Steve Martin flips on Nipomo rail spur

October 20, 2016
Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin

Paso Robles mayor and San Luis Obispo County supervisor candidate Steve Martin has changed his position on the Nipomo rail spur project. Martin initially supported the Phillips 66’s proposed rail spur, but he now says, if elected, he would most likely vote against it. [Tribune]

Martin is running against political consultant John Peschong in the race for the District 1 county supervisor seat. Martin’s supporters have used the rail spur issue to attack Peschong.

Peschong supports the project, but he has disclosed that his political consulting firm Meridian Pacific received money from Phillips 66. Several months ago, Peschong stated publicly that, if elected, he would recuse himself from a vote on the project.

Previously, Martin said he would support the project as long as it was deemed safe and would not adversely impact the environment. On Tuesday, the Paso Robles mayor took a strong stance against the proposed rail spur at a city council meeting.

During the meeting, the Paso Robles council voted 4-1 in favor of sending a letter to the board of supervisors expressing concerns about crude oil trains moving through the North County city. Martin cast the lone dissenting vote. The mayor said he did so because he believes the city should oppose the passage of oil trains through Paso Robles entirely.

An audience packed with opponents of the project applauded Martin for taking a stance against the proposed rail spur. Martin later said he would most likely vote against the project at the county level in light of the planning commission’s decision to reject the project.

Following months of hearings, on Oct. 5, the county planning commission rejected the project on a 3-2 vote. Phillips 66 has until Thursday to appeal the project to the board of supervisors.

Prior to the planning commission ruling on the project, local environmental activists tipped off the Los Angeles Times about Meridian Pacific receiving money from Phillips 66. The LA times then published a commentary against the rail spur which described the District 1 seat as the “wild card” in an upcoming board of supervisors vote on the project. The article did not state that Peschong has said he would recuse himself on the matter.

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What a great political ploy! I’m against it because it is political benefit as the outsider environmentalists convene and make it sound like all the locals are against this. Then you talk to the Oregon mayor who has dealt with this situation and you are changing your mind but then if you have to vote on it as a supervisor you would vote against it.

Damn it, this is a good spin game for you. Tell us, the people who live in this County, the taxpayers, the voters, what is your stance, YES, I support or NO, I oppose. Stop playing the political game and do your homework and then make a direct and honest decision and then state it. You drive me crazy never taking a hard, direct, honest and straighforward approach.

I think Mayor Martin was clear in his opposition to the project at the Council meeting. The article quotes him as initially supporting the project if it was “deemed safe and not adversely affect the environment.”

A catastrophic derailment of a Philips Oil train in a small town in Oregon 2 months ago should make everyone reconsider the possible dangers. 14 cars in the mile long train jumped the track and created a fire bomb. Can you imagine what would happen in the event of derailment under the 101 freeway overpass in Paso or at the 4th street crossing?

We have very compelling recent evidence that this project can no longer be deemed safe. Should a leader ignore these indisputable facts for fear that he would be accused of flip-flopping?

Is it smart to put our cities at risk so that Phillips Oil can increase their revenues? I suspect that if the railroad went behind your property or business you would have concerns.

Flop of convenience.