Tulare Cemetery Board Attempts to Oust Trustee Gilson – again

For the second time this summer the Tulare Public Cemetery District (TPCD) Board has attempted to remove a sitting member.

In part, a letter to Trustee Vicki Gilson from Chairperson Steve Presant stated, “On Thursday, September 17 2020 the Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to consider whether to declare a vacancy in your seat on the Board as a result of your ceasing to be an inhabitant of the District. Because you appear to have ceased being an inhabitant of the District and to be living in Missouri the Board intends to enforce Government Code Section 1770, subdivision (e).”

The first time TPCD board tried to remove Gilson for allegedly not living in the district was during a special meeting called on July 9. That meeting was canceled due to a staff member who tested positive for COVID – 19.

Last Thursday’s attempt to remove Gilson ended late into the meeting after Trustee Jim Pennington had a surprising change of heart, saying that after all he had heard he would not vote to remove Gilson.

Trustee Xavier Avila stated that, given how Pennington feels, a vote by the board was pointless.

Trustee Alberto Aguilar followed, “I want to make a motion that we cease and desist with this item.”

For lack of a second Aguilar’s motion failed.

The board decided to bring the issue back at a later date.

Three Hour Debate over Gilson’s Official Domicile

TPCD board members are appointed by Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel. Once the person is sworn into office Vander Poel cannot remove the trustee.

A letter dated September 11 to Gilson from Presant stated, “If the Board decides to declare your position vacant, then the Board will request that the Tulare County Board of Supervisors appoint a registered voter from the District to replace you…”

The Catch 22 is that Vander Poel would be asked to replace Trustee Gilson, a registered voter in the district, with another registered voter in the district.

County Counsel did explain to the board and attendees during the meeting that a public hearing has a lower legal bar than a court of law. According to County Counsel’s advice, the trustees have slightly more latitude than just considering voter registration when establishing a board member’s primary domicile and their intent to stay at that domicile.

At the district’s expense, County Counsel is always present at TPCD board meetings. Two were present at the September 17 meeting.

Presant was first to lay out his case, saying that Gilson had not been an inhabitant of the district for a while and that she and her husband had moved to Missouri. ”I am just bothered by someone legislating on the board from Missouri,” he said.

Gilson, who was participating through teleconferencing, responded, “I’ve had the same address (in Tulare) for a long time and I have been in and out of town due to COVID. I plan on coming back soon.” Gilson added later in the meeting that her intent is to live in Tulare, not Missouri.

Avila said that he initially was not in favor of voting Gilson off the board when Presant first broached the subject in April. “But I’ve had six months to collect evidence,” said Avila. He said that many factors build into the body of evidence to determine someone’s official residence.

He acknowledged that Gilson was registered in Tulare but said that fact does not prove she lives here. “She could be registered here illegally,” he said.

He added that after driving by Gilson’s house he found there is no trash service, there is an abandoned car, and that the yard is so over grown it impedes the front door.

“I have driven by that house many times and no one is there,” said Avila.

He said that when Gilson does come back to town she doesn’t stay at her house but stays in a motor home in the Walmart parking lot.

Gilson responded, “When I am in town I stay in my house or I stay with my son or daughter. But I am an inhabitant of Tulare.”

During Avila’s private investigation he spoke to her neighbors and people who attend her church and said that no one has seen her.

“I’ve asked people have you seen her? And they say no she moved to Missouri.”

In addition, Avila said he discovered that Gilson’s husband, Larry, is registered to vote in Missouri and owns a house in Joplin, MO while Vicki owns a home in Tulare.

Avila asked County Counsel, “Is it usual for two married people to have two domiciles? Are they separated?”

County Counsel Aaron Zaheen said, “It is not beyond the realm of possibility for spouses to have two houses.”

Avila then looked toward the phone to address Gilson, “You said you were a registered voter but you didn’t vote in the last election.”

“Oh my God,” said Gilson.

Avila addressed County Counsel, saying, “I’d like to know why Mrs. Gilson did not vote in the last election.”

Gilson said, “I don’t think I did. I’m not required to.” She went on to explain that she normally does not vote in primaries but only general elections.

Avila then asked Gilson, “Where are your heirlooms? Where are your baby pictures?”

He continued, “Where do you go to the doctor, where do you buy your gas, where do you do your banking?”

Out of frustration Aguilar fumed that Avila and Presant have made many accusations but have submitted no evidence that Gilson is not a resident of Tulare.

“What proof do you have? You have brought nothing to the table. This meeting should have been us reviewing the cemetery’s financial reports, of which I have not seen since May.”

“What people say at church, that’s gossip. What people are saying on facebook, that’s gossip, OK? Aguilar then held up Gilson’s Tulare voter registration card with her Tulare address and said “This is proof.”

Avila then asked County Counsel if it was reasonable for him to ask neighbors or people at her church if they know where Gilson lives. County Counsel said that soliciting testimonies is reasonable but “it is hearsay.”

Gilson responded, “I am totally offended and appalled. You are totally out of line, all of you.”

Aguilar reminded the board that the cemetery district is setting itself up for civil litigation at taxpayer expense. “If it were me,” Aguilar said, “I would sue the hell out of you and you can quote me on that.”

During public comment Alex Gutierrez, a member of Citizens for Hospital Accountability, said, “You guys are really being savages. Why are you doing this? Because she is asking for the financials, because she is holding you accountable?”

Toward the end of the meeting “intent to stay” became the central issue as to how the board would ultimately decide to vote.

Presant asked Gilson, “Do you plan on coming back and staying in Tulare?”

“Yes,” said Gilson

“When,” said Presant.

“In a couple of weeks,” she said.

Avila stated that he intended to drive by her house t that time to see if she actually is living there. When the public grumbled with discontent Avila snapped back, “I can drive by anybody’s house I want to and you can’t tell me I can’t.

“But it’s creepy,” said Gutierrez.

24 thoughts on “Tulare Cemetery Board Attempts to Oust Trustee Gilson – again

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    • I quoted straight from the recording of the meeting and gave Xavier three times as much space in this article than I gave Alberto or anyone else.

      Please let me know what quotes I missed and I will promptly add them to my article.

    • Xavier Avila says,
      “Good article it has the different points of view. Fair and balanced.”

      Got anymore comments Ms. Maloy?

      • Catherine it is a well written article. I do think leaving out the statement by Jim Pennington is important. He said he believe’s Vicky does not live here . I also don’t think saying he had a change of heart is accurate. No one knows how Steve was going to vote and by saying he had a change of heart implies he had his mind made up before the meeting. What if he didn’t

        • Yes, Jim did say he believes that Vicki does not live here.

          He makes it clear that he had a change of heart because he said after listening to everything that was said at the meeting he decided not to vote Vicki off the board.

          If he tells me thats not true I will take it out of the artilce.

          • no Jim stated that he had No Doubt that she was living in Missouri. But he felt more proof was needed and he did not want to table this. It would be revisited at a later date, continuing the Msy agenda item of removing her. It’s not over yet.

      • Why yes i do Catherine and BTW ut is Ms. Maloy. Considering the fact you checked on anothers living arrangements (in or out of district) why is it that several months ago when I submitted the pictures and info to you, that you did not check into this then. You have been sitting there with your mouth shut like you knew nothing. Interesting. Avila gave you credit for writing equal sides. Thats his opinion not mine.
        BTW the video was rolling with the group chatting during the closed session. Posted to the public not the closed group.

        • You never submitted pictures and info to me about Vicki’s residence. If you did re-email it to me.

          I investigated Thusu who lived in Clovis but was running for Tulare County Supervisor. He also had many lawsuits against him and owed Dinuba maybe 100k. None of that is true in Vicki’s case.

          Who cares if the tape was running? I gave several cases where trustees do not live in the district they represent. But its where they consider home and its where they vote. That makes it legal.

          • Not true. I submitted them via instant messenger. You replied that from now on I should send them via your email and gave me your email address.
            Same conversation included your comment to me that “yes you know Aguilar breaks tge Brown Act. You had a drawer full of examples!”

          • I don’t know what instant messenger is. If you sent them via instant messenger I would not have received them.

            I have many examples of Xavier breaking the Brown act, not Alberto. Xavier and I spoke about it when he was first chair and he said he was still learning the ropes. It can be a little overwhelming in the beginning.

    • I’m not afraid of anything The creepy comment is from Alex Gutierrez , what is creepy is Alex . The Valley Voice did an article on him for knocking a women down and causing her to get injured.

      Catherine Doe Catherine Doe
      2 years ago
      Alex Gutierrez, candidate for Tulare City Council District 2, has been accused of assault by Democratic Central Committee (TCDCC) Vice Chair, Kathleen Dowling.

      Dowling is also known locally as the “stocking lady” for her donations to the Rescue Mission at Christmas.

      After a TCDCC meeting at Tulare’s Apple Annie’s May 25, 2017, Dowling said that Gutierrez picked up a chair as she was trying to leave and pinned her to the wall. She said that the legs of the chair were on either side of her so she could not move.

      “He kept yelling at me ‘we need to talk, we need to talk,’ and I said, ‘no you need to let me go.’”

      Starting to fear what he would do next and trying to de-escalate the situation, she said she kept her voice down and continued to encourage him to let her go because he was visibly agitated.

      Gutierrez was upset about something Dowling said earlier in the evening and he wanted to talk it out before she left.

      Dowling said the standoff lasted about a minute as she kept pushing against the chair telling Gutierrez, “You need to stop. I am not going to talk with you right now.” She continued, “I finally had enough adrenaline going that I pushed the chair away and started to leave. I then felt his foot push against my ankles and I hit the floor so hard that the room of 25 to 30 people became dead silent.”

      • Lets not cherry pick, OK Xavier. Here is the rest of my story.

        “Gutierrez does not deny there was an incident but denies he tripped her.

        He said that Dowling had been rude to him before the meeting and he wanted to tell her he didn’t appreciate what she said. He acknowledged that Dowling did not want to talk so he slid one of the restaurant’s overstuffed chairs in front of her. “But it wasn’t touching her,” he said.

        Gutierrez said, “She moved the chair away and pushed herself through me and then she tripped because she walks with a wobble.”

        Gutierrez said that she stepped on his foot and that is why she fell down. He also said that it was not Aguilar that helped her up but that it was him.”

  1. According to the bylaws what is the standard protocol and procedure to have a sitting board trustee removed? The public is being asked to support trustees who for all intent and purpose are going rogue and acting in tandem to force out a sitting board trustee. Who will be the next target in their board cleansing? Truth be told this entire board needs to be removed. It has become far too tainted and ridden with cancerous vendettas and agendas. Tulare County and its cities are steeped in good ole boy networking; who you are and who you know and listening to Xavier all others need not comment unless it is to agree with him. The Tulare Public Cemetery Board of Trustees has become to many citizens a running joke, a continuous source of embarrassment. When will this city find relief from this ongoing soap opera and being pulled into their constant turmoil. Valley Voice thank you for this article and on this I agree with Xavier, it is fair and balanced and gave your readers a vivid and clear picture of what took place at this meeting. Good work Catherine.

  2. It is Xavier avila, Steve P., and Mr Pennington that needs to be pushed off the board not Vicki G.all the under handed things they have done to discredit miss Vicki.

  3. It is Xavier avila, Steve P., and Mr Pennington that needs to be pushed off the board not Vicki G.all the under handed things they have done to discredit miss Vicki.

  4. As I have said in past comments you read and you listen, and sometimes if you’re lucky you can attend! I have to agree with Barbara Kane. The whole board should be removed and it’s Pete Vander Poel who has the authority to do this with the blessing of a yes vote by the whole Board of Supervisor’s to take control of this District. But does the Board of Supervisor’s have the backbone to do this? They aren’t overworked as they claim They just don’t want to deal with it! They are just as ignorant about the laws as the current Tulare Public Cemetery District Board! They can’t even run a meeting correctly without a disagreement between themselves. It will take public pressure on the County Board of Supervisor’s to remove everyone from this board; and not treat is as old hat; re-appointing the same people. They can have a application process and vet those that are interested in serving. These board members get paid well for attending board meetings. Did you read that in the By-laws of the Tulare Public Cemetery District, Ms. Kane?

    If these three board members are so intent on removing Ms. Gilson from the board let them turn over the evidence to the County DA’s office and let them do their job!

    I’m inclined to disagree with Mr. Xavier Avila, Steve Presant, and Mr. Pennington. You may think you have rights to drive by someone’s house and peer through their windows; but you are wrong! Criminal Trespass for one and harassment is the other Mr. Avila. There are such things as restraining orders and in my view point Ms. Gilson would have every right to do so. She would have every right to bring suit against the whole board and the county. Keep it up Mr. Avila, Mr. Presant, and Mr. Pennington you’re just adding more fuel to the fire! Mr. Vander Poel it’s time for you to put a stop to this if you have a backbone! As for the public it’s time for your voices to be heard at a County Board of Supervisor’s meeting! Yes, it is a joke; and waiting for the next chapter!

  5. Sounds like some one does not want to give up their position on the board because they are receiving pay and benefits. Tax payers footing the bill while they are living in another state.

  6. How about a whole new board get voted in. It seems like there’s too much arguing and people not doing their job rather than focusing on the greater good of the people.

  7. As I have stated in other articles where you find Xavier Avila you find chaos. Xavier creeping around people’s houses is very alarming and it should scare all broad members. The men should be the first to be removed off the board.

  8. Hahahaha! Typical Tulare organization! Everybody hates one another. This is just another black eye for this “Ship of fools”! Everyone should be fired. County supervisor should be voted out. What happened to the city code of unattended front yards? If this woman’s front yard is a pig sty as noted, then why hasn’t the trash cop given it a notice to clean it up, or is that just something they go looking for in the poorer sections of T Town? Are there any boards that can provide positive results in this town?

    • City will just say that it doesn’t have the resources to address city code violators, budget stretched too thin. If there is an empty lot that is being used as a dumpsite they will send someone out and get it cleaned up but I’ve yet to see residential dwellings looking like dumpsites addressed. Didn’t used to be this way long ago but now it doesn’t seem to matter.

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