Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a US territory, in September, leaving 90% of its islands without electricity and over 50% of its residents without running water. Puerto Rico is home to over 3 million Americans.
That was more than a month ago. Finally, Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA) and the Puerto Rico government hired an electric company to rebuild the islands’ electric grid. Puerto Rico signed a 200 million contract with a company called Whitefish Electric Holdings. This company is based in Whitefish, Montana. A few days before Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, it had two – yes two, as in one plus one – full time employees.
Buried in the many pages of the contract, provisions include:
1. The government has no right to audit the costs incurred by Whitefish.
2. Hourly pay to a “site supervisor” is $330. Again, per hour.
3. Hourly pay to a “subcontracted supervisor” is $462. Yes, per hour.
4. Hotel and food for each employee is $410 a night.
On the surface, this seems so extraordinary that, once it’s learned and reported by the major media of the country, public outcry ensued. Now Congress and the FBI are investigating.
Tidbits of “coincidence” started to come out. Now we learned that Whitefish is the name of the town where Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is from. Zinke and the founder of Whitefish Electric, Andy Techmanski are believed to be friends. Zinke’s son once worked for Whitefish Electric. Zinke himself publicly denied that he had any involvement with the contract negotiations.
At this writing, I don’t have anything concrete or proven in terms of wrong-doing on the part of the Interior Department or the Puerto Rico government to report to you. The latest is that Puerto Rico may be cancelling the contract because of public pressure. But that stinky “white fish” for the moment is still here. Keep your nose blind but stay your eyes open.
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