Last month, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit against Ken Feinberg, stating he and the GCCF had not complied with a subpoena issued last February asking for full access to GCCF records so Hood’s office could put them under review. Among other things, Hood alleges that Feinberg has intentionally stalled payments to oil spill claimants in the hopes financial desperation will encourage settlements with the GCCF.
Feinberg denies this.
Feinberg denies a lot.
Feinberg would still deny he is an employee of British Petroleum if he thought he could get away with it, if Judge Barbier hadn’t ordered him to stop making such claims.
Feinberg realizes that having Hood’s lawsuit heard in Hinds County, Mississippi might not work out real well for the GCCF and himself, so Feinberg moved the case to Federal Court where it will hopefully be heard someplace further away, where fewer have followed his history of shenanigans, false promises, and other assorted obfuscations.
Ken Feinberg: stalling claims, and now also stalling court cases trying to investigate his stalling of claims.
In a shocking development affecting both the Gulf Coast and the nation, BP joined in with GOP finger pointing and now argue if they are required to tighten their belts any further, the same goes for the rest of the Gulf too. The oil company argued their case in a 29 page document made public Friday and filed with both the GCCF and the White House.
The company says the free ride is over, the Gulf is vastly improved so the time for fiscal responsibility is now, lest any more than necessary from the $20 billion oil spill fund be handed out to claimants and real deficit reduction for the Gulf Coast and this country becomes endangered.
A GOP spokesman reiterated the company’s position, “Spending is out of control and must be curtailed so BP and other corporate clients do not have their privileges endangered. Jobs are needed now and a rise in taxes will only curtail job creation from oil platforms across the Gulf to servants’ quarters across the Hamptons. Claimants, BP argues, though suffering from oil spill damages must give up their fair share of compensation now, or the country’s fiscal solvency and their childrens’ futures will be placed at the brink.
Though Ken Feinberg and the White House did not give an official response, several aides who wished to remain unidentified spoke with reporters late Friday afternoon, “It would certainly seem unreasonable at this late stage to end these payments,” said one, “We gave the GOP their no-sue clause and the extension of the Bush tax cuts and they gave us nothing. If we were now to put on the table Social Security cuts, the future feasibility of interim payments, or extra compensation to oyster fishers or even Medicare and Medicaid, what possible leverage would we have?”
Another undisclosed aide offered, “Feinberg and Obama have all but said if the latest studies find people have been poisoned by the oil they will have no recourse to the GCCF and in doing so, have not only already saved BP millions more in potential damages, but hinted to Cantor, Boehner and the rest of the Tea Party faithful their willingness to put the interests of corporations and the top 1% far above the needs of everyday Americans, and in response to these concession, BP then demanded the whole negotiation be moved even further to the right, more cuts, more savings, and not a dollar more revenue, non-negotiable.”
“The GOP wants to argue that British Petroleum creates jobs and therefore should not have to be taxed the entire $20 billion dollars,” added another, “but the simple fact is British Petroleum’s present problems are their own fault. Like investment bankers demanding spending cuts and government protection from the effects of the recession they caused, BP and the GOP seem to think people without jobs, or who need additional assistance should suffer so BP CEO’s and stockholders can hang onto their tax loopholes and private jets. This argument should be a non-starter.”
Other people outside of the White House also weighed in on the latest developments, James Carville, caught by one reporter seethed, “This is ridiculous! They’ve only just started studies into the health of the Gulf Coast, the GOP has done nothing about creating jobs, fishermen are finding red snapper with lesions that the NOAA says should be handled with gloves, the brown shrimp season was pathetic, unemployment is up and the housing market continues to suffer, tourism hasn’t reached pre-spill levels, sand dollars and starfish are turning up dead, some Louisiana beaches are still closed, we still got places that need cleaning, lives that need fixing and people who need to be paid, all while restoration of the coast has yet to even begin and BP is arguing that things are fine, things are improving? Well, why don’t we just throw Bob Dudley into the still remaining oil in Barataria Bay, see if that son of a bitch will float? If Ken Feinberg and Barack Obama do anymore sacrificing of the safety net, neither one will win a second term. They will have finally sold out everyone they were supposed to protect and in doing so changed the entire value system of this country!”
But not everyone was so dismissive of a compromise. In a statement by now Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, uttered over steaks at Harry Carey’s, “Look, those Gulf Coast whiners can either get with the program or go the fuck home. We got an industry to save and a region that needs to learn the art of compromise. If they don’t like what our President and Ken Feinberg are doing to cover America’s butts and their futures, what are they gonna do, vote BP and GOP? I don’t fucking think so. Eat it, bitches…”
Despite continued White House talks outside of the public eye, it would appear negotiations have reached a standstill. British Petroleum and the GOP demand spending cuts their critics say will bolster the corporations and the wealthy at the expense of those harmed by the oil spill, and the elderly and by other Americans in need during this recession. Obama and Feinberg, seeming confident that they can work on their own legacies at the expense of same said Americans, appear to believe their core constituents will have no other option but to vote them a second term, no mater how painful the cuts they agree too might be.
In the opinion of this editor, it appears that both parties, and both BP and Feinberg make their decisions all while ignoring the clear polling numbers that say the majority of Americans believe the wealthy should pay higher taxes and BP should be forced to spend the entire $20 billion while entitlement programs and damages, both present and future should remain untouched and certainly not used as bargaining chips, demonstrating clearly how the GOP, BP, Barack Obama and Ken Feinberg continue to play legacy politics with peoples’ lives and futures at the behest of corporate interest in some sort of vacuum, where real people, American citizens are mere afterthought…no more than another batch of dead sand dollars washing up on the beaches of Florida.
Or, as Eric Cantor said about the tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri, any disaster assistance given to the victims, American citizens, will have to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere, or the emergency spending bill won’t be passed by Congress.
No longer breathing as citizens…be it the debt ceiling arguments by politicians, or disaster compensation by corporations and their employees, it would appear our function is that of a bargaining chip. The $20 billion dollar compensation fund, and the economy are there to be threatened by companies and politicians with persecution complexes, and an utter lack of respect for the suffering their decisions inflict on others.
Just wanted to send a quick note of congratulations to G, and her husband. They got in touch with me sometime ago about their claims, expressing their frustrations with investigations by the GCCF, disgust with the length of time it was taking…79 days to get a quick payment? And an overall disappointment with BP and Feinberg for the damages, the stalling, the runaround and the lies.
Well, they got paid today, so I just wanted to say congratulations to them and a continuing best of luck to everybody who’s still waiting. Like G. and her husband, may all eventually have the good fortune to finally be done with the GCCF and their miserly ways…
I’m not talking about environmental climate change, I’m talking about the political climate, the deregulation climate, the climate that continues to sweep through this country and threatens you, the American citizen at your door with not a polite knock, it’s more akin to home invasion, battering rams that splinter the wood with its force until the whole thing smashes in and stares greedily at your family.
But first, the back-story:
When the financial system broke down in 2008 as a result of companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers playing fast and loose for ten years with their newly deregulated financial systems, allowing them to leverage their own companies to the point of collapse in pursuit of short-term profits, they knew they had an ace in the hole. Deregulation had allowed them to grow to sizes unseen since the Great Depression so if they were to fail, they would take the interconnected global economies with them. They knew this and when the house of cards came down, they received the TARP bailouts from GW Bush so essentially, while making billions in profit at the expense of pension funds and house mortgage owners, they then received billions more in rescue money from the government to keep themselves solvent, and that money from the government? That was your money, and the money to the executives that created this mess so quickly gained in those several years of exorbitant short-term profit? They kept it, and nobody went to jail for the fraud they played on our country because their co-workers filled the President’s cabinet, the New York Reserve, the treasury and the SEC.
Large business everywhere watched this charade play out. They bore witness to what these companies got away with and realized yet again that any fines levied for the companies’ inappropriate behavior amounted to little more than a parking ticket for you or me.
Corporate responsibility was at little to none.
At the same time the financial mess was being created, the Mineral and Management Service, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing oil companies was rubber stamping deep-sea oil well permits and doing blow with corporate heads while ignoring the fact that neither the states, the MMS or the companies themselves had a plan in case something should go wrong on one of the oil rigs. Nobody had a plan to seal the well or clean up the mess.
And few, if any said a word about this.
And then April 20th happened.
The Oil Spill…the great catatsraphuk that is British Petroleum’s Gulf Coast Disaster played and plays out across four states. Millions of barrels of oil, methane and chemical dispersants were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, leading to dead people, dead dolphins, wasted fisheries, destroyed oyster beds, destroyed cultures, businesses and families and ten months later we have increasing illness, we have tar balls left on beaches while BP closes shop on its cleanup. British Petroleum claims the GCCF and Feinberg’s payments are too high, too much when everyone in the region knows they aren’t enough, not nearly enough. Mental health issues continue their escalation on those both direct and indirectly impacted, court cases are filed, reporters write, British Petroleum reneges on its commitments to Louisiana and the rehabilitation of their oyster beds. Politicians in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama are seething, screaming at Obama to do something about the businesses and people who are being abandoned, essentially asking Obama to be a President.
And in his State of the Union address, the President doesn’t even mention the Gulf Coast.
And in the state of the Gulf Coast – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are being forgotten.
British Petroleum is reneging on their commitments to the environment and to the people, while Ken Feinberg is low-balling claimants straight to insolvency. And for Gulf Coast residents? No bailouts from the government. Most people receiving any compensation from the Gulf Coast fund are forced to waive their rights against seeking any more money from over a hundred companies regardless of an unknown future. Sicknesses as a result of the spill? No. Environment doesn’t bounce back by 2013? No. Oil continuing to come ashore? No. And these hundred companies still operate and still make money both on and off their shores.
And British Petroleum is not fulfilling their corporate responsibilities to the people.
Because they don’t have to, climate dictates.
Meanwhile nationwide, like a financially desperate Gulf Coast, the other 46 states continue to suffer through a recession that while it may be recovering in the sense that profits are again going up for the same banks and investment firms that created the mess in 2008, the people who lost their jobs as a result are still unemployed, and the federal government and the states are still experiencing a continuing recession that is forcing cutbacks on their state and federal budgets.
This recession, caused by corporate irresponsibility, was made possible by current climate conditions and it is these cutbacks that have led to the protests in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has declared that in order for him to close the budget gap, he has no choice but to end collective bargaining rights for state unions.
He says the state of Wisconsin is broke and has no choice.
Two weeks ago, John Boenher, Speaker of the House said the same thing about the federal government, “We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.”
And hundreds of companies like British Petroleum, walk away, without paying whatever is necessary for them to “make things right,” in the disasters of their own creation. In fact, in many instances, corporations like Bank of America and General Electric actually received tax benefits and paid nothing. Nationally, and in the states, the Republicans and oftentimes the Democrats want to take the money from us.
Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood: healthcare for the poor. Obama wants to defund energy assistance. Republicans want to prohibit unions for federal employees. They want to defund investigations of the fiscal crisis and enforcement of new regulations on the banking and investment industry. Both sides want to cut education, reducing grants and rasing tuitions. Republicans want to defund the EPA and the NOAA. They want to cut money to public transit. They want to cut money for social services, addiction treatment, housing programs. They want to end community development grants, used primarily in poor neighborhoods.
Have to, we’re all broke, didn’t you hear?
It’s a budget crisis.
Republicans and Democrats nationwide also often agree the people who will pay for this crisis are the people who had no part of its cause and were typically its victims, while the people whose criminal activity led to these budget deficits? They will continue to receive their tax breaks, their bonuses, the lifestyles they have grown so accustomed too.
Personal responsibility and shared sacrifice is the watchword from Democrats and Republicans.
Corporate responsibility garners nary a mention.
It’s the climate.
So, while the people nationwide are forced to accept austerity cuts, while politicians are attempting to destroy state and federal unions and while the people of the Gulf Coast continue to watch their livelihoods, culture and families stagnate in limbo…corporate profiteers are back in business. British Petroleum begins issuing dividends to stockholders and reporting profits. The large multinational banks and investment firms continue to issue bonuses and Wisconsin unions are asked to give up their rights
Barack Obama continues to say little to nothing.
While the people?
They continue to suffer. The Gulf Coast resident, the union member, the middle class and the poor are dictated pain and sacrifice and forced to take it while the government and the corporations go on their merry way, married by a climate of profit and deregulation, at your expense.
And this is wrong.
This is Un-American.
This is not a shared sacrifice, the average American citizen is a sacrificial lamb and it must end.
So, what do the union protesters in Wisconsin, in day 14 of their fight against their governor have to do with the Gulf Coasts struggles against British Petroleum, Ken Feinberg and an out of earshot Federal Government?
The fights are the same.
It’s the average person of this country trying to fight against a political and corporate power structure that cares very little for their individual lives and more for their personal bank accounts, their profit margin and their market share.
The fight in Wisconsin is the Gulf Coast’s fight and the Gulf Coast’s fight is Wisconsin’s.
It’s the fight of all of us, for all of us to change this climate and unify the nation against the very people whose attention to profit creates the economic suffering of the many, and against the politicians who continue to let it happen.
We have to, because in the current climate, the oil spills of financial ruin will continue to occur nationwide.
As I wrote a few days ago, a new phenomenon is occurring on the Gulf Coast. Some claimants who have applied for the quick pay from the GCCF, an application the GCCF stated would be automatic for people who had received an EAP and would require no further review, have suddenly found their EAP’s under investigation for fraud. Guidepost Solutions, the investigative arm of Ken Feinberg’s GCCF, have been making contact and making demands of claimants who have also received a letter from the GCCF that goes something like this:
The GCCF has received your Quick Payment Final Claim Form and Release. After investigating certain aspects of the documents and information that you previously provided to us relating to your Emergency Advance Payment claim, we have determined that there is insufficient reliable evidence to support your Quick Payment claim and that further investigation is required…
And then the waiting game for people continues on, and on, and on…they are not told how long this investigation will take place and for most, this letter came after they had already been waiting well past the fourteen day time-frame the GCCF promised for completion of quick payments.
Well, the media is listening and they want to hear what you have to say…they want your story and they want the facts of your situation.
Why tell it?
When so many people are scared to talk about their dealings with the GCCF, why stick your neck out?
Short answer: Because if there are shady dealings going on with the GCCF, people need to know about it and exposing said shady dealings is an avenue to get justice not only for you, but for those who also find themselves in your situation.
Long answer: When BP spilled all the oil, and when Obama appointed Ken Feinberg to handle the claims something happened in the Gulf Coast beyond devastation. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of people had something in common and a new community was formed with new bonds. Strangers began to get to know one another and learn each other’s stories; people began to reach out to one another for a common cause: reparation and holding the people responsible for this disaster accountable. When Ken Feinberg failed at his task again and again, and he gave statements regarding this failure which amounted to little more than more promises and an apologetic shrug, he continued this creation of community which met each other at his meetings, at his claims offices and unfortunately, at the food bank and the payday loan centers. Ensuring people are treated equitably and fairly is up to you, your new community, Judge Barbier and the press…
So, they want to hear what you have to say about Guidepost Solutions:
When Judge Barbier of the US District Court ordered Feinberg last week to finally, start being honest with people and stop referring to himself and the GCCF as neutral or independent of British Petroleum, he opened a very significant door.
And today is the day to kick that door down.
Barbier has asked attorneys to file briefs on the claim fund’s compliance with the Oil Pollution Act and among the items that could be settled is the legality of the no-sue clause.
To receive a payment, 86,000 claimants have waived their and their family’s right to sue British Petroleum and a hundred other companies for the damage incurred by the oil spill. Attorneys argue this was done by many under financial duress. Some might even argue the whole process has been one big game of coercion.
When Feinberg’s GCCF couldn’t follow through on their own timetables, leaving people in financial limbo as they waited for compensation from the fund, all the while their bills continued to pile up, their mortgages came due and BP started canceling cleanup contracts while their pre-spill jobs were still unavailable…well, of course many people on the Gulf Coast were feeling the financial punch, not to mention the many people who settled for quick pays simply because they’d had it with the GCCF’s arbitrary changes in the rules, their delay tactics and the varying answers from each and every GCCF adjuster…even if accepting a quick pay was to their own disadvantage in the long run.
A ruling from Barbier could open the whole thing up again for the people who should desire to get back into the fray, get a lawyer and try to get what they deserve. And really, Feinberg has nobody to blame for this but himself and his own incompetence in the way he handled the escrow account, a method which left one law professor from Hofstra University to say Feinberg acted “misleadingly, at best.”
British Petroleum, in an e-mailed statement about the February 11th deadline to file briefs said: “We do not believe that there is any basis to undo or challenge the settlements that have been concluded.”
Ken Feinberg, when contacted said: chirp…chirp…chirp…chirp…chirp…
Kevin Dean, an attorney with the Plaintiff’s firm Montley Rice said: “My firm believes that clients were forced financially to take an ill-advised settlement, and that that’s a violation of the Oil Pollution Act.”
So, today’s the day, and now that Judge Barbier has taken over jurisdiction of the Claims Process, let’s see what he has to say…
After a less than successful southern swing through the Gulf States, today Ken Feinberg’s GCCF disaster tour will be on Capitol Hill to answer questions from the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery, chaired by Senator Mary Landrieu. The questions are expected to be aggressive, tough and the demands will be high. Rep Steve Scalise from Jefferson Parish set a preemptive tone this week by issuing a letter calling for the GCCF to change their ways:
“The people of Louisiana deserve transparency throughout the claims process and Mr. Feinberg has refused to adapt the process to better suit the needs of the people affected by the BP disaster,” Scalise said. “The GCCF’s opaque nature detracts from its credibility and adds to claimants’ frustration as they try to understand why their claim was denied or underpaid, and Mr. Feinberg has acknowledged this problem in the past but has failed to modify the GCCF’s approach. As a result of this, many claimants have fallen through the cracks, and can’t get answers to basic questions about their claims. Mr. Feinberg must be held accountable to the victims of this disaster, and I eagerly await his response to my request.”
Mr. Feinberg is expected to answer this today by saying he is…
1. Doing the best he can.
2. Promising to be more transparent…again…
3. Denying accusations he is not neutral…again…
Rep. Scalise, in his letter, questioned why Feinberg would consider pulling 150 local people out of the claims offices at a time when few claimants can get an answer to their questions, especially considering Feinberg’s previous commitments to keep local people in those offices, as it would seem more people are needed to help the GCCF complete their task, not less. Beyond this, Scalise would like to know details on who is being paid and why and maybe even more importantly, who isn’t and why not. He is also seeking information regarding the formula for how payments are calculated, the total number of people employed by the GCCF, and the number of unprocessed six month emergency claims and justifications for why these claims remain unpaid.
Mr. Feinberg is expected to answer this today by saying he is:
1. Doing the best he can.
2. Promising to be more transparent…again…again…
3. Denying any accusation he is not neutral, because he has a letter stating so, written by a friend of his who was paid $950 dollars an hour to do so, paid with BP’s money.
The Attorneys General of the Gulf Coast States continue to weigh in on all matters GCCF with Mississippi AG, Jim Hood requesting that US District Court Judge Carl Barbier appoint someone who would have oversight over the operations of Ken Feinberg and the GCCF, and determine whether Feinberg’s no-sue clause is overly broad. Hood says Feinberg continues to deny the state’s attorneys access to the GCCF database that would provide details on the claims payments. Feinberg, despite saying that when then claims process is over this same information will be given to British Petroleum, has told the attorneys he is unwilling to compromise the privacy of claimants.
Plaintiff’s attorneys have submitted a petition to US District Court Judge Barbier stating their belief that all claims Feinberg and the GCCF are making about their ability to act independently of BP is both “inaccurate and misleading.”
Highlights of the petition include:
“A recognized standard of accuracy is whether the statements are materially misleading considered as a whole, which is the modern definition of fraud,” UC law professor, Geoffrey Hazard chided in his 10-page statement.
He contends that the claims on behalf of the facility’s impartiality “portray GCCF procedure as more just and fair than that in the ordinary tort system.” Hazard said such notions are belied by conditions on claims payouts, such as requiring claimants to sign away their legal rights to sue BP or other liable parties at a later date, regardless of future harm to their health or financial well-being arising from heretofore unknown consequences of the spill.
“The GCCF procedure requires claimants, in order to receive final payment, to release BP from types of damages … that are not being considered by the GCCF,” Hazard wrote. Additionally, Hazard insists that there’s no way the Feinberg-run fund can maintain objectivity when BP is paying all of its expenses — including the $800,000-per-month fee charged by Feinberg’s law firm. “GCCF is not entirely independent because its operating expenses, which are substantial, come from BP,” Hazard wrote. “The GCCF is not a mediator, according to ordinary understanding of that term, because it was established unilaterally by BP and not with agreement of opposing claimants.”
Mr. Feinberg is expected to answer this by saying he is:
1. Doing the best he can.
2. Okay, really, I promise I will be more transparent…ASAP.
3. Seriously, read the letter my friend wrote, it cost BP well over a thousand dollars…
An expert tasked by the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee to review aspects of the operation of the GCCF has also found many problems with the claims made by Feinberg about his ability to act independently. Edward F. Sherman, Professor of Law at Tulane University addressed the operation and role of the claims facility in his five page declaration to Judge Barbier’s court, and through this declaration he reports he is concerned by the following conclusions:
– Feinberg and BP, while maintaining that Feinberg is independent, the arbitrator in fact consulted with BP about the standards for payment of claims, and the fee arrangement, paid by BP was not publicized and most claimants would not have known about it and should have, in order to take this into account before accepting a payment offer from the GCCF.
– That Feinberg, while maintaining his “independence” indicated to claimants they would be better off settling their claims with the GCCF rather than litigating.
– Claimants should be made aware who is paying the bills of the private attorneys hired by Feinberg in helping claimants determine their best options.
– Finally, “The kind of release required by the GCCF in order for a claimant to receive a final payment also raises question as to how independent the GCCF is…”
Professor Sherman gives his opinion that the court should limit or clarify the GCCF’s communications with claimants and in their public announcements, so the claimants can be said to have made informed choices.
But of course, BP has a different opinion on the matters raised by Professor Sherman: Attorneys for BP have filed a motion in opposition to a recent plaintiff filing asking that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier supervise communications between defendants and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) in the Gulf oil spill litigation. BP attorneys…point to a letter by New York University legal ethics professor Stephen Gillers to Feinberg as ethical counsel on the matter. Gillers wrote that the plaintiff’s “suggestion that you are not independent because you are BP’s lawyer is wrong. You are not BP’s lawyer.”
Feinberg is expected to add:
1. See, I told you I had a letter saying I was “independent,” written by a friend, paid for by British Petroleum and now defended as accurate and legitimate by British Petroleum’s own lawyers.
2. What do you mean, conflict of interest?
3. I’m neutral damnit, and didn’t I say I was going to be more transparent, really, I promise…again…and again…and again…sometime, really, in the near future, the transparency is so close I can taste it…
Gulf Coast residents have had several tastes of the claims facility’s operations and promises, and they taste like shit.
So what happens when Ken Feinberg goes to congress and is grilled by congress type people? Well, as indicated on Tuesday evening, the President is MIA on this one, and the president is one of the few people who can apply pressure on this situation. Attorney’s, local, state and federal politicians, the Justice Department have been making demands for months with little to show for it but more mea culpas and promises from Feinberg and the GCCF, all for naught. So, I’d love to say that this little congressional session will make Feinberg think, will make him take a step back, will result in him appearing more neutral, but my hopes are slim at best…
Though not a fan of litigation, it would seem that it is in claimants best interest to hire lawyers, after all, Feinberg is one, and has many at his disposal, and so does British Petroleum and everyone else at fault in this whole mess. Much as Feinberg strove to keep this all out of the courts, it is his very tactics in the claims process that is driving more and more people there, seeing it as their only means of making things right.
Then again, what do I know…I’m just a social worker.
Weather’s pretty warm for a January, huh? Yeah, I was able to leave all the really cold weather clothes back at the hotel and…okay, first, allow me to introduce myself. Well, kind of introduce myself…
I work for a rather unpopular agency down in the Gulf Coast. Let’s call it an insurance company and yeah, turns out we’re about as good at our jobs, and as responsible as most insurance companies you’ve probably already dealt with…if you don’t know what I mean, just wait until something you love is destroyed, something you’ve insured, and give us a call. You’ll then quickly understand my point.
Our response to your insured loss will sound something like this:
“I try to explain to people that if we’ve made a mistake, we’ll review it as part of the process, we’ll fix it, and we’ll do our best to try and make people less frustrated with the status of their claim,” Feinberg said, “I can’t do more than that.”
And that gets me to my main point…you know those meetings, the ones that Ken Feinberg has been hosting all around the Gulf Coast the past couple of weeks? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those meetings were never about you. I mean, in some ways, yes, you were invited. You were given the chance to ask questions, for an hour anyways and you got an answer to your question…
“I’ve given hundreds of millions of dollars to the seafood industry. I may have made some mistakes, but I’m trying to get as much money to people who work in the seafood industry as possible.”
But when Feinberg said that, it wasn’t really your question he was answering.
He was answering the questions asked by the press.
He was answering the questions asked by the Court of Public Opinion.
And when I say public opinion, I mean the public opinion of every state in the union except Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. He already knows he’s lost you guys, that you’re turning on him, that you really don’t buy the things he says anymore, so he’s working the other 46 states hard. It’s simple math, really. Forty-six versus four.
Here’s another example of something he said at one of those meetings: “In five months we’ve paid out more than $3 billion. A good majority of the claimants have been treated fairly.”
See how that works?
He makes angry claimants look like whiners, even while he admits a mistake. He ain’t a high earning lawyer for nothing. To most people, three billion dollars is an amount of money they can’t really comprehend on any sort of realistic level, except to understand it’s a lot of money, far more than anything they’ll ever see. He then says this kind of money was paid out, by him and given to the “good majority” of people, who were “treated fairly.” Well, “good majority” sounds pretty good, sure, but when you look a bit closer a majority is only 51%. So what’s a “good” majority? Maybe 70%. Hell, let’s give him 75%. Okay, now consider that there were well over 400,000 claimants. So he basically says that in five months he and the GCCF treated 300,000 people “fairly,” but they really fucked over the other 100,000 people.
Let’s say you work on an assembly line at a Ford plant, and you do a good job on three of every four cars, and in a day you work on 40 cars. This means that you didn’t really bother with ten cars per day, forgetting the steering wheel, the ball joint, a series of screws that keeps the oil from flooding the engine.
Think you’d keep your job?
Me neither, but Feinberg not only thinks he should keep his job, he thinks people should cut him some slack, and praise him for the hard job he is undertaking.
Yeah, now you’re getting it.
He’s like that shitty insurance guy all over again, the one that says your house was damaged by flooding, not wind, despite the fact the wind pushed the water that broke the levees that flooded your home.
Now, I don’t blame you for thinking those meetings were for you, I mean, that’s what he said…but really, he didn’t come down there for input from you so he could change the system to work better, for you. He came down there to answer questions about your three options, to answer questions about time lines, to promise all of you that soon, any day now, really this time, he’s gonna be more transparent in the claims process. He came down there to take your abuse, to have the press watch the scene and see how 150, or 300, or 1000 people in a gymnasium were going to treat him shitty, gang up on him, so he then could do a press interview, shrug and say he’s doing the best he can.
Not a bad strategy, like I said, there’s a reason he makes the big bucks.
But how about this, the next time Feinberg holds a meeting, everybody in your community gets together and nominates one person.
And while you have all thousand people showing up outside the gymnasium to stand silent or calmly protest, only that “one person” actually goes inside for the meeting, and let his or her question take fifty minutes as he or she recites the complaints and problems of the entire community, one by one. That way, Feinberg doesn’t get to make you all look like the bully and then the press, know who they’re going to want to talk to when that meeting ends?
They’re going to want to talk to that one guy, and that one guy is going to be able to make Feinberg look like a completely out of touch asshole.
Will it change anything about the claims process?
Probably not, but it’ll sure make Feinberg look stupid, and at least that will be fun because if there’s a guy who needs to look stupid in front of the entire country, yeah, he’d be the one, he and the rest of his insurance ilk…it’s a thought. Anyways, I just felt I should send a letter, let you know what I think about these meetings and their true intent, kinda give you all a heads up, so to speak, not that many of you haven’t already figured this out. Let’s just say I was trying to help collect any of the stragglers…
Okay then, well, be well everybody, stay strong within your community, your family…look out for each other…
I’m heading down to New Orleans, spend some time with old friends and new, and a number of books. Much thanks to everyone who links to, and takes the time to read and comment on this blog…it’s all very appreciated, and I hope your weekend brings you at least a little of what you hope for…
If you haven’t, take a look at the list on the right side of the page and do some exploration of the many valuable websites. Have a safe few days everybody – and for those trying to get through the morass that is the GCCF, keep the pressure on…hopefully for some of you the check’s in the mail.
When it come to the GCCF, there is none. The Justice Department has called for transparency in how the claims process is being handled. Attorney Generals in the Gulf Coast have called for it. The residents with claims in the pipeline have demanded it. Feinberg has promised it.
But still, there is no transparency.
Instead we have a wall of secrecy erected around the GCCF and allowed to remain by the neutral arbitrator, Feinberg and as a result there is tremendous frustration by thousands of people who never asked for this oil spill, but are all suffering from its toxicity. Instead we have the stories from the ground of what exactly is occurring and these stories are alarming, disappointing and ridiculous, especially when the problems all come from the agency whose sole purpose was to make things right for the businesses and residents of the Gulf Coast.
We get allegations of private investigators hired by the GCCF. We get indiscriminate payments to some and denials to others, often for people on the same boat. We get deficiency letters that start the waiting periods for payments all over again. We get accusations of online forms with errors, posted intentionally as stall tactics by the GCCF. We get rules that change arbitrarily. We get an informational GCCF website that posts information that doesn’t make sense or is wrong.
Regarding a visit from the private investigators hired by the GCCF:
“My advice is to get a lawyer fast and have them meet you there. This is a EAP claim and most lawyers will give you advice without charging you for whatever you might get in your EAP payment…Not sure where you are at but this could turn real ugly if you don’t protect yourself now. These guys are not nice. They showed up at a friends and was very very rude. (After 3 hours of attacking her paperwork she finally called the police on them. It was something as simple as the IRS didn’t have her name right. She got married and they haven’t filed this years taxes so they did not know about the legal name change when she got married.. She went through HELL….for hours. Finally they realized the problem then she was approved and then still waited almost 30 more days to get paid.) They are there to not to be on your side but on BP’s side. After all they are the ones paying them. Remember they are recording YOU.. it is on them but they don’t tell you. So whatever you say is being recorded.”
Regarding indiscriminate payments to some and not to others:
“Some people were denied and have NO CLUE why! How about the folks who got denied when their coworkers who got paid the same and filed at the same were approved? how fair is that?”
“All these waiters and waitresses bragging about their money driving around in new cars and they deny the people who really need it!! I was denied and still to this day do not know why…my status states “Reason to be posted soon…” WTF-EVER! I filed for my final we will see what happens! Our leaders are being paid by BP that is why they aren’t doing shit to help anyone!”
Regarding deficiency letters and stall tactics:
“Another turn of events…I just received a call from the GCCF informing me that I would be receiving a deficiency letter in the mail. I freaked out on that poor girl! I said “ANOTHER ONE?” She said that she was just giving me a courtesy call in regards to the letter they mailed us on the 28th and upon further digging… she can see the claim I sent on the 30th and the claim on the 3rd. ?? Seriously? Poor girl… I wouldn’t want her job today…I get so many different answers, but no payment….I have no idea what the heck is going on… apparently they do not either…I just NOW received a courtesy call to inform me that my initial claim form was not valid. WTH?”
“The 90 days Final Claim is from the time they receive the documents. But again if there is one thing missing you will have to re-file and then your 90 days will start all over again. This too is another stall tactic. The stats on the website are not correct. Don’t rely on what you see on the website. Feinberg will stall and delay some final and interim payments then push them out to October he will then again announce another Quick Payout for final claims. He is using stall tactics to push to accept quicker and not fair payouts to the claimants. His advice (from an adjuster) is have an attorney and wait because the rules will change again in the next few months.”
“Does anyone know how to withdraw a claim with the GCCF? There was no way to see what files were uploaded when they were completed uploaded and I uploaded the wrong files. Mostly I just don’t want to deal with the GCCF anymore also.”
This is the result of a broken system and a real lack of transparency.
When some claims are accepted, yet others are denied for no given reason…when claimants are made to feel like criminals and have to hire attorneys to ward off private investigators grilling them on their legitimate claims…when the time tables for needed payments are constantly restarted and nobody can tell them why…when the front office of the GCCF tells a claimant one thing, only to have the home office say another and no reason given for this discrepancy…when the GCCF conducts their business at a snail’s pace while people are running out of money, being forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy…when all this occurs, your system is broken.
Yet Feinberg and the GCCF soldier on unaffected, immune to the kind of charges and complaints that if levied against them in a private business, would get them fired.
The GCCF was created for the purpose of making things right on the Gulf Coast, but little is right…not for thousands of residents still stuck in this mess, not for who knows how many businesses…no, little to nothing is being made right at all for those so frustrated by this claims process, unless of course they should happen to own shares in British Petroleum stock.