TLHCD business comes to an abrupt halt as director abandons meeting

The Tulare Local Health Care District’s (TLHCD) directors were unable to finish the district’s business Wednesday evening, November 17, after Secretary Xavier Avila unexpectedly left the board’s monthly meeting mid-conversation following a dispute.


Board President Says No VA Lease at Evolutions

At issue was the possibility of the local office of the Veterans Administration leasing a portion of the district’s Evolutions Plaza building as its new home. While the deal was considered off the table by TLHCD President Kevin Northcraft, representatives of the VA hoped to present a new long-term lease offer, one that would have required the board to hold a special meeting in order to meet a VA deadline regarding the matter.

In recent weeks, the hospital board has shrunk to just three members with the resignation of former District 3 representative Senovia Gutierrez and the hiring of soon-to-resign District 1 representative Phil Smith as the TLHCD’s new CEO. That reduced number of board members means all decisions, including calling special sessions, must be unanimous.

Because the decision concerning the lease would take all three board members to vote yes, Northcraft was loath to waste time and taxpayer money to call a special meeting that would involve lawyers, staff and representatives from the VA to give a presentation that was doomed to fail.

“I have no interest in pursuing any discussion of the veterans using this building,” he said. “I will not issue a call for a special meeting for that topic.”

Previously, Northcraft said the board voted to reject leasing a portion of the building to the VA, saying remodeling it to suit the new tenants would carry a price-tag of some $7 million. The cost of remodeling would have to be paid by the VA as part of the lease. The district also has plans in the works to construct medical offices on another plot of land it owns, a complex that would make an ideal home for the VA, Northcraft said.

He refused to budge on scheduling further talks with the VA.

“My mind’s already made up,” Northcraft said. “Of course, the hope is the veterans will come to their senses and go out for a new building.”


Avila Abandons Meeting Loudly

Northcraft’s position on the issue of not meeting with VA representatives to discuss a dead issue apparently irked Avila, who attempted to convince Northcraft to hear out the VA’s updated proposal before walking out of the meeting.

When it became clear Northcraft was not willing to change his position, Avila, who had been gathering his effects while Northcraft spoke, rose abruptly, shoved back his folding chair and cleared a path to leave the room by picking up the table where he was seated and dropping it loudly, partially obscuring the comment he made as he left.

“I’ll see you guys later,” Avila said.

Video courtesy Alex Gutierrez/Our Tulare Local Healthcare District’s: Tower Construction Commitee group


Departure Stymies TLHCD Business

Avila then announced he would not attend a special meeting scheduled later this month to discuss the District 3 seat and possibly appoint a replacement for Gutierrez. The board is facing a 60-day deadline ending December 1 to find a new District 3 director. After that date, the naming of a replacement would fall to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.

“I can’t make the special meeting on the 23rd,” Avila said as he left the meeting room.

Not only will Avila’s refusal to participate if he does not get his way mean a possible delay in seating a new director, it also brought the night’s meeting to a premature close, leaving issues the board was scheduled to act on undone. The group had been ready to hear the monthly report on the district’s finances when Avila brought the meeting to its untimely end.

“His leaving makes it so you cannot approve your financial statements,” said Jason Howard, the district’s legal counsel. “You lost quorum.”

It appeared to take a moment for the consequences of Avila’s power-play departure to sink in.

“So we are adjourned for a lack of a quorum?” Northcraft asked.

“You are,” Howard answered.

Also left undone in the aftermath of Avila’s unusual departure was the evening’s closed session business, which would have seen board members discussing the district’s ongoing bankruptcy case, other potential litigation involving the TLHCD, and, ironically, a further discussion of lease agreements at Evolutions Plaza.


New CEO Formally Announced

Before the meeting’s surprise adjournment, the board conducted the majority of the evening’s business, including formally announcing a new head administrator for the TLHCD, the board’s soon-to-be former District 1 director Phil Smith. Smith will replace outgoing CEO Sandra Ormonde at the end of the year.

“We were able to make a selection as Sandra’s successor,” said Northcraft. “It happens to be Phil Smith, who also happens to be on the board. The down side is we’re losing another member of the board.”

Smith is expected to resign the District 1 seat effective Friday, November 19.

Following that announcement, Northcraft then presented a plaque to Gutierrez in honor of her service representing District 3 with the “utmost competency and grace.”

“It was an honor for me to serve my community,” she said. “It was difficult times. We did it together.”


TLHCD Financially Sound

While Avila’s departure prevented the board from hearing the monthly financial report, it did receive a clean financial bill of health from the firm hired to perform its annual audit.

“You’ve got a good cash position, about $5.6 million,” Rick Jackson, a CPA with JWT and Associates, told the board.

Following a discussion of the rough details of the district’s finances–it holds $144 million in assets, has a non-tax income of about $3 million annually, and a tax income of $4.8 million that is currently being used to pay off district-issued bonds–Jackson pronounced the TLHCD fiscally fit.

“The district is looking very good financially,” he said. “It’s really come a long way. I think it’s only going to get better in the future.”

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

20 thoughts on “TLHCD business comes to an abrupt halt as director abandons meeting

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  1. The VA could look into the Veteran’s Memorial Building on Tulare Ave. as a possible location for the clinic. Perfect location and all veteran’s are familiar with the building. Time to put it to good use for a change. Medical clinic for veteran’s would be a worthy mission.

  2. Excellent suggestion Barbara – the Veteran’s Building is underutilized and could be remodeled. Plenty of parking and availability of vacant land around to accommodate additional needs. Lindsay and Porterville, as well as other outlying areas could easily access.

    • Sage
      Without a doubt you are Vicky Gilson. You email is Sagewomen I also bet you are this Builder character as well. Didn’t you vow revenge on your ex board members for exposing your lies ? You are not fooling anyone. We got your emails.

  3. Xavier Avila shows his true colors with his temper tantrum at the TLHCD meeting because he didn’t get his way. The Times Delta covered this meeting also and noted his juvenile behavior. He has been operating in this manner on the Tulare Cemetery Board for the last two years and bullies and manipulates his fellow Board members and the public when they dare to express a different opinion. Interesting that another article in the Valley Voice today addresses his role in committing a felony with the former manager. Avila needs to resign from both boards – what a detriment to the community.

  4. Builder
    it sounds like you could care less about taking care of veterans. If you did you would have agreed it’s important to listen to what the VA has to offer.

    • Builder was commenting on your behavior not on his caring about veterans. I suggest you put into action your “concern and caring” about veterans and help them to find other locations that would suit their purposes. The TLHCD has already ruled on this issue. Learn to respect the rulings of the board. Your storming out like a petulant child shows a decided lack of respect and concern for the very board you serve on. That may not be of concern to you and your perpetual personal cheerleaders but it is a concern to your fellow board members and to a large portion of the community at large. You owe both the board and the community an apology. You won’t give one but you should.

      • Barbara
        Well that just shows how much you know and understand. Kevin did agree to a meeting thisTuesday night. The board has not ruled out anything and it would be a wrong to deny a meeting to listen to what the VA has to offer. It also looks like you don’t believe in someone’s right to protest . By the way Mike Jamaica walked out of the meeting where Senovia was denied that she was a acting Trustee. Mike leaving left the board chair at that time Linda Willborn adjourning the meeting for lack of a quorum, even though Senovia actually counted . So I guess you think what Mike did was juvenile too . Builder is just like you . You are worried about how the sausage is made and not about getting important things done . As for an apology you think I should give you should know many veterans and veterans family members have messaged me that they appreciate my walk out.

        • Not commenting on the behaviors of others, only yours. Pointing your childish finger at others may work for you and your cheerleaders but it doesn’t impress me. Your manner of making sausage is evidence of your narcissism, which spoils your product. I too know veterans who agree that your narcissistic behaviors are extremely hard to watch and stomach. But of course your narcissism probably relishes that thought, so bon appetit! lol

  5. Xavier didn’t you say that this board would not act like the old one. What you did is exactly like the old board and by you defending it shows nothing has changed. Also you are a board member. The community has appointed you for your leadership not to protest and you as a board member have no right to protest. You can give a statement but not throw a hissy fit where everyone involved had to encounter a hard stop. People took time out of their day and their lives to prepare for the agenda items that were not able to follow through because of your lack of judgement.

    • Builder
      I’m not obstructing anything in fact I was fighting against the obstruction. Perhaps you don’t understand what took place at this meeting. Our CEO informed us the the VA proposal was ready to be presented but we needed to call a special board meeting to hear it . The Chair refused to call a special meeting. Since there are now only 3 board members and it takes 3 board members to call a special meeting his refusal was essentially a veto . His refusal to call a special meeting means we will not hear the VA proposal. By me walking out I demonstrated that it only takes one of us to stop something. I don’t think it’s right to not hear what the VA has to offer. I’m the one who wants to expand health care to the Veterans by letting them have part of the Evolutions building. What you need to know is we are not closing the gym . The VA wants the veterans they treat to use the gym the pool and get treated by the physical therapy upstairs. The gym will still be there for the community. Evolutions is 40,000 square feet . I think there is enough room to have the VA and the gym . It’s not one or the other , it’s both. The ValleyVoice article doesn’t give you much information. The are two more articles that do a better job . The SunGazzette and the Visalia Times Delta. I suggest you read them if you really want to be correctly informed . The Chairman have now changed his mind . We are going to hear the VA proposal Tuesday night at 6:30 in the Evolutions conference room . You are welcome to attend and listen.

    • J
      The old board always voted unanimously. They never disagreed and look where that ended up . The result is HCCA management are charged with crimes . The old board rubber stamped every bad action by Benzeevi. Contrast that with this new board that went to court and got our hospital back . Reopened it by Working with Adventist Heath . Passing Measure H by 89 percent of the vote . Getting a successful BK plan accepted . The BK judge even made very good remarks about the the district. Refinancing the GO bonds saving 34 million dollars for tax payers. So you see if you are trying to say we are like the old board then you are going to have to do better than that . I will walk out ! Protest and time I think it’s necessary. The Veterans need better care and not listening to the VA proposal after they took many weeks to prepare it would be a waste. Or do you think the people at the VA times and work isn’t worth listening too ? The next day the chair agreed to call a the meeting and listen too the VA proposal. You are welcome to attend the meeting

  6. I am very interested in the health care of Veterans and receive services at the Veterans South Valley Clinic located on Cherry Ave. My friends and I have spent hundreds of hours over the years volunteering for the VA – to impinge my character and to say that I don’t care about Veterans is offensive. There were several in the audience Wednesday night that wanted to speak against any VA proposal for Evolutions. Evolutions was built as a health facility for all members of the community to receive rehabilitative services. If Evolutions were to be closed to the community, persons needing pool therapy would have to travel to Visalia to Lifestyles, owned by Kaweah Delta.
    Several years ago, the VA was exploring the acquisition of the IRS building on Mooney, which is now the site of a Kaweah Delta clinic. It seems you are intent on driving people away from Tulare, for whatever reason is unknown. You are being obstructive and not working on rebuilding the Tulare community.
    Just as there is no “I” in team, there is no “I” in board. You are not representative of my District, nor of the community at large.

  7. Northcraft has gone corrupt. He and the Board should have chosen 1 of the 2 applicants to the Board instead of extending. Like Avila said they are qualified and followed all procedures.
    Now Northcraft does not want to hear the VA proposal. Really! Whats the harm of giving the VA some meeting time? Hear the VA out and dont be a push over. Is this a dejavu Board again?

    Let’s not all forget that YOU have what YOU have because of those “who gave some and some that gave all”

    God bless our Armed Forces!

  8. Xavier you just committed a brown act violation. “ What you need to know is we are not closing the gym” you walked out on the people of tulare. You forget your best interest is the time of the people of Tulare not the VA

    • J
      Sounds like you are just being political. Please say what this Brown Act violation is . It’s hypocritical to claim wasting time but totally ignore the amount of time the district employees spent working on the VA proposal. Please tell me how not listen to the VA proposal is the right thing to do . You are also forgetting that the people of Tulare include our Veterans and their families who have extra hardships just to get care . What about them ? My interest is the People of Tulare . It’s not about the VA , it’s about what the VA does. They treat Veterans. A expanded VA services in Tulare means veterans and their care givers don’t have to go all the way to Fresno and take an entire day to get treatment. It means they can get care right here . Go talk to a veterans family member and ask them about their experience . Sounds like you could care less about them . By the way most of the items on the agenda such as solar panels and hiring an architect for the unfinished tower , etc were all passed. The only thing left was the financial report which can easily be heard at our next meeting so stop acting like something horrible happened by my walk out . Most people agree the VA proposal should be heard.

    • Hey Chad
      So you think a proposal that will bring health care for veterans in Tulare isn’t important ?

      • It’s called mandatory health insurance. It doesn’t take a scientist to see you on multiple chairs and there is controversy behind each one. I don’t care for Valley Voice sticking it to certain people and omitting facts. But it seems like you just want praise for your status

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