Since every team in the division lost, can we just pretend the season starts today? A destruction of the Chicago Bears would sure be a nice place to start…because as I wander around the windy city on my day off tomorrow, it would be a beautiful thing to wear some Saints gear and laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh again kinda steely-eyed creepy…you know, cause its fun and increased anger in Bears fans quickly ruptures already strained arteries.
And on a completely unrelated note, have I ever told of my absolute hatred for that pinhead NCAA Football announcer, Brent Musburger? Oh yeah, they invented the head-on collision for jackasses like that, but I suppose I’ll save that tale for another time.
Jim Hood continues to do battle with Ken Feinberg, administrator of the GCCF claims fund.
At issue right now is jurisdiction of a lawsuit filed by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood against the GCCF, where the Attorney General is asking Ken to comply with a subpoena and allow Hood to look behind the GCCF’s magic curtain to find out how these claims are being processed.
In response, Ken Feinberg filed a motion to remove the lawsuit to Federal Court, saying jurisdiction can and should be changed because this is a civil matter and the Deepwater Horizon exploded on the Outer Continental Shelf, but this past week, Jim Hood filed a motion to keep the lawsuit inside the Mississippi Court system. Hood argues his lawsuit came not as a civil matter, but as an attempt to enforce a subpoena that Feinberg had ignored, and since it is not a civil matter, its jurisdiction cannot be moved: “The state of Mississippi has not filed a substantive complaint stating a cause of action and requesting relief; therefore, it has not initiated a civil action in this matter,” Hood’s motion says, “The attorney general is engaged in a strictly pre-litigation investigation of the activities of the GCCF and Mr. Feinberg pursuant to the attorney general’s duty under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act.”
Beyond this, it can be argued the GCCF is meant to compensate people damaged by the oil as it approached and reached Mississippi shores and fishing waters, which is quite the distance from the Outer Continental Shelf. Also, the GCCF operations Hood is asking to take a look at are operating within the state of Mississippi, not out in the Gulf.
It could also be argued Feinberg’s motion is simply an attempt to get this case to a kinder, more gentle court, one not so directly linked to Mississippians.
Of course Ken would deny this, just as he would deny he’s trying to stall this case out, much in the way he would deny he’s been stalling most things GCCF related for the past year, perhaps in this case hoping to have US Attorney General Eric Holder’s audit deflate Hood’s support or lay the groundwork to preempt his suit or give cause for Feinberg to criticize Hood for wasting Mississippi’s time and resources when that Federal audit is already in the planning stages.
Key word being : Federal.
Not the states, not Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida, but Federal, where people have always been kinder to career bureaucrats and politicians masquerading as lawyers.
And ultimately, what are we really talking about here, still?
The Gulf Coast deserves it and Feinberg is trying to control it, keeping people from looking too closely at what the GCCF is doing. If everything’s so on the up and up as Feinberg has maintained, what is the problem here? Certainly not the confidentiality of records. The claimants involved in Hood’s action have already given permission for Hood to look at their records. Feinberg’s games need to end, because the claimants caught within his legal maneuvering need justice, fairness and the assurance they have been screwed only once, by British Petroleum, and not twice, by British Petroleum and Ken Feinberg.
When Tropical Storm Lee created a storm surge over Labor Day weekend, the surf brought in a new array of tar balls to some Gulf Coast Beaches. The Alabama communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, still cleaning up this new oil from the Macondo Well, have requested British Petroleum bring in more beach cleaning machinery to ensure the clean-up is done right.
British Petroleum refused.
Instead, BP will increase the hours of the cleanup workers. BP spokesperson, Ray Melick, said crews would get rid of the oil on the beaches.
Which brings us to the metaphor for the entire cleanup process, actually for the entire “making people whole” line of bullshit BP has been spreading for almost a year and a half now.
Philip West, a city coastal resources manager for Orange Beach had this to say about BP’s plan: “A lot of times after storms, you clean the surface of the sand,” West said. “You pick up what you can see, run a beach cleaner through it. But in some areas — and there are various reasons for it — there could be some buried debris, so you have to run plows. You have to be very thorough and we just don’t think a SCAT guy with a shovel probe punching a few holes is that kind of thorough that we would need.”
BP, cleaning the surface of the sand…while leaving what can’t be seen where it is…just like Corexit dispersant sank the oil to the seafloor, out of sight, just like they’re quick to attack the surface of any problem in the Gulf, while leaving the cause buried deep below.
Clean enough, whole enough, cheap enough…but none of it right enough to fix the mess they created by not being safe enough.
Thanks British Petroleum, you’re the virus that keeps on infecting.
Yep, working the Adult Crisis lines tonight all by my lonesome, waiting for the phone to ring in an office building I’ve known off and on for twenty years, and thinking about being elsewhere…just missing a late night walk up Polk Street to California, take a right and climb up and over Nob Hill to Kearney, then take a left and run it straight up to Vesuvio’s across Kerouac Alley from City Lights Books…
Grabbing a beer and reading whatever book I have with me in the moment… or sitting back and watching the people moving in and out of the Italian restaurants, the Condor, Tosca’s, the strip club across the way…all that never-ending traffic at the corner of Columbus and Broadway and everybody shares the sidewalks: from the homeless to the tourists, the jack-ass fratboys to the Beat-writer wannabe’s, the night-time socialites to the forever San Franciscans thinking about the way the city used to be, the way it is now and comparing notes with those so newly arrived. Vesuvio’s, easily one of my favorites spots in the city, a place I used to frequent quite a bit, all times of the morning, day, and night, whenever the mood struck, and usually with jazz on the jukebox…
“BP petrophysicist Galina Skripnikova in a closed-door deposition two months ago told attorneys involved in the oil spill litigation that there appeared to be a zone of gas more than 300 feet above where BP told its contractors and regulators with the then-Minerals Management Service the shallowest zone was located. The depth of the oil and gas is a critical parameter in drilling because it determines how much cement a company needs to pump to adequately seal a well. Federal regulations require the top of the cement to be 500 feet above the shallowest zone holding hydrocarbons, meaning BP’s cement job was potentially well below where it should have been.”
Or maybe it was due to the report released yesterday by the Joint Investigative Team of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the US Coast Guard which states:
“BP’s failure to fully assess the risks associated with a number of operational decisions leading up to the blowout was a contributing cause of the Macondo blowout,” and “BP’s cost- or time-saving decisions without considering contingencies and mitigation were contributing causes of the Macondo blowout.” The report notes that “at the time of the blowout, operations at Macondo were significantly behind schedule” and more than $58 million over budget.”
In any case…what concerns this writer most is whether or not British Petroleum’s actions will fall into the categories of “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct.” Simply put, the basic fine under the Clean Water Act is $1100 dollars per barrel spilled, but if the company doing the spilling is found to be “grossly negligent” that fine jumps to $4300 dollars per barrel and at a government estimate of 4.9 billion barrels, that’s a big difference in price.
And considering the joint report, it would certainly appear what many have suspected all along, British Petroleum, in a rush for profits, put at risk the safety of its own workers, the entire environment of the Gulf and all those who live along it and beyond.
“The report concluded that BP, as the well’s owner, was ultimately responsible for the accident.”
BP was ultimately responsible, that’s pretty damning, especially when one considers one of the best ways to dispute a claim of gross negligence is to spread the blame around as much as possible…which is why it is of little surprise British Petroleum’s response to the report is the following:
“BP agrees with the report’s core conclusion — consistent with every other official investigation — that the Deepwater Horizon accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties, including Transocean and Halliburton,” the company said. It added that it had taken steps to improve its safety practices and strengthen oversight of its contractors.”
Improving its safety practices…
Because Prudhoe Bay and Texas City weren’t enough of an indication something was very wrong…nope, needed the Deepwater Horizon for them to finally get it, or say they got it, again…
Make them pay.
They’re still picking up tar balls on Gulf Coast beaches, what…17 months later?
So, I keep reading these bits about Madonna, about her freaking out because some fan gave her hydrangeas, as in flowers, and it turns out she hates hydrangeas so she trashed the flowers in front of the fan, and not content to humiliate the person once, she then made a spoof video where she trashed the flowers again so the moment could live on in internet history.
Maybe the whole thing was a big gag, maybe not. In any case, soon thereafter at the Toronto Film Festival, apparently some sort of tradition exists where orange-clad volunteers get a big thank you at the end of the show and word is, when Madonna presented the film she directed, these volunteers were ordered to turn their backs and not look her in the eye. Again, maybe it was all a big joke but if not, then the joke would apparently be…well I suppose the joke would be Madonna.
So, why might I write about something like this?
I often write about equality, tolerance, about simple care for other people. I loathe any type of caste separation, which is becoming more and more prevalent in the world and in this country. Sure, nothing politically or culturally official in America, at least not yet…but when politicians refer to welfare recipients as raccoons, or right winged commentators say the poor shouldn’t be allowed to vote and when Tea Party assholes cheer, suggesting an uninsured patient should be allowed to die, what are we supposed to think about what this future might bring to the United States?
Anyways…yeah, Madonna’s a good business person, but artistically she’s a con artist and a hack and not worth this country’s spit, while these political commentators, politicians and tea party types, they deserve nothing more than the back of this country’s hand, hard, painful and ugly…and repeatedly while we read them the Bill of Rights and discuss how we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and weakest ain’t necessarily about how much money you got.
It might have something to do with your character, and those idiots previously mentioned? Oh, they got a lot of self-righteousness, ego and money, but character?
No, not so much. Not that I’m all that much better, but at least I’m honest about it… Oh, and when we’re done explaining how people of a lower tax bracket don’t need to be made to feel like 2nd class citizens in this oh so great land of equality, we’ll take some time to stuff your mouths full of hydrangeas, lots of hydrangeas, a ton of hydrangeas…and not one single solitary slice of cake.
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?
Ten years ago on September 11th, I was in a place not unlike many Americans, essentially surrounded by Europeans in a Las Vegas youth hostel trying desperately to sleep off a hangover…but that morning I heard people chattering, something about burning buildings, plane crashes and how it all looked like a movie, and through my bleary-eyed state, at first I thought they were describing a movie, until it became clear they were discussing something else entirely. Don’t remember what detail finally sank in, but I do remember jerking up from the bunk, hurriedly getting dressed and heading down to the social room where the one television in the place blared on, surrounded by a bunch of people staring at it, slack-jawed and disbelieving.
I stared too, for quite some time…
Then I did what most people did, I called my family and spoke to friends, to make sure everybody was okay, to touch base with something real, logical, something safer I could understand, and also to see if it would be best for me to continue my travels at the time or go home to be with family as soon as I could get there. Well, my mother and I decided I should stay put, in Las Vegas, and later that night I headed back to the Strip to see what, if anything the terrorist attacks might have changed on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Not much, actually.
People still gambled, maybe the tones were a bit more subdued, worry was a bit more pronounced, exhibited by glances at the news on all those casino monitors where previously, gambling instructions had played in an endless loop. People were drinking, there was more security in the casinos…oh, and there were a hell of a lot more flags. Flags everywhere, waving from every Jumbotron on the strip…you couldn’t turn without seeing a flag.
And now here we are, ten years later.
And those flags are still waving.
And 9-11 has become just as inescapable: movies, news programs, documentaries, divided histories, tributes, posters, commemorative coins, stamps, coffee mugs, shot glasses, silver spoons, posters, videos and t-shirts. 9-11 is an industry and yeah, I kinda have a problem with that, same as I have a problem with every politician who gives the overly patriotic speech, or demonizes his political adversary in the name of 9-11, using it to forward an agenda or to demonize a religion so to boost his or her own bullshit credentials. It’s a cheap shorthand for jingoistic intolerance and then that same politician will often use 9-11 as a campaign weapon, invoking it as proof of thier own red, white and blue beating heart, the purest example, further symbolized by a far-too-easy flag lapel pin: yeah, the people involved in these displays are parasites…parasites exploiting the dead, exploiting fear, exploiting a national and world tragedy, all for their own material and political gain.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t commemorative ceremonies meant to respectfully honor those who died that day, sincere words from sincere people without hidden agenda, who put country and healing first: these ceremonies do exist, and rightfully so, and I applaud them.
Personally, I won’t watch them but I applaud them nonetheless.
But then there is talk radio, there is political grandstanding, agenda setting and bullshit politicians who put on the flag like a superhero’s cape and go out of their way to prove their genitalia is way more patriotic than the other guy’s…and these types, these parasites expect you won’t know the difference between the shallow and the deep.
They’re worse than parasites.
They are worms, feeding on the parasites.
So what’s the best way to honor 9-11?
Up to you, your choice of course…we do still have some freedoms left round here, but for me, it’s maybe a moment of quiet contemplation, a few minutes of silence for those who died and reflection about what exactly’s changed since that day, and how I feel about those changes.
And for me, I’ll keep the television and radio off.
I’ll keep at arm’s length everything the media wants to sell me both during their 9-11 programming and the commercials in between, and then I’ll do what I did on that day ten years ago…I’ll contact some friends and family, make sure the people I care about are doing okay.
Just the way I do things I guess, kind of low-key, quieter…
Oh, and thankfully my memory is good enough I don’t need to pass a resolution to never forget something as unforgettable as the morning thousands of people died in a terrorist attack on American soil. Members of the House of Representatives apparently are not as fortunate in this respect…either that, or their memory is just fine and their resolution was only that much more political grandstanding.
In a column for KeysNet.com, a CPA relays his experiences with the GCCF, and what you will find is a professional organization working with the highest of ethics, a strong sense of mission and unimpeachable fairness, consistency and compassion for the aggrieved Gulf Coast.
Oh wait, Feinberg didn’t write this column.
This one was written by Larry Kendzior and what he tells of is frustration with an arbitrary system, one filled with error, false promise and unsatisfied claimants headed to court while Feinberg goes to the bank.
“When the emergency advance payment program ended in November 2010, however, my experience is that the purse strings got significantly tighter. Not only were documentation standards much higher, but the amount of payments has fallen steadily since.”
“Several of my clients have documented claims in excess of $100,000. A few have been paid; most have been denied, or the GCCF has offered to settle for a nominal sum. Based upon recent experience and reading of correspondence from the GCCF or Ken Feinberg, the person appointed by BP to manage the $20 billion settlement fund, it appears that BP is only paying claims that would be valid under the Oil Pollution Act and are fully documented beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
“Don’t be lulled into thinking that you’ll get a check just because GCCF representatives at local claims offices have prepared or reviewed your claim. Many claims handled this way have been denied after review by the central facility in Ohio.”
This is the system Feinberg feels “vindicated” about, and has worked largely as it was intended too…and that may very well be, but I doubt the people of the Gulf Coast felt when Ken Feinberg signed on, the goal of the GCCF was for them to be paid, maybe? Kind-of? We’ll see?
The aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee continues to demonstrate to people like the Coast Guard, British Petroleum, Ken Feinberg and various members of the Obama administration just what happened to all the missing oil…apparently it’s still below the surface of the water, waiting for the opportunities presented by hurricanes and tropical storms to come up on the beach and say, “Hey guys!”
“”In some locations, the mats fell apart and tar balls blew up the beach and into the back marsh,” Norman (Land Manager for the Wisner Donation Trust) said. “The surge also uncovered oil snare and pieces of equipment that got buried during the BP oil spill response, including all these stakes that were used to hang the snare in the water to catch oil.” Norman said a BP representative was inspecting the beach on Wednesday, even as she and her staff were assessing the oil and equipment.”
Norman also had some unkind words for the work of the British Petroleum’s oil spill response, which included the building of barriers to keep oil out of the wetlands, barriers which were never removed and are now creating some difficulty.
“”They had built a huge land bridge and three sheet metal dams to close breaches and prevent oily water from moving inland,” Norman said. “We asked when they installed them to remove them when they were no longer needed. When the storm came in, all of a sudden, we’ve got brand new breaches in areas where it never breached before. They’ve completely altered the hydrology along the beach,” she said.
At several spots where contractors did use heavy equipment to dig out tar mats last year, the unconsolidated sand used to fill the holes has washed out and been lost to the beach, Norman said. Norman said the uncovering of the new tar mats and tar balls should come as no surprise. The trust has been complaining to BP and Coast Guard officials for months about oil remaining just beneath the surface of the beach sand and just offshore.”
British Petroleum…the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, they’re doing everything they can.