Two interesting articles about the operations from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in the Times Picayune yesterday, discussing some of the problems many of the fishermen have been having in their attempts to receive compensations from the fund, and some of Feinberg’s responses to these problems.
On the plight of Elmer Rogers, a shrimper who has been waiting for compensation since August: “If someone’s been waiting since Aug. 24, there’s something missing here,” said Feinberg, who declined to share any details on a specific individual’s claim. “All I can say is there’s a very, very good reason for it.”
Whatever that reason is, it hasn’t been explained to Rogers. He has been repeatedly promised answers from Feinberg’s assistant, Amy Weiss, and when he called the GCCF with a reporter present last week, he was told that he had a “legit claim” with adequate documentation, but was given no further explanation. On Monday, staff at the Lafitte claims office were shocked to find out Rogers hadn’t been paid. They told him that their computers showed he should have been paid $46,000 on Sept. 13, the same day he met Feinberg.
He can’t afford his bills and his lights and water were cut off on Monday, he said.
Jason Nunez, a Shell Beach oysterman and fishing charter boat captain whose claim sat in limbo for more than two months, had his attorney, Kevin Goldberg, check on his claim constantly. He made sure Nunez had sufficient documentation of his income: three years of tax forms, proof of losses, fishing licenses.
Claims workers assured Goldberg that all was in order. Then, last week, Nunez’s claim was mysteriously denied. The reason given for the denial was as cryptic as those offered to explain all the delays. A GCCF supervisor told Goldberg that Nunez had documented his fishing from April to June, but not from June to October. The reason for that should have been obvious, Goldberg said. “I said, ‘He can’t show earnings from June to October because he didn’t have any (during the spill). That’s the point.'”
Nunez’s only recourse is to start all over again with an interim claim or final claim.
“Despite multiple promises to do so, GCCF still refuses to release the formula used to calculate payments,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, who represents most of southeast Louisiana’s coastal fishing communities. “People along the Gulf Coast who have been affected by the BP disaster deserve transparency with the claims process, especially considering that we continue to receive complaints about claims that were underpaid or denied with no reason given.”
From a column by Jason Berry about subsistence claims…
Feinberg has said repeatedly that he is eager to give away the money and that he isn’t going to make applicants leap through all sorts of hoops if he is reasonably certain that they’re honest about their losses. However, the Vietnamese fishers making a Subsistence Use of Natural Resources claim have been frustrated by Feinberg’s demand that they provide documentation of the trading they did before the spill.
Documentation? What kind of documents are there going to be to show that so-and-so caught and consumed so many pounds of crab? And if, as some of the fishers claim, their bartering was a system that helped them “live in harmony” with one another, keeping detailed records would seem to be counterproductive. Oh, you only give me 200 lbs of crabs for my daughter’s wedding when I gave you 300 for yours?
As of last week 16,858 applicants had made a loss of subsistence claim with Feinberg’s office. One of them had been successful. Those are worse than Road Home numbers!
“A claimaint needs to show documentation on their heritage, their history, their having lived off the land,” Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman for Feinberg wrote in an e-mail message last week. “The (Gulf Coast Claims Facility) will then work with the claimants to personally tailor the claim.”
Phuong Nguyen, Thien Nguyen and Ve Nguyen thought they’d done just that. The Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation calculated local retail prices for seafood and multiplied it by the amount the three applicants testified that they’d brought into the community. Phuong Nguyen received a denial letter two weeks ago. His claim was said to lack supporting documentation
Finally, back to Elmer Rogers…
“Feinberg’s failing. Just admit it, Mr. Feinberg!” Rogers bellowed. “His motivation at first was to do the right thing, but now he sees it’s too much for him, and (the motivation) is to run and hide. Well, he’s leaving a trail of disaster, hurt and pain.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.