We hope last week's DesertXpress meeting served as an eye-opener to Barstow residents (and more importantly, city leaders) about the hurdles the community faces in efforts to oppose this train.
The DesertXpress project would build a $6 billion high-speed train to travel between Victorville and Las Vegas, bypassing Barstow. Obviously city leaders are very concerned about the economic impacts to our community and came out to an environmental impact hearing on Thursday to say so.
We hate to say we told you so, but ... well ... we somewhat predicted what happened next. Representatives for the Victor Valley area also attended the meeting to heap praise on the project, more than happy to throw Barstow under the train to bring home the jobs and federal funding. Terry Caldwell, Victorville City Council member (and former Barstow resident) even had the nerve to claim it would benefit "the entire High Desert."
The meeting should make it very clear to Barstow leaders (and the public relations firm the city recently hired to help fight this project) that nobody outside this community cares about our economic future. We would go so far to say that the Victor Valley area would directly benefit from Barstow's collapse, as there would be one less community competing for rail-centric industrial projects.
Focusing on negative effects on Barstow will fail as a strategy. We must focus on the ridiculous, exorbitant cost of this project and go on the attack against those who would support the use of billions of federal tax dollars to benefit a private company. Backers say this project will cost $6 billion, which is probably a significant underestimate, and they're hoping for federal loans to pay for much of it. That's your money. That's everybody's money.
What really disgusts us is how quickly politicians are willing to abandon their values when the pork comes oinking. Yes, we're talking about you, Rep. Steve Knight.
The Republican assemblyman, who represents the Victor Valley area (and nearby Hinkley), declares on his Web site "Californians Can Not Take Anymore Tax Increases" in a massive headline. He bills himself as a fiscal conservative, railing against tax increases and wasteful spending. And yet he made sure he was first on the list at Thursday's meeting to support this boondoggle.
Where do you think the money will come from for this federal loan, Rep. Knight? We hope the handful of jobs you bring to Victorville in exchange for this ridiculously high public cost were worth abandoning your core principles.