Cities are rebelling over Tulare County Board of Supervisors’ vote to advance to Stage 3 of opening the economy in defiance of the Governor’s Executive Order and the state’s Public Health Department.
Governor Newsom said in a press conference that Stage 3 is still weeks away and only for parts of the state that have control over COVID – 19. Tulare County is currently experiencing a surge in infections and deaths and is one of five counties out of 58 that does not qualify for Stage 2.
The director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services sent a letter Tuesday night to the Tulare County Supervisors saying they are at risk of losing COVID-19 disaster funding and $47 million in CARES Act funding allocated by the state.
“If Tulare County believes there is no emergency, such that it can ignore the Governor’s Executive Orders or the State Public Health Officer’s directives, the county would not be able to demonstrate that it was extraordinarily and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This could jeopardize its disaster funding.”
The letter also stated, “Further, disaster assistance programs prohibit a jurisdiction from receiving funding for a condition caused by its own negligence. Should Tulare County experience a surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of hasty and careless actions, the county may be ineligible for reimbursement.”
According to the Fresno Bee, “Visalia City Manager Randy Groom said in a letter on Wednesday to Cal OES that it would be ‘harsh and unreasonable’ to penalize cities for the county’s actions. He called the county supervisors’ actions ‘abrupt.’ He urged the director of Cal OES not to penalize the incorporated cities within the county.”
The City of Tulare stated that it was going to continue to “follow the recommendations of the State and the CDC and to provide its position to the citizens of Tulare on this very important health issue.”
The city issued the following statement after its city council discussed the matter at their Tuesday night meeting.
“Although the Board of Supervisors oversees the unincorporated areas of Tulare County and does provide county-wide services, their vote does not direct businesses and/or residents of the City of Tulare. The Tulare City Council strongly encourages residents to proceed with caution in acting outside of the State and Federal guidelines, understanding that local law enforcement may still enforce any State order and that even through Stage 3 of the State’s reopening plan, social distancing measures must be taken in order to be in compliance. Prior to the May 19 action of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors the County, as a whole, had not yet advanced through the first phase of Stage 2.”
The Mayor of Farmersville, Greg Gomez, said in a tweet, “I am deeply disappointed in the unilateral decision taken by our county supervisors to reopen our county through phase 3 in direct violation of our Governor’s executive order and the advise given to them by their own health officer. They did so without any input from the cities…….Caving to political pressure is not leadership. Getting into a p*ssing contest with the Governor is not leadership.”