Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Peculiar: What Does A Freshman State Representative From Willard, MO Have To Do With A Power Company In Kansas City?

Some things are bizarre, this thing is just dang peculiar. What does a freshman state representative from Willard, MO have to do with a big power company in Kansas City?Brent Martin of MissouriNet has an interesting post about a Peculiar occurrence. I'll let him tell the story:

A problem power plant south of Kansas City that has caused considerable controversy might be spared by the legislature. The House has voted in favor of Aquila even though the representatives closest to that plant urge it not to.

Aquila, the Kansas City utility, built a $140 million power plant near Peculiar in 2005 without getting approval from Cass County. The State Public Service Commission approved construction a year later, but the courts ruled that came too late and that the plant must come down. The House has given preliminary approval to a bill that effectively overrules that court decision.

Rep. Luke Scavuzzo (D-Harrisonville) argued during House floor debate that Aquila doesn't deserve the break, "because I do not feel they have been forthright with the people of my district, the citizens of Peculiar and the people of Cass County."

Scavuzzo lives in the district as does Rep. Brian Baker (R-Belton). Baker pointed out during floor debate that Aquila lost this battle in the courts twice. He said the proposal tells those who filed suit against the utility and won that the rule of law doesn't matter.

Two other state representatives have a piece of Cass County in their district. Rep. Mike McGhee (R-Odessa) also voted against the measure. McGhee represents a sliver of the county. Rep. Shannon Cooper (R-Clinton)* represents the southern portion of Cass County. Cooper voted in favor, reasoning that it doesn't make sense to tear down a power plant already in production.

That was the argument of Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) who sponsored the portion of HCS HB 2279 dealing with the Aquila plant. Schoeller told colleagues the court order to tear down a plant fully in operation doesn't make sense.

"That's not the common sense that I know that comes from Missouri," Schoeller told the House.

That portion of the bill passed on an 88-49 vote. The entire bill is poised for final passage. It then would go to the Senate for its consideration.
As I read this, and correct me if I am wrong, please, a big utility company called Aquila, starts building a big power plant in Cass County without permission. The courts tell the company to stop building the plant until they get permission. The courts had to tell Aquila twice to stop building the plant. Aquila, the utility company, ignored the court rulings and continues to build the plant. When they got caught and it came time for Aquila to face the music, they had to come clear to Willard before they could find someone who would sponsor a "get out of jail free" bill** that would let them go against two court orders and continue to operate the plant.

Never mind you that four of the five legislators (both Republicans and Democrats) who represent this area have said repeatedly that Aquila did not act in good faith in this matter and this whole affair was not a good deal for their constituents. These legislators not only refused to sponsor the bill Aquila wanted, they also voted against Schoeller's bill.

My, my, we here in Springfield are certainly naive. To think some of us thought City Utilities was arrogant in ignoring the audit! Ha! We didn't know arrogant at all! These guys at Aquila could teach Twitty and his crew a trick or two. But then again, maybe they have.

I did a quick google on Aquila and Peculiar, the results, and there are several, are here.

The common sense that I know that comes from Missouri is that if the courts, elected officials, public opinion and, most importantly, the people who are directly affected by Aquila's decision to flaunt the law and go ahead and do what they damn well please, the common sense I know doesn't say to Aquila, "go to Willard and find a rep who will carry your water". The common sense I know says it never should have built in the first place without approval.

(Gee, I put a Lowe's barn in my backyard several years ago and had it too close to the property line. Long story short, "The City" told me to move it or tear it down or get a zoning variance that would cost me $1,000, win or lose. I moved the barn and I got the pictures to prove it. Cost me almost $800.00. But I did what the city required and got it legal. Now, why can a big utility company find a state rep to sponsor a bill that allows them to ignore the law and not me? Heck, Aquila ain't even the guy's constituency!)

My neighborhood got "the City" to agree that there were areas of the city that needed sidewalks more urgently than our streets, we were glad "The City" listened to us. But to those poor folks in Peculiar, sidewalks are a walk in the park.

Here's another article about the state rep and the power plant. The best part of this story is this quote from Representative Schoeller:
Schoeller said Aquila thought it was on sound legal ground to build the plant, despite the court injunction barring its construction. Aquila regretted its decision to build the plant without state or local approval and had tried to make amends with local officials and nearby landowners, he said.
Former Republican turned Democrat Senator Chris Koster (who's running for AG in a crowded Democratic primary) represents Harrisonville, MO and vicinity. I wonder what his position is on this affair.

*Cooper may also be a Parrot-Head.

**The bill would reverse a court decision ordering Aquila to remove a $140 million peaking facility constructed in Cass County, south of Peculiar, and remove local zoning controls from where utilities site generation facilities in the future. Aquila constructed the plant despite a permanent injunction barring them from doing so.

Is this an answer to the most peculiar question?


Anonymous said...

Is the Public Service Commission that approved this plant AFTER the Cass County Commission said no, the same Public Service Commission that found no violations with Springfield City Utilities telecommunication services after the state auditor did?

Hmmmm, I smell a fish and it may not be sturgeon! I'm going fishing in their waters!

Jason said...

I really find it amusing the number of people who take the state auditor's report as perfect gospel and won't even consider perhaps that the auditor make a mistake. Why is the mistakes always on the fault of those we dislike?

Susan Montee and her office could have made a mistake somewhere. They're human just like those that were audited.

Not saying she was wrong in the CU situation but let's stop pretending that she's perfect.