More accounts of how Alabama coastal community local leaders and other elected state representatives are increasingly personally profiting from the BP cleanup efforts. This one from Bayou La Batre Alabama that gained fame from the movie "Forrest Gump."
Bayou La Batre, population 2,313, has received $8.5 million in BP grant money, more than any other place on the Gulf Coast, but boat operators idled by the spill complain that some of the cash intended to keep them working has gone instead to recreational fishermen and the mayor's brother.
The Bayou's share has been far heftier even than that received by much larger Gulf Coast cities and counties because its cleanup work extends well beyond the town line, covering the entire southern coast of Mobile County, said Jeff Emerson, a spokesman for Gov. Bob Riley.
But with so much cash flooding a blue-collar town, people focused sharply on who was getting what. Quickly, Bayou La Batre was buzzing over claims that Mayor Wright and cronies were setting up their family and friends with BP money.
Much of the controversy centered on Wright's brother Gordy, who was working for a marine company that received a city contract for BP-funded work.
The mayor said nothing was wrong with the arrangement, but another company has since been brought in under a new arrangement with BP.
Under their breath, some people even worry about an outbreak of violence. A police car sat for days guarding a marine company that employs the brother of Mayor Stan Wright.
"This town has gone money crazy," said boat operator Christopher LaForce.As we discussed in a previous post about Mobile Bay being opened up to shrimping recently despite no test being available yet for Corexit mixed with oil, it appears anything Alabama does is rooted in follow the money to personal pockets.
Perhaps we are naive to think that the money should be solely for the benefit of the affected communities rather than the elected officials, but that is our position on this subject and clearly we are in the minority with that opinion in comparison to the elected officials actions.
On July 24th, a town hall meeting was held in Bayou La Batre for the community to have their questions answered about claims related to the oil spill, but many could not attend the meeting due to a glaring lack of planning by State Rep Spencer Collins-R Bayou La Batre. We elect these guys for what again exactly? To represent us and work for our interests right?
BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. -- About 100 people crammed into Bayou La Batre's City Hall at 7 a.m. Saturday to ask questions of oil claims czar Ken Feinberg.
But dozens more were turned away by city police officers who said the room was at capacity.
Feinberg and his entourage said they didn't know anything about the people who were turned away.
Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker said that had he known there were people who couldn't get in, he would have moved the event out to the parking lot so everyone could take part.
A previous meeting on May 1, 2010 held at the local community center was attended by hundreds of people and many of them were unable to get inside and participate. Collins was aware of this, but says that perhaps the community center would have been a "better choice" the second time around when it wasn't a good choice the first time he arranged it.
Area residents are very upset and think the move by Collins was purposefully planned to dissuade full community participation-- they aren't buying his excuses. They aren't buying what Feinberg has to say either.
In nearby Fairhope, Alabama State Senator Trip Pittman-R Montrose received over half of Fairhope's money from BP for a company he owns.
Of the $74 million that BP has given Alabama since the spill, Daphne received $965,000 and Fairhope received $1.15 million, according to records.
Spanish Fort so far has received nothing, city officials said.
About half of Fairhope's share -- $625,575 -- has gone to Pittman Tractor Co., owned by state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose.
The company was awarded a no-bid contract in June to conduct booming operations along the city's shoreline and surrounding the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort and Spa in Point Clear.The reader's comments following the above story reveal a heated debate going on over this issue and we suspect Montrose insiders are among his most ardent defenders.
Press-Register reporter Russ Henderson barely touched on the conspicuous controversy as is usually the case with Alabama's press; it seems they report under heavy edit rather than honestly informing the citizens and asking the hard questions.
Control the media, control the message.
Further proof of why this state is ranked second as the most corrupt in the country.