SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A war of words between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes over enforcement of statewide mandates to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus could end up costing the county hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding.

People gather at the beach on July 03 in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

“We have made contingent, specifically, $2.5 billion in the budget that we will make contingent upon performance,” Newsom said. “If they’re simply unwilling to do it, then we will redirect those dollars to communities that are.”

But O.C. Supervisor Don Wagner said the governor was micromanaging counties.

“I find it thoroughly unfair. I find it very frustrating,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know what he wants.”

And Barnes has pushed back on enforcing local and statewide health orders. After face coverings became mandatory in Orange County, Barnes said his deputies were not “mask police.”

And in a statement last week, Barnes said the department needed to be practical in its enforcement efforts.

“With limited exceptions, not wearing a face covering is a violation of the public health order, but it is not a practical application of a criminal law violation,” the statement said.

Barnes said he hoped for voluntary compliance.

“It’s challenging because in many counties the sheriff is an independently elected official, so they can set their own tone and how they run their departments,” O.C. Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said. “We all need to work collaboratively together so we don’t lose funding.”

Bartlett, who is also the president of the California State Association of Counties, said she was trying to get state money upfront to fund vital programs. But, without confidence that Orange County will enforce health orders, Newsom might be resistant to the idea.

“I know the sheriff’s department, like all departments, are short on resources right now,” Bartlett said. “But we need to work together.”

Bartlett said she has a meeting scheduled with Barnes and said that Newsom was sending in strike teams to help with enforcement.

Some locals called the plan to enforce the face covering orders heavy-handed, but others said it was a necessary step to prevent further spread of the virus.

“I think that might be the only way we might be able to bring the numbers down,” Aneri Pandit, an Irvine resident, said.

Comments (8)
  1. rireno1369 says:

    Orange County is the “Florida” of California.

    1. CnC says:

      Population of OC is 3.18 million
      Total fatalities in OC is 366
      Fatality rate is 115

      Population of CA is 39.96 million
      Total fatalities in CA is 6464
      Fatality rate is 161

      OC is doing better that the the rest of the state by 40%, yet Newsom seems to be obsessed with this county, where 7 of our 12 state representatives are still Republican.

    2. David Wooldridge says:

      Your comment is ridiculous. If you had said Riverside or San Bernardino it might have made sense, but OC is in the top 5 counties in CA. Feel free to never visit OC. We will be better off for it.

  2. The OC Right are dead Wrong on this one. Hey, we’ll take the Wealthy Conservative OC money in LA’s high desert. Hey Newsom, send that money to us !!

  3. tamilmannan says:

    irony is, Newsom hates it when Trump dangles money over his head. Another example of left hypocrosy!

  4. lily says:

    Don Wagner is risking people lives just as President Trump!. Don Wagne should go meet Covid-19 patients who do not wear masks. This way he can prove to people mask is not necessary.
    Or else Don Wagner should pay for Covid-19 hospital cost from his own personal assets when OC gets more covid-19 cases.

    Americans acted so slow for this pandemic. If we enforced mask wearing, strongly enforced quarantine and tracing . closed international flights, close boarders, do testing earlier from the beginning, we won’t end up today cases shooting up situation!

    1. Kameron Krause says:

      I dont wear a mask and never will. They do nothing except make people that arent bright and scared of their shadows feel better. And let people virtue signal how wonderful they are. I live in Orange county. We have enough people here. Anyone that doesnt want to visit we dont care. Thats why our county is so much nicer then most. We are hard working American loving patriots. And we love our county. Never ever gonna wear a face diaper. Im an adult and can take care of myself and my family without the government telling me how. And since when has any government given a rats ass about the people. Since never. So this mask garbage isnt about our health. WAKE UP and put down the koolaid

  5. Maeve Eisenberg says:

    It’s a great ideal & very simple to do. Unless I miss my guess they still give tickets for not wearing your seat belts, speeding, turn right if a person is in the crosswalk etc.,etc.,etc. Last month it came before the board of Sup again to wear mask’s & it didn’t pass in a 4-4 vote. People in the OC are finally taking notice of our board and Barnes but very Republican OC is loosing ground like the idiot in the White House and elections to come around again. Thank God we have our wonderful Katie Poter in Congress. OC just have rep’s that go to jail for embezzlement. Like the couple arrested and charged with a hate crime for defacing a Black Lives Matter sign in the street here Barnes would have charged him with defacing public property if he wasn’t to busy to look. As the song goes Things are a Changing

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