While Congress engages in the impeachment circus, it is important to remember that real people are doing real jobs — and that the government is often making it harder for them to succeed.
A couple of weeks ago, I did an interview with Aaron Flint on his “Montana Talks” radio show about the plight of Andy Techmanski and his company Whitefish Energy, which is owed more than $100 million for work done in 2017 in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. As editor of the Daily Inter Lake, I had been one of the few voices in the media that supported Whitefish Energy from the start, and the facts have backed me up all along the way.
You probably remember the story because Techmanski’s name was dragged through the mud for months by the Fake News Media. No one could believe that a tiny Montana company could have the ingenuity, foresight and skill to restore electric power to a Caribbean island thousands of miles away. So a bunch of vulture reporters and their Democratic allies in Congress tried to find a scandal where there was none. They argued that because Whitefish Energy was based in Whitefish, the home of then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (a favorite target of liberals), there must be some kind of corrupt pay-to-play scheme in motion.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency got cold feet, and as a result, Techmanski lost the contract just a month into the vital job of resurrecting the power grid in Puerto Rico. It was left to a bunch of larger companies to carry on in the wake of what Whitefish Energy had done in the crucial first weeks.
In fact, as it turns out, Whitefish Energy had done a brilliant job. Even FEMA finally had to say so. The only problem is that FEMA never paid Techmanski for all the work his company had done, which meant that hundreds of workers and subcontractors could not be paid, which meant that Whitefish Energy was being punished for its success.
Lately, Techmanski has been speaking out. He talked to Aaron Flint following my interview, and he’s been written up at Bloomberg.com, among other places. For whatever reason, Techmanski has the patience of Job. By now, I would have sued to get my money back, even if there’s no way to restore a reputation tarnished by an illegitimate media.
Even the Bloomberg interview was tainted by a bizarre headline that further victimized Techmanski while supposedly promoting is point of view. The story is published as “CEO Who Didn’t Get Arrested Says He Just Wants to Get Paid.” What in God’s name does that mean? Was there ever any suggestion that Techmanski was going to be arrested? Not that I’m aware of. The only people who were arrested were FEMA officials and the president of another electrical contractor that had nothing to do with Whitefish Energy. Adding intrigue to the story is that one of those arrested was Ahsha Tribble, the FEMA official who previously had given Whitefish Energy credit for doing a good job. Clearly, something is rotten in FEMA and the contracting process used in disasters, but Whitefish Energy didn’t have anything to do with the corruption.
Meanwhile, Techmanski is still waiting — for $106.8 million in work-related charges and $21.6 million in finance charges. According to Bloomberg, “Those funds should ultimately be paid by FEMA, but Techmanski said the agency is sitting on the invoice. He’s heard nothing from FEMA or the utility about when the payment might be issued.”
Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican power authority PREPA continues to say that Whitefish Energy did nothing wrong. Listen to what Fernando Padilla, Prepa’s project management officer, told Bloomberg:
“There were no significant problems with the quality of Whitefish’s restoration work, Padilla said. The company completed power restoration services immediately after Maria and in the most difficult of circumstances, he said.”
Do you think anyone will stand up to help Techmanski and Whitefish Energy? Do you think any member of Congress will try to help a small business from Montana that has been screwed out of $100 million? Don’t count on it! According to Techmanski, no member of even the Montana delegation to Congress has ever even reached out to him to offer help.
WHO WE ARE
Frank Miele has spent four decades in the news business and now offers conservative commentary to counter the left-wing bias in the national media. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will consider purchasing one of my books. They are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. My new book — “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” — shows that Fake News has been around for years. The “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy tackles the politics of the last two decades: Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” Also consider subscribing to Heartland Diary on YouTube by clicking here for News Every Conservative Can Use.