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Standing up to “schoolyard bully” Newsom is the only way

On May 7, 2020, the Coalinga City Council passed and adopted Resolution No. 3964 Declaring All Businesses in the City as Essential Businesses with a 4-1 vote.

On July 13, 2020, a letter was sent to “The Honorable” Gavin Newsom from the Congress of the United States, stating that, “Choosing this moment to threaten local government funding is unhelpful and counterproductive.”  It further states, Congress intended for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) authorized and appropriated in the CARES Act to serve as an immediate $150 billion line of aid to every State and local government in the nation.  California received, by far, the largest allocation in the country:  $15.3 billion, of which $9.5 billion was disbursed directly to the State.  California’s 2020 Budget tepidly directs $1.8 billion in Federal funding to cities and counties, including those that already received direct payments from the U.S. Treasury.  This funding is needed to help counties and cities train contact tracers, expand local healthcare capacity, and provision any other assistance needed.”

Additionally, the letter stated, “By withholding CRF payment disbursements from these localities, the State is creating winners and losers.  In addition, guidance issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury clearly says that States cannot impose restrictions on transfers of funds to local governments that go beyond requirements outlined in Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act.  Accordingly, we believe the State may be inappropriately withholding CRF funds to localities by imposing conditions on such disbursements that are inconsistent with the Treasury Department’s guidance and Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act.”

Members of Congress then went on to ask that the State expeditiously release the funding to the local officials in order to ensure the State is in compliance with the Treasury Department’s guidance and the law.

On July 22, 2020, Coalinga City Manager Marissa Trejo received a call from Cal OES stating that they would be withholding the City of Coalinga’s CARES Act funding due to the City of Coalinga adopting a Resolution declaring all businesses as essential.    They stated the Resolution was in direct conflict with the Governor’s orders.  In essence, they were holding the funds hostage unless the City of Coalinga rescinded its Resolution.

The City of Coalinga’s CARES Act allocation is $212,358, which does not even compare to the amount that larger cities received in the first round of funding.

On July 23, 2020, Mrs. Trejo received a letter that was addressed to her from Cal OES Director Mark S. Ghilarducci from the Coalinga’s Mayor.  The Mayor had been provided a copy of the letter by the Fresno Bee prior to Mrs. Trejo even receiving it from Cal OES herself.

In short, the letter stated that Coalinga needed to rescind the Resolution declaring all businesses in the City as essential in order to receive the CARES Act funding.  However, in addition to rescinding the Resolution, the letter also implied that the City would need to begin enforcing the Governor’s orders, which is not being expected of other cities in order to receive funding.  The second to the last sentence read, “I ask that you please advise once the City has formally rescinded this Resolution and has moved forward to expeditiously implement and enforce state public health guidelines.”

Mrs. Trejo reached out to Cal OES for clarification and received a response via email stating, “Thank you for reaching out.  You are correct that the City needs to rescind its resolution to confirm funding eligibility.  With that rescission, the City will have no further impediment to performing its obligations to enforce the law and we and your constituents can look forward to ongoing compliance.”

On July 27, 2020, the Coalinga City Council held a special City Council meeting to discuss rescinding the Resolution.  The Resolution was reaffirmed with a 4-1 vote.

Mrs. Trejo had invited Cal OES to participate in the City Council meeting discussion but they stated they were unavailable to participate.

Reckoning with a Schoolyard Bully

California’s Dictator, Kim Jong Newsom, is being a schoolyard bully stealing our lunch money.

The State was provided with federal CRF funds to funnel to cities and counties.  Instead of performing this simple task, the State of California has opted to instead extort the City and refuse to provide the funds unless the City agrees to bow down to California’s Holy Ruler. 

Ironically, the letter to Mrs. Trejo from Cal OES Director Ghilarducci states, “The State of California is providing and distributing financial support to assist local governments in responding to the impacts of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Providing?  Isn’t the CARES Act funding provided by the federal government, not the State?

The letter further states that the funding is “conditioned on the jurisdiction’s adherence to federal guidance and the state’s stay-at-home requirements and other health requirements as directed in gubernatorial Executive Order N-33-20, subsequent executive orders or statutes, and all State Department of Public Health orders, directives, and guidance…” 

Doesn’t this contradict what Congress has said?  They literally stated that “States cannot impose restrictions on transfers of funds to local governments that go beyond requirements outlined in Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act.”

Yet, here we are.  At the mercy of a power-tripping dictator.

How can he determine which businesses are essential and which businesses are non-essential for a City he has never stepped foot in?  

Coalinga is full-service City surrounded by hills and ranches.  We have no cities surrounding us. 

We are dependent on our businesses and our businesses are dependent on us.

Who does he think he is to tell us what constitutes a meal?  

As of Friday, we had a total of 147 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.  That includes all active cases and all recovered/closed cases.  That means less than 1% of our total population has ever tested positive for COVID-19 yet our wonderful Dictator is telling us that specific business types must close in order to fit his political agenda.

Why is he trying to kill our businesses?

This bullying power-trip sets aside all regard for the needs of our citizens. Even worse, it is driven with a lack of knowledge of the City and mixed with contradictory information surrounding COVID-19.

And we wonder why there is growing, universal distrust in government?

I, individually, as a City Council Member vow to always be the voice of the people and to stand up for them for what is right and just and not cower to the schoolyard bully. 

Coalinga deserves better!  California deserves better!

Adam Adkisson
Adam Adkisson is a member of the Coalinga City Council.