Boston lawyer doles out the dough for every big catastrophe since 9/11

In the New York Times May 14th (print version May 15th):

Mr. [Kenneth R.] Feinberg, 67, a lawyer, has run the victim compensation funds for the families of those killed or hurt in nearly every headline-dominating catastrophe of the past dozen years: the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; the 2007 killings at Virginia Tech; the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; last year’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.; and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn…

In 1984, he was put in charge of the lawsuit settlement fund to compensate Vietnam veterans who had been exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange. From that time to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, he worked on five funds. He is currently managing or has recently completed five others, including one for the collapse of the stage at the Indiana State Fair and one for the young people molested by Jerry Sandusky when he was a Penn State coach. Mr. Feinberg suggested that a 24/7 news cycle and an Internet-suffused world make it as easy to donate money as buying a book on Amazon or sending a text message to a friend.

People are indeed generous:

The 9/11 fund, which was created by a unique act of Congress, provided public, tax-free financing for victims that ultimately came to $7 billion. The One Fund Boston, by comparison, has collected $30 million in contributions and pledges from 50,000 donors.

However, the money doesn’t always get to victims in a timely manner:

“People just trust [Feinberg],” said Alan Nevas, a retired federal judge who is the chairman of a committee that will eventually distribute money to the Newtown families…

The process in Newtown has all but stalled while arguing ensues between the foundation holding $11 million in donations and the families of victims. The sticking point is how much of the money should go to families and how much should go to the long-term needs of the community, like counseling. [Feinberg] was supposed to fly to Newtown for similar town hall meetings last week, but they were postponed while the details were being nailed down.

In addition:

[Feinberg] was vilified in the Gulf by people who said he was doing BP’s bidding (while releasing more than $6 billion, he was attacked for the pace of the process and the evaluation of claims)…He continues to take on these jobs, he said, because he continues to be asked, pursuing the ideal of public service he has said was exemplified by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whom he served as chief of staff.

Here is the NYT’s photo of the event:

NYT photo Boston townhall

Here is someone else I don’t recognize:Waye Gilchrist at townhall

This is Wayne Gilchrist, who

showed up with casts on his left and right arms…He is haunted by the sight of so much blood and of flying body parts. “I’ve been going through hell,” he said. “Crying every day, no sleep.” He has had eight seizures, he added.

It seems that the actors at the Boston bombing sites are not showing up at the post-event photo-ops. Conversely, I cannot place the current post-event actors at the bombing sites.

Nevertheless, getting back to the topic of this post, the information on Feinberg is quite interesting. Who knew that one man was handling all the money for so many events? According to Wikipedia,

Feinberg also served as the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, popularly called the ‘pay czar’…On June 10, 2009, Feinberg was appointed by the U.S. Treasury Department to oversee the compensation of top executives at companies which have received federal bailout assistance.

In addition,

Feinberg was also one of three arbitrators who determined the fair market value of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and was one of two arbitrators who determined the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation. He is a former Lecturer-in-Law at a number of U.S. law schools.

Interesting guy. He also had this to say to the NYT:

Moreover, he added, people die in unspectacular ways every day. They lose their children and see their lives destroyed, but out of the glare of television cameras. There is no fund for them.

It’s not a direct quote, so who knows what he really said. It seems more like an appeasement statement. Nevertheless, I would agree with the sentiment while asking: Why raise all this money for “victims”? Particularly in the cases of staged events in which no one was actually hurt. What are they doing with all the money?

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