher's report that she had been tricked by a man who had been chosen by the district to go into classrooms and talk to teachers about investing. The man was Anthony Pavia.

Fortunately, the teacher was able to get her money out of the account that had been sold to her as a different type of investment.

But it turned out to be a double swindle. It wasn't until much later that the teacher discovered that money was being taken out of her paycheck every month for an account which she had specifically disapproved. Pavia presented the teacher with a form that had two companies names written on it. The teacher had never expressed any interest in the first company. She did want to invest in the second company.

Pavia told the teacher that he didn't have any extra forms, so she would have to cross out and intital the name of the company she didn't want. Then he said the company she did want would also have to be crossed out and initialed and its name had to be rewritten on the first line, above the crossed-out words.

Then came the real fraud.

Without the teacher's knowledge, Pavia (or his assistant) wrote in the name of the company the teacher did not want. Lowell Billings approved this bizarre document, and money started flowing out of the teacher's paycheck every month. She didn't notice it for a long time, because she was not in the habit of carefully examining her pay stubs.

How many such documents, with both first and second lines scribbled out, did Lowell Billings approve? How many complaints did he get from teachers? Why did he refuse to talk to teachers who complained? Did Billings have an account with Anthony Pavia that gave Billings financial advantages in return for looking the other way as Pavia swindled teachers?

When she reported the second swindle, Lowell Billings again refused to talk to the teacher. Billings even refused, until after repeated requests, to give her a copy of the document that had allowed the monthly withdrawals from her paycheck.

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