Suspend British Petroleum’s Gulf Leases, again…

Nothing is over...
Nothing’s over…

It was over four years ago that British Petroleum unleashed their disaster in the Gulf Coast and for four years we’ve all been hearing about how BP will not rest until they “make it right” for the Gulf and all affected by the spilled oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven people and have harmed tens of thousands more. We hear it. We hear it all the time. To this day, the commercials play out across television, radio, on billboards and on the internet, yet what they say is still far from the truth.

Things in the Gulf are not all right.

Instead, they have become litigious and a company that’s reaped so much profit is now spending on so many lawyers to sift through their agreements for technicalities while disputing new environmental evidence, practices that though they may follow the letter of the law and allow those at BP to sleep at night, damages the spirit of their agreements with a region repeatedly violated, turning this four year old, ongoing disaster into nightmares for those across the Gulf Coast.

So, maybe it’s time for their leases to again be suspended by the EPA until they stop fighting, accept responsibility and truly make amends not only for the known damages, but for any succeeding damage to both people and the environment not yet uncovered. Suspend their leases until their following courses of action change:

The Supreme Court Appeal

In 2012, British Petroleum agreed to a settlement with people harmed by their oil spill, an arrangement with a complex methodology that takes into account a business’s location within certain zones along the Gulf Coast and a basic formula for lost revenues and recovery. Since this agreement, BP has been challenging that some of the methodology’s covered businesses couldn’t have been harmed by the spill and has argued, repeatedly in front of US District Court Judge Carl Barbier’s court that these businesses should not be paid. Barbier has consistently and repeatedly maintained that BP entered into an agreement and should abide, that BP agreed to pay businesses according to this formula as part of a compromise and it would be disingenuous to now try to pick apart the methodology they agreed to in his courtroom.

But BP is not backing down. They instead are asking the Supreme Court to protect them from their own decisions, from their own agreements and word will come down in October from the Supreme Court on whether they will hear this appeal. It’s four years after the spill. The national media is gone from the story. British Petroleum wants out of their agreement to “make things right.”

The Medical Settlements

When the Deepwater Horizon exploded, workers were hired by the thousandfold to clean up the oil, lay and replace boom, whatever was necessary to get as much of the oil out of the water as quickly as possible. Many of these clean-up workers didn’t have protective equipment and many non-oil clean-up workers also were affected by the toxins, just by living in the area or being on or near the water. This has understandably left a lot of people in the Gulf sick, and many more could become sick later. British Petroleum is now interpreting their medical settlements not by what will make people whole for these medical complaints, but by when they were diagnosed with their ailments…a calender date that has little to do with the severity of any medical consequences and everything to do with how much British Petroleum wants to pay to settle a bill for any possible medical care.

Again, it’s four years after the spill and the national media is gone from the story. British Petroleum wants to alter their agreement and it would seem, make things just right enough for their bottom line.

Ongoing Environmental Damage

And the oil is not gone, neither is the chemical dispersant they used. Environmental damage to the Gulf Coast continues with record dolphin and sea turtle deaths as well as extensive damage to coral that show the oil spill’s footprint is both deeper and wider than previously thought. Last year, beach monitors discovered more than 46,000 thousand tar balls and over one and a half tons of submerged tar mats, and there is also evidence that the “quickly evaporating” dispersant BP dumped all over the Gulf is still there, found in tests all over the region. In addition, the oyster situation is grim with thousands of acres of oyster beds producing less than a third of the pre-oil spill harvest. Also troubling is the complete lack of oyster larvae on all of these decimated reefs, places where the oil came ashore and would seem to forecast that the oyster yields will not improve any time soon.

When confronted with any of this evidence BP sticks to standard blame shifting, citing possible other causes or saying the evidence shows nothing conclusive, a shrug of the shoulders from the latest BP spokesman before moving on and really, why not? It would appear British Petroleum is counting on the nation no longer paying attention to how, or how not concerned BP really is with the Gulf and besides, didn’t you see the commercials, the bright and shining faces, the pastoral natural scenes of sunsets and water and birds and boats and…

BP is doing quite alright, thank you

Just ask their shareholders, who must be feeling pretty good about their investment these days, especially when BP recently came to an agreement with the EPA and are now resuming business with the Federal Government in the Gulf. In fact, at the most recent auction, British Petroleum was the “highest bidder on 24 offshore oil and gas blocks out of the 31 properties it pursued in auction.” This to go along with increased dividends for shareholders, several new oil rigs coming online and a 10% increased stock price projection based on their 2nd quarter earnings in 2014.

Bully.

So then…BP is fighting Deepwater Horizon business and medical settlements in court, is shifting blame on the environmental destruction they caused, the deaths to sea turtles, coral, dolphins and the decimation of thousands of oyster reefs all while minimizing the amount of oil and dispersant still in the Gulf and still washing ashore. In addition, they are again bidding on oil blocks for new oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, set to start reaping in even greater profits than before.

Again. Bully.

This is making someone right, yes…but not the Gulf.

This is seeking loopholes in settlement agreements to pay as little as possible to those they’ve harmed while laying the groundwork to make even more profit from the very region they’ve wrecked.

That’s not justice.

And in response, it would only seem fair to propose that until British Petroleum truly honors their words, they should not be permitted to continue in the Gulf. They should remain locked out from a region they’ve already harmed so much, at least until they truly account for themselves and follow the spirit of their agreements by sending their lawyers home. I understand this suggestion might seem extreme, but is it any less extreme than the belief that everyone impacted by their 2010 spill should receive complete restitution, that the coast should be rebuilt and that all medical bills should be paid, regardless of when the diagnosis occurred? I stand by those beliefs and for BP to meet this bar, it would be to keep their promises and their agreements. It would be to actually honor what they claimed they would do from the beginning: to make things right, because right now, every roadblock BP throws up in court dishonors their company, their promises and everyone affected who has to suffer, worry or leave their lives in the Gulf behind.

The EPA should suspend the leases until BP stops their squirming.

Suspend the leases and close BP’s wallets until they finally decide to open them for the purpose of paying for the damage they’ve done, without technicality, loophole or blame-shifting….and make them keep that wallet open as we continue to learn the extant of the damages they’ve caused as a result of their negligence.

Have a nice day.

And for continued coverage of Gulf Coast happenings, please continue to read:

Dambala at American Zombie.

David Hammer at WWL.

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Thanks to BP, Rahm and the Kochs, Chicago Developing a Serious Petcoke Problem…

The not-so-secret stash...BP makes it, The Koch Brothers deal it, Mayor Rahm still not ready to go inpatient...
The not-so-secret stash…BP makes it, the Koch Brothers deal it, but Mayor Rahm still not ready to go inpatient…

Directly across the Illinois border from Chicago stands British Petroleum’s Whiting Oil Refinery in Whiting, Indiana and this huge facility creates petcoke, which in turn creates a bunch of problems in Chicago, problems that only get magnified by the involvement of the Koch Brothers and the lack of involvement by Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel…

Yeah – BP, Rahm and the Kochs.

What a clusterfuck of a combination and what a typical addition to the horrible legacy of British Petroleum.

I mean, it was just this week that BP, the “Make it Right in the Gulf” company filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court to try and weasel out of the Deepwater Horizon settlements, agreed to quite some time ago down on the Gulf Coast and like theose shenanigans down there, up here in Chicago, BP continues with in its irresponsibe ways. After a 3.6 billion dollar expansion that tripled the refining capacity for Whiting, BP’s begun buying up property in Marktown, a 130 year old town originally built to house steel workers’ families and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And whereas BP says they are just trying to increase the green space around the massive refinery (green space, really) others say BP is trying to shield itself from future liabilities the refinery could pose to town residents, living so close and all. Then there was that oil spill into Lake Michigan back in March, occurring  just seven miles from the intake valve that supplies seven million Chicago residents with drinking water. BP initially low-balled their estimate of spilled oil, but they later doubled the actual figure (doesn’t that sound fucking familiar) and in response to the spill, Congressman yelled, BP placated and guys in white suits laid boom and cleaned (again, so very familiar).

But really, the latter two were just the warm-up for the big petroleum coke problem, which of course begs the question for those unfamiliar, what the hell is petcoke?

Well, petroleum coke is a byproduct of the process that removes heavy crude from those ever-famous Canadian tar sands, and petcoke can be burned as fuel. It’s high in heavy metals and has been compared to coal, “only dirtier,” and thanks to British Petroleum’s refinery there are mountains of this shit in Southeast Chicago, right in the city, right by residential neighborhoods, parks and schools and when the wind blows, this stuff gets blown all over said neighborhoods.

And it turns out British Petroleum is the preeminent petcoke dealer in the greater Chicagoland area and their main buyer? Why that’s a corporation called KCBX Terminals, a company owned by none other than the Koch Brothers.

That’s right, British Petroleum and the Koch Brothers…what could possible go wrong?

According to the people who live around KCBX Terminals, much is going wrong and they are understandably upset. They report having to keep windows closed against petcoke dust and particles, about finding picnics covered with the black stuff on windy days, or on their hanging clothes, or on windows and outside walls…or their lungs, and there are quite a few concerns about asthma and other breathing problems this petcoke could be causing.

A member of National Nurses United, Rolanda Watson-Clark had this to say:

“Petcoke contains a mix of chemicals including heavy metals, sulfur, carbon and volatiles, but even if you set the chemical aside — the dust particle size is also a killer…the small particles can get deep into the lungs and possibly the bloodstream, leading to problems like aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, non-fatal heart attacks and other negative health effects…while we are glad that the city council took some measures to curb the effects of these petcoke piles, we believe that our patients and communities can’t afford to wait two years for the relief.”

Yeah…they can’t wait two years.

Wait, what does she mean by that…two years?

Well, when Chicago residents in the affected neighborhoods started to tell their stories back in February, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago came out big, he came out swinging, all declarative statements and such, pointed at the likes of the Koch Brothers KCBX Terminals. He said things like:

“Through the regulations we’re going to put in, it’s going to be very expensive to operate here and therefore they are going to choose to leave…we’re going to make sure the ordinance puts up a ‘not wanted’ sign in the City of Chicago as it relates to pet coke.”

Oh yes, he did…how definitive.

He then went on to propose an ordinance to the city council that would prohibit new petcoke and coal facilities from Chicago while at the same time, banning the expansion of existing facilities. This would have applied to any operations that processed, transported, stored or handled the stuff.

Oh yes, he did again…how declarative.

And it was this ordinance the council was supposed to vote on last March, but then the ordinance got delayed, and then in April the ordinance was simply replaced. Yes replaced…at the last minute, John Pope, Alderman of the 10th Ward (where the offending companies are located) replaced the definitive, declarative ordinance with a substitute nobody had seen before and this one wasn’t quite so ironclad as the one Rahm had been touting a few months prior. The new ordinance permits companies that use petcoke to set up shop and/or expand the places they already have, which means that larger facilities that burn petcoke and coal are free to go on as before, which of course means neighborhood residents are free to go on breathing this shit, also, as before. And when it comes to big storage facilities like KCBX Terminals, even though they have been ordered to enclose their huge piles of this poison, the ordinance gives them two full years to do it…

Two years, that’s what Rolanda Watson-Clark meant, two more years of this shit blowing across playgrounds, schools and residential neighborhoods. Rahm has apparently realized none of the people in these neighborhoods were going to vote for him anyway and for that matter, neither will the Koch Brothers. Turns out they’re upset about the two years too, among other restrictions and are now contemplating a lawsuit against the city. If they absolutely have to enclose these mountains of toxins, they want four years to do it. Oh, and the thirty foot height limit for the piles of petcoke? Too low, way too low, they want 45 feet, because why not?

So this is where we are in Chicago right now:

British Petroleum tripled the capacity of their Whiting Oil Refinery, is spilling oil into Lake Michigan, is buying out a historic town for “green space” all while producing enormous amounts of petcoke, a dusty toxic byproduct that is even dirtier to burn for fuel than coal. To the Koch Brothers, petcoke is not merely pollution, it is a product to buy en masse and store in residential neighborhoods while looking to sell it for profit. Other factories on the south side of Chicago are planning to use it to fuel their operations, leading to more pollution and more storage and the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel though originally all definitive and declarative, saying he was going to run these companies out of business by way of expensive regulation for the sake of his constituents’ health, switched the bill at the last minute, gutting the ordinance’s effectiveness and giving the Koch Brothers two more years to poison the south side of Chicago, while the Koch Brothers…well, they feel two is not nearly enough time and want four.

Oh, and British Petroleum just keeps making this shit, because hey, who fucking cares about people and their families, right right?

Right, now that the news cameras have long since gone, BP doesn’t seem to care about those on the Gulf Coast anymore, so why should Chicago families be any different? Did I mention that also this week, a new study came out pointing to evidence that shows the damage to the Gulf is likely far worse than previously thought? Uh-huh, researchers found partially dead, deep sea coral reefs further and deeper than any other damaged reefs previously discovered…though BP was quick to point out that there is not conclusive proof…though the researchers were then quick to point out that oil found on the dead reef was the same oil from the spill…to which BP yelled “Mulligan!” and grabbed the next plane for Russia…which might suggest they are not properly concerned with the general welfare of, anything but their bottom line and certainly not with what others are doing with the petroleum coke they sell, and certainly, certainly not where these people might be storing it in Chicago.

It would in fact seem, none of these parties are properly concerned about any of this shit and after all, I’m sure that both BP and the Koch Brothers have well paid scientists who will claim (the world is flat) that not only is petroleum coke not toxic, but that it isn’t spreading anywhere.

Of course not.

And all that leads to just one conclusion for this writer, which would be to agree completely with the initial push by residents, nurses and activists after the mountains of petcoke first started climbing on the city’s South Side: petcoke needs to be banned from inside the Chicago city limits. For BP and the Kochs, it would appear petcoke is mostly about profit and rationalizations, and if Rahm Emanuel really wants to stand for something bigger than that, if he really decides to care about the residents of Chicago’s Southeast side, he would do something about all of this, something meaningful, something now. Fuck your two years. Chicago needs more than empty words and bullshit rhetoric from a failed mayor. Chicago deserves more. Rahm should do what’s right for the city and stop the Koch Brothers and British Petroleum at the Illinois border.

Have a nice day.

Fines vs. Penalties

Off to work they go...
Off to work they go…

So, today’s the day.

The big civil trial in New Orleans: BP vs. the world with all the lawyers, guns and money…all that kinda shit.

Course, both the government and British Petroleum been working hard, meeting and organizing and negotiating to try to find a settlement, a way out of this whole trial mess, come up with the exact amount of money BP will have to pay…a figure low enough that BP will finally just write a check but also high enough so the Feds can claim justice has been served.

Word is that amount is right around $16 billion dollars to cover the Clean Water Act fines and environmental penalties related to the spill.

Fines vs. penalties…

There’s a big difference between fines and penalties, such as the following: British Petroleum has to pay the fines assessed, but the environmental penalties? Well, those are tax deductible which essentially means they are paid by the taxpayers. Yes, as those negotiations commence, and will more than likely continue even as the trial begins, BP is pushing to have lower fines and higher environmental damage penalties. And if this were to be the case, this would mean BP essentially puts the money out there to pay the penalty, but then reduces their taxes by that same amount so BP again breaks even, leaving the people, the taxpayers to pick up the slack in the economy.

Well now, isn’t that just like an oil company?

Have a nice day.

Reality is what you pay for…

Not BP's reality.
Not BP’s reality.

Making things right.

Let me just tell you how much I hate every possible phrasing of this sentiment.

Previous to the Deepwater Horizon, whenever I head this phrase used, it carried a certain ring of sincerity, of concern, of really trying to make amends for a wrong, but my how things have changed.

Now, “Making things right” is just a punchline, a big joke or at best a legal argument on whose version of “right” wins out. British Petroleum would contend they are doing everything they can and the Gulf is pretty much back to normal, but the people who do not live in British Petroleum’s commercials…well, they often have a different reality to discuss.

Recently, BP added up all the claims made by states and local governments on the Gulf Coast and came up with a total of $34 billion dollars.

Garret Graves, senior coastal adviser to the worst Governor in all human history, Bobby Jindal, was quoted as saying this about that figure, “Perhaps this helps BP to realize the size and scope of the problems they have caused the citizens of the Gulf…they have continued to try to downplay the significance the oil spill has had on us. BP hasn’t done itself any favors in gaining goodwill with anyone in the Gulf. With a few exceptions early on, they have been incredibly difficult to deal with and their credibility is subsurface.”

British Petroleum, however, strongly disagrees with Graves and especially that $34 billion dollar figure, calling it “substantially” overstated and the methods used to calculate it as, “seriously flawed.”

Sigh…

It’s no secret that British Petroleum has had a spin machine in such overdrive these past couple of years they’ve had to replace the ball bearings seven times, but what BP doesn’t seem to understand is that no matter how much money they spend on corporate image and down home folksy commercials to give their side of things, the facts keep trickling in…

Oil is still coming ashore on the barrier islands. Wildlife and habitat are still threatened. The erosion that occurred as a result of this spill ain’t coming back. There is far more not known about the effects of that oil than is currently known…oh, and remember that $1 billion dollar promise British Petroleum made, meant to fund early restoration efforts over a two year period?

Well, the Gulf Restoration Network recently reported that the two year timeline is coming to a close and BP has only programed $70 million dollars, less than 10% of what they promised.

From the GRN:

“Stop stalling and fully fund all projects necessary to repair the damage from your oil and dispersant, including marine restoration. Specifically, Cat Island, a critical coastal habitat for the Louisiana brown pelican, is vanishing while you sit on the $1 billion you promised to spend.  Allocate these early restoration dollars faster without demanding huge credits towards your ultimate liability. ”

BP is not fulfilling their promises.

And this fact, like many others, has been left out of BP’s commercials. It does not fit the reality BP is paying for and the above is just one example.

Making things right…my stomach turns at the sound of “making things right.” And upon hearing this phrase for the umpteenth time one must ask…

Right, for who?

Go to the Gulf Restoration Network and send BP an e-mail:

Click Here

Have a nice day.

The Deal: what BP/Feds know that you don’t…

We'll send you a Christmas Card...
Well, we know this bird’s dead…

“No one can bring those fathers, husbands and sons back, but I am here to express our apologies…We — and by that I mean the men and the women of the management of BP, its Board of Directors, and its many employees — are deeply sorry for the tragic loss of the 11 men who died and the others who were injured that day…our guilty plea makes clear, BP understands and acknowledges its role in that tragedy, and we apologize — BP apologizes — to all those injured and especially to the families of the lost loved ones. BP is also sorry for the harm to the environment that resulted from the spill, and we apologize to the individuals and communities who were injured.”

– Albert Keller, VP of BP America

These were the words, read in the court of US District Judge Sarah Vance, just before she accepted the agreement negotiated between the Feds and British Petroleum requiring the company to pay $4 billion dollars in fines to settle criminal charges from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.

$4 billion dollars is a lot of money…but is it enough?

Well, I suppose that would depend on who you are and what you know.

And what does BP know?

They know they will be paying $1 billion dollars a year for four years to settle this fine, just as they know they made $25 billion in profit last year. They know they’ve long since resumed paying dividends to stockholders. They know they continue to drill for oil in United States waters. They know their continued advertisements celebrating their version of renewed health in the Gulf reach far more people than the scientific studies indicating otherwise. They know how much money they will have to pay out, and how to plan for it, even with the coming clean water act fines and they know that when all is said and done, they’re going to be okay. They will be making money to replace the money they’ve had to pay, and then the following year, they will make more, then more…and on it goes, with none of the CEO’s seeing any jail time. Ultimately, BP knows they’ve weathered this storm.

Okay, and what do the people of the Gulf Coast not know?

The families of the dead do not know when their personal grieving will stop. They don’t know when life, if life can get back to normal. They don’t know if the marshes will completely recover. They don’t know how badly the environment’s been damaged, what the long term effects of all this will be. They don’t know what it means ultimately that the smallest organisms have been decimated by this spill, the organisms small fish feed on, which are in turn fed upon by birds and they don’t know where on this food chain the damage stops, or if it does. They don’t know what the long term health implications of oil and corexit exposure will mean to their families. They don’t know how many marriages have failed, how many businesses have been lost, how many people have died as a result of this spill. Ultimately, they don’t know if this storm will ever stop.

And finally, despite the statement by the VP of BP America, the people of the Gulf Coast don’t know how, or if this tragedy has personally affected the CEO’s and the board members of British Petroleum. They don’t know this because their apology has come in the form of television commercial, press releases and court statements. BP’s never had to look directly into the eyes of eleven families who lost their loved ones.

So, is $4 billion dollars enough?

I don’t know, what happened to British Petroleum stock when this deal was announced?

It went up.

Have a nice day.

Not their fault, again…

What could go wrong?
What could go wrong?

How many years later?

Want to know how much oil remains in the Gulf, buried off the coast in Louisiana, how much that oil might still tarnish the sea life, how much oil, still remaining from the Deepwater Horizon could potentially come ashore as a result of the next hurricane?

Tough.

Ed Overton, speaking at the three day “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference” said, “NRDA has collected those samples but you can’t get folks to talk about it.”

Odd.

Would seem this would be good information for the public to have. It would seem that British Petroleum, with all their commitments to, and commercials for, the people of the Gulf Coast and this nation could call for this information to be released, quickly, to the public who could be so impacted and therefore would benefit from having that information, you know, because BP ain’t leaving until they’ve fixed each and every one of you.

Okay, so then what’s the problem?

Well, according to Ed Overton it’s simply because the National Resource Damage Assessment is meant to help determine how much British Petroleum will have to pay. And British Petroleum is trying to pay as little as possible and that would only make sense. They are a corporation after all and what corporation wants to just give anybody free money, especially when that corporation has a long history of fucking up environments and having accidents that kill people, meaning they’re used to these court cases and they know how it all works and yes, that’s what it all comes down to…courts.

Courts and money and the paying of as little of it as they possibly can. Still, so want to know how much oil still exists in the sediment in the Gulf?

Fine, stop trying to get money with your penalties and your suits from the oil company whose disaster put it there. Then, maybe the government won’t feel the need to protect that information in anticipation of going to court with British Petroleum who will try to contest each and every piece of that information.

Really people, BP’s just trying to be ready for their next appearance in court.

BP’s just trying to protect their own interests.

Not yours.

Again.

Have a nice day.

It’s a love/hate thing…now featuring GoatWhore!

“Oh hell to the no…”

I woke up this morning in San Francisco, stumbled to the coffeemaker and then to my desk…and after turning on the computer, I put on the latest release by GoatWhore, one of New Orleans finest metal bands and leaned back in my chair. Coffee was good, not chicory good, but certainly Peet’s good. I heard shouting from the street, then police sirens and I turned the music up. I hear shouting on the street and police sirens every day, so much so that a lot of the time, they don’t really register and usually, that’s okay…

Today, I love San Francisco and am alright with not living in New Orleans. But yesterday, I was really annoyed with San Francisco and wished I could be in New Orleans.

This is the spectrum I drift across.

Oh, and the GoatWhore CD is called “Blood for the Master,” and it is crazy fucking good and imagine my surprise to hear GoatWhore mentioned in a recent episode of Treme…figures it would be the journalist from the Bay Area who wanted to see their show. But back to my point, what was my point?

Indecisiveness, that and 2001. And Albuquerque, yes, that’s my point…Albuquerque sucks.

But first, 2001 was a pretty big year in my life. I decided to leave Seattle and travel the country, writing. I wound up in Portland, Las Vegas, New York, the Black Hills, Los Angeles, but most important, this is the year I visited both San Francisco and New Orleans for the first time…and now in 2012, I’ve spent time living in both places.

The span I lived in New Orleans was pre-Katrina so rents were cheap. I worked 26 hours a week tending bar and this was enough to pay all my bills and go out, often. I didn’t really leave the Quarter much, where I lived and worked and I had a good time. Met a lot of good people and some not-so-good, but that’s to be expected. I was a bartender and the people who make up the service industry, at least back then were all drama, all the time. Kind of like living in a soap opera of who’s sleeping with who, who’s getting fired from where and who got beat up last night. I remember getting tipped with Saints tickets, with LSD, all kinds of fun stuff. Good times really, I enjoyed it. Funny to me that I had to move away to begin exploring the city more, leaving the Quarter’s comfy confines and heading Uptown, Mid-City or to the Bywater, the Marigny…wherever. But what I remember most about my time living in New Orleans, besides the amazing food and plentiful booze was that I was glad to leave…not because of any real dislike of the city, it was simply because I missed social work. I was unable to find a social work gig while I was in town and bartending, though definitely fun, was feeling overall pretty meaningless to me. I wanted to get back to work helping people and so I left for the Midwest, with plans to stay for a year and build up a nest egg before relocating again to San Francisco, a place where I may not have liked the culture as much as New Orleans, but it had the social work gigs.

And that’s what I did.

Did I mention GoatWhore’s new release?

Really good…and they’re playing One Eyed Jacks on November 19th. Do yourself a favor…go, and make me jealous for going. I won’t hate you…

Much.

Anyways…

So I moved out to San Francisco and stayed for about five years. It doesn’t have the culture of New Orleans and which culture is better would purely be a matter of taste, but I find mine more suited to New Orleans ease and friendliness and whatnot. Out here, people are less friendly, more isolated and really don’t appear to be having all that much fun. One of the bigger myths you might encounter is this idea of a progressive, liberal San Francisco and sure, there is an element of that, but it is not predominant. This city is about money. Greed. All the artistic freedoms so championed hides a big lie, being that the city is so expensive to live in the people who do live here as musicians or artists or writers really have two choices: live in a studio with two to three roommates or live in Oakland. Everywhere you look…every retail position, server, all the people who make this city run, they don’t live in this city. They commute in to serve the hipster-techies, the financial types and the oh so professional class. Even myself, with a good job…only way I can afford to live here is to reside in a small studio in one of the worst parts of town (worse being relative..I actually like it). But, the work I love to do is here. I have a job where when I get home at night, I feel satisfied and fulfilled for the most part and I have the time and a few dollars to do partake in that which I do enjoy. In a way, San Francisco is kind of like how New Orleans has become for a lot of people, post Katrina. The rents are so high, people can’t afford it. Property companies in San Francisco are buying up as many of the buildings as they can in my neighborhood, sometimes even sitting on empty apartments while they watch the rental market rate climb, then they hold open houses and charge each person thirty dollars to run credit checks, and a week later they’ll do it again, and again. On average, 20-30 people apply for each of these apartments, each time there’s a viewing. Do the math…

Yes, love/hate it is…the arts out here are something to experience…the art museums, all the concerts within walking distance, the scenery of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean, all the hills with their huge, majestic views of downtown or North Beach. Man, it’s really beautiful, especially if you ignore the police brutality in my neighborhood, all the tax breaks given to all the tech start-ups while the city cuts funding to social programs. That, and the drinks’ll cost you ten bucks, plus if you go to a bar with “Mixologists,” you’ll get some goofy drink with bacon in it for twenty dollars while everyone in the joint, mixologists and clientele alike take themselves really, really seriously.

Really seriously.

So yeah…it’s a love/hate kind of thing.

Just ask the guy who lives on the sidewalk in front of my building.

When I come home at night, he’s sleeping on cardboard. When I leave for work in the morning, he smiles and wishes me a good day and I like him, he’s one of the friendliest people in the City, but he’s got no home and I get it. The home he could have is an SRO room filled with crack, bedbugs, roaches, and other assorted predators. This is usually the housing solution for too many low-income people here and I get that it is the same most other places, but when your city lives on a bullshit myth of being “so progressive,” it does make the reality that much more glaring.

The spectrum:

I love New Orleans culture, the music, the history, the food…I can picture myself sitting down to a steak at Adolfo’s right now, or maybe lunch at Mandina’s, but there’s few social work jobs in town paying a liveable wage, plus I would more than likely need a car…and I hate cars. Cars suck worse than the San Francisco Police Department, or the NOPD for that matter. Meanwhile…I love San Francisco work, but the culture of this place is so much status, cliques and competition: two worlds of strikingly disparate haves and have nots. Ever see the Hunger Games? Think of all the regular people and the artists being bussed into Capitol City in the Hunger games. Hell, there’s a blog round here which pretty much exists to attack the unfortunate and a particular Chronicle columnist who seems to feel the best way to improve Capitol City would be a Wal-Mart in every neighborhood, built on the ashes of any non-profit and publicly naked person because you know, that’s just common sense.

Really, what an asshole.

Maybe there is a happy medium somewhere, but when I look at a map, that happy medium puts me in New Mexico, somewhere around Albuquerque and I’ve seen Breaking Bad…Albuquerque doesn’t look like fun: blue meth, bleak deserts and the plot lines get real complicated. So yeah, much ongoing in the thought process. Hell, there’s worse things to wonder about. I got a place to sleep, enough to eat and a job I enjoy. I just think a lot, probably too much at times…and I do plan to be up online more often from here on out, get back to the BP Spill…what? That’s still an issue? And more about San Francisco and New Orleans…two best cities in the country, problems or not…and GoatWhore. Much more to come about GoatWhore, spectrums, and the Saints, who won this morning.

Did you know Saints games start here at 10am?

Been a long time since I had a beer in my hand at 10 in the morning and now that I think about it, the last time was when I lived in New Orleans.

Ah, spectrums can be such dilemmas.

Have a nice day.

What’s ten billion dollars between friends?

A thought on the negotiations: put this on the table between Eric Holder and Bob Dudley and then let them negotiate away…

Despite the continued insistence of public relations hacks employed by the oil company hell known as British Petroleum that all in the Gulf is either well, or quickly on the mend, troubles persist:

“Researchers are trying to determine whether more than 100 dolphins stranded on the Texas coast, most of them in Galveston, died because of the BP oil spill, a deadly algal bloom or some undetermined cause.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ruled last month that the dolphin deaths qualified as an “unusual mortality event,” said Blair Mase, NASA southeast region marine mammal stranding coordinator.

The strandings also come after a NOAA study found that dolphins in Barataria Bay on the Louisiana coast were in poor health because of exposure to oil. Dolphins in the bay, severely affected by the spill, had low weight and liver and lung ailments.”

And then there’s this:

“Gloom infects the hard-working shrimp and crab docks of this gritty fishing town as the second full year of fishing since BP’s catastrophic oil spill kicks into high gear.

Usually folks are upbeat and busy in May, when shrimpers get back to work in Louisiana’s rich waters. This spring, though, catches are down, docks are idle and anxiety is growing that the ill effects of the massive BP oil spill may be far from over.

An Associated Press examination of catch data from last year’s commercial harvest along the gulf — the first full year of fishing since the 2010 spill — reveals merit in the fishermen’s complaints. According to the analysis of figures obtained through public-records requests, seafood crops hit rock bottom in the Barataria estuary, the same place where some of the thickest waves of oil washed in when a BP well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.”

So color my less cynical side surprised to read this:

“BP is pushing for a $15bn (£9.7bn) settlement with the American authorities to resolve all civil and criminal claims relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, substantially less than the $25bn demanded by the US department of justice.”

Okay, so an immediate question springs to mind:

What the fuck is there to even be negotiating about?

This damned company, by way of error kills eleven people and screws an ecosystem, then goes about obscuring flow rates during the response…is in negotiations to lower the dollar amount on penalties they’ll incur as a result of their very costly shenanigans…nice. This is the company taking responsibility. This is the company with all them fancy television commercials. This is the company whose smiling (dick)head Bob Dudley looks on warmly to reassure everyone not living on the Gulf Coast just how righteous, humble and truly sorry he and his corporation truly are…while on the Gulf, where people continue to pay attention, the facts do not bear this out…this guy…I tell ya.

He’s in negotiations with the justice department and reports are these talks are “accelerating.”

Yeah, but accelerating to what?

One more screw-job for the Gulf? One more in a really long list of shenanigans shoved onto a region, poisoning its environment for decades and almost destroying New Orleans, one of this nation’s great cities?

Unlike the Corps, BP must be held accountable, completely.

Maybe for the first time in what, who knows how long anymore, it’s time for the government to stop listening to what’s good for a company and pay closer attention to the people said company screwed.

Idealistic?

Maybe.

But after watching these GOP fucks this past year…it would seem idealism is the only thing they want us to have anymore.

Have a nice day.

In no way an attack on science…

BP’s version…

Most who have followed the story of the BP Catastraphuk are familiar with the company’s enlisting of scientists and university research departments to silence them with non-disclosure requirements explore what has happened to the Gulf environment, to do the research so all the Gulf States can be made whole, well, complete, fixed like a motherfucker while Dudley sails off to the shareholders meeting, to Texas, into the sunset whilst nodding humbly to the throngs of his adoring fans beach-side…

However, Christopher Reddy and Richard Camilli will not be standing on them sands.

In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, these two Massachusetts scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute had some sharp words for British Petroleum…the same company they came to help at said oil company’s request, volunteering their time for the good of the Gulf:

“We responded by leading on-site operations using robotic submersibles equipped with advanced technologies that we had developed for marine science. We applied them to measure the rate of fluid release from the well and to sample fluids from within the well. We then volunteered our professional time to scrutinize this data and published two peer-reviewed studies in a respected scientific journal. We determined an average flow rate of 57,000 barrels of oil per day and calculated a total release of approximately 4.9 million barrels. BP claimed that it needed to better understand our findings because billions of dollars in fines are potentially at stake. So we produced more than 50,000 pages of documents, raw data, reports, and algorithms used in our research — everything BP would need to analyze and confirm our findings. But BP still demanded access to our private communications.

Our concern is not simply invasion of privacy, but the erosion of the scientific deliberative process.”

And so British Petroleum goes to the judge, seeking the writings that contain much of the deliberative process, one where scientists question and challenge each other, push their colleagues to go deeper, be even more accurate, playing devil’s advocate against their colleagues and their own conclusions…you know, communications ripe with fragmented ideas.

And…BP wants…

“BP was able to use the federal courts to gain access to our private information. Although the presiding judge magistrate recognized the need to protect confidential e-mails to avoid deterring future research, she granted BP’s request.”

BP gets.

And now that they’ve gotten, what do you think might happen to those e-mails in court, as the topic turns to that magic flow-rate number of 57,000 barrels of oil per day? Or the total of 4.9 million barrels released into the Gulf, when that little fact comes up?

One might think a BP lawyer could obscure conclusive facts by reading off fragments from these e-mails…taking the smallest part to impugn the conclusions of the whole.

One might…

Yes, those more realistic about the sham that is the court of law cynical could certainly think this, but personally, I hardly think it possible, what with BP’s long history of integrity, sound science, culture of openness, safety and responsibility to not only their shareholders, but to the environment both land and sea, and all the people of this earth and beyond…

However, Reddy and Camilli have a different opinion:

“Our experience highlights that virtually all of scientists’ deliberative communications, including e-mails and attached documents, can be subject to legal proceedings without limitation. Incomplete thoughts and half-finished documents attached to e-mails can be taken out of context and impugned by people who have a motive for discrediting the findings. In addition to obscuring true scientific findings, this situation casts a chill over the scientific process. In future crises, scientists may censor or avoid deliberations, and more importantly, be reluctant to volunteer valuable expertise and technology that emergency responders don’t possess.”

No way. BP overreaching on information control, gearing up to discredit the science, the very people they turned to for help, all in order to serve their own interests? Utter insanity…and to prove this point, up to the microphone marched another BP spokesperson who said the company’s subpoena was, “in no way an attack on science.”

Well of course not, that would be ridiculous…and entirely irresponsible.

Have a nice day.

Today would be that day…westward.

No, I can't afford to live in this neighborhood...pretty though huh?

By the time any of you read this, I will have left my comfy confines in the Midwest for a far more uncertain future on the West Coast…San Francisco to be exact. Got some money saved, a lot of social work experience, several contacts and possibilities and a 2nd job interview already scheduled for three days after my arrival…

Oh, and did I mention the San Jose Sharks are in the playoffs? If ur around, I’ll be at the Outsider on Geary Street watching the games.

Anyways, the past two years of writing this blog have been frustrating, fascinating and fun. I’ve met a lot of good people in the New Orleans area and plan to meet more. My change of scenery isn’t the end of this blog, however, it will be a bit spotty the coming weeks as I’ll be writing it on a shitty laptop over wi-fi connections until I get things all set up.

Furthermore…this cross country move will be my fourth of this type. Every previous transition has been one solely of great adventure, possibility and new experience…good things all, but this time it is bittersweet. Although it does contain that similar sense of thrill and excitement, it’s also tempered by sadness.

Those who know, know why.

Enough said…

Alright then, a couple of links before I go, for those not already in the loop…

Of course I will stay informed about all things New Orleans the next four days as I drive through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada and California…how can one not with Editilla around, putting together the New Orleans Ladder?

BTW…fuck Sean Pamphilon, what an asshole.

And of course I will stay informed about the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs by way of Fear the Fin.

BTW…fuck the Blues, Go Sharks!

So then, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you all back up here soon…and I’ll also be looking forward to May 12th, more than anything.

Have a nice day.

-Drake