Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jury finds Steve Castaneda not guilty; Patrick O'Toole apparently will now go after Cheryl Cox, Bertha Lopez, Larry Cunningham...

See all posts re Steve Castaneda.

After the jury came back with a "not guilty" verdicts yesterday in the case of Chula Vista city councilman Steve Castaneda, who was accused of hiding his "intent" to buy a condo while testifying during a grand jury investigation that found no wrongdoing, prosecutor Patrick O'Toole said, "It was a case from our end that we thought had to be brought -- that the obligation to tell the truth under oath is one that we're going to fight for."

Wonderful news! O'Toole says that the obligation to tell the truth under oath is "one that we're going to fight for."

I've been waiting for a long time to hear someone in Bonnie Dumanis' office say this.

I assume this means that O'Toole is finally going to do something about Chula Vista Elementary School District trustees and administrators who obstructed justice and committed or suborned perjury. The District Attorney received my complaint in 2005.

Here is the story from Fox News:

Councilman Found Not Guilty of Perjury in Condo Charges
Last Update: 4/23/2008

A Chula Vista city councilman accused of lying to the county grand jury regarding his personal interest in an apartment complex that was being converted into condominiums was acquitted Wednesday of six of 10 perjury counts.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to retry Steve Castaneda on the remaining four counts on which jurors deadlocked.

"I'm very happy that I'm vindicated. I'm very happy about the fact that I can now go on with my life," Castaneda told reporters outside the courtroom.

Defense attorney Marc Carlos said jurors gave it their best shot -- deliberating for five days after a two-week trial -- before coming to a decision.

"They've had hundreds of exhibits and thousands of pages of grand jury testimony, and that's as good as they can do and there's nothing there," Carlos told reporters. "I think (District Attorney) Bonnie Dumanis should do the right thing and step up and dismiss the remaining counts. They've spent a lot of money on this case and it's gone nowhere."

Prosecutor Patrick O'Toole said: "It was a difficult case. Everybody knew that going in. It was a case from our end that we thought had to be brought -- that the obligation to tell the truth under oath is one that we're going to fight for."

Bonnie Dumanis and Patrick O'Toole need to prosecute serious perjury offenses

Tanya Mannes of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote on June 20, 2007:

"Patrick O'Toole, a Public Integrity Unit prosecutor, spent months investigating Jason Moore, who had been an aide to former [Chula Vista] Mayor Steve Padilla... He concluded that Moore ultimately took the two hours off. But he believed Moore lied about the timing of when he turned in a request for personal leave... Yesterday, Moore, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of contempt of court, a misdemeanor."

“People can't come into the grand jury, swear to tell the truth, and then lie,” O'Toole said.

Well, yes. And they can't obstruct justice, suborn perjury, falsify court documents, or violate the Labor Code. But that is exactly what current Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox has done.

Which makes it all the stranger that Bonnie Dumanis has refused to investigate Richard Werlin and other Chula Vista Elementary School District figures who have sworn to tell the truth, and then lied--about more important issues than two hours off work.

Ironically, Moore was accused of taking two hours off work to spy on Cheryl Cox and David Malcolm at a Cox fundraiser. The irony is particularly heavy in this case because Cheryl Cox herself pressured a whole slew of public employees at Chula Vista Elementary School District to commit perjury. Much of the perjury was done to cover up falsification of documents, which Cheryl Cox, Patrick Judd, Larry Cunningham, Pamela Smith and Bertha Lopez made necessary when they voted to cover up crimes by dismissing a teacher. The dismissal was itself a violation of Labor Code section 1102.5

The Chula Vista Elementary School District board chose lawyers, Parham & Rajcic, and Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, who could be depended upon to use illegal tactics to cover up the board's wrondoing. Obstruction of justice is all in a day's work for these law firms.

The fact that Cheryl Cox has more power now than when she was a CVESD board member makes it all the more important that she be answerable for her crimes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Luis Acle still fighting charges, running as write-in candidate

April 12, 2008

San Diego school trustee Luis Acle has revived his re-election campaign, this time as a write-in candidate.

Acle was disqualified as a candidate after he failed to collect enough valid signatures for the June primary. But on Monday, he pulled papers to defend his seat as a write-in candidate...

Ongoing budget hearings and an ethics investigation into Acle's failed 2006 City Council campaign took the trustee's attention away from collecting signatures, he said.

“I am a decent public servant, but I'm not a particularly good candidate,” said Acle, a international business consultant and former substitute teacher.

The San Diego Ethics Commission has said Acle likely violated election laws 42 times when he ran for the City Council against Ben Hueso. It found that Acle failed to pay vendors for their services, failed to disclose campaign expenses and failed to maintain accurate financial records. He faces fines of up to $210,000.

A final ruling is expected at a May 9 hearing. Acle contests the findings.

Another school fires a teacher for reporting violations

Personally, I've always taken grades with a grain of salt. I don't think they prove much.

But I'm really disgusted with school officials who have little or no respect for the law, or even for their own policies. Students across the country are being taught that honesty counts for very little, and that if you want to keep your job, you'd better be prepared to lie.

And the real tragedy is that our schools are contributing heavily to our failures as a society, instead of helping to prepare citizens to respect the rule of law.

April 11, 2008

Click HERE to watch the video (after the commercial).

DALLAS -- Allegations of retaliation by a whistle-blowing DISD teacher have been supported by an internal investigation obtained by News Eight...

Former Skyline High School teacher John Stine says any DISD teacher thinking about speaking out should forget it.

In his case, he blew the whistle on improper grade changing and weeks later got fired. An internal investigation supports Stine...

When first we visited former Skyline High School Media Tech teacher John Stine, he was being paid by DISD to clock in with Human Resources and go home.

Stine had been recommended for removal from school by Associate Principal Ward English just days after reporting to state officials that English improperly changed the grades of failing student athletes.

Stine was relieved recently to learn that a 606 page internal investigation into his allegations supports his claims that his reward for trying to blow the whistle was termination, and worse...

Among the contents supporting Stine: a report from May of last year indicating that in a previous investigation, "Mr. English had admitted to making grade changes arbitrarily." Also, a time line laying out the alleged retaliation: April 9, 2007 Stine blows the whistle reporting that English improperly changed student grades. The next day, English initiates an investigation into Stine's teaching performance. One week later, Stine is directed to leave campus immediately. One month after that, English recommends Stine for termination...

Stine says Superintendent Hinojosa should have already taken action against English. "Yet he is still at that school and I'm still being punished," said Stine...

"What other things have they covered up, what other people have they destroyed? How are they trying to intimidate, harass, ruin the careers of other teachers that are standing there struggling against all odds against an administration that will not help them," said Stine. disdteacher.531a3869.html
LINK: Dallas ISD Website
LINK: (02/08/08) Grade changing allegations point at principal

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It was obvious all along that Lowell Billings didn't believe in site-based management

Lowell Billings is starting to sound like Daniel Shinoff.

Chula Vista Elementary School District's Superintendent Lowell Billings apparently watched closely and learned from his predecessor Libia Gil, who promoted a system she called "site-based management." Billings continues to promote the system.

But the system as implemented at CVESD always involved top-down decisionmaking, never democracy at the school site.

It also involved laziness and neglect. So things would often get out of hand at various schools, and then the district office would swoop in and fire people, or, if they were political allies, bring them back to the district office for their own protection.

But now Lowell has a new problem. The school that is trying to make its own decisions is a charter school. They don't seem to think that principal Erik Latoni should make all the decisions.

Once again, Lowell wants to swoop in and take control. He is threatening to to terminate the charter of Feaster Elementary School because the people who run the school actually work at the school. Instead of "site-based decisionmaking," this is now being called "a conflict of interest" by Mr. Billings.

It's not ideas that matter at CVESD, it's words. And the meaning of the words changes whenever the people in charge feel it's necessary.

It's probably worthwhile to note that CVESD recently rehired Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. Apparently the board was impressed with Shinoff's work at MiraCosta College.

I notice a striking similarity in the arguments used to attack Feaster Elementary and the arguments used to justify the actions of the majority-bloc of trustees at MiraCosta. CVESD and MiraCosta don't want anyone to discuss the incompetence of their leaders in public, so they claim it's against the law.

UPDATE: June 2008 article in San Diego Union