In a split vote, pitting one longstanding faction of Citrus College Trustees against another, the board decided in a narrow decision to move its investigation into Trustee Gary L. Woods’ main place of residency to the State Attorney General during Tuesday’s meeting.
The Attorney General will decide whether there is enough evidence to allow the board to sue in quo warranto, or the right to sue in court to remove a public officer.
The board listened to a presentation on the investigation findings of the Ad Hoc Board Subcomittee tasked with investigating allegations that Woods did not live in the Azusa apartment he claims is his main place of residency, or domicile.
The investigation comes after the Citrus College Faculty Association presented allegations in March that Woods did not live within the district boundaries of Area 1, the district he represents on the Board of Trustees.
“They must be a resident of their trustee area in order to hold office and if they don’t establish that residence at the time of their election and if they do not maintain it during the entire term of their office, then they are ineligible to hold office,” said Christopher Keeler, an attorney offering legal counsel to the subcommittee.
The ad hoc subcommittee, made up of trustees Susan M. Keith and Patricia Rasmussen, was formed in May.
Keeler presented various findings of the investigation, including the fact that Woods’ drivers license reflected a Pasadena address and was only changed to his Azusa address when his residency became public. Keeler also noted that Woods is a member of various community organizations in Pasadena and Arcadia, that he is only occasionally spotted by neighbors at his Azusa residence, and that his electric utility usage in his Azusa apartment is “extremely low.”
However, Keeler also noted that Woods provided several documents to prove that his domicile is in Azusa, including tax records, utility bills and voter registration. He said that he did observe Woods’ Azusa apartment and stated, “It is fully functional and livable. Dr. Woods could live in that apartment, in my opinion.”
Woods’ attorney George Yin addressed the board, saying the investigation is, “fast becoming a charade and a serious waste of taxpayers money.”
He urged the board to end the process and take no further action, citing insufficient evidence and that Woods has provided enough documents to prove his Azusa residence is his domicile.
Trustee Ed Ortell came to Woods’ defense and urged the board to “get back to education.”
“I’ve been on the board for over 40 years and I’ve never seen it like this where we’re at each other’s throats,” said Ortell. “Let democracy take its course, let’s step back and do our job in making Citrus one of the finest institutions.”
However, a motion to discontinue the legal process was denied, with the board voting 3-2 to allow the Attorney General to decide if there is enough evidence to allow the board to sue in quo warranto to remove Woods from office.
“The subcommittee believes that a substantial question exists whether Dr. Woods is resident of Azusa,” said Trustee Susan M. Keith. “For this reason, this issue deserves consideration by the Attorney General.
Woods remained quiet on the issue during Tuesday’s meeting, but released a media statement.
“The documentation presented to the Citrus Districts attorney clearly shows that my domicile has always been in Azusa, however, it is obvious that the majority of the Board wants to drag this issue out into the election to get me off of the Board,” he wrote. “They are trying to stack the Board by trying to contaminate the election process by disenfranchising the voters will.”
Woods said that he believed the investigation is a fallout from his continued opposition to Citrus College Superintendent Gerri Perri’s compensation package.
“I have been a continuing voice against the lavish compensation package that the President Gerri Perri has received from a majority of the Board at the expense of the faculty and the students… The majority of the Board voted, and fully supported this package, and does not like my opposition to this lavish compensation package.”