5-29 update: Independent contractor who provided the workers said the clean up was planned several days in advance and he knew nothing about POTUS visit.
May 28, 2010
Grand Isle, LA – site of barry’s press conference
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts thinks the clean up workers were simply photo-op props bused in for barry’s visit. Of course they were. The question is who recruited them…BP or barry people?
Roberts said they have had no workers until today when 300-400 people. One of the workers told someone from the sheriff’s office that were hired yesterday and were ordered not to talk to anyone.
CNN’s David Mattingly was tipped off and he asked BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles about it in the press briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Hi, David Mattingly of CNN.
We got this from the Jefferson County Parish, an elected official there, who says that, as soon as the president left, all but a dozen workers that were there that BP brought in this morning had left the beach. He says that BP shipped in about 300 to 400 workers this morning about 7:30 a.m., and that, as soon as the president left, all those workers left, except for about a dozen. Could you comment on that? What was BP trying to accomplish, and what was going on there?
SUTTLES: Well, I think that you should first recognize that I think, as the president and Admiral Allen and many have said, we have moved in considerably more people to fight this battle on the locations where the oil is. You should also recognize that these individuals are working out in the heat of the sun. These are long days. They start early in the morning, and they stop in the evening. So, the fact that they were leaving the location late in the afternoon is not unusual. It’s not associated with the president arriving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Situation Room – Wolf Blitzer talked with Roberts.
BLITZER: Also, there was also another issue that came up. And I want to discuss it with Councilman Chris Roberts of the Jefferson Parish in Louisiana. He’s joining us on the phone right now. Councilman, I take it you were there at that beach where President Obama visited today, and there were a lot of BP workers who were brought in to clean up. Walk us through what you saw and what happened.
CHRIS ROBERTS, JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA, COUNCILMAN: Basically, about 7:30 this morning, a number of buses brought in approximately 300 to 400 workers that had been recruited all week. We were told that they were offered $12 an hour to come out and work. They were given gear, T-shirts, hazmat gear, shovels, and rakes, and sent out on the beach. They were there for a couple of hours working. And then, about the time that the president departed, these workers were picked up, which, you know, is a real shame, because I can tell you, Wolf, we have been in Grand Isle daily.
We have not seen that amount of cooperation from BP. We have not seen the amount of relief workers that were there today. And there’s no doubt that this was an orchestrated attempt by BP to make it appear as though that they had placed considerable resources in Grand Isle, which has not been the case.
BLITZER: All right, you heard what he said, Chris Roberts, Councilman; it’s not associated with the president’s arriving there. Go ahead and respond to Mr. Suttles.
ROBERTS: Well, the question I would have for him is that we have had oil washing ashore now in Grand Isle now for approximately two weeks. We have never had 400 workers there.
What I think is unusual is the amount of workers that they had in place and the fact that they have spent most of the week recruiting people to ensure that they were there today. And then on the — about the same hour the president leaves, they pick these workers up.
You know, Wolf, this wouldn’t be a problem if we had seen for the last several weeks this level of contingency of people out there working, but it’s just very ironic that on the day that our Gulf Coast governors, along with our U.S. senators and the president is visiting, that they would pull off this type of shenanigans and think that people are going to buy into the reasons that they are giving behind their actions.
And it’s almost a slap in the face. I think that it’s insulting to our Gulf Coast residents and it’s insulting to the president of the United States. And their explanation really doesn’t say much, because it could be legitimized if these people were leaving every day at 2:00 or 3:00. But we have not seen this the entire time in the response. And to happen on the same day the president’s here is not just a coincidence.
Then Roberts appeared on AC 360. Cooper said that one/some of the workers told CNN photojournalist Chris Turner that they were on a “work release program”. Who goes on “work release” besides criminals? And if that was the case, why would the sheriff’s office not know who they were?
Not sure why the drama. No matter how many people were there they would have added more. What has been left out of the conversation is that every one of those people had to be cleared by the Secret Service. Was it even known to the general public barry that would be in that exact location?