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Charges of Anarchy hurled at board members

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Art Center chairman charged with assault

By Carol A. Clark

Chairman Phil Kilgour of The Art Center at Fuller Lodge board is charged with assault stemming from an altercation at a meeting of the board, said Lt. Reggie Briggle Monday.

“He is being summonsed to appear before Magistrate Court,” Briggle said.

The charge against Kilgour surrounds what he describes as a power struggle at the center.

On a taped recording of the meeting, he accuses several board members of anarchy at the close of the May 19 meeting.

Board Member Patricia Kokesh recorded the May 19 meeting in which she and other members are heard questioning Kilgour about the nominating committee process. He is heard telling them it is not their place to question him.

Vice Chair Susannah Smith and Kokesh press Kilgour over their rights to speak. They offer to indicate in Kokesh’s copy of “Robert’s Rules of Order” their right to discuss an e-mail on the subject, which Kilgour sent Kokesh and copied the full board the previous evening.

Kokesh reads the first line of Kilgour’s e-mail aloud.

“It is inappropriate for you to contact board members regarding board business, as you have done through the copy of your memos.”

Kilgour begins yelling, “This is anarchy, anarchy, I’m the chairman, let me chair, this is anarchy … .”

A loud crash is heard on the tape as Kilgour reportedly flips an 8-foot table on its top, according to several board members present.

“I was recording the minutes when Phil lifted up the table and threw it – I grabbed my laptop and jumped out of the way,” Board Secretary Maria Theye said.

Background gasps and screams are heard on the tape as Kilgour flails obscenities and screams, “I quit, I quit, you’ll never see me again.”

Smith described Kilgour’s rage saying he held his fist up to Kokesh’s face yelling, “I want to hurt you, I want to hurt you.”

“It happened so suddenly, we weren’t expecting it and right at first we were just sitting there with our mouths open,” Smith said. “It was really frightening. Phil was so violent. He literally lifted up that table. He broke his glasses and crushed his cough drops. He was running around the second floor pounding the air with his fist.”

A couple of male members tried to calm Kilgour down, she said, adding that it wasn’t working and they were all "really scared."

“You hear of people who get so angry that they go get a gun,” Smith said. “It didn’t happen in this case but it was frightening. I’ve started seeing a therapist.”

Smith commended the men on the board who stayed to protect the women.

“I was very proud of the way they made sure we were OK,” she said. “We all left together in a group. I put my arm around Maria and she was really shaking. I drove into a parking lot on Trinity and had to just sit there for a while because I felt I couldn’t drive.”

Board Member Ken Neble stayed throughout the incident.

“I was definitely surprised – Phil’s had quite a temper before but I never expected that,” Neble said. “I was definitely scared and I wanted to get everybody out of there. It was definitely a breakdown and not fun to experience – I was shaking.”

Executive Director John Werenko of The Art Center at Fuller Lodge is an ex-officio member of the board. He described what he personally witnessed.

“The meeting had adjourned and I left, then I heard a crash,” he said. “I saw Mr. Kilgour doubled over with purple lips. He was upset and I told him to go home and I helped him to his car. The police arrived and I met with them and told them there was an altercation and no one was hurt and that was it.”

Kilgour said in an interview Monday night that he had a sinus infection, was taking antihistamines, had a cough and was taking cough drops.

“I was sick and shouldn’t have been there,” he said. “I called Pat (Kokesh) some bad names, no one was hit, no one was hurt.”

Kilgour did not know the meeting was being taped, he said.

“Pat Kokesh recorded that meeting without our knowledge and that’s against my Fourth Amendment rights,” he said.

Kokesh disagrees. “I placed the tape recorder on the table in front of me and everyone could see it,” she said. “After 45 minutes, I opened it, took the tape out and turned it over and put it back in the recorder in front of everyone. I wasn't hiding it at all.”

Kilgour blames some of the board members saying the only complaint they have against him is that he wants to follow the rules.

“This is very serious business,” he said. “What I object to the most is that there’s a rumor going around that the Art Center is not working and that it’s not being run correctly. That’s not true, it is fine, it’s just not being run the way four people on the board want it to be run.”

In the last year, the Art Center held a fundraiser and retired its $10,000 debt and had a membership drive that brought in 130 new members, Kilgour said.

“This fight is all about control of the Art Center,” he said. “Our annual meeting is tomorrow (today) and I won’t be there,” he said. “The attorney will read my letter of resignation and she will appoint a chair pro tem on my behalf. That’s where it will end. No new business can be conducted at this meeting, only a review of the past year’s financial report and other activities. John Werenko will present that report.”

Kilgour has served on the board for three years and his wife for four years in which they had a brief overlap of terms, he said. They both plan to remove their artwork from the Art Center where Kilgour said they have participated and exhibited for the last eight years.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.