The Hapless Pirates of Puerto Rico

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“Puerto Rico is a corrupt government problem.” – Twitter and Google Searches – 7:42 AM 2/21/2018 

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Opinion

The Hapless Pirates of Puerto Rico

“THE BIGGEST LESSON OF PUERTO RICO’S BANKRUPTCY” IN MY OPINION, IS: “THOU SHALT NOT STEAL”! THE “PUERTO RICAN SOCIALISM” CAME TO ITS END. – BY MICHAEL NOVAKHOV

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Whatever the causes and the reasons are, and whoever is “at fault”: “greedy bankers” or the saboteurs (as hypothetically possible in the recent blackout of 2.11.18), I think it becomes obvious to everyone willing to keep their eyes open, that 

The “Puerto Rican Socialism” came to its end.

It is amazing (0r maybe not amazing at all, but logical and customary in the post-Obama, transitional world), that the “Voice of America” and the “World Socialist Web Site” sing in the unison, and they name the most likely culprits: “Neglect, Corruption, and “years of Mismanagement”. I put these words in the capital letters, because they sound like the cardinal sins in today’s America and anywhere, and maybe rightly so. 

The “Puerto Rican Socialism” went properly and irreversibly bankrupt.

And now the Islanders face the task of the economic and political reconceptualizations, and rebuildings, which are many and in many areas, including the mentality and psychology, which might be the toughest to change. 

Thou shall not steal!

This old one shines the first among the new ways and solutions. 

This dictum does have the direct connection with the present situation: do we know, what amount of electricity had been and still is stolen, in many ways, tricks, and modes, by those who feel that they are entitled to it, and are not willing to pay for it? 

Was this question even asked? (“Oh, it is so embarrassing…”) 

Shouldn’t we try to ask and answer these “Preguntas inconvenientes (Inconvenient Questions)” also, among the others?

Dr. Marxuach, what do you think about it? 

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Michael Novakhov – 12:57 PM 2/20/2018 

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Rebuilding Puerto Rico 

Neglect, Corruption Left Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Ripe for Failure …

Voice of AmericaNov 30, 2017

Puerto Rico grid map. Map credit: Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

Puerto Rico’s grid as of 2010. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

HURRICANE MARIA | Trump admin takes over Puerto Rico grid recovery | Peter BehrRod Kuckro and David Ferris, E&E News reporters | 

Puerto Rico’s electric grid recovery map – GS

Puerto Rico power outage map today – GS

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060074219

Data from Puerto Rico’s power company show that while repair of the transmission network has made unwavering progress, the recovery of substations has flattened. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority/Energy Department (data); E&E News (chart) 

puerto rico electricity – Google News: Judge Grants $300M Loan for Puerto Rico Power Company – NBC New York

NBC New York
Judge Grants $300M Loan for Puerto Rico Power Company
NBC New York
A federal judge on Monday approved a $300 million loan for Puerto Rico’s power company that officials say will help keep the troubled agency operating until late March. The ruling comes just days after the judge had rejected an initial $1 billion loan 
Puerto Ricans Finding Innovative Ways to Cope Without ElectricityVoice of America
Puerto Rico pitches for investment after hurricaneFinancial Timesall 35 news articles »

Neglect, Corruption Left Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Ripe for Failure … – Voice of AmericaNov 30, 2017

But former and current officials of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) say a decades-long culture of neglect and corruption had left the … PREPA executives and other analysts pointed to several long-standing problems that contributed to the system’s collapse and painfully slow recovery… 
“Hurricane Maria was the catalyst for the sell-off, the groundwork for which has been laid by years of under-funding, corruption, and mismanagement.” 

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Latest News 8:37 AM 2/21/2018 

Lawmakers, officials, unions want Yale to forgive Puerto Rican debt – New Haven RegisterFebruary 20, 2018

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Neglect, Corruption Left Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Ripe for Failure, Observers Say

mikenova shared this story from Voice of America.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO —Individuals long familiar with the inner workings of Puerto Rico’s publicly owned power authority say it should come as no surprise that the island was left entirely without electric power by Hurricane Maria or that, more than two months later, more than half its residents are still without electricity.

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Federals with “limited resources” to face corruption on the island

By Primerahora.com02/13/2018 | 08: 08 am
When comparing the fight against corruption in Puerto Rico and New York, the director on the island of the FBI emphasized that there is much less staff here to combat this problem. (Archive) 

There are many cases of fraud with federal funds that were intended to help victims.

The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Puerto Rico, Douglas A. Leff, acknowledged that there are few resources to fight corruption in Puerto Rico.

In an interview with Radio Isla, Leff said that on the island there is a culture of corruption that is comparable to other jurisdictions.

“It is a combination of our limited resources in Puerto Rico and there is a culture here that is very similar to that of New York but in New York we have been quite successful after many years of work,” said Leff.

Asked why the corruption situation in Puerto Rico is greater than in New York, the director on the island of the FBI said there are several reasons, and stressed that in that jurisdiction there are more staff, such as two federal prosecutors, five municipal prosecutors and a prosecutor state and everyone has a great team of researchers giving support.

“Here in Puerto Rico we have much fewer resources,” said Leff.

He also said that there are many cases of fraud with federal funds that were intended to help victims.

In these investigations, both officials and contractors are investigated, Leff added.

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mikenova shared this story from Puerto Rico is a corrupt government problem – Google News.

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If the response to this year’s hurricanes has taught us anything, it’s that the agencies charged with assisting the Puerto Ricans are underfunded, understaffed and overextended. Take, for example, the federal response to the housing problem on the island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collected tarps …
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mikenova shared this story .

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Neglect, Corruption Left Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Ripe for Failure, Observers Say
 

mikenova shared this story from Voice of America.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO —Individuals long familiar with the inner workings of Puerto Rico’s publicly owned power authority say it should come as no surprise that the island was left entirely without electric power by Hurricane Maria or that, more than two months later, more than half its residents are still without electricity.

The late September storm hit the U.S. territory with unprecedented strength, leveling buildings and even whole forests with winds in excess of 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph). But former and current officials of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) say a decades-long culture of neglect and corruption had left the system unnecessarily vulnerable to Maria.

Long before Maria, signs of the power grid’s delicate state were everywhere. During Hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and George in 1998, Puerto Ricans were left without power for up to three weeks, especially in remote areas. On September 21, 2016 — a year to the day before Maria left the island — a fire in PREPA’s southern Aguirre plant caused an island-wide blackout for six days.

Former senior PREPA executives and other analysts pointed to several long-standing problems that contributed to the system’s collapse and painfully slow recovery:

● The vast majority of power lines in Puerto Rico are suspended on reinforced concrete poles designed to withstand winds of between 225 and 240 kph, meaning they should have held up through most of Maria’s blast. But, according to former PREPA Executive Director Josue Colon, cable and telecommunications companies have been allowed to string their own fiber-optic cables on the poles, reducing their wind load capacity by an average of 80 kph.

Existing law requires these companies to coordinate with PREPA, but all too often, Colon said, they “just do what they want” without proper oversight or regulation.

● Generating units in Puerto Rico’s petroleum-based electrical system date back, on average, 45 years, compared with the U.S. national average of 18 years. When asked, in an interview with local media in 2015, to assess the condition of PREPA’s physical assets, a representative of a New York-based consulting firm said they were the worst of any corporation she had previously seen or worked with.

● Once the storm hit, the local government was slow in activating its energy restoration plan. The U.S. company initially hired to repair the grid, Whitefish Energy Holdings, wasn’t contracted until six days after Maria, and its crews did not begin arriving on the island until October 2 — 12 days after the power was knocked out. Florida, in contrast, had mobilized thousands of crews from around the country to begin work the day after Hurricane Irma subsided that same month.

PREPA’s executive director is required by law to report by May 31 each year on steps that have been taken to prepare for hurricanes or “other atmospheric disturbances.” That plan should include details of companies that have been contracted to initiate repairs in the case of a storm.

However Senator Carmelo Rios, majority speaker in the Puerto Rico legislature, said in a radio interview this month that this year’s report was not filed until August 30 — less than three weeks before Maria struck — and that it falsely claimed the utility was fully prepared to deal with any contingency. Neither the governor’s office nor that of PREPA Executive Director Ricardo Ramos responded to VOA’s requests for comment.

● An individual with personal knowledge of PREPA’s workings, who declined to be identified while talking about company-employee relations, described systemic corruption that has allowed critical equipment to deteriorate while highly paid and underperforming employees are protected.

Reports that date back over 25 years, prepared by engineers charged with overseeing the corporation’s operations, show that PREPA employees on average perform only two hours of useful work per day. Yet a menial custodial position can pay upward of $90,000 a year with generous benefits.

UTIER, the union representing PREPA employees, has also negotiated severe restrictions on what employees can be asked to do, creating inefficiencies. Drivers, for instance, cannot help with any other work, even if that means they must wait and watch while others work.

UTIER did not respond to repeated requests for comment from VOA.

Changes in governing board

Inconsistent PREPA leadership has compounded other problems, with a new territorial administration appointing a new PREPA governing board every four years since 2000. This has affected PREPA’s ability to design, implement and execute a long-term strategic plan to solve its fiscal problems and prepare for emergencies.

The same type of problems that contributed to the island-wide blackout now threaten to plague the recovery effort.

Numerous local officials and environmental activists have argued strongly in favor of replacing the destroyed infrastructure with a decentralized electric grid, developing hundreds if not thousands of microgrids that can provide power to smaller sectors closer to where the power is being generated.

However, Colon points out that a network of seven such grids was already established across Puerto Rico as an emergency backup, but it was inoperable after Maria because of a lack of maintenance. He blames this on draconian austerity measures implemented by Alix Partners, the New York consulting firm brought in three years ago as PREPA neared insolvency.

VOA reached out to Alix Partners for comment by email, Facebook and Twitter but did not receive a reply.

The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that power in Puerto Rico may not be fully restored until March. Governor Ricardo Rossello, however, has publicly stated his goal of restoring power to 90 percent of the island before Christmas.

In reality, when power will be fully restored in the U.S territory is anybody’s guess.

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mikenova shared this story .

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Neglect, Corruption Left Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Ripe for Failure …

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But former and current officials of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) say a decades-long culture of neglect and corruption had left the … PREPA executives and other analysts pointed to several long-standing problems that contributed to the system’s collapse and painfully slow recovery:.
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Like a careless driver in a fast car, Hurricane Irma plowed through the Leeward Islands in early September. It sideswiped Puerto Rico, knocking out electric power to 1 million people. It ran over Caribbean resort islands including Saint Kitts and Saint Martin, then skidded north at Key West. Careening up the …
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The entire island is now in a total blackout as a result of the storm, with recovery in some parts not expected for an extended period of time. “Once we’re able to go outside, … Puerto Rico’s power grid was already in bad shape even before the 2017 hurricane season. PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old …
Puerto Rico’s grid recovery, by the numbers — Tuesday, February 20, 2018 — www.eenews.net
 

mikenova shared this story .

Five months ago today, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, leading to the worst blackout in American history and a costly, complicated attempt to rebuild its electric grid. How is that effort going?

According to data compiled by E&E News, there is much left to do. After making strides in late 2017 to restore major chunks of infrastructure and get the lights back on, the repair endeavor has entered a plateau. While most have electricity, it is unclear how much longer those in the dark will have to wait.

The transmission network, nearly destroyed by the hurricane, has made steady gains. Meanwhile, one kind of substation is crawling back into service, while another has seen no progress in months.

“The bulk of the work that is left is the hardest, requiring helicopter support and long commutes to remote, hard-to-access job sites,” said Jay Field, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which was assigned by the Trump administration to lead the recovery. “Weather is also an issue due to rain and heavy winds.”

Last week, the island’s unified grid-restoration command said that it expects to have 90 to 95 percent of the territory’s power restored by March 31. It estimates that the hard-hit municipality of Arecibo will have its electricity restored by mid-April, and the municipality of Caguas by late May. It provided no timeline for other municipalities that are also lagging in energy recovery.


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