Asian-American hoteliers disrupt Feinberg hearing, walk outby Dara Kam | February 18th, 2011
Shouting “He lies,” more than a dozen Asian-American hotel owners from Florida’s Gulf Coast walked out of a meeting this morning disrupting BP claims czar Ken Feinberg testimony before a critical House panel digging into his handling of the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
The group then stood outside the House Economic Affairs Committee meeting room and broke into the civil rights song “We Shall Overcome,” led by Art Rocker of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with updated lyrics blasting Feinberg.
More than 85 percent of the 700 Asian-American hotel owners in Florida have not received any payments from Feinberg, forcing many of them on the brink of foreclosure, Pensacola hotelier Nash Patel said.
Nash and leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference met with Feinberg but have had no success in having their claims resolved despite promises from the lawyer whose firm earns $850,000 a month to administer the BP money.
Meanwhile, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has reported glowingly about Feinberg’s settling of its association members’ claims.
“We’re certainly not,” Patel said.
Without saying Feinberg was discriminating against them, Patel said the differences bear scrutiny.
“Is it because of who we are? We have to look at that,” he said.
The group, a loose-knit coalition of 4,000 Asian-American hotel owners – many of them with roots in the Middle East – plans to set up a tent city outside BP headquarters in Houma, La., on March 14.
Rocker said they plan to stay for a week or until BP officials agree to pay the claimants.