Notes on Beach Town Hall meeting, May 3

Please forgive any typos in these notes. Have been operating on pots of coffee, Bud Light and NY Nick’s wings for 72 straight hours.

Gulf Breeze idea
Mayor Beverly Zimmern and City Manager Buzz Eddy want to place booms under the Bob Sikes Bridge and the Pensacola Bay Bridge….alas they, too, are waiting approval from the Unified Command. Santa Rosa County Commissioner Gordon Goodin says that the UC has promised that no local request will be disapproved….unfortunately none are being approved either.

“We’ve been repeatedly told that this won’t be like the FEMA process,” said Goodin, “I’m not so sure it won’t be worse.”

TV crews
Local residents filled the front pews of the Beach Community Church early only to have camera crews from Tampa, Jacksonville and Germany block they view. “They think they are more important than the people who live here,” grumbled one local who had been there since 12:45 for the 2 p.m. meeting.

Quotes from officials:

Sheriff David Morgan: “We’re all disappointed. We did a doggone good job with three hurricanes…we’re leaning about oil spills.”

Comm. Gordon Goodin: “We’re in a marathon. This is a long, long process.”

Comm. Grover Robinson: “We’re going to find a way to deal with this. Your county staff has been working hard on plans and are waiting for approval to implement it.

GB Mayor Bev Zimmern: “We are very vulnerable with water on all three sides and are working with federal, state and county officials to what will be best for our citizens.”

In the hot seat sitting at a table in front of the church’s altar were Darryl Boudreau, a DEP assistant district director; my favorite BP spinmaster Liz Castro; and Bill Downey, a BP community liaison from Ohio.

The trio told us that they didn’t know what to expect from the oil spill. They don’t know if we will see the sheen or tar balls on our shores. They don’t know how long it will last. We should pray and hope that BP’s cap & dome proposal workings in stopping the three leaks at the Deep Horizon well over the next six to eight days.

Honestly, I shut down whenever Castro speaks because she keeps saying the same trite, meaningless BP talking points: 1) We are deeply sadden by this tragedy; 2) Our focus is to stop the spill underwater, clean the waterways and protect the beaches and citizens; 3) We have XXX amount of boom deployed; 4) This is as global effort. BP has the best minds in the world working on this….blah, blah, blah.

If you ask her any specific questions on the spill or the oil rig or reimburse, she has two responses: 1) “I’m not a technical person” or 2) Our 800-hot line is ….

Bill Downey seemed to have more of a technical background, but he doesn’t have access to the BP checkbook to help us pay for the clean-up.

Frustrations & Farce
For the next hour, a steady stream of locals lined up to ask questions, express their frustrations and offer suggestions.

This is what really burns me. BP says it has the “best minds in the world” working on this. Yet they can’t tell us what to expect….but then they want to locals – people whose life’s savings, health and livelihoods are at risk – to “help” them figure how to deal with the spill. This is ludicrous!!!! “We want your ideas….no idea is a bad one.”

Funny, I didn’t see any buddy from BP taking notes and writing down the ideas from the locals. There is a special place in hell for people who screw with scared, anxious and upset locals.