Jo Ann Rebane: Another reason to recall Gov. Newsom |

Jo Ann Rebane: Another reason to recall Gov. Newsom

Have you wondered why nearly two million California voters have signed the RecallGavin2020 petition?

First, there is his lockdown handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and panic, which has had worse results than Florida, which never locked down.

Then there is the Employment Development Department scandal, which sent unemployment checks to felons in jail and out-of-state scammers while holding up checks for needy residents. The state has nearly the worst unemployment numbers and the worst homeless numbers in the country.

What follows is one more good reason to sign the petition and then vote to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The state auditor reported in mid-January that the governor’s finance department misallocated Coronavirus Relief Funds from the CARES Act and short changed small counties, including Nevada County. The auditor “found that Finance’s allocation of CRF funds resulted in smaller counties receiving significantly less funding per person than larger counties.”

California cities and counties with populations exceeding 500,000 received Coronavirus Relief Funds funds ($5.8 billion) directly from the U.S. Treasury as part of the $15.3 billion paid to the state.

The state Legislature allocated the remaining $9.5 billion to five areas of priority — $4.5 billion to mitigate learning loss in K through community college education, $550 million for emergency homeless housing, $1.3 billion to counties for COVID-19 related health and safety needs, $500 million to cities for homeless problems, and $2.7 billion to the state general fund.

Our Legislature directed “Finance to allocate $1.3 billion of the state’s CRF funds to counties based on the share of each county’s population relative to the total population of the state.” The Legislature further admonished the Finance Department to take into account the relief fund payments large counties had already received directly from the U.S. Treasury.

The governor’s Finance Department ignored the May 2020 Treasury document recommending that “states should treat local governments equitably regardless of their population size.”

Instead, the department gave 50% of the $1.3 billion to the 16 largest counties, which had already received direct relief funds. The 42 small and rural counties were promised the other 50%. Not only did small counties receive less money, according to Assemblywoman Megan Dahle’s letter to the governor Jan. 26, “the 42 counties with fewer than 500,000 residents experienced extreme delays receiving their funding from the state, as your administration withheld their CRF dollars in order to force compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.”

As it stands today, both the U.S. Treasury and state Legislature’s guidance regarding the relief funds were ignored by the governor. The 16 largest blue counties got and spent the relief dollars of at least $190 per person, and the 42 small and mostly red California counties eventually got about $102 per person to spend on health and safety mitigation measures to deal with the coronavirus.

Nevada County Executive Allison Lehman said the county “received $10,003,626 in CARES Act CRF funding that had been allocated to the county by the state of California.”

Doing the arithmetic, our county actually only received a bit more than $100 per resident. According to the state auditor, had the governor correctly allocated relief funds on a per-person basis, it would have “resulted in all counties receiving $179 per person in CRF funds.”

Nevada County should have received $17.9 million, or 79% more Coronavirus Relief Fund money last year than it did. Just imagine how many more local business and community organizations could have been helped.

The governor and his agencies have been incompetent, irresponsible and played politics to treat Californians unequally.

Jo Ann Rebane lives in Nevada City and is a member of the Union Editorial Board. The views expressed in her commentaries are her own.

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