Tulare County, state officials still at odds over reopening process

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TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) — Tulare County announced on Tuesday it will move forward to Stage 3 of reopening, going against state guidelines.

Shortly after their announcement, came a letter from California’s Office of Emergency Services, warning that Tulare County may not be eligible for disaster funding if they don’t comply.

Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the conflict during a press conference Friday, saying, “I have deep admiration and respect for the elected officials of Tulare County… I want them to know I understand their deep desire, and I share it, to reopen every aspect of the economy and go back to the normalcy that we had just a hundred days ago.”

Newsom said the state will continue to collaborate and cooperate with county officials.

When it comes to the state threatening to withhold emergency funding for defying the their guidelines, Tulare County Supervisor Kuyler Crocker said he’s not worried.

“Multiple attorneys that are well-informed with how these processes work say that it’s very, very difficult for the state to withhold those emergency funds,” said Crocker.

Crocker said Newsom’s press conference Friday indicated that the state may not follow through with that threat.​

“I don’t wake up to look to be punitive,” said Newsom. “I want to be responsible and respectful to the deep economic challenges that all of us are facing.”​

The City of Tulare, Porterville and Visalia have all rejected the county’s move, saying they will comply with state guidelines for reopening businesses.

“Today actually confirmed the fact that nothing’s going to happen,” said Crocker. “The governor said that he wasn’t looking to inflict any punishment, which really just assures me that we did the right thing.”

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