White House Officially Lights Fire Under Feinberg’s Claims Process


No way it works, but the Obama Administration is trying to distance itself from the failings of the Feinberg claims process. You know things are getting bad when the White House rolls into full “crisis management” mode.

For example, the St. Petersburg Times, posting at tampabay.com, has this: “The Gulf Coast Claims Facility ‘needs to devote whatever additional resources — or make whatever administrative changes — are necessary in order to speed up this process,’ Associate U.S. Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli wrote in a letter to claims czar Kenneth Feinberg.”

And later this zinger, on more of a personal level, from the associate AG to Mr. Feinberg: “I would reiterate to you, however, that the efficiency of the GCCF’s review and payment process is not just a matter of fulfilling your own performance goals. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has disrupted the lives of thousands upon thousands of individuals, often cutting off the income on which they depend. Many of these individuals and businesses simply do not have the resources to get by while they await processing by the GCCF.”

That, my friends, is what amounts to a warning rattle in the snakepit of national blame-game politics. The rough translation is: If anyone gets thrown under the bus here, it ain’t gonna be the President of the United States.

The Claims Facility response was to again cite those meaningless “claims paid” numbers – meaningless because they are often only pennies on the dollar. And those “too little, too late” payments are actually creating more anxiety rather than peace of mind. Feinberg also promised (again) to make the claims process quicker and more generous.

This is fast reaching a boiling point down here, with elected officials in some Gulf communities saying it’s time to “get ugly.” It’s hard to know exactly what that means in areas where local officials have commandeered boats and threatened to arrest BP workers if they flee the area before the cleanup is complete.

Who knows, Anderson Cooper may be broadcasting from New Orleans again very soon.

See the St. Pete Times piece here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/obama-administration-directs-criticism-to-bp-claims-czar-kenneth-feinberg/1123951

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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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