Saturday, January 31, 2009

A green light from Google: I'm no longer blocked from Blogger dashboard

My exile from my Blogger dashboard has ended. For some reason, Blogger has suddenly allowed me to see my dashboard and to post on all my blogs.

I hope Google never caves in again to the folks who got Google to block me. I suspect that the real target of the block was NOT this blog (San Diego Education Report Blog), but rather Role Model Lawyers.

The last couple of posts on Role Model Lawyers were NOT posted from Blogger. I had to find a way to post without having access to my dashboard, so I used Google documents' program (I think it's called "writely"), and I obviously had a bit of trouble with spacing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tri-City Medical Center was in bad shape BEFORE it lost the bond election

Tri-City Hospital's old regime was depending on winning the bond issue last November, but voters didn't consider the hospital's leadership to be reliable, particularly when the board gave a $90,000 bonus to CEO Art Gonzalez, who was already making $483,000 per year.

Also, Dave Coles was set to be on bond oversight committee for Tri-City Hospital. Coles is the former Superintendent of Vista Unified School District (VUSD) who took credit for school bond Prop O, then made a mess of it. Money was unaccounted for, there were cost overruns, and money was spent on trailers that now have mold.

Other problems were:
(1) nearby hospitals are attracting Tri-City's former patients;
(2) the older part of the hospital needs retrofitting;
(3) Tri-City is one of two hospitals in the county with higher-than-average mortality rates.

But the San Diego Union Tribune is still trying to blame the new board for the sins of the old board. Here's a link to Keith Darce's shameless article (is he campaigning to become the new Don Sevrens?), which is well-described by one commenter:

"I live in Coronado. I've never been to Tri-City. I know that L.T. did some T.V. work for them. That's it. Don't know any of the parties.

"Here's my comment: this article isn't journalism.

"I'm a lawyer. I know "advocacy". And this is an advocacy piece. It's no different than an "opening statement" a lawyer makes at the beginning of a trial. You line up facts you like, quote your experts and mix the two in a way that leads your listener to form a certain conclusion or develop a certain opinion.

"I'm certain of one thing: if the board hired someone to write a piece from their perspective, using their facts, and quotes from their experts, and if the UT published it, we would all form a much different impression and opinion about this situation.


Here are my other posts about Tri-City Medical Center.


The testing gap all but eliminated when Obama at peak

Voice of San Diego
January 23, 2009
SDSU Researcher Finds 'Obama Effect'

The performance gap between black and white Americans when it comes to test-taking was significantly narrowed during key points in Barack Obama's ascension to the U.S. presidency, according to a study by San Diego State University researcher David Marx.

Over a three-month period last year, Marx and researchers from Northwestern and Vanderbilt universities administered an online verbal exam, which resembled the Graduate Record Exam, to 84 black Americans and 388 white Americans -- a breakdown equivalent to the overall U.S. population.

The results showed that whites scored better than their black counterparts on tests administered during periods when Obama's achievements were the least visible. However, during the points in the campaign when Obamamania was at its peak, the performance gap was all but eliminated.

"Barack Obama has been widely heralded as a role model for Black-Americans because he inspires hope," said Marx, an SDSU professor of psychology in a news release. "This research provides evidence that this election has had a concrete beneficial effect on Black-Americans on at least this one measurable area of academic performance."...

[Maura Larkins' comment: I have noticed since the election that I see more African-Americans shopping at my local Costco, and they are more likely to catch my eye and smile. I've also noticed that people of color, of every ethnicity, seem to be smiling more.]
Cool Folks from Pakistan Protect Free Speech in America
Some sneaky person (someone with something to hide?) has managed to lock me out of my blog.  Prime suspects: California Teachers Association and Guajome Park Academy, since they have Internet savvy; and Tri-City Medical Center's ousted leaders and their lawyer Leslie Devaney, since I recently began giving them a hard time.

The same thing happened to The Gates of Vienna blog.  I can't get to my dashboard;  every time I've signed in for the past week, I've gotten error message bX-gzbyt0. 

But some people from Pakistan, who have a lot of experience with censorship, have come to the rescue.  They have kindly published a step-by-step guide to getting around a Google block.  Their website is

Tri-City district wants suit postponed

$583,000 in doctor's debt at core of case

By Michael Burge
San Diego Union-Tribune
January 23, 2009

The Tri-City Healthcare District has asked a San Diego Superior Court judge to delay a decision on a lawsuit that the district filed against a surgeon it recruited who owes them money, but who claims he was recruited on false pretenses.

Tri-City sought out Dr. Thomas d'Amato in 2002, promising there were enough patients in the public hospital district, which covers most of Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad, to support a third cardiothoracic surgeon.  However, two years after he signed the agreement and joined the practice of another surgeon, d'Amato took a leave of absence, saying there weren't enough patients and the recruitment violated federal law. ...D'Amato, a former Navy surgeon, has returned to his home state of Pennsylvania and is practicing on a contract basis.

... the district's new law firm filed a letter in Superior Court saying, “We no longer seek a default judgment against defendant.”  The letter from Burke, Williams & Sorensen says only that the district is “pursuing a resolution with the defendant.”

[Maura Larkins' comment: As well they should.]


...One of the issues in the d'Amato lawsuit was the surgeon's contention that the relocation agreement violated a federal law that prohibits one doctor from benefiting directly from the recruitment of another physician.

The law was pivotal in 2002 when the the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego prosecuted Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Alvarado Hospital, contending the hospital and its chief executive signed relocation agreements with doctors that violated a federal anti-kickback statute. 

The law makes it illegal for a hospital to pay any bribe, kickback or compensation to established physicians through contracts with other doctors, with the aim of attracting patients to the hospital.  Two trials on the charges at Alvarado, which involved more than 100 such agreements, ended in hung juries. Tenet agreed in May 2006 to pay $21 million and sell the San Diego hospital to settle the outstanding criminal and civil charges.

According to the agreement between d'Amato and Tri-City, the district promised to lend d'Amato as much as $750,000 over 24 months to help him start a medical practice.  The agreement called for d'Amato to work for Dr. Theodore Folkerth, whom d'Amato paid $410,526 between 2002 and 2004, court documents show, plus $12,000 in monthly expenses.  In July 2005, d'Amato gave up his practice, leaving $583,333 of the Tri-City loan unpaid. In May 2007, the district sued him to get it. 

The court rejected d'Amato's legal argument on procedural grounds, ruling he couldn't represent his corporation and needed an attorney. D'Amato said he couldn't afford one.

...[The] board of directors placed eight top administrators, including Chief Executive Arthur Gonzalez, on paid leave Dec. 18...Board members Larry Schallock and Ron Mitchell were absent from the Dec. 18 meeting, and Dr. Madeline Rodriguez arrived late, after delivering a baby.


I've had good luck with Google's Blogger until this past week, when I was suddenly blocked from publishing on some of my Google blogs.  Today I was blocked from my main blog, San Diego Education Report. 

So I looked up the problem (on Google, ironically) and found that some smart people in third-world countries, who have lots of problems with free speech, had figured out a way to get around the problem.  It takes some extra work, but at least I can publish information.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kentucky Coach Indicted in Player's Death

Update: Coach acquitted in September 2009.

Kentucky School News and Commentary
January 22, 2009

David Jason Stinson, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School head football coach, was indicted today on one count of reckless homicide in the death of one of his players, Max Gilpin.

Gilpin, a sophomore lineman died Aug. 23 at Kosair Children’s Hospital, just three days after he collapsed at a team practice. Max’s temperature reached 107 degrees at the hospital after the collapse.

Stinson is facing up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charge. The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office did not seek charges against five other coaches on the team. All the coaches, however, have been named in a lawsuit filed by Max’s mother and father in Jefferson Circuit Court in September, accusing the coaches of negligence and “reckless disregard.”

January 24, 2009

A Kentucky high school football coach charged in the death of a player who collapsed at practice says he is heartbroken and that part of his life has been taken away.

It was his first public remarks since he was charged with reckless homicide Thursday in the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin, a sophomore offensive lineman who died three days after collapsing during a sweltering practice in Aug. 20.

Heat exposure deaths have occurred occasionally in all levels of football and the cases have led to numerous lawsuits. However, it appears a coach has never been criminally charged in the deaths...

"Part of my life's been taken away," he said. "I no longer teach. I no longer coach."

A school spokeswoman said he has been reassigned pending the outcome of the case. Stinson is expected to be arraigned Monday.

Some of Stinson's supporters held up signs. Others left notes. Some shared prayers and memories of the coach. Many of them were students, and they clapped and cheered
"we want Stinson," urging the coach to come outside of his home and address them.

"Every morning he would come in, he just had this glow about him," Ariel Whitaker, who had Stinson for two Web design classes, told The Courier-Journal of Louisville. "He could make anyone smile."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Will the California Teachers Association (CTA) permit real evaluations of teachers? My guess is NO.

I found this article in Voice of San Diego. Reporter Alpert tracked down some great links and included them in the piece:

How Teachers Are Like Quarterbacks
January 22, 2009

I'm so glad I finally have an excuse to blog about this fascinating piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker about teacher hiring and quality. The story I wrote yesterday about teacher evaluation on San Diego Unified touches on some of the larger points about the teaching workforce and how quality teachers are identified.

...He starts off by illustrating how difficult it is for professional football scouts to determine which college quarterbacks will make good pros...

"This is the quarterback problem. There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they'll do once they're hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching."

And if you really want to go deeper, here is more analysis by two brothers, one an education expert, the other a professional football coach, on Eduwonk -- a blog written by Andrew Rotherham of Education Sector. (His co-director Thomas Toch had some interesting comments in my story and an analysis of his own.)

Here is San Diego Education Report's

Teachers would be evaluated through observations by experienced teachers from other school districts (to limit the role of politics). The evaluators wouldn't even know beforehand whom they're going to evaluate.

New teachers would accompany and assist the evaluators because observing and assessing is a great way to learn.

There would be a standard list of traits to look for, and every teacher would be given a score which would be based on:
I. the observations described above;
II. students' test scores;
III. standardized tests taken by the teachers themselves;
IV. interview of teacher.

The tests given to teachers would be used to determine (a) which teachers need training; and (b) which teachers can do the training.


1. Average teachers would stay in the standard teaching job, but they would have the possibility of improving their scores and rising to master teacher level.

2. Every classroom would have one standard teacher, while the more effective master teachers would be given responsibility for several classrooms, teaching part time in each of these classrooms, and taking responsibility for guiding and educating the standard teachers.

3. The more effective teachers should be paid two to three times what the regular teachers are paid in order to attract really smart people--people who could have been doctors or physicists.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boys basketball at SDHS gets investigated

I think that a good way to keep kids in school is to let them play basketball. It sounds to me like the San Diego High School coach was trying to help kids when he let them play.

On the other hand, I need to know more to understand the undue influence and residence irregularity allegations.

District findings not revealed in San Diego case
San Diego Union Tribune
By Brent Schrotenboer
January 21, 2009

The San Diego Unified School District has completed its investigation into the San Diego High boys basketball program. A district spokesman said it would not publicly release the results because it's a “personnel matter.”

Superintendent Terry Grier and district General Counsel Mark Bresee next week plan to discuss whether they're going to take action based on the investigation, spokesman Jack Brandais said. He said any decision would be made by the Board of Education.

The district hired the law firm of Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost in San Marcos to conduct the inquiry. It looked into allegations of undue influence and residency irregularities involving the transfers of three high-profile players, including two from Oklahoma.

Last week, Grier announced that Cavers head coach Kenny Roy and two assistant coaches would be placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. The three transfers were ruled ineligible before the season by the California Interscholastic Federation's San Diego Section. The players appealed but have yet to play a game. Roy has denied wrongdoing.

The section did its own investigation and requested the district do the same in a Dec. 19 letter addressed to Grier and San Diego High Principal Rocio Weiss. In the letter, section Commissioner Dennis Ackerman wrote that a district investigation was required, especially in light of a message it obtained that was sent from the e-mail address of San Diego High Athletic Director Ty Guzik to Helix High Athletic Director Damon Chase. The e-mail from Guzik said, “We okay almost every kid as no kid should have to sit out because of adult rules.”

The section appears to have viewed this as disregarding CIF eligibility rules. Guzik declined comment when reached Friday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Management style shared by Bush and Lowell Billings

Lowell Billings, Superintendent of Chula Vista Elementary School District, acknowledges that he is responsible for school district decisions, but admits that he knows nothing about them. He apparently subscribes to the same management style as George W. Bush: being the "decider" doesn't mean that you inform yourself and think deeply. Billings, like Bush, believes that his job is to "walk around and be a cheerleader talking about values and everything else [is] going to take care of itself."

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chief Justice John Roberts not thrilled to swear in Barack Obama

I was interested in the actions of Chief Justice John Roberts at the inauguration of Barack Obama today. First, I was amazed at Roberts' casual, almost bored, tone of voice. Second, I was amazed at the way Roberts cut up the sentences he was reciting for Obama to repeat. The phrasing was odd, with dangling words tacked on to the end of a sentence. When Mr. Obama repeated the words "I, Barack Obama," Roberts kept talking; Obama didn't hear what he was saying, and waited for Roberts to repeat the words. Instead of doing so, Roberts stood there in silence, staring. After a while he began again, speaking unenthusiastic and overly-long strands of words in an offhand voice. At worst, Roberts seemed to want to trip-up and embarrass the new president. At best, he was unenthusiastic about what he was doing.

Thank you, Mr. Roberts, for making your attitude so clear. The Supreme Court needs to be closely watched with a chief who only supports American institutions when those institutions support his beliefs.

Update: Apparently Mr. Roberts rewrote the oath of office. He put the word "faithfully" in a different place. Why would he do that? Hmmm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Will Bush pardon Karl Rove on his last day in office?

Alabama governor Don Siegelman: a Democrat who was too successful in a Republican state

Is Karl Rove worried about the Don Siegelman case? Will Bush pardon him today?

From the CBS 60 minutes story on the case:

“Rob said that they had gotten wind that Don was going to run again,” she says.

“And Rob Riley said what about that?” Pelley asks.

“They just couldn't have that happen,” Simpson says.

Asked how they were going to prevent that from happening, she says, “Well, they had to re-indict him, is what Rob said.”

Democratic Underground notes: A study by Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, of the Bush justice department: "the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops."

UPDATE: The President wasn't in a pardoning mood in his last days. Story from USA Today:
• The Daily News (of New York) -- Cheney pushed Bush to pardon Libby: "In the waning days of the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby -- and was furious when President George W. Bush wouldn't budge. Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration -- even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence. ... Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal probe of who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press."

Friday, January 16, 2009

VistaUSD is finally investigating Guajome Park Academy

VISTA: School district to investigate Guajome Park Academy
North County Times
January 15, 2009

School district officials decided Thursday to investigate Guajome Park Academy to ensure there are no problems with leadership or instruction at the charter school.

The request for a "compliance review" was prompted by recent complaints from parents about curriculum and school administrators, said board President Carol Herrera, though she said she couldn't give more specific details.

"The whole charter has to be looked at," she said before the meeting.

The board voted unanimously to proceed with a review.

Several parents and employees from the academy attended the meeting to either praise the school or to encourage an investigation.

Guajome Park Academy has been without a superintendent for six months, since Penny Harrison quietly stepped down. Chief Business Officer Carla Skaggs has filled in since then...

In the past the district has sent complaints to school officials to address the concerns, she said.

Guajome Park serves 1,500 students in grades six through 12 with a project-centered curriculum. It's a charter school, which is a publicly funded school that operates independently, outside of many of the rules typical public schools face.

Chartering districts are responsible for monitoring the schools to make sure they're financially and academically successful.

"In the past, we haven't perhaps provided the oversight for that program that we needed to," Herrera said...

Unlike PowayUSD and VistaUSD, Indiana school board disapproves of abuse of special ed students

Poway Unified School District (PUSD) (Lindsey Stewart case) and Vista Unified School District (VUSD) (see Guajome Park Academy) have protected abusive teachers of special education students during the tenure of school attorney Daniel Shinoff. It's nice to see that some school districts are different.

The Poway school district still has not apologized to Megan Donovan and Jerry Ramelli for refusing to protect them.

Indiana Teacher Fired for Duct Taping Kid's Mouth Shut
Fox News
January 16, 2009

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A school board in Indiana has fired a middle school teacher who placed duct tape over a special-needs student's mouth to keep him from talking in class.

The board of Tippecanoe School Corp. voted Wednesday to cancel Pamela Dahnke's contract. She was an eighth-grade health and nutrition teacher at Battle Ground Middle School in West Lafayette.

Superintendent Scott Hanback says the September taping incident "cannot be tolerated."

The board also says Dahnke failed to implement the student's program for special needs and that she returned to the school after being told to leave.

The Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported Wednesday that Dahnke said she was unaware the board had made a decision. A call to a listing for Dahnke was not answered Friday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A brick to Leslie Devaney for demanding openness at Tri-City while she works to cover up events at Tri-City Hospital and CVESD

I'm concerned that attorney Leslie Devaney's demands for openness at Tri-City Healthcare are actually an attempt to STOP OR SABOTAGE THE FORENSIC AUDIT. Which does the public need more: an effective audit of financial shenanigans, or a long fight at a board meeting at which the final outcome was predetermined since the majority had all the votes they needed no matter who showed up? I think that the shortness of the meeting was merely an effort to protect the psyches of the board members, who apparently don't have much of a taste for being yelled at. I think they need to toughen up and summon up some courage. They're way too afraid of Leslie Devaney and Ray Artiano and the bigshots who hired them. The board needs to do some homework, to make sure it really understands the situation, and then stand up and go to bat for what it believes in. Too many board members across the spectrum of public entities simply do what their lawyers tell them to do.

This blog has awarded a big brick to attorney Leslie Devaney for hypocrisy and secrecy. Since 2001 Leslie Devaney's law firm Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz has been paid $100,000s of tax dollars by Chula Vista Elementary School District to cover up crimes and other violations of law.

Yet Devaney has the temerity to denounce the new Tri-City Healthcare board majority for lack of openness. Why is she doing this? Apparently to stop the board's investigation into possible criminal activity by her clients Art Gonzalez and seven of his fellow administrators.

But it gets worse. At the same time that Devaney is denouncing board members for putting administrators on leave during a forensic audit, she and her partners at Stutz law firm are suing this blogger (Maura Larkins) for defamation, and REFUSING TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS AT CVESD.

How do I know these documents exist? Because I have over half the pages from the 87-page set of Bate-stamped documents--the ones that were cherry-picked by CVESD because they were less incriminating. The documents were collected by Daniel Shinoff at Chula Vista Elementary School District during the fall of 2001, and Bate-stamped with the number “1” (not “01” or “001”) through 87, inclusive.

In order to make it impossible for Stutz law firm to claim that they couldn't identify the documents, I sent them copies of many of the documents from the set. Still, Stutz says it can't find the documents, and blames a paralegal.

Here's where the story gets humorous: Stutz is suing me for saying that "Daniel Shinoff keeps documents locked up in his office."

* * *

And here's a brick to the San Diego Union Tribune for hypocrisy and secrecy on behalf of Stutz law firm, for publishing tirades against CVESD for transferring the "Castle Park Five" while at the same time keeping secret the $100,000s of tax dollars the district had paid to defend many of those same teachers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tri-City Healthcare urged to "restore control over the administration and attorneys"

San Diego Union Tribune
Calling for award for chatty Kathleen
By Logan Jenkins
January 11, 2009

...Another bouquet – the Clearing the Air award – to Ron Cozad, the Carlsbad attorney representing Dr. John Young, a cardiothoracic surgeon whose bitter dispute with Tri-City administrators and fellow doctors appears to be high on the list of alleged “crimes” committed by the administration in exile.

Cozad's Dec. 11 letter to the board of directors has been cited as a possible road map for the board. But as is clear from Sterling's Dec. 4 voice mail, she already was harboring plans for dramatic changes that would lead to the resignation of loyalist board members.

Still, Cozad's letter, which he furnished to reporters, meshes well with the course the board majority would adopt in private session.

After describing a conspiracy of deception and retaliation against Young in the Dec. 11 letter, Cozad concludes: “Dr. Young respectfully urges this new Board to restore control over the administration and attorneys by exercising its absolute right to remove counsel and to fulfill its obligations to determine through an independent and unbiased forensic audit, whether your administrators complied with all relevant State and Federal laws . . . .”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Unfounded, anonymous allegation causes teacher to lose job; entire school board is now facing recall

Recall election OK'd for an entire school board in Tuolumne County

By Richard C. Paddock
January 10, 2009

In what may be the first attempt in California to unseat an entire school board, high school students and supporters who want to oust all five members collected enough signatures to put the issue before voters, the Tuolumne County clerk said Friday.

The students organized the recall campaign as a civics project after the board of the Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District voted to get rid of their popular math teacher, a former professional football player...

The school board is scheduled to meet next week to receive formal notice that the recall has qualified. The board will have the option of calling the election itself and allowing a vote entirely by mail. The election is most likely to be held May 5...

The sparsely populated district near Yosemite National Park is nearly as large in square miles as the Los Angeles Unified School District but has just three schools and fewer than 500 students.

School board President Lillian Cravens said the campaign to oust the board is in keeping with the community's quarrelsome style. Notorious for political bickering and personal rivalries, the district has run through seven superintendents in the last eight years and 15 school board members in the last five...

The latest controversy began in September after Supt. Mari Brabbin and the school board removed Ryan Dutton from his job teaching math at Tioga High over an allegation of plagiarism. He also lost his post coaching baseball.

Dutton, 31, who was studying for his teaching credential at Cal State Fresno, was accused of copying another student's homework in March. He denied the charge.

It is unclear how the allegation reached the school district. The university said the allegation was unfounded, but the school board has refused to take Dutton back...

Friday, January 09, 2009

What is going on with Leslie Devaney, her pal Jerry, and the insurance companies?

I can understand the thinking behind Leslie Devaney's January 5, 2009 effort to pack the Tri-City Hospital board's meeting room with opponents of the new board majority, and I can understand that such a crowd would be noisy and unruly. I must congratulate Leslie Devaney and Ray Artiano for putting on some good theater (although the threat of jail time for board members for Brown Act violations was a bit over the top).

Unfortunately, Leslie Devaney ended this week on a much lower note.

What was she thinking when she presented a couple of phone message recordings to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis?

Tri-City board member Kathleen Sterling apparently left the messages on the phone answering machine of Jerry Salyer, her political supporter. Sterling said that a board seat might open up, and that she would be willing to help Salyer if he were interested. This wasn't a crime, it was democracy, as noted by former district attorney Paul Pfingst in a quote to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

But Ms. Devaney knows that. I'd advise her to stop directing threats of criminal prosecution to the Tri-City board.

It seems Ms. Devaney was hoping that Sterling's use of the word "personnel" in her phone message would prove that the board's actions on December 18, 2008, in which CEO Art Gonzalez and eight administrators were placed on administrative leave so that a forensic audit could be conducted, were not efforts to clear up financial questions, but efforts to discipline employees.

It does NOT appear that the board evaluated the performance of employees on December 18, but rather decided to protect the integrity of the audit by limiting access to files.

Clearly, Sterling was not trying to give Jerry a precise description of what was planned for the board meeting, which she certainly could have done if she'd wanted to. She was not speaking in legalese, she was speaking in the inexact language of everyday speech.

Devaney ranted on January 5 about how boards should be open and transparent, but at the same time she is suing me for defamation to stop all discussion of Stutz law firm on my website.

Devaney also seems to be using her insurance company connections to good effect in this case. Some people think that she and/or her partner Ray Artiano got Beta Healthcare Group to threaten to cancel the hospital's liability insurance. This threat is reminiscent of the threats to take away MiraCosta College's accreditation if reform trustees kept demanding accountability. In both instances, board trustees who wanted changes were opposed by Stutz law firm.

The relationships between public entities and insurance companies are a matter that needs to be investigated. This should be part of the forensic audit at Tri-City, and this possibility of finding kickbacks might help to explain why insurance company lawyers (such as Stutz law firm) are so worked up about this audit. The San Diego Union Tribune recently reported that federal authorities are investigating insurance kickbacks in relationship to San Diego public entities.

I don't know if it's significant, but Leslie Devaney's pal Jerry, the person who gave her the phone recording of Kathleen Sterling, apparently owns an insurance business.

Ms. Devaney might have overreached in her effort to saddle Kathleen Sterling with criminal guilt. People might not continue to focus their attention on Sterling, but rather look back at where the accusations are coming from. Why is someone who is a political supporter of Kathleen Sterling playing footsie with Leslie Devaney? What's really going on here?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CVESD gives up its appeal of Danielle Cozaihr million-dollar verdict

It appears that Danielle Cozaihr has completed her long, hard battle for justice from Chula Vista Elementary School District. In December 2007 Cozaihr won a million dollar verdict against CVESD. Soon after, Daniel Shinoff took over the case. CVESD appealed. The case was then passed to Shinoff's partner Jack Sleeth. No opening brief was ever filed on behalf of CVESD. It appears that CVESD must have decided to either pay the verdict or to settle for some other amount.

04/08/2008 Notice of appeal lodged by CVESD
12/05/2008 Upon written stipulation filed by the parties to the appeal, the appeal is DISMISSED.

SDUT's Don Sevrens says he will correct his erroneous editorial about Tri-City Hospital, but what about his CVESD coverup?

It's Leslie Devaney, not Dan Shinoff, this time, but San Diego Union Tribune editor Don Sevrens has once again gone out on a limb for his pals at Stutz law firm.

[Note: Don Sevrens does not make these decisions alone. He got full approval from editor Karin Winner for the cover-up of Stutz law firm's involvement in the Castle Park fiasco discussed below, and I'm sure Winner approved of all the protection the paper has given Stutz law firm over the years.]

Sevrens told a caller today that he will publish corrections to his December 7, 2008 editorial about Monday's Tri-City Healthcare board meeting. Apparently quite a few people called to complain about inaccuracies in his writing.

Here is my response regarding the inaccuracies.

Currently Sevrens is supporting Leslie Devaney, attorney for Tri-City CEO Art Gonzalez. She's the lawyer who helped Laurie Madigan fleece the City of Chula Vista.

But Sevrens and the SDUT seem more strongly connected to Devaney's partner, Dan Shinoff. The San Diego Union-Tribune has never told the full truth about one of Mr. Sevrens' favorite stories, the "Castle Park Five." Mr. Sevrens championed the teachers in story after story. Many letters of support were printed. But Mr. Sevrens never mentioned that the district was paying $100,000s to cover up illegal actions by teachers, with most of that money going to Daniel Shinoff. The SDUT supported the school board candidacy of Felicia Starr, a parent who was deeply involved with the teachers who had initiated illegal actions at the school. Of course, this may have been designed to split the anti-incumbent vote and ensure the election of board member Pamela Smith, who was authorizing the expenditure of taxpayer dollars on the cover-up.

The SDUT and Sevrens got help in the coverup from Linda Rosas Townson, publisher of the Chula Vista Star-News. Townson published the rants of a couple of former PTA presidents from Castle Park School, including Kim Simmons, who was later arrested for embezzling $20,000 from the PTA. The Star-News didn't bother to present the true story, though it had possessed documentation of wrongdoing at the school long before anyone decided to transfer the "Castle Park Five."

Both Sevrens and Star-News reporter Kelley Dupuis pretended that Castle Park teachers were perfectly ordinary teachers and that nothing out of the usual had been going on in the teachers lounge.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Leslie Devaney says Tri-City board should have given employees 24 hrs notice of meeting

See all Tri-City Hospital posts.
See all Leslie Devaney posts.

Stutz law firm attorney Leslie Devaney says the law requires that an employee be told a day ahead of time if his/her employment will be discussed at a board meeting.

Tri-City's new lawyer, Julie Biggs, said that employees must be given notice only if disciplinary action is being discussed. She said that the action was not disciplinary.

I think it's also important to note that the board wanted to do a forensic audit. The worry is that a whole lot of documents might have been removed from the hospital during the 24 hours after giving notice to Tri-City top dogs.

Sorry, Ms. Devaney. I don't think the board members you railed against are going to jail for failing to give notice ahead of a forensic audit.

North County Times
Lawyer for executives said they should have been given notice of Dec. 18 action
January 6, 2009

"If you don’t give 24 hours' notice, then it’s null and void and against the law," Devaney said at the meeting.

Julie Biggs, the board’s recently-appointed attorney, said Tuesday that she disagreed and has not advised the board to reinstate the executives or issue a public apology, as Devaney demanded Monday night.

Biggs said the decision to put administrators on leave came during a discussion of potential litigation in closed session. She said the board would only have to give prior notice and list allegations if it were taking a disciplinary action against the employees.

"No complaints or charges have been taken up," Biggs said. "This is not a disciplinary action."

Devaney said that she believes any action, not just a disciplinary one, against an employee requires the same advance notice.

Friday, January 02, 2009

California Department of Education (CDE) pays off whistleblower and lawyers

Sacramento Bee
California Department of Education settles whistle-blower suit for $4.25 million
By John Hill
Published: Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008

The state Department of Education has settled a long-running lawsuit with a whistle-blower, paying $4.25 million to the former worker who said he suffered retaliation after he reported corruption and fraud to then-Superintendent Delaine Eastin.

But that wasn't the department's only cost. Over seven years, it has paid another $1.2 million to law firms for defending the state through two jury trials and appeals.

Still, the $4.25 million settlement represents a savings of sorts. In the second trial in 2007, a jury awarded whistle-blower James Lindberg $7.6 million. With interest, the value of that judgment had increased to $8.6 million, said Hilary McLean, spokeswoman for superintendent of schools Jack O'Connell.

"The settlement reflects both parties' determination that there were risks with continuing the litigation that outweighed the benefits of trying to pursue a final resolution in the Court of Appeal," McLean said.

"We think it was a benefit to taxpayers to reach a settlement. It ends the expense of continuing to defend this case in court."

Lindberg's attorney, Gaspar Garcia II, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

The case centered on corruption in a program that handed out money to community-based organizations between 1995 and 2000 to teach English and citizenship to recent immigrants. Some of the schools that got grant money didn't even exist.

Lindberg, a 20-year state worker, said that when he and others reported $11 million in misappropriations to Eastin, she ignored them. Then he was transferred to a job with no duties, leading to stress that he said triggered two heart attacks and put him in a wheelchair.

Another whistle-blower settled for $350,000 in 1999, McLean said.

Lindberg's first jury trial in 2002 led to a $4.6 million verdict. The department appealed, and the case was sent back for another trial. But that jury awarded Lindberg $3 million more.

The state was pursuing yet another appeal when the settlement was reached.

The $1.2 million in legal fees went to two separate law firms – one defending the department and the other representing Eastin, the former superintendent.

Eastin also is covered by the settlement, McLean said. As part of the settlement, the state admitted no liability, she said.