Blatant Corporate Fascism in Mississippi: the Kemper Coal Power Plant

by Dr. Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

November 30, 2011

The Gulf Coast Group of the Mississippi Sierra Club meets the last Wednesday of the month at Harmony Hall, 2514 19th Avenue (immediately north off 25th St./Pass Road), Gulfport. A potluck supper starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by discussion of environmental issues at 7:00. This Wednesday, November 30, we’ll discuss Gulf restoration, the Mississippi Power price hike & wetlands permit for Plant Daniel, and we will remember the committed life of Lee Emery. For more information, call 228-872-0508. 

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This will be a short series of posts which describe one of the worst cases of corporate/government abuse of power in Mississippi in recent times.  It describes the essence of corporate fascism–the collusion of corporate power combined with government officials to profit in personal ways which lead to substantial damage to the public.  In this case, both the ratepayers and the taxpayers will be severely and needlessly harmed.

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Part I:  The Legal Essence  of the Case on December 14, 2011 before the MS Supreme Court in Opposition to Mississippi Power and the Southern Company.

(Extracted from:  http://msbusiness.com/2011/11/supreme-court-to-hear-kemper-coal-plant-arguments)

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The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear arguments from the Sierra Club challenging the state Public Service Commission’s approval of the project in Kemper County by Mississippi Power Co. Mississippi Power has started construction of the $2.4 billion coal plant.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 14.

The suit was filed and heard in Harrison County Chancery Court. Judge Jim Persons ruled in favor of the Commission and Gulfport-based Mississippi Power in February.

Mississippi Power began building the Kemper plant after the Commission passed a second conditional approval of the facility with 2-1 vote in May 2010.

THE KEMPER COUNTY IGCC COAL POWER PLANT:Here’s the little monster near the tiny community of Liberty, MS. It was originally approved as a 2.4 billion dollar project, quickly elevated to 480 million dollars more, uses unproven IGCC (coal gasification technology), uses electricity rate increases of enormous proportions to pay for the project upfront, and does not provide electricity for major parts of So. Mississippi! Photograph from press which is being sourced and has been posted on Facebook.

The Commission’s first conditional approval was passed in April of 2010 and capped the project at $2.4 billion, among other restrictions. The second order, passed approximately one month later, limits the plant’s cost overruns to $2.88 billion and also allows the utility to charge customers for financing costs before the plant becomes operational.

The Sierra Club believes the Commissions’ second conditional approval of the plant is arbitrary and  unsupported by evidence presented in extensive hearings regarding the project.

The suit says that the Commissioners “did not explain how their finding that a $2.88 billion cost was acceptable could be squared with their previous finding that there is no evidence to support a cost of over $2.4 billion.”

State Sierra Club director Louie Miller said the club has taken on the unexpected role of consumer advocate in addition to environmental advocate in this case.

Included in the suit is an effort to make customer rate impacts from the plant available to the public.

Occu-pie and Dishes by Angela Wolf Guthrie

By Angela Wolf Guthrie
Washington D.C., 11/25/2011  

Washing dishes is therapeutic and informative. I spent most of yesterday (Thanksgiving) with my hands in tubs of hot water scrubbing pots and pans in the OccupyDC’s open-air dish washing station. I like the feeling of how my contribution is meaningful in such a practical way. More so, the washing tubs are set so one can see all that is happening closest to the kitchen and the food. And, as is probably expected, EVERYONE wants what the kitchen has to offer. I, myself quickly rose through the ranks and became CEO of my own corner of Occupy for as long as I wanted the position! Boiling water came to me first before the hot water urns (tea/cocoa) were filled. I had power.

A quick glance at the crowd would give one the impression that the ‘right-wing’ is correct: “losers, the homeless and those who got kicked out of mommy’s basement” are camped out at McPherson Square. A mass of people in line for food, appearing to ‘hang out’ on the benches.

My first volunteer of the day was a man who self-identified as a Puerto Rican Vietnam vet and an addict (alcohol) who had just received his subsidized housing after 15 years on the street. He said he was grateful. He washed dishes. He talked. He has a daughter in the south who is a percussionist. He saw things in Vietnam that NOBODY should see. He asked questions. The same questions. Repeatedly. And he washed dishes. After about an hour, he was ready to go. I packed him food he planned on keeping for the next day. Was HE the loser?

After a bit, another guy asked if he could help. Thick accent. I asked, “What’s your name?” A French name I couldn’t quite pronounce. He washed dishes, scraped some pots. A local private school language teacher down for the day. He agreed that I had the best spot from which to observe. Did he live in his mother’s basement?

Throughout the day, I saw the people who lived at the park mill about and  overheard conversations. As I’ve spent time on numerous occasions, faces became familiar. One young guy who had also been arrested during the Tar Sands protest and I spoke briefly. Sober, informed and a kindred soul? Loser? Both? In the background a woman loudly reminded people not to touch the food with their hands. “And use hand sanitizer” she  said.  

Twin boys, about 8 years and their dad showed up with some fruit. We started talking. The boys attended a Charter School in DC. The dad had attended the junior high school in inner-city DC I first cut my teaching teeth on. All I had to do was mention the principal’s name and nod my head with the dad in mutual understanding. Those years were the end of the crack wars in D.C. Was THIS the person the ‘right-wing’ was talking about?

As the darkness fell and the street lamps turned on, the Venezuelan guy living at the camp decided to play some music. I asked if anybody dances. The kitchen gods quietly joked that he only lasts for about 5 songs and doesn’t like it if nobody listens. Has a bit of a temper. The music started. I love to dance. Had to check it out. Not too shabby. The artist-guy with dredlocks who built the tepee was on a drum. I recognized him.( I felt like I wasn’t out on a limb too far as it is predominantly men at the park.) Some other guy banged on a can. Did I dance? Why not! One inebriated guy was enjoying the music. Another guy who had been serving food all afternoon came over with a hula hoop. He also joined in. After a couple of salsas and one meringue, the Venezuelan started on a ballad.  Back to the kitchen for me. But I did enjoy!

Mic Check showed up after the Tibetan monks left. Some guy started yelling nonsense. A bunch of park residents ‘Mic Checked’ and went en masse to gauge the possibility of violence. Seeing none, they left. The guy carried on albeit more quietly.  He wasn’t bothering anyone. Police cars roamed nearby.

I don’t know why the majority of the people at the park are there. I won’t kid myself and think that any of them carry the same understanding or values as I do about the 99%. Nor will I ignore the reality that people , lots of people are showing up at Occupy DC and look a hell of a lot like US, the 99%.

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Angela Wolf-Guthrie is a public school teacher and parent living near Washington, DC. Knowing how fortunate she is to have that job, she actively supports those willing and able to be her representative placeholders at OCCUPY. Tent picture compliments of John Mcgarry.  Monument picture compliments of the Internet domain.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: TWELVE REASONS I’M THANKFUL

by  Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi,  MS

November  24. 2011

I’ve  been resting and reflecting the last couple of days and decided to write a personal message to display on this blog site I created this past January.  It is a “Thanksgiving” message and a wish for everyone to think about that for himself/herself independent of your religion or creed. As I grow older, I have become “progressively” unhappy with traditional holidays but this one still reminds me I need to periodically reflect and  keep matters in perspective.

Thus  I present my “TWELVE REASONS I FEEL THANKFUL THIS YEAR”. It is written both from a personal and a “political” perspective since this blog site has a definite political orientation.  Please accept it in the spirit in which it is intended.

TWELVE  REASONS I FEEL THANKFUL

1. I’m thankful to be alive;  eight years ago I did not feel this way.  But for the grace of “God” I would not  be here today.

2.  I’m thankful I have plentiful food, can choose to eat healthily, and have a roof over my head.

3.  I’m thankful to have Social Security and Medicare;  otherwise I would not be alive today.

4.  I’m thankful I wasn’t in my car when it exploded in flame and was destroyed two months ago.

5.  I’m thankful for my friends and family.  Even though these are changing and developing I have definitely learned the importance of other human beings in my life. I also fully realize that “things” are not important by comparison.

6.  I’m thankful to live in this country even though I realize that conditions have deteriorated for millions of people who have been suffering from the incredible greed and power obsessions of a few.  I know that I have a responsibility and the ability to confront that. I’m  thankful that I have  both  time and  a  strong desire to contribute service to others.

7.  I’m thankful this  week that a totally inept, incompetent and even evil Congress  is at home and allows Washington D.C. to remove the stench they are leaving.

8.  I’m thankful that the totally corrupt two party political duopoly is being exposed and that it is being learned that our president is a puppet for Wall Street and the corporatists.

9.  I’m thankful for the Occupy Wall Street movement which is calling attention to the incredible economic injustices in this country.  I’m thankful for those brave citizens who are willing to put their lives on the line to protest.

10.  I’m thankful to be rid of the “addiction” to cable TV and the continuous trash broadcast there.  I’ve found NPR and alternate Internet sources preferable to receiving news.

11.  I’m thankful for the Internet and Facebook  in communicating and developing superb friendships  and for the group I formed just over a year ago to candidly discuss issues and potential solutions.

12.  And finally,  I am thankful for this blog space which allows me to express myself and invite others to submit their blogs, comments and thoughts.

HAVE A THANKFUL DAY YOURSELF AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!!  EXPRESS YOURSELF!!

Dr. Tom

The Outings of the Oligarchs by Karen Garcia