Posts Tagged ‘Times-Picayune’
Best of luck to everyone in New Orleans over the next couple of days…in my thoughts.
More to come…
PJ Harvey -The Words that Maketh Murder
And she ain’t talking about Steve Newhouse killing the Times-Picayune.
Have a nice day.
In an article published online last evening, David Hammer of the Times-Picayune called into question whether over 50,000 plaintiffs attempting to sue BP in the trial beginning February 27th would have their suits rendered ineligible for compensation because they didn’t try to get money from Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility first.
“The “presentment” issue could endanger 60 percent of them (court claims). In August, Barbier ruled that claims under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 would have to meet presentment requirements – to seek redress from BP or its designee, Feinberg – to be eligible for compensation.”
Over 50,000 claims potentially knocked out before we even get started? Wait a minute, don’t these 50,000 plaintiffs have attorneys from the Plaintiff Steering Committee? Let’s assume more than a few of them do. Okay then, so what happens if all 50,000 of these legal claims are thrown out of court by Judge Barbier, over half of all the private legal claims? On what basis did the members of the Plaintiff Steering Committee not advise their clients to go ahead and file with Feinberg first, just to get it out of the way? Hell, the claims wouldn’t have even had to be all that detailed, right?
Kind of a legal technicality sort of thing?
“Dear Ken, please send me fourteen dollars for lost wages, contracts, time, illness, etc…”
And then when Ken and the GCCF offers a nickel, the plaintiff turns him down and all done!
Legal requirement satisfied! On to the MDL!
Okay…well how about one more small question:
If 50,000 plus claimants get tossed out, this would seem to indicate that the Plaintiff Steering Committee could have been doing a much better job of steering the plaintiffs, so then shouldn’t they be forced to turn down the 6 percent that Feinberg is now holding back from claimants who actually do settle with the GCCF, all $650,000 dollars of it so far?
Because if you’re getting that 6% for claimants indirectly benefitting from your legal expertise and your legal expertise kinda blows, it would seem they should get their indirect money back…
It’s a thought.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Feinberg has maintained that periodically he will be taking a look at the GCCF, it’s claims structures and the state of the Gulf to determine whether any modification to payments is necessary. It is this reappraisal which led to the changes last August where businesses had to show a growth rate of five percent to qualify for continued payment of interim claims. This is also when he added compensation to the claims of some oyster lease holders.
At the time, Feinberg stressed his growth rate requirement was modest, especially when it came to the fishers because not only had all federal and most state fishing grounds reopened, but he also reported the shrimp catches were increasing and prospects were good for the menhaden.
Well, things have changed since then.
And those changes are not positive.
In a recent LSU Study, the killifish, a local minnow is showing signs of hydrocarbon poisoning. This species is near the bottom of the food chain, and the damage to its ability to reproduce could soon echo up the entire chain and as far as the menhaden Feinberg spoke of in his modification, there have been some puzzling changes which are currently being investigated. The menhaden are a small herring like species that is harvested for its oil, and according to Randy Pausina of the Louisiana State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, “The industry says the oil yield is down.”
Also troubling, though Feinberg in his modification reported shrimp catches were improving, this claim has proved incorrect:
This year’s white shrimp harvest in the waters off Louisiana’s southeastern coast is significantly lower than in the past, forcing some people in the industry to look elsewhere for product and scale back operations while others blame the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
“I am talking to the guys, I am talking to the docks, and they are telling me that they are 80 percent off,” said Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. “We should have had a good year this year.” Carol Terrebonne, who runs the Seafood Shed, a seafood wholesaler in Golden Meadow, agreed, “Usually at this time of the year, we are loading trailer loads,” Terrebonne said. “It’s just not happening.”
Recently, when Feinberg spoke of modifying the GCCF’s rules, he spoke not of increased payouts, he continued to speak about the Gulf’s rapid recovery and implied that people now taking interim claims might want to settle for final claim payouts because he might not be so willing to continue with what he considers to be his generous offers. This is odd, considering his offers are not typically perceived as generous, the science coming out of the Gulf, especially concerning the fishing industry is not good, and those interim claims are intended for claimants who are continuing to seek damages…
Claimants like shrimpers whose catches are down, like menhaden fishers whose oil intake is down, like all the other fishers out there who could see this hydrocarbon poisoning work up the food chain to their particular catches.
Ken, you need to get out of your office and start paying attention.
Back to the killifish and its implications:
More worrisome were affects that are less noticeable immediately.
“We detected compromised estrogen signaling, which is pretty important to reproduction,” Whitehead said. “And the oil came ashore during the peak times for reproduction for many species in the habitat, so we don’t know how widespread this is” among other species.
The results mirror some findings after the Valdez disaster. While most experts thought the dynamism of the Mississippi River delta’s sub-tropical ecosystem would allow a quicker surface recovery than that seen in frigid Alaska, the big concern was the eventual impact of long-lived toxic hydrocarbons that had spread across the region and settled into its soft water bottoms. Some of the worst effects of the Valdez pollution didn’t show up for two or three years.
Fix your claims system Ken…
Your estimations that all will be well in the Gulf by 2013 are wrong.
Your modifications were based on faulty science.
Every mistake you make, hurts people and leaves families behind.
Have a nice day.
Wow, sure seems like Ken’s getting defensive down in the Gulf…
Defending himself against accusations that interim claims are not being paid, or are not enough, Ken Feinberg said, “I just think people should move on already. I mean, this is not a lifelong operation…I have no objection to people taking the interim payments, but I do think that there should be a recognition that it’s in the claimants’ interest at some point to move on.”
To just move on already…not a lifelong operation…
Maybe not for you Ken, but for thousands along the Gulf Coast, the Gulf is their lifelong operation; it’s where they work, play, raise their families…and the company you represent really fucked it up and your compensation program, the GCCF…well, it kinda sucks. George Barisich, a shrimper, oyster leaseholder and harvester who is president of the United Commercial Fishermen, said when discussing both Feinberg’s recent decision to pay oyster leaseholders seven times their losses, and his own final payment offer: “Seven times zero is still zero.”
Hmm, appear to be differing opinions…claimants should move on vs. move on, with what? Yes sir, according to Ken Feinberg, all is rapidly improving in the Gulf, all is well with the GCCF and those who think differently, just don’t get it. According to fishers who live and work in the Gulf, Feinberg is the one who doesn’t get it, not at all…
Especially when we talk about quick payments, the claim type 81% of fishers took, and everyone offers their reasons why:
According to Feinberg, people didn’t and aren’t taking quick payments out of financial desperation, they are accepting the $5,000 and $25,000 dollar flat rate offers because they don’t have documentation and/or have been more than compensated by the EAP’s. Nonetheless, according to a recent Times-Picayune article, he is “concerned enough about the persistent complaints” that he has agreed to US Attorney General Eric Holder’s audit of the GCCF.
According to Clint Guidry, President of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Feinberg is dead wrong, “The reason you’re seeing a lot of $5,000 and $25,000 (quick) payments is they’re telling us our problem in Louisiana is a lack of documentation…Well, that is total horseshit. We went to Wildlife and Fisheries and got trip tickets going back 10 years. People spent thousands of dollars on accountants putting their claims together and they have been turned down flat. But they’ll tell you they’re happy to give you the $25,000 quick pay.”
And what might Catholic Charities say about the financial well-being of those who took the quick payments? According to Archbishop Gregory Aymond, commercial fishers who took the quick payment are among their target population, “People have resorted to the flat-rate quick payments,” the archbishop said. “That takes care of the short-term, but what happens to them down the line?”
Clint Guidry is speaking directly to the fishers and he speaks with them everyday.
Catholic Charities is helping the fishers and the organization is helping them everyday.
Feinberg had to have security at some of his town halls to protect him against angry fishers, so how much direct contact is he getting, to really understand motivations?
He says he sees no evidence, that the audit will validate him. Maybe, maybe not, but when it comes to that audit…it would seem to most, Feinberg agreeing to an audit due to his “concern” over persistent complaints is also, as Clint Guidry said, “horseshit.” Claimants have been calling for greater transparency in the GCCF process for a year. Jim Hood has actually sued to have an audit done, a lawsuit Feinberg is getting waived to Federal court. The way it appears, Feinberg was less “concerned” about criticisms, and more concerned about the building pressure from claimants and the states, calling for greater transparency, so he opened the pressure valve and took the Federal option, which he’s hoping will be less critical, less inflamed by local opinion.
Okay, so let’s take a look at the interim payments:
Feinberg has maintained for quite some time he’s not trying to coerce people away from the interim payments, the one payment where claimants do not have to waive their right to sue British Petroleum, yet he then says, “I just think people should move on already.” He then goes on to say that his formula for paying twice the 2010 losses for final payments could soon be a thing of the past, you know because British Petroleum is “battering him,” presumably for his generosity? So it would seem quite clear the message being sent to people thinking of interim payments is they should reconsider, grab the final payments before he decides to stop being so generous, you know, because BP is telling him to stop.
Oh, and how many interim payments has Feinberg paid to fishers in Louisiana?
Clint Guidry said, when commenting about the interim payments, “Then you got some people who are so frickin’ desperate because they fell through the cracks on interim payments,” he said. “Come May, they couldn’t make any money with the small (brown) shrimp and the bad prices, and they took the $25,000 because they needed to put food on the table for their kids.”
“Fell through the cracks.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, want to know how many people should be allowed to slip through the cracks?
Zero. None. Nobody. Precisely the same amount of people who asked for British Petroleum to spill their oil.
No, the Gulf still ain’t what it should be, Feinberg is still aloof and defensive, and despite the fisher’s financial difficulties, it’s still their fault and certainly not British Petroleum’s. Ken maintains he sees no evidence of people taking one claim over another due to economic hardship, yet Catholic Charities says otherwise and receives $15 million dollars in grant money to continue their work helping the fishers who according to Ken, have been made whole. Meanwhile, the fishers continue to struggle with poor catches and low prices due to low market demand, still suffering from the idea the seafood ain’t safe. And if there aren’t enough grey clouds, Feinberg keeps floating one out there about possible reductions in final claims, which are already too low, because BP is getting mad.
So there you have it, it must be the fishers fault.
Hell, even the GNO Inc’s Regional Economic Alliance says their study indicates fishers have been paid more losses than they’ve suffered…course, that study is based, like Feinberg’s methodology and British Petroleum’s bitching, on future estimates:
“It (the GNO study) does not take into account long term ecological effects, which are still unknown; nor does it take into account the impact on the Louisiana seafood “brand.” Further research is needed to examine the long term ecological impacts of exposure to oil concentrations and dispersant chemicals, as well as the impact on the fishery industry of decreased consumer demand for seafood.”
And estimates are all they have.
The GNO, British Petroleum and Feinberg, certainly when discussing the future, are taking guesses and forcing claimants to gamble. They are not talking hard facts.
Hard facts indicate people are still unemployed and people need help. Hard facts indicate the seafood catch ain’t what it should be and the prices are too low. Hard facts indicate the National Resource Damage Assessment is still a long way from being completed. Hard facts indicate there’s a long way to go, no matter how much Feinberg thinks people should just move on already.
Finally, hard facts indicate that when Ken Feinberg criticizes British Petroleum for raising people’s expectations about the $20 billion dollar claims fund, he would do well to hit a newspaper archive and remember the days when we heard nuggets like this one from CNN Money:
“The new head of the Gulf Coast disaster’s claims fund says his first two priorities will be to cut bigger checks and send them out faster to the oil spill’s economic victims.”
Maybe back then, in June of last year, that was just another estimate?
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.
Congratulations, and thanks much for the continued coverage of the spill and aftermath…
“Times-Picayune reporter David Hammer won a national environmental reporting award Monday for his coverage of the BP oil spill. The Society of Environmental Journalists announced the winners of the 2010-2011 Awards for Reporting on the Environment.
Hammer reported on the risky decisions and lax safety practices that led to the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 and unleashed the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Many of the issues his reporting raised were later discussed in the report from the national commission that investigated the spill.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Ken Feinberg, in an article from yesterday’s Times-Picayune, reports the pace of payments by the GCCF have improved, sped up and are finally hitting their stride. In the article by David Hammer, it is reported the average amount of final payments have increased, as has the percentage of final payments paid, also, the GCCF has processed 95% of the 300,000 claims that were filed before the month of May.
All true…and if these were the only measuring sticks we had, we should all be so impressed.
Unfortunately, there’s more to this story:
Yes, the average of the final payments are up from $16,000 to $20,000 dollars and whereas yes, this is an improvement, is it enough to compensate for all damages past, present and future, making the people whole? I don’t know, how much did you make last year? How much did the people in the Gulf make last year? Was it more than $20,000 dollars, and considering we know some larger companies have received payments as high as ten million dollars, what do these large sums do to the average payment of the average fisherman, average tour guide, average restaurant worker…average anybody, that’s a question I’d like an answer too. How much are the specific payments? Unfortunately, these questions will remain unanswered, because Ken’s promises of greater transparency have never materialized…
Yes, the percentage of final payments continue to rise. He has paid 26% of the final payments that have been filed, course it is fourteen months after the oil began to spill, and many have yet to get back to work while very few are earning what they did before the Deepwater Horizon exploded. It would seem that congratulating Feinberg for the percentage of claims paid rising is akin to congratulating someone for doing what they were hired to do, what they’ve been paid handsomely to do, and in this particular case, ignoring the exceedingly long time it took to get there…and, how much further Ken still has to go…
Yes, the GCCF has processed 95% of the 300,000 claims made. Impressive, except that 40% of those were denials and due to a lack of transparency, we don’t know why and according to many of those denied, they don’t always quite understand why either. Also, a large percentage of those 300,000 claims were of the quick claims variety which stipulated no questions asked, individuals get $5,000 and businesses get $25,000 dollars or in other words, the simplest of claims to process. This means the majority of those claims still waiting to be processed are the most complex and time consuming. Do we congratulate the high school graduate for demonstrating a mastery of addition and subtraction?
So, Feinberg still has three quarters of the claims to pay, continues to pay what would seem a small amount to claimants and has processed the easiest claims first…but he’s hitting his stride…all while financial desperation remains, with thousand upon thousands of claims waiting.
And there’s more…as the article continues:
“Catholic Charities case managers say they haven’t seen too many of the 1,300 fishers who have reportedly taken full-review final settlements from Feinberg. They have, on the other hand, seen thousands who have been denied interim payments on a quarterly basis. Federal law requires Feinberg to pay for ongoing losses without forcing claimants to sign away their rights to sue. But he’s made only 16,000 such payments.
Tom Costanza of Catholic Charities said most of the interim payment offers are minuscule and are attached to final payment offers. Even if those final offers aren’t close to what the claimant requested, the prospect of another quarter without aid is often too much to bear. He said that 70 percent of the claimants who have turned to state-financed technical assistance advisers for help are still waiting for resolution. “I just can’t see how this is moving in the right direction,” Costanza said. The stalemate is most pronounced with subsistence claims, a crucial issue in the Gulf Coast’s fishing-centric Vietnamese communities.”
As has been the case since the GCCF’s methodology was put into place…the quick payments were done ASAP while the final payments were slowly worked on, but seemingly neglected for the most part in all this are the interim payments. The interim payments are the only claim one can file which does not require the claimant to waive their right to sue British Petroleum. As Tom Costanza says above, when miserly interim checks arrive to the claimant, also accompanied by a final offer…can we finally put to rest the idea that Ken and the GCCF aren’t trying to coerce as many as possible into signing away their legal rights? Because yes, it would certainly seem the message being sent to those filing interim claims is as follows: not only will you wait the longest, your checks will be quite small, but take a look at what you could have if you accept the final payment…all you gotta do is sign by the “X”.
Meanwhile, it remains quite obvious that many, many people continue to be upset with the GCCF process…hell, as recently as this past week, people continue to post comments on this blog expressing their dissatisfaction…but of course, Ken has his supporters as well, Mike Voisin, owner of a Motivatit Seafood is mostly pleased with Feinberg and the GCCF, “I think Ken’s gonna make it right,” Voisin said. “We have a responsible party that I believe is acting responsibly in this case. Will people fall through the cracks? Certainly. You have this many claims, it will overwhelm even Ken Feinberg…”
Okay, but what of those people who fall through the cracks? Of the the well over 100,000 people denied outright by the GCCF, how many of those claims might have been legitimate? How many of those were indeed claims that simply fell through the cracks?
Want to know how many should be allowed to so fall?
Yes, this is a very exacting amount, something that will be very difficult to do, but so what? Nobody on the Gulf Coast or beyond asked for the oil spill, therefore nobody should be left behind. Nobody. It isn’t like the escrow money is running out. By Ken’s own estimates, he’s still sitting on almost $16 billion dollars of the $20 billion allotted. Nobody should be left behind, because when someone falls through the cracks, this is what it looks like:
“The chief engineer aboard a supply boat that was near the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded, and whose company quickly began working for BP in the cleanup, claims he was pushed into accepting a settlement for debilitating oil spill-related illness before the extent of his injuries was known.
Clayton Matherne says he accepted a $21,000 settlement from Guilbeau Marine without realizing that in doing so he was giving up his rights to get anything from BP. He says his medical bills have come to $700,000 and he still is dangerously ill, “The president of the United States and the federal government of the United States promised to protect us, but since the oil spill in 2010, they’ve chosen to turn a blind eye,” Clayton Matherne told Courthouse News in a telephone interview.
At an oil spill summit at the Hilton in New Orleans on anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees BP’s $20 billion claims process at the Gulf Coast Claims Facility abruptly ended a public meeting shortly after Matherne asked him how it was that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had managed to lose all of Matherne’s medical records seven times. “The GCCF says they don’t have enough documentation to pay a $100,000 claim, when in fact this amount is only half – I’ve faxed my medical records seven times,” Matherne told Feinberg at the meeting. “Where are medical claims going?”
“We will honor all claims,” Feinberg said, then asked: “Was there evidence the medical condition was on account of oil?” Feinberg told Louisiana lawmakers this month that the GCCF had not seen a single claim for oil-related illnesses on the Gulf Coast. “Did Feinberg follow up? No!” Matherne said in the interview. Neither did Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.”
Nobody should be left behind…
Feinberg should stay at it for as long as it takes…
And so the Gulf Coast can be sure anyone entitled a payment receives a payment, Feinberg should finally open his books, once and for all…without greater transparency, the Gulf Coast will never really know what is happening here.
Taking Ken’s word for it, as I’ve written before, is as much a thing of the past as Bobby Jindal’s sand berms.
Feinberg is the man who said he was neutral until Judge Barbier said he wasn’t. Feinberg is the man who said there were no health claims, and then quotes popped up where he discussed the health claims he’d received, and denied. This is also the man who told many claimants at town hall meetings he would follow-up with them personally, then never did. Finally, he’s the man who said he was coming to the rescue of the Gulf Coast, only to make too many, far too many, feel they needed rescue from his Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
So ultimately, yes…Ken Feinberg can “say” whatever he wants…that he is hitting his stride, but what he is actually “doing” still leaves much to be desired.
Have a nice day.
Ken Feinberg has been getting a lot of flack from people in the Gulf Coast regarding his claims process. The accusations are flying a mile a minute, some of them coming from various members of Congress, the Justice Department and the Attorneys General of Alabama and Mississippi. Apparently having had enough of this, Feinberg wrote an editorial in last Sunday’s Press Register, where he took to task his critics and specifically the various Alabama politicians, and their claims regarding his handling of the claims process…
“Both public officials have every right to their opinions but no right to distort the facts…”
Whereupon Ken begins to do precisely that.
Shall we review?
He reports the GCCF has distributed some $4 billion dollars to 200,000 individuals and businesses in the Gulf region.
He doesn’t report $16 billion dollars is remaining in the fund, nor that he has estimated he will be giving half of it back to British Petroleum when this is all said and done. He doesn’t mention getting to this point has taken over eight months…while needy families and business wait, struggling, nor does he mention that a District Court Judge has ruled he is not independent of British Petroleum, but is more of a “hybrid” entity, thus making all of his claims handling suspect…or, would you be inclined, after a doctor hits you with his car, to have that same doctor do your medical evaluation and determine if you were healthy or needed compensation and if so, how much you should get?
He reports the GCCF has not been “tight-fisted” when it comes to paying claims and cites as proof the fact that 660 people have appealed his offers to the Coast Guard who has agreed with the GCCF’s decision every time.
He doesn’t report that he wrote the rules, or methodology to determine payment of these claims, which bases the payment scheme on the Gulf being back to normal by 2013, despite the fact that Prince William Sound still isn’t back to normal as a result of the much smaller Exxon Valdez spill, even 20 years later. He doesn’t report that of the 3000 comments received during the public comment period regarding this methodology, about ten thought the methodology was good, made sense, was fair…and who knows how many of those ten were written by executives of British Petroleum. He also doesn’t report that in those appeals to the Coast Guard, they are all for claim offers under $250,000 dollars, which means the people doing the appealing maybe aren’t the most wealthy of the people involved in this process who again, are fighting against the stacked deck that is the GCCF methodology.
He continues to report the many individuals who have taken quick payments did not do so under coercion, but because they have decided the already received an adequate EAP payment or cannot document anymore damage from the spill, citing as proof there has been no groundswell of complaint from the people who have taken said payments heard by the GCCF.
He doesn’t report that, again, these people have been waiting since last August when he took over and really needed the money. Now agreed, some people go for the quick pay because they have no way to document more damage, but I would argue more people have taken the quick pay out of financial desperation, trying to pay rent one more month or clear some bills because the GCCF process is taking so damned long…intentionally? Depends on who you ask. As far as a groundswell of complaint about the quick payments…apparently Feinberg never read the public comments on his methodology because the complaints are there. He must also never read the Times Picayune, the Press Register, the New York Times or any of the comments sections on ProPublica, or this and many other blogs.
Ken, if you go out of your way to ignore the groundswell and it would appear you have, you ain’t gonna find it…
And Ken also reports on the charge of GCCF delays in making payments by saying his critics fail to mention that more than 80 percent of the 283,000 claims filed for final, interim and quick payments — including 35,753 from Alabama — have already been processed.
Processed, yes, but beyond the quick payments…
Not many at all.
Ken reports the $20 billion fund would be exhausted in a week if the GCCF paid claimants with no documentation solely because the claimant asked the GCCF: “Trust me.”
What Ken doesn’t report is due to the lack of transparency regarding these claims, “Trust me,” is precisely what Ken is asking the Gulf Coast to do, while he is being paid by British Petroleum.
Finally, Ken decides to kiss a little ass: “I join Congressman Bonner in wholeheartedly praising “Alabama’s sugar-white sandy beaches” and “world-famous seafood.”
Whereupon he decides to quickly concede the standard: “…the GCCF must be more transparent and consistent in rendering its decisions. The GCCF has been far from perfect — the inevitable result of receiving almost 1 million claims from all 50 states in less than one year of operation!”
What Ken doesn’t report while kissing a little ass is that he has been promising transparency for months to every elected official he can find, but doing very little about it. He has also promised to be more consistent for months, and isn’t, and like always, he stresses how big this job has been, huge, enormous…I mean holy shit! Who could have ever foreseen how absolutely gigantic this would be?
Which is a nice, attempted distraction from a more accurate representation:
Hey, I kind of screwed up a lot of people on this one because I didn’t accurately gauge the size of the project I decided to undertake, and rather than admit my lack of foresight, preparedness, and the fallacy of all those promises I made early on to the people of the Gulf Coast, you remember…about how fast and generous I was going to be, well I’ve just decided to keep throwing claim statistics at you while I duck out the side door, just in time for British Petroleum to give me a raise.
Now, let’s take a look at the current statistics from the GCCF website:
Total Quick Payments:
113,763 total quick pay claims filed. 109,955 claims paid. Percentage of claim paid: 96%
Total Interim Payments:
75,471 total interim claims filed. 9,112 interim claims paid. Percentage of claims paid: 12%
Total Final Claims:
105,709 total final claims filed. 21,261 final claims paid or indicated they would accept. Percentage of claims paid: 20%
So what can a reasonable person deduce from these numbers?
1. Of all the claims filed, the percentage of interim claims paid is lowest. Seeing as how the interim claims are the only claims one can accept while retaining the right to sue British Petroleum, Feinberg’s employer, this can lead a reasonable person to believe that perhaps these claims are being stalled. After all it is in British Petroleum’s interest to have those rights waived, and to get claimants into one of the categories where they don;t have to continue to pay out money.
2. Of all the claims filed, the percentage of quick pay claims paid is far, far higher than the other two types. This could certainly be because they are the easiest claims to audit, because there is no further documentation needed (although in the fine print could be a call from Guidepost Solutions, the investigative arm of the GCCF, checking you out for fraud despite the fact these claims were supposed to be paid out with no questions asked for people who previously received EAP’s). Nonetheless, at $5,000 dollars for individuals and $25,000 dollars for businesses, these claims are also the cheapest to resolve, and with a signature on a waiver, releasing your right to sue British Petroleum, resolving these claims is by far in the best interest of British Petroleum and therefore, the GCCF and Ken Feinberg.
3. When it comes to the final claims, which also requires one to waive the right to sue British Petroleum, the GCCF website states that of the 105,709 final claims filed, the GCCF has reviewed 84,767 of them, already paid 17,000 and have made offers on an additional 15,000, of which 4,000 have indicated they would accept. If only 21.000 have accepted a final payment out of over a hundred thousand claims filed, these are also moving extraordinarily slow and if they are so generous, what is the hold up for the 11,000 claimants who have received final offers and not as yet accepted?
4. It is this writer’s opinion that claimants are being stalled into filing quick payments as they are the only ones being paid with any sense of urgency. As people grow increasingly desperate, financially in the Gulf, the quick payment becomes increasingly attractive, like buying the rent-a-wreck because its your only way to work, and your running late. In the end, these payments have a far higher chance of leaving a claimant financially screwed.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the statistics from the GCCF website regarding the amounts of the claims paid out.
Everybody knows the quick payment, which is $5,000 dollars for individuals and $25,000 dollars for businesses. The interim payments made average out to $6700 dollars for an individual and $28,000 for businesses. The final payments accepted average out to $9200 dollars for individuals and $55,000 for businesses.
Keeping in mind that for the vast majority of these claims, this is meant to cover all damages from the spill in their entirety.
A year after the oil spilled, some industries are beginning their recovery, yet there is a deep skepticism on the safety of the seafood across the country and many, many people remain out of work or have been forced to leave the Gulf Coast to look for work elsewhere…all the while there are increasing sicknesses occurring that many are blaming on the toxicity of the oil and dispersants. The health of the Gulf is still very much in doubt, as is the sustainability of the sea life living there.
So, in a nutshell, what Feinberg calls generous…I call getting screwed. It would appear to me the only person British Petroleum is being generous to in the Gulf Coast is Ken Feinberg.
Nonetheless, Feinberg writes:
At the end of the day, neither Jo Bonner, Luther Strange nor Kenneth Feinberg will determine the ultimate “legacy” of the GCCF. That is a decision that will be made by the citizens of Alabama and those residing throughout the Gulf.
Ken can write whatever he likes in his editorial, glossing over certain facts and figures available on his website, but It would appear to me BP and Ken Feinberg are doing their best to write this legacy.
And from what I can tell, that legacy is awful.
Have a nice day.
From the St. Petersburg Times:
“Lenny Stamos, owner of Beach Cyclists in St. Pete Beach, said he sent in five years of sales tax returns to document his $34,000 loss for last summer. The agency turned down his emergency claim for insufficient documentation, he said. He’s represented by a lawyer.
“My wife and I borrowed $30,000 on our credit cards to keep the business going,” Stamos said.
A claims agent told him he didn’t see any emergency if they had money to borrow, he said.”
And at a news conference on Monday, Ken Feinberg bristled as to why his office has approved $3.8 billion dollars from the $20 billion dollar fund while rejecting thousands of claims…
Keep bristling, Ken…
At least until you answer some basic questions, such as – when will you finally open the books so people can find out what is going on with the GCCF…or, why is it when reporter after reporter continues to find people the GCCF has done wrong, you shrug it away, saying:
The GCCF isn’t perfect…
Yes, we’ve made mistakes…
We’re handling a lot of claims…
Hey Ken, we know this already, and these answers aren’t sufficient.
If you can’t figure out why these mistakes are being made, why people are being left behind…open the books and give somebody else a try…because your lack of payments are hurting people, hurting them badly. As long as there is a dollar left in that escrow account, the money should keep going out - one person losing a business, losing a house, or one family who’s had to break things up for awhile, is simply one too many.
It certainly doesn’t make things right, no…not at all.
Read the article:
And in case you missed it, a good overview of the GCCF, from it’s beginning to the present:
Have a nice day.
It would appear a pattern is developing in this great land of ours. Simply put, we begin with a tragedy, then we have an investigation which discovers the governmental agencies designed to prevent such tragedies either fell down on the job or didn’t care, and even worse, the fail-safe for the agency that didn’t do their job is woefully unprepared to handle the mess created. Next, we get public and government anger, utter outrage about the aforementioned tragedy and congress types propose bills, make promises and issue guarantees that a tragedy like this will never happen again, and damnit, we mean it…never.
At least until next time.
What? What happened to the guarantees, the promises and the bills?
That was so last week man, have you talked to my lobbyist?
In a recent report, it was discovered (surprise) that the US Coast Guard was not prepared for a large deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unified response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was continually troubled by this lack of planning. Government and private sectors “demonstrated a serious deficiency… (in) preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.” The panel also found many of the Coast Guard staff members interviewed “acknowledged that they were unfamiliar” with the plans to combat such a spill, “even though they held prominent positions” in the command structure for the response. Much of this is blamed on the changes to the Coast Guard, post 9-11. As their responsibilities were diversified, the oil spill response plan atrophied which resulted in problems with coordination and communication. From the report: “While the response plan by BP, the well’s operator, was criticized as unrealistic in the report, the government’s plans were also found to be inadequate and incomplete.”
Okay, given…anyone paying attention to events last summer could have figured out that both BP, the Coast Guard and state officials were caught with their pants down on this one, but…what happens now? New drilling permits are being issued, ten in fact (no matter what Vitter says).
“Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard was reviewing the recommendations and had already begun making improvements. (The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to help bolster the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to major spills, a department official said.)”
Perhaps a complete change might be more in order? One suggestion might be to immediately discuss and begin planning how to keep politics and corporate self-interest out of the equation.
If not, one might someday read an oil spill version of the soon to be even more tragic story about developments occurring since the Massey Mine disaster, which also happened last April and killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.
If you don’t recall, there was outrage by Congress and the public that federal regulators didn’t have the power to close dozens of mines that had racked up thousands of safety and health violations (sound familiar?). At the time, both parties in Congress vowed swift action. They promised from their pulpits to fix this so no family will ever have to go through this kind of tragedy again.
A bill was proposed. It would have made it easier to shut down problem mines. It would have increased penalties for serious safety violations and offered greater protection for whistleblowers, and it took eight months for the bill to even reach the floor of Congress where two weeks ago, this bill was killed off, voted down by every single Republican and 27 Democrats.
In 2010, 48 coal miners died, the most since 55 were killed in 1992.
As retired miner, Fred Burgess said, whose stepson Ronald Mayor died in the Upper Big Branch explosion, “The miners should have a safer workplace, but the mine companies throw a lot of money around, they have lobbyists all over the place.”
Indeed, and to add insult to injury, it would appear lots of those lobbyists have been speaking to Rand Paul, who recently said in response to the MSHA’s (Mine Safety and Health Administration) new proposals which would reduce by half the amount of coal dust miner’s breathe, coal dust being the primary cause of black lung, “”Every regulation doesn’t save lives…There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled.”
Or in other words, “What he’s suggesting is to keep the cost of coal down we would jeopardize the health of coal miners,” said Stephen Sanders, director of the Appalachians Citizens’ Law Center.
Oh, and speaking of guarantees and promises, anybody remember a certain town called New Orleans and this little catastrophic failure they had a few years back, you know, where over a thousand people died when the levees broke, in several places?
Yeah, remember all those promises made back in 2005, to guarantee that would never happen again?
Well, it would appear those promises were equally hollow. The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for building and fixing the failed levees, well…they’re working on it…going on six years later. Which isn’t to say improvements haven’t been made. They have, but do those improvements match all those guarantees and promises President and Congress types threw around during the flood’s aftermath?
Anybody want to by the Crescent City Connection?
Really, I’m selling…
But, back to the Coast Guard and their report. Whereas it’s great they are working on “improvements” to their response, it might be nice to see exactly what they are working on, how they intend to coordinate federal, state and local officials, how they intend to keep financial self-interest and politics out, how their own staff will be trained on any new plans that are so coordinated to ensure each administrative and governmental level is on board, you know, so we don;t wind up with useless sand berms.
It would seem if oil companies have a right to drill out there in the Gulf, and they are…Gulf Coast residents have a right to know what will be done, and a guarantee that it will be done to respond to another spill…even after the anniversary news coverage comes and goes.
After all, coal miners still haven’t gotten protection from cost cutting mine owners.
New Orleans still hasn’t received the levees promised by Congress and the Corp of Engineers.
And now, Gulf Coast residents are waiting to see if that pattern continues or breaks, and they’d probably like to know which, before the next big spill.
Hell, I would…because if there is one thing I’d…uh…oh damn…
From the Times Picayune:
“A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy…”
Have a nice day.