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Monetti seeking BP money for Island

By Nick Walter, Islander Reporter

Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti is hoping he can help bring some extra BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill money to the Island.

“I think there will be money to be had on Anna Maria Island,” Monetti said.

Monetti said the law firm involved in distributing $20 billion in oil crisis money to the southeast has committed to a commission meeting at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. Monetti said attorneys and commissioners will discuss how the money will be distributed to areas such as the Island, which has not had oil reach its beaches.

At a Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association state board meeting Sept. 14 in Orlando, Monetti, an FRLA board member, said he told the attorneys suing BP for money that he would like to hold a meeting somewhere on, or near, the Island. Monetti said he pushed to get the meeting held at the 100-seat Holmes Beach city chambers.

Monetti said he was surprised Kenneth R. Feinberg, the man tapped by the federal government to figure out how to disperse some $20 billion in BP relief funds, made an appearance during a 10-minute break. “That was big,” Monetti said. “This was the go-to guy.”

Monetti said Feinberg initially only thought it appropriate to disperse the money to areas in which oil had reached beaches. But Monetti said Feinberg retracted that idea after considering overall effects the oil spill might have on areas such as the Island, which has not seen oil on its beaches.

Monetti is general manager at the Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota. He said that position, coupled with being a city commissioner on a Gulf coast island, made some attorneys interested in working with him to set up a meeting regarding the dispersing of BP relief money throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The attorneys are from the law firm of Levin-Papantonio-Thomas-Mitchell-Echsner-Rafferty and Proctor, based out of Pensacola. Monetti said the firm claimed it has won more than 70 $1 million in lawsuits.

“I told (Papantonio), ‘On our Island we have 900 single-family units and vacation rentals owned by 800 different people,’” Monetti said at a commission Sept. 14 Holmes Beach City Commission meeting at city hall.

“They said they’d love to (have a meeting here),” Monetti said. “I’m definitely going to work with them and be right on top of it. I’m very interested in going forward with this for our community.”

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