At the request of Congressman Jo Bonner along with some heavy hitters got together in Mobile with the man that holds the purse strings to try a different approach to telling the story of the struggles on Alabama’s gulf coast.
“Good morning Mr. Feinberg. Any ideas on what you hope to accomplish today?”
“Whatever the congressman wants to accomplish.”
In a meeting with Congressman Jo Bonner, Governor Riley, Sen. Jeff Sessions, coastal mayors and a dozen or more representatives of business interest along Mobile and Baldwin counties coast, Kenneth Feinberg got the most personal view of economic struggles to date.
“I want no more, I want no less and when you get a check that is 25 percent, 2 percent, 10 percent of that, something is not right,” says Orange Beach businessman Pete Blalock.
One by one, restaurant owners, retail businesses, and individuals sat across a conference table from Feinberg and told their claims stories. “Which can be very personal as you might imagine but to use their story as indicative of others who couldn’t be at that table,” says Bonner.
After the meeting Blalock was encouraged. “I think he understands that now. That we put faces with their own circumstances and problems and he understands that it has to be dealt with quickly.”
Issues discussed included employees being paid while employers were not, no explanation of how a claim is calculated and the issue Governor Riley wants addressed the lack of a sense of urgency. “The biggest problem we have with Kenneth Feinberg right now is, he does not believe that there are people who are not going to be here next year.”
Feinberg says he gets it now. “There is no substitute for hearing it straight. Not from policy makers but true to life stories from individuals.”
Not everyone is convinced. “It ain’t what you say its what you do. So call me back in ten days and I’ll tell you how I feel about it,” says Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.
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