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Whitefish Energy charged Puerto Rico $319 per hour for linemen — then paid them $63 per hour: report

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On Sunday night, The New York Times reported that novice energy firm Whitefish Energy was wildly overcharging the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) for the hourly rate it paid line workers.

Whitefish Energy Holdings only had two employees when it was awarded a $300 million contract to restore electricity to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. To meet the shortfall, Whitefish hired contractors from Florida at rates varying from $42 per hour to $100 per hour with an average hourly rate of $63.

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However, the company’s “shocking” contract allowed it to bill PREPA $319 per worker per hour.

The Times spoke to industry experts who said that $319 per hour is far, far above the norm about amounts to about 17 times what a Puerto Rican worker would make performing the same job.

Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames told the Times that the company had to make the jobs competitive to attract labor from around the region.

“We have to pay a premium to entice the labor to come to Puerto Rico to work,” Chiames claimed, but declined to explain the average of $256 that was disappearing between PREPA’s payouts and the pockets of Whitefish’s linemen.

The company had its contract revoked after San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Julín Cruz challenged the company and called for transparency regarding Whitefish’s deal with the federal government.

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Millions of Puerto Ricans had power restored briefly by Whitefish only to have the repaired line fail again this week, returning them to life without electricity. More than 80 percent of the island is still without electricity nearly two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Read the full report here.


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Dr. Fauci emotionally recounts his close relationship with the late AIDS activist Larry Kramer

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has burst on to the national stage as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, but his work as a public health official extends back decades. He was a key figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in an interview on PBS NewsHour on Wednesday, he offered a personal and emotional glimpse into that history.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Larry Kramer, a famed writer and influential AIDS activist, had died at age 84. PBS host Judy Woodroof noted that Fauci and Kramer had been friends.

"In the beginning of the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s, the two of you had a pretty contentious relationship," Woodroof said. "But that changed over time."

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REVEALED: An Obama-era plan to protect medical workers in a pandemic was thwarted under Trump

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that his Democratic predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama, left him ill-prepared to handle a major health crisis when, in fact, Obama’s administration left behind a comprehensive pandemic game plan that included a 69-page playbook. But Trump’s administration abandoned those Obama-era recommendations. On top of that, National Public Radio’s Brian Mann is reporting that Trump’s administration, in 2017, “stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19.”

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2020 Election

Here’s the real reason Trump and the GOP don’t want mail-in voting

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Trump and Republicans don’t want mail-in voting this November because it blows up a couple of their most effective voter suppression schemes.

In presidential elections dating back to 2000, there’s been noticeable media coverage of long lines in majority-black precincts; commentators sometimes wonder out loud why people would have to wait in line 8 hours to vote in, for example, inner city Ohio in 2004 or Milwaukee in the 2020 primaries.

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