+ The City of Panama City Beach has filed a lawsuit against Cameron, Halliburton, Transocean and one of its subsidiaries, the companies other than BP that are associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, for lost tax revenues and other spill-related damages.

+ Hundreds of oil spill cases have attracted high-powered attorneys from across the country to New Orleans, where the cases are being heard, the Wall Street Journal reports.

+ The federal commission investigating the causes of the spill is now seeking subpoena power, saying some of the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster aren’t fully cooperating.

+ The Gulf Coast Claims Facility unleashed a flood of money yesterday. Claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg attributed the surge to changes announced over the weekend. More after the jump.

+ Five of the eight “recovery centers” set up by the Small Business Administration in the Florida panhandle will be closing.

+ President Obama is frustrated with the slow pace of reforms at the Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling.

Feinberg: Claims process overhaul prompted payment surge
Kenneth Feinberg once again caught flack during the most recent Florida cabinet meeting for making payments too small and too slowly. That same day, the compensation fund sent its largest daily payment total — nearly $200 million — to the Gulf Coast, the Mobile Press-Register reports.

Ken Feinberg, the operation’s administrator, said the flood of cash can be traced back to a change he made Saturday to cluster claims by industry. Doing that allowed his adjusters to see how similar the assumptions of business owners were, so they were able to give their loss estimates more benefit of the doubt.

“It just takes time,” Feinberg said in a phone interview. “I regret the delay, and we’re not all the way there yet. There are going to be bumps in the road. But I’m determined to help.”

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility is promising more generosity for oil spill claimants right on its home page:

  • Payments will be coming more quickly, due to changes Feinberg announced over the weekend.
  • Claimants who had previously been denied can now have their claims reevaluated.
  • Some claimants who have already been paid can expect to receive supplemental checks.

Since Feinberg announced the improvements on Sept. 25, the fund has paid an additional $95 million to Floridians, who have now received a total of just under $238 million since the program began on Aug. 23.

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