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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Task force takes oil spill czar Kenneth Feinberg to task over claims decisions

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September

After hearing from Russell Kent of the attorney general's office about all the disagreements they're having with oil spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, who doesn't think that many of the businesses affected by the plunge in tourism should be compensated, the governor's oil spill recovery task force unleashed a tirade of complaints about the Obama-appointed lawyer.

Carol Dover, executive director of the Florida Restaurant Association, said that after four meetings with Feinberg her association has hired three law firms to negotiate with him about how to resolve their differences. She called it "nothing but a totally verbal battle ... he tells us one thing and rolls out paperwork that says another."

Her attorneys yesterday even threatened that if Feinberg didn't back off the emergency protocol he had established for the first round of claims, they would "continue to go to the media and call off negotiations."

Dover said that while they have hired lawyers, they are "being used first to go through the claims process. We are not leapfrogging into litigation."

George Sheldon, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, said he was also frustrated that what Feinberg told them he was going to do "is something totally different than the protocol that was released the same day."

"I never thought I'd say this,'' Sheldon said, "but part of me would like BP back, and that's kind of frustrating."

Task force chairman Chris Hart said it's a signal the state needs to "take a much more aggressive posture.''

Attorney General Bill McCollum has tried that. He attended the meeting and said he called Feinberg Tuesday and they agreed to get together in person to discuss their differences. "He seemed to be open if we can convince them. He has very hard views that are very different than what we're presenting. He doesn't believe some of the things we're telling him, including the basis for liability."

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:26am]

    

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