Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Governor Newsom:

Ever since you issued your March 19, 2020 “N-33-20 Executive Order” directing “all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence,” I’ve reflected how church closures, high taxation, and no financial aid impacts millions of Californians.

Freedom of religion is a basic human right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. This timeless founding document, which came into force in 1789, is the supreme law of the United States of America. Your Executive Order, drafted more than 231 years after the U.S. Constitution, is unconstitutional, un-American, and hostile to Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the United States. Christianity has shaped American culture, established American institutions and influenced American society. As an American citizen, you have benefited from Christianity. Your Executive Order is hostile to people of other faiths as well. Cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, temples as well as churches throughout California are indeed essential. Religion, and the free exercise thereof, is essential to the spiritual development, mental health, physical wellbeing plus inner peace of parishioners, congregants, adherents, members and attendees statewide. In some cases suicide is averted. In other cases criminality is lowered and domestic violence is reduced. I am a church elder who has been involved in church leadership for more than 30 years. I can certainly attest that churches have the ability to take precautions —social distancing, washing hands, wearing face masks— while tending to the spiritual, mental, physical (food, shelter and clothing) needs of the flock. Not only can the church do it well, but churches can do it better. Houses of worship should be re-opened immediately.

There have been discussions of increasing taxes. This is absurd. Californians need tax relief! “N-33-20 Executive Order” has cut the pay of Californians. Their family budgets have shrunk. Irrespective of depending on federal partners —code language referencing American taxpayers— to bail out California, it’s time for you to make tough budgetary decisions and cut governmental programs. You must engage with the Legislature to cut programs that are duplicate and wasteful rather than making a 10% cut across the board as you announced today. Redundancy of governmental agencies is wasteful. Whatever happened to the additional gas tax which was supposed to fund road improvements? Here is an area where you can show leadership and rescind the tax on Californians and provide tax relief. The answer to budget shortfalls is not to further burdening California citizens, which would steal more of their non-existent to dwindling income.

At the date I drafted this letter more than 67,900 people have been exposed to COVID-19. Surely, they can file a disability insurance claim or submit a paid family leave claim. But what about the millions of other Californians? Where is the COVID-19 cash benefit for them? While it is laudatory for you to have shown compassion for undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for federal stimulus funds because they are here illegally, where is your compassion for hardworking and law-abiding Californians? Surely homeless people —many veterans and mothers with children— living on the streets can use their share of that $75 million. Instead of issuing your March 19, 2020 “N-25-20 Executive Order” which commandeered “property—hotels and other places of temporary residence,” you could have used the prestige and weight of your office by partnering with the private sector, purchasing properties to house the homeless, and providing open mental health treatment facilities.

The people of California have generally been cooperative and patient. They are practicing social distancing. They are adhering to cleanliness measures. They are heeding the advice of health care professionals and are voluntarily wearing uncomfortable face masks. They have been considerate to each other. They have done a great job —millions at the expense of losing their jobs— protecting themselves and protecting others.

Let me state that we grieve for the more than 2,700 people in California who have died from COVID-19. We are saddened and mourn for their families. We are also concerned for the millions of victims this pandemic has affected economically.

Now is the time to open houses of worship, reduce the tax burden and provide financial aid for Californians. Now is the time to remove restrictions you have imposed on the people you are privileged to serve. Now is the time for businesses to open and for people to return to work without fear of state and/or local government reprisals. Now is the time for scholars to graduate and lovers to marry. Now is the time for children to play little league baseball and compete in soccer leagues. Now is the time to watch major and minor league baseball games. Now is the time for people to enjoy beaches, boat on lakes, raft/inner tube on rivers, and hike/explore/picnic at state parks. Now is the time for the people of California to move about freely, interact, socialize and live. You Sir, have infringed on our human rights and trampled on the U.S. Constitution for too long. Now is the time to open California!

Sincerely,

Eric Rigard, Candidate
9th Assembly District
1355 Halyard Drive Ste 120
West Sacramento, CA 95691

cc:  Assembly Member Jim Cooper
State Capitol, Room 6025
Sacramento, CA 95814