Coalinga, Atwater double down on keeping business open over Newsom threats

In spite of threats from Newsom to withhold federal COVID-19 relief funds, the two cities are sticking to ordinances declaring all businesses as essential.

In spite of threats from the state to withhold federal coronavirus pandemic relief funds, the Coalinga City Council voted Monday to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive and allow all businesses to remain open. 

The Coalinga City Council passed a resolution in May that declared all businesses as essential businesses, effectively allowing all businesses to fully operate at their own decision. 


The council reaffirmed that resolution Monday after drawing the ire of state bureaucratic agencies. 

Coalinga was set to receive $212,235 in CARES Act funds, as allocated by the federal government through the state. 

Last week officials from the California Office of Emergency Services called Coalinga City Manager Marissa Trejo, informing her that the state would withhold the funds from the city because of Coalinga’s resolution. 

In order to receive the funds, the city council would have had to rescind the resolution. 

Coalinga officials have reportedly considered taking legal action against the state to receive the money. 

Regardless of if Coalinga ever receives the funds, Councilman Adam Adkisson feels that the state does not value Coalinga citizens as much as other places, such as Fresno. 

Fresno received $92 million in CARES act funds, which Adkisson pointed out in Monday’s meeting comes out to a much larger per person average than what Coalinga received. 

“If we compare what our citizens are worth to what Fresno citizens are worth, we’ll see that our citizens are worth about $12.84 per person,” Adkisson said. “If we look at Fresno, we can see that their citizens are worth $175.40 per person. Why is there such a big discrepancy?” 

The CARES Act money set aside for Coalinga makes up about 2% of the city’s budget, compared to Fresno’s allocation, which made up close to 10% of its budget. 

“We’re over here trying to get lunch money from the governor, and the governor’s being a little school bully out there trying to steal our lunch money at $12.84 per person,” Adkisson said. 

Atwater took similar action to Coalinga on Monday, as Mayor Paul Creighton announced that the city will continue to allow all businesses to remain open in defiance to the state. 

Last week, state officials notified Atwater that the state would not grant the nearly $390,000 in CARES Act funds that the city was slated to receive unless the city rescinded its resolution – originally passed in May – that allowed all businesses and churches to open. 

Creighton said the city council anticipated the state’s retaliation, so it balanced the next fiscal year’s budget to not include the federal funds. 

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