Rancho Mirage, known as the Playground of the Presidents and home to world-class health care, was the butt of the joke as leaders across the Coachella Valley heralded the grand opening of CV Link, a 50-mile path open to walkers, joggers, bicyclists and golf carts – and local leaders are still laughing at a man they say is floating conspiracy theories.

G. Dana Hobart, Rancho Mirage’s most outspoken critic of CV Link, claims that government leaders are plotting to raise the county’s sales tax to help pay for operation and maintenance of the transportation corridor.

Hobart claims that the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) and its parent organization, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, have begun the process to persuade the public to approve a second ½ cent increase in the county’s sales tax to help pay for operation and maintenance of the CV Link.

Hobart told Uken Report that he has documents and testimony to prove it. He has never produced them.

There is no evidence to readily support Hobart’s claim, which is misleading to voters. Hobart is one of six people on the ballot in the April Rancho Mirage City Council election.

Erica Felci, governmental projects manager for the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, said no such plans exist.

Asked if there currently any plans or discussions to work with RCTC to ask residents to support a new ccountywide sales tax to help pay or CV Link and/or to help pay for operation and maintenance, Felci went on to say that, “RCTC has, for a couple years, been considering asking the voters for another tax measure. The potential measure is not specific to one project. CVAG briefed its members on RCTC’s discussions earlier this year, and the CVAG Executive Committee in February voted to send a letter supporting RCTC’s efforts to clarify their “self-help” tax status should their board ultimately decide to move forward with a ballot measure.”

Supporters blew a huge hole in Hobart’s theory last week as Tom Kirk, executive director of the Coachella Valley of Governments, announced that Renova Energy has committed to funding the operations and maintenance of this first stretch of the CV Link through an “adopt the link” program.

Vincent Battaglia, Renova Energy executive officer, also hinted that he would be willing to commit to the maintenance of additional sections of the CV Link once they are complete.

The City of Cathedral City had previously agreed to cover operational costs of this first segment, Felci said. “To have Renova Energy step up with this kind of support speaks volumes not just about their commitment to CV Link but to giving back to our community.”

Adopting a link is one of many ideas that CVAG proposed as part of the CV Link Conceptual Master plan, Felci said.

“You may recall that, in 2015, Goldenvoice expressed interest in this sort of program as well,” Felci said. “We will continue to have conversations with them – and others who are interested in such partnerships — as we develop larger segments of the pathway.”

Goldenvoice is responsible for transforming Stagecoach and Coachella into world-class musical events for the Coachella Valley.

Hobart has repeatedly gone out of his way to ridicule the $100 million project, calling it “a 20-to-30-foot-wide cement, steel and decomposed granite structure (that shatters) residential tranquility and the orderly transaction of business on Highway 111, Bob Hope Drive, and other city streets.”

The more hostile he is about the project, the better he likes it.

CV Link was designed to connect Coachella Valley cities and the lands of three federally recognized tribes with a path that largely parallels Highway 111, the busiest corridor in the valley.

When completed, CV Link is expected to create just shy of 700 jobs and have $1.47 billion in economic benefit to the Coachella Valley.