by Ana Maria
The last two weeks have produced a great deal of hand wringing, teeth gnashing, and finger pointing regarding what caused Mississippi’s 32-year veteran insurance commissioner to loose his job. When Mississippi Democrats voted in the primary on August 7th, they fired George Dale and hired Gary Anderson in his place. Anderson has that fire in the belly to protect homeowners and business owners from Big Insurance.
Neither Dale nor some of his ardent supporters—many of whom are Republican and insurance big wigs—seem capable of believing that Dale could have lost his job all on his own and that Mississippi voters actually elected another man—an African American one at that. Perhaps all of this together stings Dale’s Old South blood that may be coursing through his veins.
The simple fact is that George Dale a sore loser. He gambled with his career, and he lost. His whining and crying? A bunch of sour grapes. Dale turned a blind eye to the fact that it was he who rolled out the red carpet that permitted insurance companies to run amok over Mississippi families and business owners. Under George Dale’s leadership, Mississippi has the third highest home owner’s insurance rates in the country. Not exactly something on which to proudly campaign.
In the aftermath of Katrina, Dale’s failure as an insurance commissioner is what forced many Mississippians to turn to attorneys to fight BIG INSURANCE. Dale forced Mississippians to go to court because he was too busy ignoring his responsibilities. On August 7th, Mississippi Democrats demonstrated what they thought of Dale’s performance and fired him. Good bye, George.
“My mistake after Katrina was saying . . . some claims are not going to be paid because of water damage.” No, George, your mistake was not doing your job. Your mistake was not seeing to it that the insurance companies quickly and faithfully paid out on their wind insurance policies as they should have. I see why you campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004. The two of you have the same aversion for taking responsibility for what is rightfully yours and yours alone.
Has George Dale blamed himself? No. Following his electoral defeat, George Dale told the Biloxi Sun-Herald, “Two things that were major factors ... were Katrina and Dickie Scruggs. That's pretty much what it was.”
Huh? George Dale and his supporters are blaming trial lawyers in general and Dickie Scruggs in particular for his own electoral demise? And blaming Katrina, too? Well, if that don’t beat all.
How Katrina Drowned Dale’s Re-election
Katrina showed the world that the Dale wasn’t doing his job. Dale deliberately turned his back on the very people who needed him the most and for whom he could have and should have used the power of his elected office to help in their hour of greatest need. When Dale abandoned his responsibilities, others stepped up to the plate to protect families and business owners from the ravages of Big Insurance.
That “someone” was a group of “someones”, and they are called lawyers—trial lawyers. Thank GAWD for them. They are our hired guns and when we need one, we want the best of them. One of my very dearest friends is the former head of the trial lawyers association in California’s Silicon Valley whom I admire tremendously for his commitment to justice both inside and out of the courtroom. Like plenty of trial lawyers, Mohinder Mann is a great community leader who brings peace and justice into the situations with which he becomes involved.
When insurance companies began ripping off policyholders and George Dale snuggled ever so tightly to his corporate insurance friends, plenty of heroic trial lawyers stepped up to the plate—Scruggs Katrina Group,The Merlin Group, Ballducci, Mississippians . . . These men and women have helped protect Katrina’s families and businesses from being battered over the head and beaten up by Big Insurance’s slick corporate attorneys.
Had George Dale done his job, these law suits would have been unnecessary. The Scurggs Katrina Group would not have formed. Dickie Scruggs would not have had clients for whom to file lawsuits. If George Dale had done his job, he would have been the one to file a racketeering lawsuit against State Farm rather than leaving it up to a private citizen who cares deeply about his fellow Mississippians to file it.
Mississippians for Fair Elections
George Dale is upset that Dickie Scruggs put up $250,000 of his own money into a political action committee that aired a commercial that told the truth about how Dale has allowed the insurance industry to deny claims all over the state. At the same time, Dale had approved a 30% increase in insurance premiums. What’s the problem?
Well, from Dale’s perspective, speaking the truth is problematic because, well, he’s used to not telling the truth. Information is critical to an informed electorate. And informed electorate is critical to fair elections. Dickie Scruggs was merely exercising his right as an American to assist his fellow Mississippians in being more informed of their lives under George Dale.
This reminds me of the Bush Administration being angry at the leak rather than embarrassed that it betrayed our trust to spoil American blood in a war that was wholly unnecessary. No wonder Dale campaigned for Bush in 2004. They had some kind of “shirk responsibility” bond thing going on.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Angriest . . .
Rather than pointing a finger at Dickie Scruggs, George Dale should be thanking heaven that the Dickie Scruggs of the world exist to protect consumers from corporate thievery when the government officials who are supposed to protect us walk away from their responsibilities. Sure, the involvement of Dickie Scruggs and other attorneys with Katrina lawsuits is a clear indicator that Dale failed miserably as a commissioner. But Dale’s failure is his own—not those who are helping to clean up his mess.
Dickie Scruggs has come to symbolize all of the good that trial lawyers do for the little guys and all of the failure George Dale has brought into his own life by not doing his job. A real shame, isn’t it?
That, my friends, is the holy all of it. George Dale did not do his job, which was to regulate Big Insurance and how they treated Mississippi’s families and businesses. He did not demand that these insurance companies live up to their word, pay out on their wind claims, and treat South Mississippians with the respect that they deserved.
If Dale had done his job, Gary Anderson would not have had a reason to run for insurance commissioner to protect Mississippi households and business owners. We’d have already been in good hands. The commissioner would have already proven himself to be like a good neighbor.
If Dale had done his job, the Dickie Scruggs of the world would not have had to step in and do it for him. George Dale should thank Dickie Scruggs for helping to bring justice and hope to the families that he had betrayed.
George Dale fails to look at himself in the mirror much less in the eye. On his own, George Dale lost his job, and he has no one to blame but himself. No wonder he's angry.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
by Ana Maria