Sen. Mary Landrieu conducted a recent roundtable discussion, the purpose of which was to get to the bottom of what is going on with the claims process for small business…and something strange happened.
Feinberg found a friend.
And that new friend is none other than Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board Chairman Harlon Pearce.
Though Pearce criticized Feinberg for not giving fishers enough priority in the claims process, asked Feinberg to give more thought to how public perception about Gulf seafood would impact the speed of which the industry can recover, and asked for more consistency in the offers made to different businesses with similar claims…Pearce also praised Feinberg for recent changes to the process and the hiring of local lawyers, finishing up by saying, “We’re getting there.”
Such a rare compliment must have had Feinberg simply glowing, and he responded, “My problem is with communication to claimants, transparency and a perceived absence of consistency – not generosity.”
And with Feinberg I would agree, your communication sucks and yes, so too does the GCCF’s transparency. As far as a perceived absence of consistency? Well, if the transparency weren’t so horrible, it might not only better your ability to communicate, but you might be able to do something about what you call “perceived” inconsistencies.
But, admitting you have a problem is the first step.
As far as generous?
I don’t know what articles you read Ken, but just about the only companies I’m aware of that consider you too generous is British Petroleum and Omega Protein.
Anyway, back to Mr. Pearce…
Another person present at the meeting Sandy Nguyen, who works with claimants on behalf of the Small Business Development Center, also had issues with transparency, namely that how settlement offers are calculated still is not clear to those she works with. She went on to say that frustration is driving some claimants to give up…and take the quick payment. Why? The slow crawl of the process is leading people into further financial ruin.
“We’re not sophisticated enough to understand the protocols,” Ms. Nguyen said. “I’ve begged some of these people not to (take the quick payments), but we’re seasonal, so you knock us out one season and we’re struggling.”
This idea of the GCCF stalling people into quick payments was recently echoed by Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater during a newspaper interview when he said if the GCCF were an insurance company, he would audit the company’s books and probably shut them down, “There’s no pattern of effort to suggest to me that this is anything other than one more tactic to stall individuals or small business owners from getting the compensation they need to be made whole, with the intention of dragging this out and having individuals ultimately accept the lowest possible final claim out of desperation.”
Feinberg, for some unknown reason, still doesn’t believe this could possibly be the case, just as Feinberg appears to believe he has no problems with the generosity of claims offers.
And this time, Feinberg had an ally…
Harlon Pearce, who urged fishers to stop playing the victim card, and added, “You’re not going to like what I have to say. There are two kinds of fishermen: ones who want to sell a story and ones who want to sell the seafood. We need to all pull this thing together.”
Agreed, pull this thing together…
But it would seem to me that when the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board Chairman states that fishers are playing victim cards and suggesting the ones who won’t just move on are trying to sell stories as opposed to trying to get their lives back…what might happen is fishers will not come together at all, but be divided over such comments.
Especially when only 10% of final claims have been paid.
Especially when fewer interim claims than even 10% have been paid.
Especially when oil is still being found in the Gulf.
Especially when nobody can tell anyone how long it will be before the damage ends.
In response to Pearce’s surprising comments to Ms. Nguyen, Feinberg smiled, yet again, “Did you hear what he said to her? He’s right.”
Of course he is Ken, of course he is…
The world you live in must be a beautiful and astonishing place, perhaps a lot like the Gulf of Mexico before British Petroleum fucked the whole thing up…and also before you found a way to make it worse.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.