STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Whitefish Scandal Shows Government Takes Advantage When Needed Most
By The Daily Bell Staff - November 01, 2017

Just when people need the government most, is when you will find politicians at their sleaziest.

Over a month after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, about three-quarters of the Island is still without power.

But rather than respond in the best interest of citizens, the government engaged in a crony deal with an inadequate energy company. Puerto Rico gave a $300 million contract to rebuild their power infrastructure to the company Whitefish Energy.

The public later learned that the company only planned to send 300 employees to the island. With such a small crew, it would take years to fully restore power to Puerto Rico.

Whitefish Energy is based in the small Montana town of Whitefish. A local news station visited the headquarters and found that it was based out of a rural residence.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also from the small town of Whitefish, Montana. He denies that he had anything to do with the contract.

Zinke is already embroiled in a handful of other scandals, involving chartering expensive flights with tax dollars, and attending donor events while on duty, which means he paid for travel with tax dollars.

We still don’t know how exactly the two-year-old company Whitefish landed the no-bid contract. But it is quite clear that it is not because of their ability as a company. For starters, the company only has two full-time permanent employees. The company has never worked on a project with the magnitude of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power structure.

The contract has now been canceled by Puerto Rican authorities, but that decision takes 30 days to go into effect. In the meantime, the company will receive $30 million for already completed work.

Puerto Rican officials, however, have wasted precious time and resources. The controversy is expected to delay the restoration of power to Puerto Rico by over a dozen weeks.

The great irony of situations like these is that when the government is most needed, they take the most advantage. In a crisis, the government could shine by quickly helping the people affected. But instead, they all too often prove just how untrustworthy they are.

Some people think of government as an insurance policy. You may not need much government protection on a daily basis, but what about when disaster strikes? Who will rescue the people?

This is one of many examples that shows much of what government does is make-believe. They offer a false sense of security. It is all for show. They talk big, and present themselves as important. But when it comes time to act quickly in order to avoid human suffering, they reveal the true nature of government. That nature ranges from corruption to incompetence.

It is unfortunate that the taxpayers are robbed of their hard earned money to pay for sweetheart deals like the absurd contract awarded to Whitefish. That leaves less money for individuals to take matters into their own hands.

But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. You can still act to protect yourself from facing the brunt of terrible situations like these. Never depend on the government to save you in bad circumstances.

These days, it is not hard to take care of power and water needs yourself. Solar panels and battery banks are a great way to make sure you don’t depend on the government to supply power to your home. They may cost a little more up front, but they pay for themselves in the long run. And the real benefit is the security they give you. You don’t have to depend on third parties to act appropriately when you need them most.

The cool thing is, you can already order cheap solar panels online. Deep cycle RV or marine batteries are a great way to store the energy. Higher tech options include Tesla’s Powerwall units, of which they donated hundreds to Puerto Rico.
But you could also chip away at adding solar to your home. The panels are easy to install and connect. Any additions in the backyard, like sheds or floodlights, could be powered by solar. Or you could even get a solar phone charger so that in emergency situations you can still communicate.
That would allow residents of Puerto Rico to take advantage of Google’s efforts to get the internet grid functioning again. Google has been able to restore internet access to most of the island by deploying balloons equipt with 4G connectivity. But without electricity to power their devices, many residents may still be limited.

It is also simple to collect rainwater. A relatively inexpensive filtration system can make rainwater clean enough to drink.

So basically for a few thousand dollars, you can make sure you are never at the mercy of the government and their cronies when it comes to providing you electricity and water. Now that’s an insurance plan.

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Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • Fredericka I Thompson

    So far no “evidence” of a crony deal. Small company vs Big government … as libertarians I’d think you would approve. Whitefish Energy mobilized 350 workers immediately and was mobilizing 500 more (or so it was reported just before contract cancellation) … appears to me they work pretty quickly compared to typical government sluggishness. Lastly, apparently WE gets $30M for completing work it has begun … $30M is 10% of $300M (the total contract), so do we expect that means WE completely 10% of the work this quickly? How then can you say it “would take years” to complete the work in PR? It appears the “cronyism” that took place was political in nature and, as usual, eliminated the independent little guy. WE convinced someone they could do the job and appeared to be on the way to getting it done. It’s not magic: small companies sub out work to hundreds/thousands of other workers all the time to complete projects. Why would this be any different?

    • Donald

      Libertarians would have no interest in government programs such as this. We much prefer capitalism & voluntary goods and services to the use of force and threats of violence apparent in Puerto Rico’s utility system.

      • Fredericka I Thompson

        Absolutely! So what IF the US fed gov wasn’t involved, just the electric authority in PR? That would be a “voluntary” exchange, would it not? And what IF the “use of force” ends up being political force exerted to effect the cancellation of the contract by actors who weren’t involved in coming to the arrangement in the first place. That would be unfortunate and I see no benefit in that to anyone, from the small company providing the services to the people of PR who need those services as soon as possible. And reportedly the cancellation will delay work by a couple of months, certainly not benefiting those who need it most. I’m picking apart the narrative that is forming when all the details aren’t known yet.

    • disqussted999

      Fredericka, just wondering if you have some connection with this company or know some information not presented here or know that some of the information in the article is incorrect? In particular, I wonder how this part– “two-year-old company Whitefish landed the no-bid contract” fits into your “Small company vs Big government…independent little guy” scenario. No-bid contracts for this type of job never smell right to me…how about you, assuming that it’s true that this was a no-bid contract?

      • Fredericka I Thompson

        No connection to any of the entities, and know none of them, just following articles as I find them. There is an AP (I know) piece by Danica Coto that provides some information I hadn’t seen elsewhere, such as Whitefish Electric contacted PR Electric Authority shorty before the storm; the head of the PR electric system approved the deal and hadn’t consulted with any other actors; and it implied that the Whitefish company got the contract because they didn’t demand a contract down payment (which PR didn’t have). FEMA has said the federal government wasn’t a party to the contract. “[N]o-bid contract” implies something else than what seems to be the situation here. And a company with just two full-time employees surely qualifies as “small.” I agree, no-bid contracts are not free-market agreements and I decry them in every instance. Competition and voluntary exchange should be the rule. However, I think everyone, including various media, should be careful about drawing conclusions until more information surfaces. I believe absolutely that a tiny Montana company could have jumped at the opportunity and mobilized resources fully to compete in this environment. The AP article quotes the PR electric company head as being very satisfied with their “excellent work.” This narrative points to agreements made between willing participants. So … I’m suspicious of the implications of “insider” dealing simply because of DOI Secretary Zinke’s connection to the town. As details continue to emerge, if I am proven wrong and someone was pulling strings, I’ll willingly condemn it. I’m just not ready to jump to that conclusion BECAUSE a politician has a connection to the town. And, even IF someone said “you guys should jump on this” to the small electric company, it was their initiative that appears to have gotten them the work. I see no problem with that.

        • disqussted999

          Interesting information, thanks Fredericka.

      • rouge1

        Are you from the union? The unions are the ones behind this outrage.

        • disqussted999

          ???

      • NobodysaysBOO

        dig DEEPER and you may find a DIRTY gov.RAT!
        working for B&R or Becktel!!!

  • Praetor

    No bid contracts = corruption. Everything about Puerto Rico screams socialism. Bad.!!!

    • JRX

      Fascism is a better description.

      • ron R

        One has to question how $30 million can be expended in such a short period of time…

  • mary

    ” [Solar panels and batteries] may cost a little more up front, but they pay for themselves in the long run. ”

    I think someone has done a sales job on you. Pay for themselves in the long run? Not hardly, with the possible exception of the sunny southwest of the US.

  • NobodysaysBOO

    little guy get busted again sad days in USA, we have fallen VICTIM and CAN’T GET UP!!!

    watch the PRICE GO BALLISTIC now.

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