We were listening to an interview with Alabama AG Strange yesterday and found that what he didn’t say regarding compensation for ordinary Alabamians, well, frankly, strange. He seemed fond of a phrase that invites debate as being more speculation than fact: “But for this…”
“If you’re a Realtor or Dentist, but for this spill I would have had this…. If you‘re a golf course owner/developer, restaurant or accountant, but for this, I would have had this….”
“A lot of our time is spent looking at economic damage and but for this I would have had this.”
What we’re not hearing is the average person being given the same consideration, such as the fishermen and small seafood affiliated businesses who rely on the Gulf to make a living. Can’t they make a more compelling argument using the “but for this” measure than a real estate developer who’s business was already in a downturn before the spill?
We’ve seen story after story of the average citizen being moved aside in favor of special interests being compensated first.
Take the case of the real estate developer Brett Robinson who recently received $37.2 million from BP. He’s well-connected to the Alabama Republican party and it’s the suspicion of many that he was given preferential treatment:
BP PLC agreed today to pay $37.2 million to Brett Robinson, developers of Phoenix West II in Orange Beach, so the company can finish construction of the high-rise, 358-unit condominium tower, according to Gov. Bob Riley and the developers.Let’s contrast that payoff with 67 y/o Ralph Atkins the owner of Southern Fish & Oyster Co. who’s been in business since 1934. Here’s how he describes his experience with the claims process:
"This project will bring significant economic benefits to the region and our state," Riley said in a joint statement with U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.
Atkins called the recent meetings with Feinberg in Bayou La Batre and elsewhere “dog and pony shows.” He has filed an interim claim but is still talking with his accountant about their next move. Seafood dealers aren’t being paid anything close to what restaurants are getting, he said. “The last money I got was in October — they keep changing around the rules and telling you something different,” he said. “And they’re giving all this money to the Department of Conservation, which doesn’t know anything about marketing.”“But for this” Mr. Atkins would have had his 77 y/o business remain intact. Where’s his fair compensation? Why was he treated differently than a big republican operative? That’s a rhetorical question obviously.
Luther was cheer-leading himself and repeating the myth of the beaches being clean despite numerous reports and video evidence that the cleanest beaches are solely in certain well-to-do areas.
“I think the beaches are great, I have been pleased as I go down and look at the coast and the beaches are clean….” One good thing that has happened in the lawsuit is the judge appointed me to oversee the case. We can maximize recovery for the state, it’s puts us in the catbird seat.”
When was the last time you tried a case in court Mr. Strange? And don’t you think that your previous occupation as a lobbyist for Transocean and big oil might have made you a more attractive choice to Judge Barbier, who like many judges in Louisiana, holds stock in big oil? You were appointed behind closed doors with no meeting by this judge weren't you?
And isn't it true that for the most part, that State attorney generals, particularly in the current economy, lack the resources (staff and money) to initiate the costly, drawn out litigation required by such cases?
Who's going to be making sure that the corruption machine in Alabama is held accountable with the AG's office distracted by handling the BP case? Oh, the Ethics Commission will be handling that we suppose. The same commission that passes on over 90% of the cases that comes before them.
Was this by design or just coincidence?
So what do we really have in Strange being in charge of the BP lawsuit? We have a "but for this" maybe the process would be fair to the regular Joe and maybe we would have a seasoned courtroom attorney trying this important case for the benefit of all, and not just the anointed few.