Councilman Rusty Walker boldly addresses frustrations with BP

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport City Council Vice President Rusty Walker is fired up about BP opening an office related to the oil spill disaster in Gulfport.

The councilman detailed his frustrations in an angry letter addressed to BP challenging the company to be honest and own up to the consequences of the disaster.

BP's new claims office in downtown Gulfport isn't nearly enough to satisfy councilman Rusty Walker.

"Gulfport citizens deserve fairness and honesty in all the dealings that we have with BP, and right now, BP is not taking our claims seriously. And they're not dealing with this on the high levels of management that we think they should be," said Walker.

Walker claims the city has had to deal with inexperienced consultants, poor communication, plus a settlement offer that he claims is insulting.

"We think that it's an insult to the citizens of Gulfport to offer the city the total claim of a dollar and eleven cents per person when we had millions and millions of dollars worth of damage and untold damage yet to come," said Walker.

BP Gulf Coast rep said the company is communicating with the Mayor's office and said the process is working.

"Our intent is to continue to work with the city officials on claims issues just as we have the other government entities, not only in Mississippi but up and down the Gulf Coast. We've paid nearly $80 million in both claims and advance payments in the state of Mississippi alone," said Ray Melick, BP Representative.

Walker said BP's process isn't working and makes city governments jump through too many hoops.

"For them to continue running TV ads and telling how everyone's been paid and everything is hunky dory it's just less than the honest truth," said Walker.

"I mean BP is not in the business of settling claims. That's not what BP's company is. So yeah we've put a new process into place, and we're working through the same process up and down the Gulf Coast with all the government agencies. Trying to meet these things and in some cases its gone well and in others there's some ongoing investigations that have to take place," Melick explained.

Walker said he plans on holding various forums within the upcoming weeks to allow citizens to voice their concerns in the aftermath of the oil spill.

The councilman hopes to reach some kind of agreement with BP, but he said that won't happen until the right people get involved.

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