Local Leaders Furious about ‘CARES Act’ Funding

Daytona Everett

Help is on the way for cities across California hit hard by the coronavirus as a half-billion federal dollars are being distributed to help cope with severe financial losses.

Great news, right? Well, not if you’re in the Coachella Valley where city leaders are outraged that they are being cut out of their fair share and now they’re fighting back.

There is a shared frustration from Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors and Assemblyman Chad Mayes.

“The state decided in their wisdom to give the 13th largest cities between $85 and $174 per full time resident and the rest of us 12 dollars for a full time resident,” Mayor Kors said. “It’s totally unfair.”

Mayor Kors wrote a letter to the governor detailing his frustration (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwJWrjVvkbVBmPmPqwWlwFSTLCV?projector=1&messagePartId=0.2)

Assemblyman Chad Mayes said the funding decisions were made mid-pandemic with a small portion of the legislators because they’re out of session.

“This is power politics at its worst,” Mayes said. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, it’s really big cities versus small cities. It’s urban areas versus suburban and rural areas.”

The state put together the CARES Act which, as it’s written, gives the bulk of the money to the 13 largest cities; cities with at least 300,000 residents.

The money break down was detailed in a second part of Kors’ letter (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwJWrjVvkbVBmPmPqwWlwFSTLCV?projector=1&messagePartId=0.1)

“It’s really causing problems for cities like ours,” Kors said.

Many Palm Springs businesses rely heavily on tourism. Destination PSP is no exception.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” owner of Destination PSP, Jeffrey Bernstein, said. “It’s completely unfair and you know, we have employees that are just as valuable as the employees down the road.”

Bernstein said staying afloat is difficult right now and with no help, many businesses downtown could fold.

“How desperate are you to get that relief?” we asked.

“We are extremely desperate,” Bernstein said.

“So it’s incumbent upon me, it’s incumbent upon all of us elected officials, local elected officials, to represent small cities, to advocate and say enough is enough,” Assemblyman Mayes said. “We need to make sure we get our fair share.”

Meanwhile, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia breaks down how they intend to use their large portion of funding on Facebook:

“We fought for and got $53 million in COVID relief:

Over the last few weeks, we led a coalition of big city mayors in a tough fight to ensure Long Beach would receive a $40 million relief package funded by the state. The funds are earmarked to assist residents and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. We also received $13 million from LA County to assist with our health response.

Our proposal for the state funds includes:

– $20 million for COVID-19 testing, which is critical to preventing community transmission of the virus.

– $2 million for emergency and transitional shelters for people experiencing homelessness who are vulnerable to COVID.

– $3.6 million to help small businesses comply with new physical changes to their businesses and to innovate spaces.

– $3 million for food insecurity and support local restaurants.

– $1 million for digital inclusion, to ensure long beach families have access to online services.

– $1.5 million to support arts organizations and the creative economy to provide economic relief.

– $1 million to create a youth ambassadors program and hire youth from across the city by partnering with local nonprofits and to provide training in health education.

– $1 million black health equity initiative to support community work and break down racial inequity in our health systems.

– $1 million for community nonprofits who have health programs and are serving impacted communities.

– $1 million for our business improvement districts to support them and their work with small businesses.

– $500,000 for mental health and domestic violence providers who need additional support during this tough time for many folks.

– and additional funding for citywide and community health programs.

This funding will significantly help some of our most vulnerable neighbors and small businesses. In addition, we are using the $13 million from la county to directly support our covid health partnerships and testing.

I want to thank governor Gavin Newsom for his support and our local Long Beach delegation including State Senator Lena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, and Supervisor Janice Hahn. We are in a critical moment in our city’s history and these resources will go a long way to support our community.

We will continue to fight and advocate for Long Beach.”

NBC Palm Springs reached out multiple times to the Governor’s office but has not received a response.

Assemblyman Mayes said he’s advocating for a special session to deal with all things related to the pandemic.

Mayor Kors said he has been in communication with the White House about funding.

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