Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Love is in the Air

Hey, when did the TP editorial staff and Kenneth Feinberg start dating?

Oil spill claims administrator Ken Feinberg offers hope to victims

Jeez...Feinberg Rosen should just can their PR firm and let the Picayune write their press releases.  I'm not sure what Feinberg did to give the Picayune such a hard on but I don't think it's possible to adulate someone in print any better than this editorial.  I think they got a hold of a 12 year old girl's fan letter to Justin Bieber and plugged in Feinberg's name.

Indeed, every article on Feinberg published by the TP seems to be a pitch.  Perhaps they should hire the Shamwow guy to write the next editorial:

Manager of $20 billion oil spill escrow fund won praise for work with 9/11 fund

What's most interesting to me is not just the tone, but the lack of substance in the articles the TP has produced on Feinberg and his grand plan to dispense the 20b.  Case in point, this story they reported on Feinberg's visit to Port Sulpher and Lafitte.

Feinberg offers hope to spill victims

Both the editorial and the original article seem to really like this quote:

"I believe that any claimant in Louisiana who is eligible is making a mistake -- a big mistake -- not to come into this program," he said. 

Is that a plea or a threat?

Pledging his independence from the federal government and BP, Feinberg said he plans to establish a centralized claim center, beef up a staff of adjusters and be a constant, visible figure for Gulf Coast residents. 

"This is an independent, private program," he said. "I'm not beholden to the Obama administration. I'm not beholden to BP. I'm an independent administrator calling the shots as I see them." 

Yet he was appointed by who?  Would he have us believe that the "go to" man for large scale arbitration matters like this has absolutely no vested interests?  Really?  Has anyone bothered to check and see if Mr. Feinberg or his associates have financial interests in BP or companies involved with BP?  Has anyone bothered to see if Feinberg or his associates made donations to Obama's campaign?  I haven't checked myself but then I didn't jump into bed with him the moment he waltzed in to town.

What really gobsmacked me is that the reporters who took the time to show up at Feinberg's evangelical tour around South East La., didn't bother to report what the actual deal was that Mr. Feinberg laid out to the audiences. 

I talked to a fisherman friend of mine, who made the effort to be at both the Port Sulphur and Lafitte meetings.  He informed me that Feinberg's message caused tremendous anxiety among his fellow fisherman.  Here's why.

According to my friend's interpretation, Feinberg said they are allowing people affected by the spill to file an initial 6 month emergency claim to compensate them for their losses.  That claim would be "assessed on a month to month basis"....I have no idea what the criteria for that assessment is.  If you are working with BP YOU ARE NOT eligible for that claim.  Upon the end of that 6 month period, you can file a long term claim which should project your losses out to a 3 year period.  Upon filing that claim you must sign a waiver stating that you can not file suit against BP and you cannot attempt to amend your losses once the claim is filed. 

So if I'm a fisherman working for BP right now they aren't allowing me to wear a respirator or protective gear.  If I get ill after I've signed that waiver, does that negate my ability to file suit against BP?  Even if I didn't work for BP and I signed that waiver and come up with health problems related to the spill...does that negate my ability to file suit against BP?  How did they come up with the arbitrary time period of 3 years?  From every account I've heard, this spill is going to affect the region for over a decade.  If there is only 5 billion dollars being put into the escrow account in the first year, what happens if the initial claims exceed that amount in the first year, or second year?  Does that mean people will have to wait up to X months to get paid?   

I'm no Pulitzer prize winning reporter but it seems to me like these are basic questions the TP should have been asking instead of throwing roses at Mr. Feinberg as his chariot entered the city.  I hope they wore a condom.

UPDATE:  Drake Toulouse and I are crossing paths.  Clint is one of the fisherman who filled me in on what exactly Feinberg said.


Anonymous said...

Great post. You are right about the condom, though at least you can't get pregnant from the acts they are engaged in.

Anonymous said...

Not about Feinberg/BP, but a kernel for you to dig into...
Remember all the AP articles last fall about organized crime getting into Medicare fraud because the money is good and the sentences (if caught) are slim...
1)Plug in "Progressive Home Health Care" to the state's Secretary of State website. Address: 1732 Stumpf Blvd. Gretna. 2)Check the city assessor or state's Secretary of State website under Vincent Marcello and see that 1732 Stumpf Blvd. Gretna is used as their main westbank location (including for MVP-Master Video Poker), at least contact address-wise. 3)Start looking into Milton "Mickey" Diaz and wonder how someone with an electrical engineering background from a community college can be running this kind of operation.

Jason Brad Berry said...

But you can catch journalistic chlamydia.

I can't believe they didn't print what the actual deal was Feinberg was laying out, nor can I beleive they didn't take the time to interview a fisherman or two to see what their response was. Jesus, they could have saved the money to send the reporter out to the meeting and just printed a press release from feinberg's law office.

Jason Brad Berry said...

War Pigs? hmmmm. I actually had to sing that before I recognized where it was from.

Anon 2, on Marcello...that looks very fishy but it may be out of scope for me. And to be honest, Marcello scares the shit out of me.

Drake Toulouse said...

Great post. I wish someone would dig deep into this guy's background and see what they find...could be interesting. When he was named administrator of the fund, what I remember reading about itmore than anything was he did teh same thing for the 9-11 fund. Okay, good, but from what I recall there were problems there and just because someone was involved in a profesional way with the day and its aftermath, doesn;t necessarily give you a free pass, you know, the free pass that the Tims Picayune seems intent on giving him...

Anonymous said...

so, uh, why all the "dig into this guy's past!" paranoia? what, specifically, has this guy done to warrant it? maybe ive been under a rock...

>>"I believe that any claimant in Louisiana who is eligible is making a mistake -- a big mistake -- not to come into this program," he said.

Is that a plea or a threat?<<

similarly, why would that be anything other than what he said: a plea to make use of this money while its still available??

Jason Brad Berry said...

Because as the anon pointed out there were some major issues with the way the 9/11 case was handled by him.

And maybe you didn't read the point of the post....the TP failed to actually print what the terms are that he laid out to the audiences. You don't find that odd? Why would you send a reporter out to the meeting and not report what the actual substance of the meeting was about? Instead you just heap praises on the guy? Why would you not ask a fisherman what he thought about the terms of the settlements Feinberg made?

You don't think any of these things are odd?

on the plea or threat...really? you don't see that as remotely threatening?

"This bus is leaving, you can either get on it, or get left behind." That's how I interpreted it.

It seems to me like he's very adamant that everyone accept his arbitration proposal as the only real solution. That concerns me...greatly. Is there a commission involved in his payment process?

Look, we don't anything about how this deal was set up or what the background on his contract is do we? He is telling us that he isn't beholden to either party, but who hired him? Would he have us believe that his only interest is in the people of the Gulf Coast?

If the goal was to hire an arbitrator that had the Gulf Coast's interests in mind, why not hire a Gulf Coast lawyer to arbitrate the payments? Shit I would rather see Morris Bart arbitrating these matter than I would some asshole from D.C. who spends most of his time wining and dining politicos to get the next big payout.

Here are some questions I want to know:

1. What is the nature of the contract with Feinberg Rozen, LLP? Who is paying for the contract, BP and/or Federal entity? If it is a Federal Entity, which one?

2. Is their a commission clause within the contract? If so what are the commission incentives, i.e. expediency of claims payed, amount of claims payed, etc.?

3. What is Feinberg Rozen's plan to conduct the assessments and claim payments? Are they going to set up offices along the Gulf Coast, etc.?

4. Are the claims limited to specific geographical areas? If so, are those areas defined by state, or is it an arbitrary geographical footprint?

5. What is the criteria Feinberg Rozen will use to establish whether or not an individual or business has been negatively affected by the BP oil spill?

6. How was Feiberg Rozen, LLP chosen by the White House to arbitrate the 20 billion dollar fund? Did the company solicit the White House or did the White House solicit the company?

7. If claims exceed the first 5 billion dollar payment within the first year, how will Feinberg Rosen assess which claims are paid first? Will the priority of the claims paid be contingent upon which areas were the first areas impacted?

8. Does Mr. Feinberg or any other member of his law firm have financial interests in BP including 401k plans?

Let's start there.

Jason Brad Berry said...

you know the last time I checked arbitration meant the ability to negotiate.

As it stands, he is coming down here and telling us it's my way or the highway. He's shoving this down or throats and telling us this is how it's going to be if you want to be compensated.

When and where did the actual arbitration take place? Between the FED and BP? They alone decided what the terms and conditions of the payout are? Now we take it or leave it?

It seems to me like the terms he actually laid out are a damn good attempt to limit BP's liability.

Anonymous said...

What problems with the 9/11 fund? just curious. You realize there are problems with everything right? Its all a matter of degree.

I heard Feinberg say this "plea/threat" on the radio. I believe the context was that you can either go his way and get your money soon or you can hire Bruno, Bruno, et al. and wait five years for the hope that you may get even more but only get 60% (minus court costs) after you pay your lawyer. Sounds like a guy who is really trying to scream louder than the Plaintiff lawyer billboards.

Jason Brad Berry said...

right so you're not the least bit concerned with the questions I posed.

Good for you.

Anonymous said...

didn't say that. All of those are good questions that anyone should expect to be answered--and of course I don't expect the Times Pic to do the digging. But just because the Times Pic is a mediocre newspaper, that doesn't mean Feinberg is a crook.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Didn't call him a crook.

I called him a special interest serving asshole. I want to expose what the special interests are.

I, myself, am an asshole, but never a crook. Regardless, I don't dissemble my motivations or interests.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Hey Asshole, I agree with every letter of this post and your comment/questions.

Feinberg did say that if the 20 Billion wasn't enough the BP would provide more funding (without providing the How they would)... yet not once did he address that $5Bil/yr figure. Never even mentioned it.

In the words of one 9/11 survivor, who did not take Mr Feinberg's advice: "I really didn’t go into it for the money, I went into it for the answers."
And here is Feinberg still swinging the hammer with 9/11 survivors.
He apparently doesn't get into latent mental health effects, Drake. (that was a badass post btw)

Thanks for staying on top of this Ashe.

Anonymous said...

It's even worse than what Eric sez. He needs to Add another Zero and get:


But then again, maybe Eric's referring to maybe a "mere" 10% ($2billion) commission that Feinberg maybe will get as a handling fee.

Anonymous said...

I am skeptical of Feinberg Rozen LLP because they also represent Conoco, Inc., Exxon Corporation, Shell Oil Company, and other oil & gas companies they have an interest in keeping the claims low so that B.P North American can sell off its profitable assets to those same energy companies over the next few months.

Secondly this is the same asshole who let Goldman Sachs & 419 other financial companies who recieved 1.7 billion in TARP funds.

This guy is a shill for corporate america.

PS--once you sign an agreement with an arbitration clause in it you are forced into arbitration and you lose your right to the federal litigation process thanks to the folks with the US Supreme Court.


Anonymous said...

t-p gives Vallas a free pass, refuses to ever report what is common knowledge elsewhere, that he runs school systems into the ground for a living and his top deputy is his mistress. also Vallas uses the 'this train has left the station' threat.

Jason Brad Berry said...

I don't know so much about Vallas's sexual proclivities but I can tell you I know a lot about NOPS pre-Katrina.

I can tell you that the "do it now or pay the consequences" ploy was par for the course. I heard it almost every school board meeting from insurance contracts to security contracts to whatever....every vote was always in the 11th hour.

That 20b ain't goin' nowhere. We don't have to accept anything Feinberg is shoving down our throats...period.

Anonymous said...
Limiting BP's Liability in the Gulf
The Case Against Kenneth Feinberg


Kenneth Feinberg is an expert.

His expertise?

Collusive class actions.

Limiting the liability of toxic tortfeasors.

And covering up corporate and governmental wrongdoing.

That’s the take of public interest attorney Rob Hager.

Feinberg is now working to limit the liability of BP in the Gulf oil spill case.

But Hager first ran into Feinberg while litigating the Agent Orange case back in the 1980s.

Hager was representing Vietnam veteran Don Ivy.

Federal court judge Jack Weinstein was seeking to impose a settlement on thousands of such cases brought by veterans against the companies that made Agent Orange – the dioxin-laced herbicide used in Vietnam.

Weinstein even had a settlement figure in mind – $180 million – half of what the chemical companies were willing to settle for.

He brought in Feinberg to “do his dirty work,” Hager told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week.

“Weinstein’s mission was to limit the liability of the defendants,” Hager says. “That’s very clear.”