The sky was multiple shades of gray when Koko and I went walking this morning, and though the sunrise created a hot pink flash on the horizon, the cloud bank quickly snuffed it out in an ongoing intolerance of sunshine.
Koko was snacking on grass at the roadside salad bar when farmer Jerry stopped by to chat. It seems the East Kauai Water Users Cooperative is getting requests for some hydro projects, which currently aren’t allowed under its agreement with the state. But the board is going to review its policies and see if hydro can be accommodated in its system.
I noticed in the most recent issue of KIUC’s magazine that the Wailua Falls hydro project is listed under future power-generating projects, although permitting and environmental issues were cited as a potential obstacle — just as they have been for the past 20 years.
Koko’s whining signaled the approach of my neighbor Andy, so Jerry headed off to work and Andy and I continued on along the road together. We got to talking about Coco Palms, and Andy said he had submitted a letter to the planning commission opposing the developer’s request for a two-year extension of his permits.
The county is looking at giving the Maryland-based developer a six-month extension, during which time he’s supposed to clean up some of the mess that he hasn’t cleaned up thus far, even though his permit conditions required it. And if he does, he’ll get the rest of the extension he’s seeking.
So how many chances does a guy get? I asked.
Really, answered Andy. What kind of parents are we?
Sigh. What if the planning commission actually said no once in a while?
Meanwhile, the developer is proposing such extensive changes — selling the Seashell restaurant, turning the coconut grove over to the state, building a hotel instead of time shares, keeping buildings that were proposed for demolition — that Andy and others are arguing the project no longer resembles the one that was originally approved, and so should go through the process again.
He suspects the developer has run out of money and is just trying to get the permit extension so he can sell the project. Because without permits, that wreck ain’t worth much.
I heard the money also ran out for one of two developers who last year got approval to build timeshare resorts near Coconut Marketplace. The developer of the project that was going to be on the highway, where all the coconut trees are, was served with a non-judicial foreclosure by its bank. So it looks like we’ll be saved from that bit of very bad planning.
Hey, what if the foreclosing bank decided to fire sale it to the trust for public land or something, seeing as how the resort business is kinda flat these days?
The other developer, however, is still alive and kicking and fighting a demand to do an Environmental Assessment for his project. That case goes to trial in a couple weeks.
Speaking of court, a friend recently stopped by the Lihue courthouse to file a paper. It was her first visit to Babylon, and she called me from its cavernous depths, her voice reflecting both shock and awe.
“How many people do they plan to incarcerate?” she asked. “Is this a vision here? What if they put all this money into community-building instead of locking people up?”
What if? And what if they started locking up the really bad guys, the ones who do stuff like plan torture and mass murder for personal and political gain, rather than just the small time ice-addicted burglars and check forgers?
It seems a case is building for doing just that. A new report by the Senate Armed Services Committee turns up more lies by top Bush officials, who claimed they only tortured terrorists when they wouldn’t talk. But they actually began developing the torture program in December 2001 — well before any al- Qaeda suspects were caught and also prior to receiving legal approval by the Justice Department.
As Democracy Now! reports:
In a statement, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Carl Levin said the new evidence provides a direct line from top Bush officials to abuses at prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Levin said, “Senior officials sought out information on, were aware of training in, and authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques…[They] bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses.” Levin went on to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to establish a high-level commission to investigate high-level Bush officials.
After a bit of disheartening flip-flopping, Obama is now sounding like he might just look favorably upon such a review:
“For those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it’s appropriate for them to be prosecuted. With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws, and—and I don’t want to prejudge that. I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there.”
Yes, it does get complicated when the highest officials of the previous administration are held accountable for illegal and despicable actions. But it’s even more complicated to try and explain why they should be allowed to literally get away with murder while political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal sit on death row.
I mean, what if there really was justice for all?