Has Gov. Gavin Newsom gone too far?

May 10, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom

OPINION by T.KEITH GURNEE

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s power has seemingly gone to his head. His responses to two primary issues—the COVID-19 pandemic and California’s housing struggles — reveals he’s gone too far and it just may undo his administration. Newsom’s willingness to impose top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates upon all of California’s local governments and residents is telling. Let’s just focus on the coronavirus.

First, give Newsom some credit. Newsom’s early actions to confront the coronavirus were far better than New York Gov. Andrew Coumo’s. Newsom acted quickly, Cuomo reacted late. Cuomo’s decision forcing infected patients into rest homes condemned thousands of elderly New Yorkers to death. The much lower rates of infection and deaths in California have verified that Newsom initially performed far better than Cuomo.

However, since Newsom’s coronavirus lockdown order issued on March 4, his performance has been marked by increasingly autocratic heavy-handed dictates and secretive decisions that are weighing down all Californians. The consequences of Newsom’s latest actions are starting to look worse than the disease. Consider Newsom’s actions:

1. According to the Los Angeles Times, Newsom’s administration unilaterally entered into a number of secretive no-bid contracts with questionable contractors. As a result:

  • Newsom awarded over 80 non-competitive no-bid contracts totaling $3.7 billion right after his March 4, 2020 lockdown order.
  • Newsom’s administration executed a no-bid contract with the Chinese firm BYD for nearly $1 billion to deliver 200 million N-95 masks by May 2. Yet only 10 million masks, or only 5% of the masks ordered, were delivered by that date. BYD is on the hook to reimburse California for less than 25% of taxpayer funds wasted on that contract.
  • It also approved a $800 million no-bid contract with Alabama-based Bear Mountain Development Co. LLC for 400 million surgical masks and 200 million face shields. While they were supposed to deliver 60 million face shields and 120 million masks by May 2, less than 500,000 face shields (1/4%) and 6.7 million surgical masks (1.7%) ordered were received by that deadline.
  • These actions not only cost California taxpayers millions of dollars but also cost valuable time in responding to the needs to fight the coronavirus.
  • Instead of a foreign contractor like BYD, why couldn’t California have gone to American firms like 3M or Honeywell who are major producers of such equipment? BYD’s costs per mask was $3.30, but Honeywell delivered masks to Los Angeles for just $0.79 per mask.
  • Despite the best efforts of the LA Times to obtain details on Newsom’s no-bid contracts, the administration has refused to comply. Given what’s been discovered, perhaps one can understand Newsom’s attempted cover-up.

2. With the economic hit taken by job losses and small businesses, Californian’s are increasingly anxious about lifting restrictions and returning to work. The resultant economic stagnation has wiped out California’s budget surplus and placed the state and its cities and counties in dire straits. Yet Newsom persists on imposing his dictates on cities and counties, refusing to allow them to open regardless of their infection rates.

3. On April 30, Newsom ordered Orange County to close all beaches, incurring the wrath of the county, beachgoers, and surfers from Huntington Beach– California’s iconic “Surf City USA.”

4. Of California’s 58 counties, the LA Times found that there are 24 sparsely-populated counties in Northern California that meet all of Newsom’s standards for reopening. Yet Newsom refuses to let them.

5. On May 7, Modoc, Yuba, and Sutter counties announced they were ready to open subject to advisories to citizens. Two days later, Newsom threatened to punish those counties by withholding disaster relief funding and weaponizing the ABC to revoke liquor licenses. Modoc County, with zero reported infections, opened while urging those infected or over 65 years to continue staying in-place. Yuba and Sutter counties opened but limited the number of people inside businesses, requiring social distancing, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizers. Yet Newsom remains determined to punish them.

Here in San Luis Obispo County, we’ve had 214 cases of coronavirus with only one death that occurred well over a month ago. Shouldn’t we be opening sooner rather than later?

California needs to get back to work, our businesses need to reopen, and we need to renew economic activity necessary to generate revenues, not only for business owners and workers, but for the essential services provided by state and local government. Instead of Newsom’s imposing his dictums on every corner of California, he should open areas like ours and others that are performing well against the virus now.

Unfortunately, Newsom’s original response to the coronavirus seems to have morphed into an emboldened power trip. Gov. Newsom, it’s time to park your ego at the door and get California moving again.


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Rambunctious

The reports of upticks in new cases after reopening are grossly misreported all around the world…the new cases would have occurred regardless….it will take a month to confirm that any new cases are due to relaxed mandates…..but of course the media needs them to be due to opening back up….so that is what they tell you….there is to be no comparison between the news and the truth between now and November 3rd….none whats so ever…..


surf dog 805

So many people drank the Kool-Aid. The A hole the makes a comment about me chosing not to wear a mask at Home Depot? First off this may be the first time you have ever been there but now you are furloughed and your other half wants you to replace a lightbulb without the help of the furloughed help? Shut up, put on your masks if you’re scared or stay home. Don’t worry we aren’t coming to your home unless you need someone to change that lightbulb. I will help if need be. Maybe you could take a trip to your beach house as I do the repairs.


I get there are people in danger of this, older people, obese people and many other conditions and they shouldn’t take this lightly. I also understand the numbers and healthy younger people need to get back school and work and fun.


Jorge Estrada

This is a “go team Pelosi” behavior. Break it some more, a very old takeover strategy.


Sulla

Not to take sides in the re-opening debate, nonetheless, it is more difficult to proclaim the end of a State of Emergency than it is to initially proclaim it. Such is especially so when the Government Code allows the Governor to suspend any “regulatory statute” or regulation, and to adopt by executive order any rule which is to be followed as law.


TKG

To quote Mel Brooks in the History of the World Part II: “It’s good to be the King!”


Eyes Everywhere

Stay closed and stay healthy. Newsom is on the right track. They reopened in Germany last week and COVID cases went up sharply. Now they’re considering closing down again.


shelworth

When we die of poverty you can put this on the tombstone; “At least we didn’t get sick.”


kevin rise

Keith to contradict your feelings and to provide truth and assurance in regard to PPE for everyone here and how we can help by understanding problems, here are the facts not feelings:


1. There was an international shortage and buying hysteria including global price gouging. The federal gov responded within the states. This is not Gavins fault.


2. Getting contracts with absolutely 0 conflict of interest to secure PPE at a reasonable price during a shortage is not bad and a GOOD idea given a national shortage in every health care industry.


3. This money was used to save lives and better regular people, this is a fraction of the military budget.


4. NPR was discussing failing international Logistics in every major country, as in catastrophic. That is not Gavins fault.


I have no opinion on Covid and I retain my rights daily and wear a mask as courtesy for the imminent sensitive. I suffer along and sympathise with the world. The current international approach is quarentine until a vaccine or therapy is present, this disaster will be remembered for ever in so many lives.


This is not Trumps nor Gavins or Anyones fault and is not The New World Order as do many want to believe. We need to be above conspiracy and voodoo with science, faith, journalism and unity etc. One earth.


r0y

Your “contra points” are very confusing and mis-numbered, I am not sure what you’re talking about by the time you get to your #3. What “money” is a fraction of the “military budget” (which, FYI has is $750 billion requested by DoD for 2020).


Are you comparing the wasteful spending of a single state to the wasteful spending of the world’s greatest nation? Really?


mercut1469

I will agree that Kevin Rise has an idiosyncratic style of writing. He’s often not clear, but I believe he makes some good “contra points,” as you put it.


First, there was a scramble for PPE (and still seems to be) with the federal government incredibly slow to respond, so I believe the governor panicked a bit and seized the moment to buy up whatever he could find at whatever price. Gov. Cuomo in NY lamented for several days in his news conferences that he was bidding against other states and the federal government. This is not an excuse for any waste of money, but I wonder what you, or Mr. Gurnee, would have done in a confusing situation with multiple moving parts and virtually no guidance from the feds. Mr. Kushner told the nation at one point that the fed stock pile of PPE and ventilators was not for the states, when fed policy was the opposite.


Second, as KR states, this money was spent to save lives. Luckily, the shut down, instigated first by health officials in the Bay Area and then followed by the governor, blunted the curve of infection and the need for these supplies was not as intense as first believed. I think Newsom was watching what had happened in Italy and then in New York and was determined not to see it happen in Cali. It hasn’t, so far.


Third, KR is totally correct in saying that what Newsom spent was only a fraction of what the U.S. spends every year on the military, which has been basically sidelined during this crisis, except for moving a few hospital ships around and building some temporary hospitals. I would have thought the military would have been used to test and trace since we are such a large nation and they are so good at logistics.


Finally, the thing that most of us are so upset about is that there is no focused plan or goals for the entire nation and that really is the only way that our economy comes back. Of course, I believe that many Americans, younger, whiter, more affluent, have looked at the situation—blacks, Latinos, poor, old dying at a far more frequent rate than anyone else—and are perfectly fine with opening up the economy once again no matter what happens.


You might want to watch and see what happens in Arizona, particularly Phoenix, where they are being more robust in their opening, despite their cases going up and some hospitals reporting 80% occupancy in their ICU’s.


1965buick

Well, while we’re at it, the federal response has been pitiful. So, Governor Newsom is making up for those inadequacies and keeping people safe. But, by all means, make it one-sided.


r0y

You basically have become a cringe-worthy meme. I am sorry you are living in your imagination and cannot see anything positive in something. That’s not a good place to be.


I do not like Newsome, but I do think he did some things right – at least in the beginning and for some time during all this. I’m not going to scream bloody murder about the guy, or even Nancy or whoever you hold in high esteem, politically. I just cannot imagine having so much hatred inside. It must be difficult.


1965buick

Not at all. I don’t proclaim to be either red or blue. I just point out the facts. And, I’m just fine, thanks.


IronHub

Wooooooooo… chemtrails… vaccines… the Bilderbergers… they’re coming to get our guns… be afraid, be very afraid….


r0y

I am so afraid, I am staying inside, away from people; I no longer go to Church, to sporting events, to anywhere! I just hide inside and get mad at people who do not feel the same amount of fear as me! We should ALL LIVE LIKE ME, for the SAFETY of ALL! How else can I signal my virtue on this?!


(yes, it was sarcasm)


Violent_Felon

Given how people have been reacting and speaking, it has reinforced my belief that I am better off staying away from people regardless of a virus.


Myself

Remember who nusance is related to and owes, auntie peeloose and jerry brown and countless others, the offshore mask maker must have been a laundry mat and I’ll bet we the taxpayer never see that money come back its all been laundred to peeloose and browns and countless others.