SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 11, 2011

AP IMPACT: BP buys Gulf Coast millions in gear

(Continued)

NEW ORLEANS —

Even with BP and the federal government taking the lead, many communities weren't content to rely on equipment they had before the spill.

Lafourche (luh-FOOSH') Parish President Charlotte Randolph billed BP for an iPad, saying she needed it in addition to her parish-paid Blackberry to communicate with staff and other officials during the crisis. But she didn't buy the iPad until Aug. 26, a month and a half after the well was capped and several weeks after the federal government said much of the oil had been skimmed, burned off, dispersed or dissolved.

"Just because it wasn't streaming from the well any longer doesn't mean it wasn't approaching our shore," Randolph told the AP. "My work is very important. Perhaps one day you could follow me somewhere and learn what my work involves. I must be in contact at all times."

Lafourche Parish spokesman Brennan Matherne, who bought a new Dell laptop and accessories for $3,165, said working on the spill had worn out the computer he got just a year earlier for $2,700.

Biloxi, home to a strip of casinos overlooking the Mississippi Sound, bought 14 sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, two boats, two dump trucks and a backhoe loader with its $1.4 million share of BP grant money.

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who drove a city-owned 2006 GMC Yukon before the spill, now has one of the vehicles the city purchased with the BP grant — a black 2011 Chevy Tahoe 1500 LT that cost more than $35,000. The city's public works director and chief engineer also are driving SUVs bought with BP money.

Holloway declined to answer questions about his new vehicle. City spokesman Vincent Creel said the mayor has used it to travel to "countless meetings" about the spill and to gauge the city's response with his own eyes.

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