Make us your home page
Instagram

Gov. Crist and Cabinet bash BP's response to oil spill, demand payment for losses

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida's Cabinet publicly lashed out at one of BP's top executives Tuesday as frustration continued to mount over what they consider a lackluster response to the plight of businesses crippled by the oil disaster and the insufficient cleanup effort.

In the oil giant's defense, BP senior vice president Robert Fryar repeated the company's promise that it would not rest until the well is "under control" and would pay "all legitimate claims" before he was flogged by the state's top officers.

He announced that BP would be sending the state another $25 million check to pay for clean up efforts.

But Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who requested that BP's chief executive appear before the Cabinet, chastised Fryar for the burdensome claims process and the meager payments to businesses trying to recover their losses.

"Do you know what they call the $5,000 checks they're getting?" she asked, referring to the monthly checks business owners can collect as they await reimbursement for larger losses. "They call it shut up money."

She said businesses need more than $5,000 to stay afloat. While BP is willing to send them monthly checks for minimum payments, she said, it gives businesses "the runaround" when they attempt to appeal for more.

Crist reminded Fryar that BP paid out $1.5 billion in dividends to stockholders in the last quarter and was "the fourth-largest corporation on the planet." He agreed the BP claims process was unacceptable and demanded that it expand the number of claims offices in the state from eight to 30, one in each county bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

Attorney General Bill McCollum complained that the company was lax in pursuing experimental technology that could more efficiently clean up the gulf and called for more booms and skimmers. But he saved his fury for the federal government, which he said was just as responsible for the disaster response as BP.

"I'm ticked at both of them," he said.

McCollum, a Republican running for governor, and Sink, his Democratic rival, used the BP appearance to address many of their political talking points. Sink touted her monthlong record of calling for BP to focus on assisting businesses hurt by the disaster, and McCollum noted that BP was now screening temporary workers to avoid hiring illegal immigrants.

"I have a strong aversion to hiring illegals," he said.

Meanwhile, Crist gathered ammunition for a special session to call in lawmakers back to the capital to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would ban oil drilling off Florida's shores.

The Department of Revenue suggested that another item could be added to the agenda: tax relief for properties that have declined in value because of the oil disaster. Similar laws have been passed to help property owners hurt by wildfires and hurricanes.

Property appraisers from Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in the Panhandle have asked for the tax break, warning that property owners are likely to endure a loss in value this year but face tax payments based on assessments in place before the oil troubles.

Sink said she is urging businesses, individuals and local governments to carefully documents their losses from the oil disaster.

"This is going to be an incredibly complex legal tangle to untangle and to ensure that everybody is compensated fairly," she said.

Times staff writer Lee Logan contributed to this report. Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@ MiamiHerald.com.

Gov. Crist and Cabinet bash BP's response to oil spill, demand payment for losses 06/08/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 10:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida turns over voter-roll data to Trump election commission

    State Roundup

    Florida provided voter-roll data to President Donald Trump's election fraud commission Friday despite a lawsuit by the ACLU of Florida attempting to prevent the state from providing the information.

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, right, lead the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is seeking voter data from every state.
  2. Wells Fargo charged 800,000 for unnecessary auto insurance, internal report says

    Banking

    Wells Fargo incorrectly charged 800,000 of its auto loan customers for unnecessary auto insurance, according to an internal report obtained by The New York Times. According to the report, about 274,000 of those customers were forced into delinquency on their loans, which resulted in 25,000 repossessions. …

    An internal Wells Fargo report obtained by The New York Times said the bank charged more than 800,000 people for auto insurance they did not need.  | [Los Angeles Times]
  3. Trigaux: Do we all need PhDs to fight scams, frauds and rip-offs?

    Business

    There are days when it feels like our school priorities are all wrong. Literature? Math? Computers? Nah. What everyone really needs to survive in the 21st century is a PhD in fighting the rise of increasingly creative consumer scams, frauds and rip-offs.

    As solar panels become cheaper and more popular, consumer agencies are starting to see a rise in consumer complaints about misleading and deceptive solar offerings. Solar scams are noted in a national report on major consumer complaints issued this week by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators. [William Levesque, Times]
  4. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options

    Business

    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]