Energy Company In Hot Water After Trump-Like Twitter Spat With a Puerto Rico Mayor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

This Energy Company Is In Hot Water After a Trump-Like Twitter Spat With a Puerto Rico Mayor

12:01 PM ET

Looking at President Trump, you might think the rules of politics have changed. After Hurricane Maria, he attacked the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, saying she had shown “poor leadership” and was only criticizing federal aid efforts because she’d been told to by Democrats.

…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….

The tweet did not go over well — by one measure, it was the third least-popular tweet of his presidency. But Trump never backed down, continuing his attacks on the mayor and other “politically motivated ingrates” until the news cycle had moved on.

One energy company has learned that the old rules still apply, however.

After San Juan Mayor Cermen Yulín Cruz asked for more transparency on Whitefish Energy, a small company based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown that received a $300 million contract to restore power to the island, it fought back — on Twitter.

First, the company said that it shared her frustrations with the slow pace of progress but felt her comments were “misplaced.” Yulín Cruz then responded, tweetingthat she is not the only person who has raised questions.

“What is it about women having an opinion that irritates some?” she wrote.

The company fired back: “We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?”

This exchange was so Trumpy the President himself could have drafted it. Facing criticism, the company doubled down, a common strategy for the commander in chief. When a question was raised about sexism, it responded by using variants on the word “men” twice.

And that’s where the comparison with Trump ends. After the company faced a barrage of criticism, the governor of Puerto Rico asked an inspector general to look into how it got the contract and said there would be “hell to pay.” Congressional Democrats sent their own letter.

“Whitefish is primarily financed by a private equity firm that is run by a contributor to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. We’re concerned that Whitefish might have overstated its connections with the Trump administration to obtain the contract,” eight Democratic lawmakers wrote in another letter to the Interior Department’s inspector general.

A copy of the company’s contract leaked which appeared to show that the government cannot audit the company’s labor costs or profits.

$332.41 per person for accommodations *each day*

$79.82 per person for food *each day* pic.twitter.com/jX51fRDZWf

Whitefish contract states, “In no event shall [government bodies] have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements.” Wow. pic.twitter.com/dIyQXb6AK0

View image on Twitter

The Federal Emergency Management Administration even weighed in, saying after an initial review it “has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable.”

In short, following Trump’s playbook has already landed Whitefish in a lot of hot water, and things are just getting started, which is why the company has already done the least Trumpy thing possible: It apologized.

Trump may get away with attacking, tweeting, doubling down and never apologizing. But he’s the President, and barring any unlikely scenarios, he’s in office through January of 2021 at least. Everyone else in politics — especially companies with contracts at stake — is still bound by the old rules.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins: NOAA And FEMA Have No Leaders/Directors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Hurricane season began on June 1, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the season will be a busy one, with an above-average range of 5-9 hurricanes likely in the Atlantic.

The United States could be especially vulnerable to hurricane landfalls this year, observers say, but not because of the enhanced activity that is expected.

NOAA is forecasting an above-average hurricane season in 2017.

The two agencies that protect the country’s coast lines and its residents, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still without leaders — positions that must be appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
“That should scare the hell out of everybody,” retired US Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré told CNN. “These positions help save lives.”
Honoré knows all too well the value that leadership plays during a crisis, as he commanded Joint Task Force Katrina. He coordinated military relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré talks to his soldiers at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on September 8, 2005.

Despite concerns, FEMA and NOAA say they are prepared for the hurricane season and the aftermath of any storms that make landfall and cause damage.
NOAA runs the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the agency that tracks and forecasts tropical storms and hurricanes, providing five-day forecasts to allow government officials plenty of time to make preparations and organize evacuations.
Not only is NOAA lacking a leader, but the NHC is also without a director after Rick Knabb stepped down earlier this year after leading the center for five years. The director briefs government leaders as well as the American public directly on the forecast for impending storms.
Also under NOAA is the National Weather Service, which is tasked with issuing life-saving warnings for impeding threats from land-falling storms such as strong winds, flooding rainfall and damaging storm surge.
While also key in the preparations, FEMA’s role really kicks in once the storm hits and a disaster has been declared, as FEMA coordinates the government-wide relief efforts.
According to FEMA’s website, “it is designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.”
But according to Honoré, things could be anything but orderly. “These operations will not function as they should with temporary people doing the jobs.”
“Just look back to Hurricane Katrina to see how important leadership was. If someone is slow in making decisions it can be costly — imagine having no one at all,” Honoré said, referring to the criticism and eventual resignation of then-FEMA director Mike Brown over the bungled response after Katrina hit.
Trump did appoint former Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long in late April to lead FEMA, but as of this week, the selection has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Despite the vacancy, FEMA director of public affairs William Booher believes the agency will be able to serve its mission.
“Throughout the transition to the new administration, FEMA has ensured that career civilian staff are in place in key positions throughout the agency, allowing them to continue, uninterrupted, to perform their core mission responsibilities — preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating all hazards, Booher told CNN.
Booher stated that the agency is “looking forward to working with the Senate on the confirmation process and a successful vote” for Brock Long.
A NOAA spokesman told CNN the National Hurricane Center’s acting director, Ed Rappaport, is an experienced leader with 30 years at the center.
“NOAA is fully prepared for the hurricane season and is even launching new and improved products and services this year,” said Chris Vaccaro. “Under our acting administrator, NOAA will continue to provide the American public with science and services important for public safety, the nation’s natural resources, and the economy.”
Trump has yet to appoint someone to the NOAA position.
While the heads of NOAA and FEMA are not the only vacant positions in the US government waiting on appointments, the prospect of a busy hurricane season make them two of the most important.
“We’ve already lost six months of preparation,” Honoré pleaded. “The government has been preaching to people to prepare themselves for hurricanes, but they haven’t done their part to prepare by picking someone to lead.”

Do You Actually Own Anything: Or Does The U.S.Federal Government Own It/You?

(This article is courtesy of OPB TV and Radio of eastern Oregon)

News | Nation | Local | An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

‘This Land Is Our Land’: The Movement Bigger Than The Bundys


The Pacific Patriots Network surrounded the Harney County Courthouse in January, where they met with Sheriff Dave Ward.

The Pacific Patriots Network surrounded the Harney County Courthouse in January, where they met with Sheriff Dave Ward.

Dave Blanchard/OPB

OPB’s Conrad Wilson and the Oregonian/OregonLive’s Maxine Bernstein update us on the last full week of the government’s case against the Malheur refuge occupiers.

Then, we take a look at the so-called Patriot Movement — a loosely connected network of organizations that are united in the belief the federal government has overstepped its authority.

Mark Potok is a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center. His job is to monitor groups that are a part of what he calls the “extreme right.” That includes everything from racist groups like the KKK and to groups like the Bundys, whose concerns revolve around severe distrust of the federal government.

Potok says many people in the groups he tracks believe there is “a secret plan to impose draconian gun control on all Americans” and “those who resist the coming seizure will be thrown into concentration camps that have been secretly built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

SPLC has identified nearly 1,000 groups across the country with these kinds of beliefs and connects the groups to the philosophies that motivated the Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho; the Waco, Texas, siege; and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Potok says there is a way to curb the movement.

“In the late ‘90s, the FBI made quite an effort … to meet with militiamen, to go out to have coffee to talk to these people about their concerns and fears, and in fact I think there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest that was quite effective,” Potok said. “You realize the person you’re having coffee with is an actual human being just like you are.”uge

 

Joseph Rice is the head of the Josephine County chapter of the Oath Keepers — a group that Potok sees as central to so-called patriot groups. But Rice thinks SPLC is uninformed about his group.

“I’ve never spoken to those folks,” he said.

Rice was in Harney County when Ammon Bundy led a group to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but Rice and his group didn’t join the occupation. Instead, he and a group of like-minded organizations known as the “Pacific Patriots Network” stuck around to provide security in town. The group said it was there to prevent another Waco or Ruby Ridge-like incident.

Those incidents, he says, were “lessons in history.” The individuals involved in those incidents “were living their life as they chose to live freely, without impact to others. It was only when the federal government came in they had impact, and that resulted in loss of life.”

Though he didn’t endorse it, Rice insists that the takeover of the refuge was an act of civil disobedience. And while he disagrees with the charges against Ammon Bundy and the other defendants, he does think the incident has drawn attention to issues around the federal control of land, which could be good for the aims of his group.

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