Health Care

Puerto Rico says it's scrapping $300M Whitefish contract

Puerto Rico says it's scrapping $300M Whitefish contract

Andrew Techmanski's company, Whitefish Energy Holdings in Montana, was recently awarded a $300 million contract for restoration of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Whitefish said in a statement it was "disappointed" in the decision, adding that it will "only delay what the people of Puerto Rico want and deserve - to have the power restored quickly in the same manner their fellow citizens on the mainland experience after a natural disaster".

Many people in the utility business had said that the authority, known as PREPA, would have been better off tapping into the well-established networks of utilities that have formed mutual aid groups expressly for the goal of emergency relief.

Zinke on Friday issued a statement saying he "had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico", saying "I welcome all investigations into these allegations".

Neither Whitefish nor power company officials immediately returned calls for comment. The government already paid Whitefish $8 million and does not expect the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse that sum, the sources said.

The Puerto Rican government is bracing for the possibility that Whitefish would sue for breach of contract if the cancellation is approved, according to sources familiar with discussions.

Cubs coach will be next Nationals manager
The ballclub is expected to tap Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez to take the reigns after parting ways with Dusty Baker . Martinez has agreed to a three-year deal with an option, the source told ESPN, confirming a report by The Washington Post .

A report in The Washington Post, noting that the company is based in Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, set off a storm of criticism this week and triggered calls for inquiries by Congress.

Separately, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said they would travel to the island on Saturday to observe recovery efforts. FEMA on Friday said that it had not approved the Whitefish Energy agreement.

"This is a contract that was determined by local authorities", she said, asserting that the federal government "has nothing to do" with the contract. It had just two full-time employees when the storm hit on September 20.

The White House and FEMA, the federal disaster management agency, said on Friday they had nothing to do with hiring Whitefish Energy to restore power in the USA commonwealth.

A Whitefish contract obtained by The Associated Press found that the deal included $20,277 an hour for a heavy lift Chinook helicopter, $650 an hour for a large crane truck, $322 an hour for a foreman of a power line crew, $319 an hour for a journeyman lineman and $286 an hour for a mechanic. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, knows Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski, and Zinke's son also had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, has said that Colonnetta's political donations were "irrelevant" and that the company would co-operate with any federal authorities.

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has launched a review of the deal.


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