Councilman Hall comments on handling of BP

Pensacola City Councilman Sam Hall sent this email that he had sent to a constituent about yesterday’s Committee of the Whole presentation by BP spokesman Liz Castro that was cut short by the city council when it became obvious Castro could do little more that read from the presentation slide.

First the complaint sent to Hall and Councilman Larry Johnson:

Dear Council Members, let me first say that I have always been a supporter
of almost all of you and what you typically stand for. I honestly agree with
a high percentage of your thoughts; however, your public dressing down of the
BP official lacked professionalism.

What was displayed last night comes nowhere close to Websters definition of
how a professional should behave.:

Profession : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally
businesslike manner in the workplace.

I am sickened and extremely frustrated by the accident and BP’s action, but
this does not give cause for the way Ms. Castro was treated last night. It is
very easy for people to pile on right now. When I vote for an elected
official I expect them to behave with a modicum of common respect. Politics
as with life can be fickle, please remember that any one of you may be on
the hot seat and no matter what you did or said to get to that place you’d
still want to be treated with respect.

Lastly, let me share a great quote with you from none other than JFK

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.
– John F. Kennedy Quotes

Substitute the words Success for Victory and Failure for Defeat in this
quote, then perhaps take a step back today and
see if you’d act this demonstratively again today.

I applaud your public service, I know your intentions were good, but the
actions taken were too strong.

Hall’s reply:

I thought long and hard before I made the comments I did and I
prayed for wisdom for what to say, indeed for wisdom of whether to speak or
not. My frustration is really not with Ms. Castro so much as it is with
BP….but last night, she was the face of BP at the City Council’s Committee
of the Whole.

Here’s my frustration with the company that bears the most of a shared
culpability in the world’s worst manmade environmental disaster:

Either BP has placed a person in the position Ms. Castro holds that is not up
to the job or it is allowing her to read off a very short, absent of details
list…OR BOTH!

Any of those three possibilities begs the question as to BP’s seriousness
about its public responsibility. Indeed, if she is not up to the job, then
how many other BP operatives, experts, “greatest minds” are not up to their

Moreover, why is BP’s Director of Civic Affairs in Pensacola and not closer
to Ground Zero, or even Mobile? Has BP given out big titles to a number of
people for each location along the Gulf Coast so that each community feels it
has BP’s top person in an area representing the company? For example, in
addition to the Director of Civic Affairs (Ms. Castro’s job), does another
location have a BP Director of Public Relations, Director of Community
Action, Director of (……….)? Are they all reading from the same
dumb-downed script?

My outrage is with a company that plans on using our city for decontamination
in an already environmentally degraded area, that cannot or will not answer
basic questions about environmental permitting, its plan of action, scope of
operations, startup date, distribution of funds, etc.

So my frustration with Ms. Castro may be more with BP and less to do with
her. On the other hand, if she failed BP by not being prepared for standard
questions last night, then shame on her too.

I do appreciate your concern with the Council’s posture and demeanor
regarding BP and I hope that this Council continues its trend toward being
the nice Council, polite Council, respectful Council. It has not always been

However, BP is not a private citizen. It is a public entity with lots of
fault and little in transparency. Perhaps Council was unfair to Ms. Castro,
the person, but she was treated with more respect from Council than BP has
shown to Pensacola.

Sam Hall
Pensacola City Council