BP HIRES POLITICAL CONSULTANTS THE MATRIX, LLC: Back in 2001, there was a reporter at The Mobile Press-Register named Eddie Curran, and he wrote a story about a behind-the-scenes political consulting group called The Matrix, LLC. Back then, when the group was closely associated with Governor Don Siegelman’s administration, Curran wrote that the group was “what could be the closest thing Alabama politics has to a nongovernmental secret agency.” The Montgomery-based firm still works mostly with Democrats, and recently has had a hand in Ron Sparks’ gubernatorial campaign. Former Birmingham Weekly columnist Kyle Whitmire described the firm as having “an intimidating reputation for dabbling in the political dark arts,” in a story about Matrix’s involvement with Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford’s administration. “Whether warranted or not,” Whitmire wrote, “the firm is feared by politicians throughout the state.”
Why is all of this suddenly relevant again? Well, BP has recently hired Matrix and Bloom Group, another Montgomery political consulting firm with ties to Republicans, according to Birmingham News columnist John Archibald. He writes that BP “looked for local talent all over the South to restore BP’s squandered credibility.” Archibald noted that Bloom hired News sportswriter Ray Melick away from the paper, and described him as a “BP spokes-guy.”
So is BP really spending tons of money on political consulting groups just to make them look better? Matrix founder Joe Perkins says no, not exactly.
Danny over at Doc’s Political Parlor interviewed Perkins last week, and he told Danny that Matrix was “not contracted to make BP look good.”
“I was contacted several weeks ago by a firm we’ve worked with out of Birmingham, indicating that BP needed help with communications with local government entities, understanding how things worked in south Alabama, and facilitating accessibility to the claims process,” Perkins said.
So Perkins went about hiring lobbyists familiar with Alabama’s coastal cities, including Martin Christie and Taylor Harper, in order to improve BP’s chances that people with claims against BP will file them. Or something. It seems awfully pro-active of BP to arrange such a process. But whatever.
Perkins also contested the assertion that Matrix was hired by BP. “We don’t get a BP check. We’re not working for BP,” Perkins told Danny. “A com He who controls the spice, controls the universe: Dunes are the latest oil spill cure and now Dauphin Island wants some made to protect them from the oil spill.
pany that works for BP hired us.”
Let’s not split hairs. Anyway, what does all this mean? Nothing yet.
Maybe Perkins is telling the God’s-honest truth, and BP really just wants to make damn sure that everybody with damages gets paid. Doing the right thing, after all, is the best public relations campaign of all, and the company has taken some slightly less shitty steps of late, such as agreeing to find the $20 billion escrow fund. But it still makes me want to keep a close eye on BP’s public relations operation. And you should too.
AS IF THE OIL WASN’T ENOUGH: Now there’s f*#king hurricanes! Well, there’s one anyway. Tropical Storm Alex is now officially Hurricane Alex. On Tuesday, the storm was a low-power (though still dangerous) Category 1 hurricane expected to make landfall Wednesday evening in Mexico or Texas, according to Associated Press reports. Alex is the first hurricane of 2010. As of Tuesday, it had sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.
Luckily, the storm is expected to miss the oil spill site–“by hundreds of miles,” according to a Montgomery Advertiser editorial-high waves and choppy seas possibly caused by the storm have caused some oil skimming operations to be stopped.
Though the storm has not caused work at the oil spill site to stop, it has scientists worried about a potential storm surge on our end of the Gulf. Those worries led the city of Gulf Shores to postpone a benefit concert featuring Jimmy Buffett that was originally scheduled for July 1. The concert is now scheduled for July 11, according to the Mobile Press-Register.
Speaking of the Jimmy Buffett concert, Gov. Bob Riley’s office thinks it’s rather odd that the free tickets to the concert were all reserved within minutes of being offered. There were 35,000 tickets available for an event that was meant “to benefit the Gulf Coast, not ticket scalpers,” as a Riley spokesman said. So if you see tickets for sale, know that those people are scalpers who are profiting off of a tragedy.
DUNE 2: Louisiana wants dunes, and now so does Dauphin Island. This week, city leaders turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a $60 million proposal to buttress the island’s marshes and beaches from oil and the ravaging effects of storms.
According to the story on the proposal in the Press-Register, four million cubic yards of sand would be dredged and placed at spots along Dauphin Island’s beaches. The city hopes BP will pay for the plan.
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