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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senators feel snubbed by no-show Ken Feinberg



Senators are not happy with Kenneth Feinberg, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator who oversees a $20 billion fund for oil-spill relief.

Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee said he "snubbed" them Monday by not giving a scheduled presentation. Feinberg explained he would not be able to come, according to a letter he sent Friday, because he had "scheduling conflicts."

Senators found his inability to show over several months disturbing and concerning -- and that's putting it mildly.

Chairman Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, said he was considering other options for getting Feinberg to appear before his committee, including a subpoena.

"What good is it going to do to subpoena somebody who really doesn’t care?," said Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who voiced the most frustration.

Siplin has heard testimony from people frustrated by the claims process Feinberg oversees for months, and he included Feinberg on the agenda after lots of back-and-forth about a date through email, he said.

Siplin had a committee assistant read Feinberg's letter of regret out loud: "As I mentioned to your staff, you have my promise that during my next visit to Florida, I will schedule a meeting with you and the Committee members," the letter said. "I simply cannot be in Florida on April 11." (See the letter attached.)

Feinberg had said during his February visit to a Florida House committee that he would come back to Florida and update lawmakers on how his changes to ensure better transparency and efficiency were going. He also gave assurances to Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi during his last visit.

“It concerns me that Mr. Feinberg cannot make necessary arrangements to appear before this committee,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee.

The disappointment came a few hours after Scott announced a $30 million grant from BP for marketing and tourism efforts in seven Gulf Coast counties.

[Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2011 3:24pm]


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