Buzz: Monday disaster

Buzz: Ken Feinberg’s visit to Pensacola on Monday wasn’t without melodrama. The meeting was coup for Mayor Ashton Hayward, who had personally invited the head of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility to Pensacola for a candid discussion of the claims issues. Hayward literally pushed his way into Feinberg’s SUV and convinced him to come here.

The Feinberg-Hayward was to be a private session with a few elected officials and representatives from the hotel, restaurant and fishing industries. To accommodate the media, City Hall had set up for Feinberg a meeting with the News Journal’s Editorial Board and an interview with WEAR TV 3. The IN was originally cut out, but that was later fixed.

The PNJ wanted more and sent reporter Louis Cooper who demanded to be in the meeting. Feinberg had requested that the meeting itself be closed to the media. The buzz is that Cooper got escorted from the room and that Editor Dick Schneider intervened. Somehow Cooper got back into the room…not quite sure how. One version is that he walked in with the Feinberg entourage.

Did the PNJ spoil a possible rare opportunity to get Feinberg to talk more openly about the problems with the GCCF? One participant told me that he still thought the meeting was worthwhile and that he walked away with contact numbers that might help him process his individual claims. Another said Feinberg dodged any of the hard questions and gave the same pat answers that he gave in Orange Beach two weeks ago.