RICH JAMES: Lake County cities showing vision? Really?

2014-03-19T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Lake County cities showing vision? Really?By Rich James nwitimes.com
March 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Rep. Pete Visclosky is running around Lake County asking municipalities to pony up as much as a third of their economic development income tax proceeds for the extension of the South Shore to Dyer.

He’s got a lot of nerve.

Why should Gary or Lake Station or East Chicago or Hammond or Whiting or Hobart help finance a commuter rail line far from their borders?

The residents of all those communities can conveniently hop on the existing South Shore to get to jobs in Chicago.

Why should the taxpayers in those communities see their money spent on a train they likely won’t ever ride?

Let’s get real, Pete. Let the folks in Dyer, Munster, Highland, St. John and Schererville — the communities that will benefit the most — pay for the new rail line.

This is a dog-eat-dog world, Pete. It’s survival of the fittest. The folks in Lake Station don’t much care about those who make the big money on the west side of the county.

No, those on the east side of the county have their own issues. They don’t need to be worrying about a South Shore train that won’t do them a lick of good.

So, Mr. Congressman, why don’t you go back to Capitol Hill and quit trying to stir the pot here in Lake County? We don’t need your fancy and expensive trains flashing through Lake County’s serene countryside.

Yeah, Pete, go back to your highfalutin club in Washington where everyone wears blue suits and red ties. This is blue-collar country back here in the hinterland.

By the way, Pete, I read that flippant comment you made down in Lowell the other day.

Lowell Councilman Robert Philpot said residents are questioning whether a train to Dyer will lead to any economic good for Lowell.

It could be 20 years before the train reaches Lowell, if it gets there at all.

“I can’t guarantee you (it) will come to Lowell. But I can guarantee it won’t come to Lowell” if the Dyer extension isn’t built, is what you told those folks. Cute.

So, what’s that you say, Pete. You say I’m wrong.

You’re telling me Whiting and Hobart already have pledged money for a train their residents won’t ride.

You’re saying Hobart pledged about $171,000 and Whiting $105,000?

“Sometimes you have to think beyond your own borders, and I’m proud the council stepped up to the plate,” Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura said.

Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said he looks on the Dyer extension as the first step before a train runs through Hobart.

Man, was I wrong. Local leaders are putting aside their parochial interests for the common good and a better quality of life. Call it vision.

All aboard?

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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