Fienberg Promises Change, Few Believe Him

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Dozens of fishermen, hoteliers and tourism shop owners poured into the state capitol Friday to see the man they say owes them money.

Fisherman Jack Ritchie’s life was turned upside down last summer when the BP oil spill stopped him from casting his nets.

“People are getting there homes foreclosed on and losing their cars. Which is…I’m in that situation right now,” said Ritchie.

BP Claims Czar Ken Feinberg faced a panel of frustrated lawmakers searching for answers about claims denied without explanation and a lack of transparency.

From the onset Feinberg told lawmakers things were going to change, but few in the audience were buying it. A group of hotel owners left the meeting angry. They say Feinberg was giving lawmakers the same runaround they’ve been hearing for six months.

“Just like a broken record…same answers. Same answers, and were tired of it,” said Nash Patel, a spokesman for the hotel owners.

While the group demonstrated outside the meeting, back inside Kathryn Birren tried to find out why her claim was paid, but her husband’s identical claim was denied.

“In the last two months we’ve lost over 450 thousand dollars on the west coast of Florida,” Birren told Feinberg.

“Ma’am. I can’t here and now review that claim. I think it is unfortunate if what you say is true,” said Feinberg.

During his two hours of testimony Fienberg promised to revamp the claims process, with changes in place by mid-March. Throughout the committee meeting Feinberg reassured lawmakers that a final rule he plans to implement over the next three weeks will bring Washington accountants and staff to Florida’s 32 claims offices to meet with claimants one-on-one about their cases.


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