Saturday, June 19, 2010

BP's Tony Hayward to unemployed in Gulf, "Let them eat yachts."

Poor misunderstood Tony "I want my life back" Hayward just can't catch a break. Less than 24 hours after the British Petroleum's CEO allegedly "stepped down" from overseeing day-to-day operations in the Gulf, he was caught with his PR pants down again.

Once again, the oil company was forced to clarify the statements of its top executives to try to smooth its image — on the same day Mr. Hayward watched his yacht compete in a major race off the southern coast of England.

“He is having some rare private time with his son,” a BP spokeswoman, Sheila Williams, said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who taped an interview for ABC’s “This Week,” called Mr. Hayward’s attendance “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes” that he has made.

“To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Mr. Emanuel said. “And I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting.” He was referring to a statement Mr. Hayward made on May 31, six weeks after the spill began, when he said: “I’d like my life back.”

Poor boy. I'm sure his fellow boat enthusiasts in Louisiana grounded by the BP spill can relate.

In areas hit hard by the Gulf oil spill, some families are already in desperate financial straits. Even before the spill, many were living near the edge, their savings depleted by Hurricane Katrina.

For those who fish for a living, the spill has cut off both their source of income and a major source of food.

At St. Anthony's Church in Lafitte, La., people started lining up at 4 a.m., even though the doors weren't set to open until 9 a.m. They were there for free $100 grocery gift cards.

"You think we'd be sitting in these lines for five hours for $100 in food if we didn't need it? None of us would be here," Diane Poche says.

Until a month ago, Poche, 61, worked with her husband, who has been a commercial fisherman all his life. But now they can't fish, and Poche says they're forced to rely on the BP claims process for their entire income.

"I don't have any money coming in my house, period," she says. "My June bills have been due and past due. It don't look like BP cares about our June bills."

I'm sure Tony has their ear. After all, he was such an "active listener" when it came to safety concerns at BP.

On Thursday, during his day before an angry House energy subcommittee, Mr. Hayward was confronted with the fact that BP had been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 760 “egregious willful” safety violations in its refineries. Mr. Hayward tried to slough this off by claiming that the violations had taken place in 2005 and 2006 — before, that is, he became chief executive and brought his “laser focus” on safety.

But Mr. Hayward was not telling the truth. According to the Center for Public Integrity, which obtained the data under the Freedom of Information Act, the violations all took place between 2007 and 2010, very much on Mr. Hayward’s watch. What’s more, the company violated something called O.S.H.A.’s “process safety management standard” — which is precisely what that BP advisory panel had been charged with examining after the Texas City explosion. In October 2009, O.S.H.A. fined BP an additional $87 million for refinery deficiencies. It doesn’t sound like the company took its advisory panel’s recommendations very seriously, does it?
Tony Hayward, enjoying private time on his yacht "Bob", was unavailable for comment.

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