Criticism emerges over some of Gov. Newsom's coronavirus initiatives

Governor Gavin Newsom has introduced dozens of new programs offering relief during the coronavirus pandemic. But, there is mounting criticism that the plans are sometimes announced before they're ready to launch.

On April 16, he announced a first-in-the-nation, $125 million fund for undocumented immigrants affected by the coronavirus. Non-profits will distribute the money, but it's still unclear when people will see a check. 

“We definitely need some more clear direction from the state as to more funds, as to where do people apply or when the timeline is, is the big question," said Francisco Herrera, the co-director of Dolores Street community services in San Francisco.  "Give us a timeline and a website.”

Herrera says the announcement has created confusion and frustration amongst the people he works with.  The state said the funds would come sometime in May, but some of it could be tied up by lawsuits, and private fundraising is ongoing. 

Governor Newsom also introduced a plan for cities and counties to get three free meals a day delivered to eligible seniors.  When asked about federal funding running out on May 10, the governor said this. 

“From a cash flow perspective, that is anxiety-inducing and I wish I could pick up 100 cents of every dollar for everybody’s need, this is an unprecedented opportunity."

Some also think Newsom may again not be able to deliver on the suggestion schools could open early, citing concerns about learning loss during the pandemic.  “We are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall as early as late July early August," suggested Newsom during one of his daily briefings. 

The announcement again prompted confusion and frustration, this time from some teachers' unions. “These were unfortunate comments, he was getting ahead of himself," said Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, during a Facebook live for members. "If there is any sort of proposal for an early start, to school like in July, that would have to bargained through us, UTLA. And there has been no conversation about that”

Steve Maviglio is a democratic political consultant and was communications director for former California governor Gray Davis.  “There’s a lot of details that go on, especially when you’re trying to service millions of people," said Maviglio.  "Some of the criticism is certainly founded, but I think people need to give him the benefit of the doubt about many of these announcements.”

Maviglio wants to remind people that governance takes time. “He’s doing things on other states are doing, but you have to be able to deliver," said Maviglio. "I was told once by the governor I worked for, never overpromise and underdeliver, do the other way around.”

The governor's office did not respond to our request for a comment, but recently issued this statement to the LA Times: "Gov. Newsom has moved swiftly to protect human life, and he has taken aggressive and urgent actions to help Californians get through these challenging times.  Because of those efforts and the actions of millions of Californians who are staying home, California has both flattened the curve and helped millions of its most vulnerable residents as they tackle the unprecedented challenges of this crisis."

Greg Liggins is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Greg at