Oil spill claims chief Ken Feinberg has held three town hall meetings in January, one in Mississippi and three in Louisiana, to explain new guidelines that impact on all claims against BP. On Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 300 people attended the meeting at the Lafitte Community Center in Jean Lafitte, LA. Feinberg listened to their concerns and answered questions during an emotionally charged hour long meeting. There was a line of frustrated people who didn’t get to address him, but Feinberg promised he’d be returning. Former congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao, now a consultant to Feinberg, is helping the Vietnamese community that has been having a lot of trouble navigating the claims process. Feinberg told the crowd that Cao and other locals were recently hired to make the claims process run more smoothy. But those in attendance expressed their disbelief. Elmer Rogers from Empire came to the meeting with his claim in hand. At a meeting earlier in the year when he had a brief private audience with Feinberg, he was told his claim was valid and he would be paid. Addressing Feinberg once again, he asked if it would help to beg and got on his knees. “I just need money to live,” he exclaimed. Diane Pochie of Lafitte got so agitated when stating her case, security stepped in and made her back up. Issues raised at the meeting ranged from personal pleas, complaints about the wrong people receiving payments, to wanting to know when and how the lump sum payout that is one of the options claimants can chose will be determined. Feinberg explained the three option: emergency payments, quarterly payments or getting a lump sum and giving up ones right to sue BP. That option has angered people. Many asked if it was legal to have people give up their right to sue if they take the payment. Feinberg made clear that he is neither encouraging or discouraging anyone from taking the lump payment, and reminded the people he works for them, not BP, though BP is paying him.
Images: Top- Hung Viet Tran, a fisherman from New Orleans east wear a sign on his forehead that saw “I Fish Therefore I am.” , Ken Feinberg, administrator of the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund, Bottom-Tracy Kuhns, wears her message on a pin and sticker, Crowd at a town hall meeting filled to capacity
To see more images from the meeting click here.
link to wwl’s coverage of the meeting– they did a great job capturing the drama. And an article on the Huffington post about-$950 an hour paid out of BP Claims fund to a Law Professor to consult . And one more link – the oil commission report and a video my Mediastorm that has a bunch of my images in it. One of my images is in the final report to which is free to download.