Tulare Public Cemetery District in insurance limbo

The Tulare Public Cemetery District (TPCD) is searching for a new insurer: the district’s office manager told trustees that the district’s insurance would be cancelled August 31 — earlier than the contract’s end date — and later negotiated with the insurer to allow the policy to end on October 1.

The insurer, Allied World Specialty Insurance, will not renew the district’s policy and even attempted to end it early due to “the risks with bad publicity and risks involved with our past management,” Clara Bernardo, the district’s office manager, said in an email to trustees.

The first email, sent after the close of business on August 30, stated that the cemetery district’s insurance would be cancelled the following day.

“As of September 1, 2021, we will no longer be covered under Allied World Specialty Insurance Co.  (Walter Mortensen Agency). We are being non-renewed for 10/1/21 but they are canceling us early.  Which means our coverage ends 8/31/21,” wrote office manager Clara Bernardo.

“I also tried to get an extension with our current company and they will not extend,” she added. “I have reached out to over 12 insurance companies. I am still waiting to hear from three. The others will not pick us up.”

Although the “Notice of Cancellation of Insurance” was mailed to the district office on July 21, the trustees were informed via email on August 30.

By close of business on August 31, TPCD had managed to negotiate with Allied World Specialty Insurance to honor their original agreement and cover the cemetery through October 1 with a possible 30 day extension. But the insurance company made it clear in no uncertain terms that they will not renew the policy.

“Because we will still need a new company since our insurance company does not want to continue with us past [the] extension due to the risks with bad publicity and risks involved with our past management,” Bernardo stated in an email to trustees.

 

Is the Tulare Public Cemetery District uninsurable?

The cancellation notice stated, “The reason for cancellation is willful or grossly negligent acts which materially increase the risk(s) insured.”

“We issued, per the state statute at least a 30-day midterm cancellation, which is allowed under certain situations, which we feel this risk qualifies.  Please see below articles that have been published in the last several months,” a follow-up email from Allied stated.

The Valley Voice articles listed, along with articles from two other publications, revealed an array of problems with the district making it an unacceptably high risk business to insure.

An article on the Grand Jury cited by Allied documented, among many other problems, the district’s difficulty in conforming to the Brown Act and irregularities in finances. The grand jury report suggested that the Tulare County Board of Supervisors should have provided more oversight of the district and recommended the district conduct an independent forensic audit covering the last five years, which the district has not done.

Other articles cited by Allied document former manager Leonor Castaneda’s alleged incompetence during her three and a half year tenure as manager while trustees Xavier Avila, Steve Presant and Jim Pennington approved pay raises and increased vacation time; Presant at one meeting went as far to promote Castaneda as “the CEO of Tulare Public Cemetery District.”

During the same time period, seven employees were fired from TCPD increasing the district’s exposure to litigation and necessitating payouts and severance packages.

TPCD Board Chair Avila was named along with Castaneda in a wrongful termination lawsuit by former groundskeeper Brian Viera. Viera stated in the article that he no longer wanted his job back because of the toxic work environment.

Several articles cited by Allied also document disinterments and resulting settlements that had to be paid for mishandled remains and misplaced bodies.

 

Tulare Cemetery Staff – Mum’s the Word

Even though the cemetery came within hours of losing its insurance the cemetery office staff denied any problem.

A concerned member of the community said they inquired with the district’s secretary, Phyllis Schneider, about the potential loss of coverage.

“I don’t know anything about insurance being cancelled… We have burials scheduled and have been doing them every day… I don’t know anything about insurance, but I’m sure if it is something we need, we have it,” Schneider said, according to the community member.

“I work here, and I have never heard anything about insurance,” she added.

Bernardo told the same concerned citizen on September 1, “I don’t know where that is coming from at all. I don’t know what information she (concerned citizen’s elderly relative) was given, but we have long-term insurance, and we still have it from the same carrier that we had from last year. We have actually had them for a while.

She continued by telling the concerned constituent not to worry about the insurance.

“It’s not an issue.”

54 thoughts on “Tulare Public Cemetery District in insurance limbo

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  1. So WHO is this suppossid ” concerned citizen ” Someone from “Caring Cause ?” Why does this issue about an insurance policy even make it being news ? Business is Busines. Why keep bringing up past .Sounds like this issue has already been resolved !!

    • Why keep bringing up past of Mooney Grove .

      Sounds like their issue has already been resolved !!

      • Whoever this is you are too chicken shit to give your name lol There is a reason for that Struck a nerve did I !!Just a troublemaker looking for trouble. Go argue with someone else

        • A Park is A Park and that means some thing’s are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS !! THE “REAL” MOONEY GROVE PROJECT needs to SHUT UP AND BUTT OUT !!

          • Catherine why are you hiding ? We know this is you just like we knew you had Alexandria call the cemetery with 3 different excuses. You are working with Alberto abd Vicky Gilson. You manufactured this story . You people are toxic. Vicky Gilson sent articles to our insurance in order to get us canceled. Alberto sent you the emails proving he isn’t on the board to make the Cemetery better. You planned all this . Now you are hiding

          • Xavier…..

            I am not Catherine, I do not work for Valley Voice, I do not belong to Caring Cause and believe it or not I am not Vicki Gilson like you said someone else was.

            In life there are people who do not hang on your every word and you will be surprised to find out they are not on your boogie man list. They might not be one of your sworn enemies. They do not dedicate their life to bringing you down

            You rode in to your other office on a wave of people that shook the hospital up side down and disrupted some meetings cancelled others and spread all sorts of information just like this insurance letter far and wide. It was in service of a good goal!

            When anything came out bad about the hospital the people who defended it then did not say they would try to fix it. They said it was the Citizens group fault or the Valley Voices fault or the old doctors fault or…

            Now at the cemetery if anything comes out bad it is Caring Cause or Vicki Gilson or Alberto or Valley Voice or… and nothing is wrong please move along thank you.

            It reeks of hypocricy that you rode that wave but now have the same mind set! Anything bad is an evil conspiracy to take down the cemetery.

            It reeks of hypocricy that another person is in here defending your every move when she was on the war path to root out supposed injustice at the park.

            How does the saying go about dishing it out, I wonder

            Sunshine is the best disinfectant. And if theres nothing to disinfect, well then you can show the world your critics are wrong, the proof is public.

            Attacking anyone who says you might be making the wrong move and having attack cronies go after them too makes it look like there is something to hide.

  2. Questions: Why is it not the business of citizens of Tulare? Why is only the cemetery having the “right” to know of this information? Why the attempt to “pivot” readers away from the facts reported in the article and insinuate that Caring Cause should somehow be the cause for concern, not the fact that this cemetery was and apparently continues to be so poorly ran by this board that the insurance company no longer wishes to be associated with them along with other insurance companies concurring as well? FYI – Every person that steps foot on cemetery soil should have the peace of mind knowing that the grounds, the workers, and public have the protection of insurance coverage. These board members aren’t children and they should be able to handle public scrutiny. Waiting for Xavier Avila advising Tulareans the cemetery has signed or soon will sign a contract with a new insurance group. Fingers crossed that this happens sooner rather than later.

    I am assuming that Ms. Bernardo and other staff members were directed to not answer any questions regarding the internal workings without the trustees giving them the green light to do so. Nothing should be read into any responses they probably were instructed to give or perhaps even based on what information they had been privy to at that time. Every well run business office manager and personnel knows what their expected boundaries are. Ms. Bernardo seems to be on top of things while she continues to learn the ins-and-outs of this cemetery so to speak. She will rightly continue to have the support of the citizens of Tulare as she grows into her current managerial position.

    • Ms. Kane….. Thank you! My mission is and will continue to be to make the best cemetery we can all be proud of. To have a place of peace for our loved ones. And to work and improve our standards and hold ourselves to the highest we can because our loved ones deserve that. It will not happen over night but it will happen. I have been here 2 months but we are heading in the right direction. It might not be visible just yet from the outside but like everything else it starts within first. Thank you for your support!

  3. As the founder and spokesperson of Caring Cause, I’d like to set the record straight. Caring Cause knew nothing about the cemetery issue regarding their loss of insurance until the Valley Voice article. However, both myself and other members of Caring Cause had expressed to the Board concerns regarding the previous manager. Perhaps if the Board would have listened to Caring Cause members and terminated the previous manager sooner they would still have insurance today.

    • Eliane we still have insurance. Alberto’s behavior is also a concern but you defend him . He put the district at risk for his public criticism on our employees. His false accusations against employees are very disturbing . Leonor never made a mistake on payroll. In fact Leonor was very good at payroll. Alberto constantly accused her of mistakes but the truth is none of you could ever find an employee who had a problem with their paychecks. Not once did an employee ever complain that a paycheck was wrong . Employees have rights . You are an educated person and you know Trustees cannot criticize an employee other than in closed session of a board meeting. Alberto has a long history of that , the proof is all on video on Caring Cause . It’s indisputable . Recently he was censured unanimously for misconduct. He was censured a few years ago . His actions put the district at risk . The board doesn’t act on false information and rumors. If you ever have real honest information, I’m sure the board would listen . Thank you

  4. Any continuing problems are squarely in the laps of the the previous manager and majority of the current cemetery board.
    How pathetic to insinuate Caring Cause has any fault in the insurance issue.

  5. Didnt the Grand Jury state that Caring Cause WAS CAUSING PROBLEMS !!HELLO And why would anyone at the Cemetary District listen to CC about thinking an employee should be fired!! WHO THE HECK DOES CARING CAUSE THINK THEY ARE !! Business is Business and that means some thing’s are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS !! CARING CAUSE needs to SHUT UP AND BUTT OUT !! NOW what was it the GJ said about Caring Cause ???? Where there is trouble CARING CAUSE IS BEHIND IT !!! And dont bother responding Dont care what CC thinks or says ….

    • Mary It’s the same old story by Catherine Doe and Caring Cause . They want to run the cemetery. How many fake news story’s has the ValleyVoice written. You are correct! Catherine leaves out of this article how the Grand Jury in their findings criticized Caring Cause members twice for disrupting Cemetery Board meetings . The GJ were also critical of the BOS for the reappointment of certain board members. That’s one reason the BOD did not reappoint Vicki Gilson. The ValleyVoice is a dishonest paper. When Vicki Gilson moved to Missouri she became eligible to serve on the cemetery board. The ValleyVoice defended her when the cemetery board took lawful steps to remove her . If the ValleyVoice was a honest paper they would have investigated Vicki . Also when Trustee Alberto Aguiar made multiple criticisms about Cemetary employees Catherine Doe never criticize him for it . Catherine fully knows that it is unlawful of a Trustee to publicly criticize their employees but Catherine never reported that . Catherine herself was critical of a employee based on false information Alberto provided to her . The cemetery did not have any financial mismanagement by the last manager. Leonor was overloaded with work . When I and Steve tried to hire another office person Alberto and Vicki voted to no . They wanted her to fail . Leonor did a good job for having to deal with having two trustees continually verbally attacking her . I witnessed it and put a stop to it . Yet Catherine supported that abuse. Just look how Catherine still has to dehumanize her . The hypocrisy run thick here . She is not a journalist. She is a activist posing as a journalist. I have emails with her collaborating with Alberto Aguiar and Caring Cause members. How can someone write a honest article when they are obviously biased? Just like She did with that last manager . Shd is starting it again on Cemetery employees . It’s not fair to exploit employees of the Cemetery to create a excuse to write a article. The ValleyVoice was a good paper but now they are a big disappointment.

    • SHUT UP AND BUTT OUT of the public’s cemetery!

      NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS how a public institution is run or if it could get sued into oblivion!

      I remember people who said that about a hospital, they didn’t care what anyone else said either.

      • No one at the cemetery is saying to butt out . In fact we welcome people to attend our meetings . We have audit committee meetings where people can see our financials . We have full transparency. We have professional audits . We post our board packets on our website. You are welcome to all information that the public is entitled too . Call the cemetery office and put in a request

  6. What little blue pill do y’all take in order to keep it going on this? Do any of you have lives outside of stalking a cemetery district? It’s gone from interesting, to comical, to just plain sad. Please move on. Focus on your own families. Take up a hobby. Go on a trip. Life is too short for this nonsense…just ask the people lying in the cemetery.

  7. It’s Grade A- comedy material when someone says “life is too short to worry about poorly run public cemeteries”

    It’s Grade D comedy material when Xavier Avila writes paragraph after paragraph blaming others for seeking to clean up operations, efforts he has obstructed at every turn.

    As for the insurance, it will be available once the board accepts that the price is going to be commensurate with the risk.

    Maybe there a self-insure option, I don’t know, but that won’t be cheap either and the board doesn’t really seem equipped to spend more either way.

    Problem is, paying more for insurance is going to be a tacit acknowledgement of the issues that the present insurer has raised and that the other insurers also seem to be aware of. Getting new insurance is likely going to require full, and maybe public, disclosure of these issues to the insurance company.

    So watch for Xavier to push for self insurance in other to avoid acknowledgement and disclosure of all of these issues that occurred on his watch as Chair.

    Honeymoon comments about the new manager aside, why was the board not informed of this matter until the day before the scheduled cancellation? Seems like same old-same old from the new manager in this comment thread, complimenting herself with a pat on her own back while failing to even acknowledge her own role in the genesis of this article.

    While we are on the topic of comedy, might I suggest a new slogan for the Cemetery?

    “Tulare Cemetery: No one digs deeper or covers up better! If we don’t dig deep enough, you’re second coverup is on the house! “

    • Your question regarding the new manager not informing the Board until the day before scheduled cancellation deserves a response. Hope one is given.
      In the meantime I have a question: Who normally opens the mail at the office and if it wasn’t the office manager at what point in time was she given the letter apprising the cemetery of the cancellation? Was the email to the Board merely a formality for record purposes of informing them of something they were already of aware of? Readers are quite aware of Xavier Avila’s micro managing of any and all cemetery business. I would be hard pressed to believe that he wasn’t notified immediately either in person or by phone of the letter cancelling the cemetery’s insurance policy by the office manager. Do do otherwise makes no sense, especially since she was so new on the job and learning all the ropes. Someone was appointed the task of overseeing Ms. Bernardo tasks for at a minimum of six months (the usual standard probationary period for most new employees). Who was that person? What were the parameters around Ms. Bernardo’s work and training? Who set up those parameters? Common knowledge that she began her job working in an environment that was filled with hidden landmines so to speak. This board has a history of passing the buck for anything that goes wrong, it never stops at their desk. Want proof? Re-read Xavier Avila’s responses to this article. Never directly addresses questions and concerns of facts reported on, he always pivots and diverts public attention to “others”, away from both him and the Board.

      • Vicki Gilson only you would write that response. If you can’t say who you really are then why should anyone take what you have to say serious . I see you are already attacking the new manager. New flash for you Clara is a strong person. The real comity show is you who lied to a whole community that you lived in Tulare after you told everyone that you moved to Missouri. You didn’t fool anyone. The obsession with the cemetery is strange. Move on with your life . The cemetery is doing fine .

      • Barbara lol “ readers “ of the ValleyVoice are misinformed. I would be happy to answer any questions for you or anyone. If I don’t answer a question it’s because of legal reasons . The truth is the cemetery is doing good and with Clara’s leadership it is going to improve even more . Certain people want to paint a different picture . We have had our issues no doubt but we fixed them and we keep moving in the right direction. If you ever what to talk just give me a call my number is 559-707-2497 .

    • It’s so interesting and laughable you people who criticize cover up YOUR IDENTITYS yet never ending accuse the Board and everyone else of ” cover up ” And thank you so very much for free publicity The Real Mooney Grove Project is alive and well and better than ever. Only someone with nothing better to say would even mention it. Thank you

  8. Catherine’s “ concerned citizen “ is someone that writes for the ValleyVoice. Her name is Alexandria Feller and Catherine had her call the cemetery office and pretend she was a concerned citizen. This is a dishonest tactic. Catherine could have called herself and asked or Alexandria could have just been forthright. The cemetery staff would have answered no different. Now why does a journalist have to behave like this ? Just be honest. As for the insurance. Company’s cancel all the time . This story is nothing to even write about . Catherine is just defecting for Alberto. There are a lot of good things happening at the cemetery. Catherine should write about them

      • Who’s saying they can’t? No one is saying they can’t be both . However when Catherine has a reporter call the office ( which is perfectly fine ) Then Catherine could say that the concerned citizen is a reporter that works for Catherine. I think the readers have right to know .

  9. The cemetery is a PUBLIC agency and owes it to the public to be transparent and to spend the money trusted to them by the public in a responsible way.. It is the publics business to question a board on any issue that is not understood.

    • Thank you Ms. Philpot for your input. Please continue in sharing your firsthand knowledge of the industry that you have acquired through your work over the years. I am one of many who appreciate it.

  10. Funny coming from a Public Cemetary Board considering the over $1 million dollars EMBEZZELED AT VISALIA CEMETARY that YOU WERE NOT WATCHING GENEVA PHILPOT. YOU were trusted to spend public’s money AND YOU DIDNT DO IT. If that ain’t calling the kettle black !!!

  11. Replying to: interested in ensuring public institutions run smoothly says: September 5, 2021 at 2:05 pm (Commenter ID: 3405dd32)

    Bravo! Well said!

    • It’s interesting how you people make comments without leaving your name . I see I cannot reply to ensuring pubic institutions runs smoothly! Because the ValleyVoice enabled the reply option which says a lot about who you are . So I will reply to you on Barbara’s reply to who ever you really are . My guess is you’re Alexandria Feller the so called “ concern citizen “ that didn’t have the integrity to just say who you were and what you really wanted to know when you called the cemetery.
      It funny how you bring up the hospital situation and try comparing it to the cemetery but I get it , you at the ValleyVoice need readers to pay attention to your failing newspaper .
      Please bring in Tony Maldonado who did an excellent job covering the events of the hospital and have him look into the cemetery. I bet what he will find is a board and staff that are transparent and working to make the Cemetery better .
      Like all those people you mentioned but especially Catherine Doe you use the power of innuendo instead of a honest journalist ethic to tell the truth to your readers .
      The comparison of the Tulare Cemetery to the Hospital / HCCA is a joke . There is zero in comparison.

      Let’s get into the difference
      First the list of people who were involved in the Citizen for Hospital Accountability was a impressive group of people. Let me list just a few . Current Mayor of Tulare Dennis Mederos . Current City Councilman Steve Harrell. Current Hospital Board Chair and former city manager of Tulare Kevin Northcraft. Dr Patty Drilling , DVM Ed Henry , former hospital board member Deann Martin Soares CE0 of AMDEL . Attorney Joseph Soares, Former Superintendent of Tulare Schools Bill Postlewaite who was also a Cemetery board member who resigned with board member Dick Johnson RIP for several reasons , one of them was the behavior of current cemetery board member Alberto Aguilar. Go find the VV article that talks about that . That’s just to name a few.

      Now compare that to the little group of people you think are the equivalent to the Citizens for Hospital Accountability , who you think are exposing some sort of wrong doing . Who are they and what credibility do they have ?

      The Hospital had Benzeevi HCCA and he had a one sided contract that paid him an unbelievable amount of money in the millions . Dr Kumar made a huge some of money exploiting his board seat and working with Benzeevi .

      I along with Steve Presant waved our $100 per meeting . Steve and I have not received one penny for serving of the board . We have volunteer many hours of our time . The Cemeterians is a foundation dedicated to help the cemetery. We have cleanup days at the cemetery where we pick up trash and pieces of plastic flowers chopped up by lawnmowers. We also removed dirt from the headstone’s so they stay clean. Now tell me how that even compares?

      The Financial situation. The hospital under Benzeevi and Kumar was all fake . When the new board won our case in court and got the keys to the hospital our management team got into the computer files and found a horrible database. It took months of many people to rebuild the data base . There was evidence of criminal acts . The Tulare county DA reported that investigation is the biggest in the history of the county and Benzeevi was arrested and awaits trial. The Cemetery gives out financial information every board meeting. We have completed our audits . The Grand Jury got all of our records and found nothing except one employee who was fired didn’t get paid properly because Vicky Gilson took records home and didn’t want to pay him what we owed him . It was very sad when that employee show me a check written by Vicky Gilson for 2 cents . Who does that ?
      Kumar and Benzeevi had contributed to many political office holders. Now compare my involvement to that . I was the campaign chair for Steve Harrell who won his election against the famous Carlton Jones . I walk that district for two months ,door to door I even left a campaign flyer for Barbara . I also was involved in current city councilmens Patrick Isherwood’s campaign. That was all volunteer . Now you think you are going to compare this cemetery thing with the Hospital ? That’s a joke . Reggie Ellis of the SunGazzette told me that the Tulare Cemetery is the most transparent Cemetery he has reported on .
      The Cemetery board inherited a mess and we are correcting and improving things .
      I have been falsely accused of many things . Many people have quit this board because of the pressure. 7 board members resigned right before I was appointed. Two more have resigned since I have been on the board .
      I welcome anyone of good intentions to call me and ask questions ! So far no one had called. We are hiding nothing. There is no coverup . What is going on here are a few people who love drama and have no credibility in our community making up false accusations.
      Here is my number 559-707-2497 . People with things to hide don’t offer full transparency. So far all you got is innuendo.

      • Seriously “guessing” about just who is who is rather like the pot calling the kettle black when it comes to spreading innuendos! A phone call isn’t necessary when answering this simple question: Was the Board or any member of the Board informed of the insurance being canceled “prior” to receiving the email sent to the Board one day prior to scheduled cancelation? A simple yes or no answer will suffice. Fingers crossed that affordable coverage with a new carrier will soon be acquired (if it hasn’t already happened).

        • Barbara. The answer is Yes ! Two of us board members knew . That’s what the brown act allows. Catherine could have called me and asked that question so her readers would have to ask but that would take away from the innuendo she is projecting .She wants you to think the worst . Also since people are to cowardly to say who they are , I will exercise my constitutional right to free speech and guess who they are . I”ll be happy to answer any more questions you may have . Have a nice day !

          • Thank you for that clarification. Why only two? Why wasn’t the entire board apprised immediately? Internal gamesmanship amongst members? As to those who chose to not use their real name they too have that same constitutional right to do so as well. Cowardice per se might not enter into it, perhaps it is just simply being prudent to avoid the inevitable collisions in todays cancel culture mentality when personal and business worlds cross paths.

        • Barbara
          You can interpret their choice not to identify themselves as being prudent but I say it’s cowardice.

          I already answered your second question. The brown act doesn’t allow conversations with more then 2 Trustees . Nothing to do with what you call gamesmanship .

  12. I can assure you I am not Alexandria Feller even if she is the latest addition to your enemies and boogie men list. Do you have a full list written down somewhere?

    My words speak for themselves regardless of who I am. You only want to know my name so you can add me to your list and try to ad hominem your way out of a real response. Nothing doing. You prove it by name dropping the Citizens and their accomplishments to compare against your detractors even though it has been said that all men are created equal. One person one vote.

    If we take names out of the mix you have to respond to the words and ideas.

    As for my words themselves. I thought they were clear but I guess they were not.

    I did not say you were in some scheme like the people at the hospital may have been. I said that you acted like them in being overly defensive, having buddies attack for you, and going after anyone who questions what you or the board does.

    I also said you reeked of hypocricy for attacking anyone who questions the cemetery leadership after you rode in on a wave of people questioning leadership at the hospital.

    In public office people will not always like what you do. The only other Tulare Politician that I have seen act like this is the man you mentioned, Mayor Jones. Good thing you also mention Steve Harrell because he is a good example of who to act like.

    If something goes bad in Tulare no one sees him in here or in Facebook blaming it on someone else, saying that any woes the city has are due to an Axis Of Evil.

    But I am glad you have the approval of Reggie Ellis at the Sun and Gazette! Another name to drop!

    Thank you for your phone number but I do not care to call you. Instead call a publicist who can tell you how politicians should act with the public assuming you have any aspiration for higher offices.

    • Ironically I responded in the same way when I was a member of the hospital citizen group . When the HCCA supporters started attacking us! Like you they wouldn’t use their real names .

      The spin you are spinning is the people who are going out of their way to hurt the Cemetery district are just poor citizens asking questions. They are not . I have spent 3 years watch people do all they can to interfere in the operations of the cemetery.

      Just look at the comments made by New Flash , attacking our new manager. Read her comments and ask yourself if that person is enjoying this article.

      Now compare Barbra Kane’s comments. There is a big difference. Barbara wants the cemetery to succeed.

      I know that someone sent the news articles to the cemetery’s insurance. Now you tell me what good that does ?

      So yes when people are trying to actually hurt the cemetery I’m going to say something because like you said Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

      I’m pointing out those people willing lie or defend wrong doing , so what’s the problem with that ? You are claiming some right to speak up but think I’m supposed to be silent. I have the same right to speak up . In fact I have a duty

      The ValleyVoice defended two board members who were unlawful.
      One moved to another state and was no longer eligible to serve on the cemetery board . Then covid rules allow board members to call in for board meetings. So she took advantage of that and claimed she still lived in Tulare

      The cemetery board did its legal work and determined she was indeed ineligible to serve. The ValleyVoice wrote articles defended her . The ValleyVoice refused to investigate her . Even though everyone said she moved. The Board of Supervisors replaced her because it was evident she moved. The ValleyVoice lost a lot of credibility.

      Current Trustee Alberto Aguiar for over 3 years publicly criticized a employee . Not only that he also made false accusations against this employee. His comments are still on the ValleyVoice. Do you support workers rights ?

      His created a huge legal issue for the cemetery district. Employees have rights . The only place a board member can say anything negative about an employee is in closed session. His actions are indisputable and yet the ValleyVoice says nothing in fact they encourage him .

      His behavior is a concern for our insurance. It’s a cause for lawsuits against the district by employees. So why doesn’t the ValleyVoice talk about him ?

      Our cemetery bylaws says the Board members must vigorously defend the Cemetery district. You can find our bylaws on our website.

      lol , call a publicist to learn how to be a politician ? No Thanks . I’m just a citizen who got involved. I’m honest with people. I don’t smile at people because I need them to like me . I have plenty of flaws , no doubt but I’m not going to learn how to cover them up by being fake.

      No ! instead I will accept honest criticism of myself and work on being a better person .
      Peace to you !

      • You have no enemies, you say? Alas, my friend, the boast is poor. He who has mingled in the fray of duty that the brave endure, must have made foes. If you have none, small is the work that you have done. You’ve hit no traitor on the hip. You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip. You’ve never turned the wrong to right. You’ve been a coward in the fight.
        Charles Mackay

      • Truth be told Xavier in looking up “The Brown Act” there is so much to read my mind quickly became overwhelmed trying to take in all that information. Are you able to site the exact “Section Code”# where it states that “only two” trustees can be apprised of cancelation notices such as insurance coverage? I just want to see where it is mandatory that only two members of a Board can be given this “type” of information. Hard to comprehend the need to not share that type of information “immediately” with the other Board members who share equally in the responsibility of governing/accountability of cemetery concerns and needs. One would think that notification regarding the cancelation of insurance is something that EACH Board member should be made aware of ASAP! I personally find it hard to imagine that EACH Board member would think that it is appropriate to have that type of information withheld from them for any length of time. Of course that’s just my opinion of the matter. I am glad that you know I am always rooting for the success of our cemeteries. After all I too have family and friends resting at both locations. To me the cemetery is the hub of Tulare where all history, past and present intertwine. As a child and now as an adult throughout all these many years I have always felt a sense of awe when I walk the grounds reading the names and dates and photos of people that had once lived in our community. It’s getting harder for me to do that these days but when I am able to it just makes it all the more special to me. Preserving the perpetual care of the resting places of the past, present and future souls of our community is important work by the grounds people and families/friends of our deceased loved ones. That’s why all this perpetual infighting between Board members irritates me so much. It’s all so petty, non-productive, and brings bad ju-ju to what should be a peaceful place/environment. Nothing you can say Xavier will change my mind about the horrendous continual behaviors of this entire Board without exception. Stop the constant infighting. You guys are like willful kids on a playground. It isn’t fun for the community to be forced to watch.

        • Barbara please ! You are bias . What you are doing is blaming the other board members for the trouble Alberto causes. You used to defend him but I believe you have come to realize the truth , at least some what about him .

          So instead of holding him accountable you blame the entire board . It’s easier for you that way. You just can’t criticize his actions So saying the entire board is an improvement for you . I appreciate that .

          Maybe criticizing each one of us individually is more honest method. I don’t think it fair to lump all of us together. You may not realize it but you have changed your mind based off your from comments last year

          Life isn’t easy . You want the cemetery to look good and the board to get along . Pick one ? The cemetery has made huge improvements. All new equipment , tractors and lawnmowers, updated computer’s systems . The big dead areas from 4 years ago are green. Etc We are financial strong. rejoice!

          Many cemetery’s are not doing so great but their boards get along just fine . No one likes the infighting. I don’t expect you too but you can’t say we have not done our job.

          I would like to see what you would do if you were on the board and a board member falsely accused you of breaking the law . Alberto has done that to us many many times . He takes his accusations to the Tulare police department. Who does that ?

          He verbally abuses the employees. Just recently he pointed his finger in an employee face and yelled at her . She felt intimidated. Yet I’m the problem? Please.

          When people are actively tying to hurt the cemetery. I’m going to speak up . I’m not concerned with social media comments. I get the game . Make life hell for any board member who doesn’t agree with them . Get them to quit . Get the BOS to replace us ( that’s a joke ) . Turn the cemetery in to regulators . attack employees on social media Tell us which employees we need to fire . Exploit grieving families for their political agenda . Lie and spread rumors. Write bias articles. The list goes on . But I’m supposed to be a good little politician and be silent. I see why I’m such a target. It’s because I speak up and expose them .

          You have a person that purposely sent news articles to the cemetery’s insurance. Into order to get us canceled. You have a board member directly share Cemetery emails with a Newspaper who writes another negative article .

          They are all on the same team . They don’t care about the cemetery.

          So I’m going to save my comments on here about them . You have my number , if you want me to explain the brown act , then call or go read it online.

          • Well yeah Xavier I have your number and along with all the other readers of Valley Voice. 🙂 I don’t need for you to “explain” the Brown Act I just wanted the particular section I.D. that supports your statement about not being “allowed” to tell other trustees about the insurance cancelation notice. Perhaps you don’t know it or are just being petulant …… one can only guess.

        • Ok Barbara but only because I like you !

          B. Serial meetings, either in person or by telephone or fax or go-betweens, constitute a meeting if done to “develop a collective concurrence as to action.” 18

          • For example, a series of individual telephone calls between the attorney for the redevelopment agency and the members of the agency’s governing board was held to constitute a meeting. The agency attorney had individually polled the members of the body to get their approval for a real estate transaction. The court concluded that even though the members never met together, their communications constituted a meeting for the purposes of the Act. 19

          • Similarly, when the San Diego City Council directed staff to take certain action in an eminent domain proceeding in a letter signed by a quorum of the council, the court held that it had violated the Brown Act.20

          • Addressing e-mail communications, the Attorney General has opined as follows: “This office [has] concluded that a majority of a body would violate the Act if they e-mailed each other regarding current issues under the body’s jurisdiction, even if the e-mails were also sent to the secretary and chairperson of the agency, the e-mails were posted on the agency’s Internet Web site, and a printed version of each e-mail was reported at the next public meeting of the body. The opinion concluded that these safeguards were not sufficient to satisfy either the express wording of the Act or some of its purposes. Specifically, such e-mail communications would not be available to persons who do not have Internet access. Even if a person had Internet access, the deliberations on a particular issue could be completed before an interested person had an opportunity to become involved.”21

          • On the other hand, the California Supreme Court has held that a memorandum from a public body’s attorney to the members of the body did not constitute a meeting under the Act.22

          • Note that it has been held that the public body need not actually take formal action through the serial meeting in order to have conducted a “meeting” in violation of the Act. One court has concluded that the Act applies equally to the deliberations of a body and its decision to take action. The court reasoned that if a collective commitment were a necessary element, the body could conduct most or all of its deliberation behind closed doors, as long as the body did not actually reach agreement prior to consideration in public session.23

          • Geez Louise what a convoluted mess of beans! My mind seems to have shifted into slow gear so it will take some amount of reading and re-reading and even more re- reading for me to work through this murky pot! Typical legalese; written over-broadly and drawn out. Time to prop up the feet, have a cold something, and hope one can finish reading it without falling asleep! Thank you Xavier for taking the time to post this information for me, it is appreciated.

          • Based on what was printed in this article Ms. Bernardo’s email was simply letting the board know (apprising if you will) about the cancelation of insurance. It wasn’t anything more than let us say apprising the board that a storage room has been vandalized or a tree fell and damaged headstones, or the cemetery phone services were shut off. From my point of view informing board members of a happening via email or cell phone text would not constitute a meeting. Calling it otherwise would be a bridge to far to me (just my opinion).

        • Barbara. The chair can not send out communications to board members unless it simply trying to check availability of a date for a board meeting. Management did apprise the whole board so what’s the problem ? Insurance is a action item, something the board has to vote on once an action is ready . Tree branches and vandalism are not action items.

          • Ok now you are getting more explicit in your facts! So Ms. Bernardo’s email was the method she used first to apprise the “entire” board in one fell swoop of receiving the notice of cancelation. Not one board member was left out of her email. Of course my original enquiry was asking if she apprised you immediately about the pending loss of insurance coverage and if the other members were left in the dark about it until said email was sent to them. Not understanding why you had said that only two members could be apprised of the fact of cancelation due to the Brown Act. I was talking about when the board members were notified not about board members taking action. But enough of all this , back and forth. You say tomato and I say tamato! lol Hopefully a new insurance carrier contract will soon be signed sealed and delivered. Take care, stay safe.

        • Barbara . You are asking me about what someone else did . I speak for myself. If you want to know about why someone else did something then you should ask them .

          • To be clear . It’s my opinion the whole board was apprised at the appropriate time . Two board members were working with staff and legal council according to the cemetery’s Bylaws. Since 2 board members are actively involved. Having other board members apprised early runs the risk of a Serial meeting. So in this case the information is on a need to know bias . Our board Secretary was delegated to train new employees. The chair communicates with legal council and staff . In other words I say Tomato 😊

  13. I think Xavier is a little clouded on the Citizens Group.
    Alberto Aguilar worked himself into the ground with that group and even presented Dr. Kumar publicly with his notice of recall.

    I think we all now how Citizens for Hospital Accountability was formed and it most certainly isn’t the way you recall it. It was a great group

    There is still an ongoing investigation and would appreciate it if you left the Citizens Group alone

    This has nothing to do with the cemetery board problems, just want the Citizens Group reflected
    accurately.

  14. Lisa I think you need to go back a read my comments because your comments have nothing to do with what I said . I didn’t even talk about how the citizen group was founded and I certainly didn’t bring them up the unnamed person did . Since I was a part of that group I will talk about it when ever I want .

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