Spill Continues to Wreak Havoc on Gulf Coast Businesses – And Jobs


The great Bush-era tax-cut compromise and ongoing stimulus funding continue to fuel a political debate about jobs – yet much of BP’s $20 billion oil-spill claims fund languishes. Not only does leaving all that money in the bank not create jobs on the Gulf Coast, those losing their jobs must be frustrated to tears.

A case in point comes to us from reporter Maya Rodriguez at WWL-TV Eyewitness News out of New Orleans. She talks with Mike Hinojosa, president of Midship Marine in New Orleans, whose business just finished its last ship-building contract. More than 50 Midship Marine workers are now without a job, and Hinojosa blames the BP oil spill.

He says BP claims officials who actually visited the shipyard to check out his “emergency claim” agreed that he had a legitimate claim. He meticulously supported his claim with several years worth of financial documentation.

“We submitted what we’ve made the past three years, we’ve given them all our tax reports,” Mr. Hinojosa told Eyewitness News.

Everything appears to be in order – except that Hinojosa hasn’t received a payment. Now, if the Midship Marine story unfolds like many others, Mr. Hinojosa will suddenly get moved to the front of whatever payment line exists. Media focus has brought suspiciously quick payments in other cases – like next-day checks. Some critics would say that the process responds to media, and thus political, pressures.

But let’s point out that in a nation trying to find ways to stimulate the economy and create jobs, BP has most of a $20 billion fund sitting there waiting…not for “grants,” but for damage payments to victims of our worst peacetime oil spill.

Check out the Eyewitness News report here: http://www.wwltv.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/BP-spill-silences-boat-builders-business-111705189.html

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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