"YOU CANNOT HIDE" BP COMPENSATION CZAR KEN FEINBERG SAYS OF THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OIL SPILL CLAIMANTS HURL HIS WAY ? "60 MINUTES"
The lawyer appointed to sort out the thousands of oil spill compensation claims against BP tells Morley Safer he can't hide from the victims' wrath. And there's plenty of it to go around as Safer sees when he follows Ken Feinberg on his BP town hall meeting tour in the Gulf Region. Safer's report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Oct. 3 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"[Spill victims verbally attack me] but it goes with the territory...you go in there expecting that you're going to receive that criticism," Feinberg tells Safer. "And woe be unto you if you hide. That is a mistake. You cannot hide," says Feinberg.
At one meeting held early in the morning in Slidell, La., a local fisherman waiting for his check lost his patience with Feinberg: "It's been 10 days now, can we take whoever programmed this, take him down in the swamp, drop him off for 10 days and then let him wait on us to go pick them up to see how it feels to keep waiting?" Feinberg, in a forgive-me response, remembers his promise that the man wouldn't have to wait, but before he could continue his regrets, the fisherman cuts him off. "It's a contradiction of your words, sir." Prompting Feinberg to be even more frank: "I know...It won't be the first time. I'm trying." Watch a clip.
Says another steamed Slidell victim, when Feinberg points out that 5,000 emergency claims have been paid. "Five thousand out of 20,000 claims sucks."
Asked by Safer if he sees things getting any better for him, "Not yet" Feinberg replies in his Boston accent. Feinberg knows it will be tough slog. "What these fishermen and others want to see are checks and compensation, not promises from somebody from Boston," he tells Safer. "That is an obstacle that I try to overcome, in part by coming down here and meeting with these people," says Feinberg.
Feinberg has paid out at least half a billion dollars in emergency claims from BP's $20 billion fund. The real test will be when the lump sum payments begin, a settlement with BP that gives claimants payment for their agreement not to sue BP. "It's a free country. If you want to come into the fund....We'll give you a fair shake...We'll pay what you're due," he says. "If you think we're nickel and diming you...opt out and go another route."