Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Still Waits for $4.9 Billion From U.S. Treasury

Source: Rebecca Spalding, Bloomberg, December 8, 2017
Over two months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s government still hasn’t received any of the $4.9 billion of short-term loans promised in the storm aid package Congress passed at the end of October.  Christian Sobrino, the governor’s representative on the island’s federal oversight board, confirmed Friday that no Puerto Rican entity has received any portion of the funds, which were requested for basic functions like making payroll. This week, the Puerto Rican government told the fiscal control board that the electric company, Prepa, and water utility, Prasa, would run out of money in December.  Sobrino said Friday that the island’s fiscal agency was in talks with the U.S. Treasury and Department of Homeland Security about the money and how it would be disbursed. …


U.S. counters hedge fund’s attack on Puerto Rico oversight board (Abstract)
Source: Jim Christie, Reuters, December 7, 2017
The U.S. government defended on Wednesday the federal board overseeing Puerto Rico’s restructuring, countering a bid by a hedge fund that sought to get the U.S. territory’s bankruptcy-like case dismissed by attacking the board’s legality.  The restructuring is taking place under a special federal law known as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) that provides for proceedings in U.S. District Court akin to those under Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy. …

Bernie Sanders to unveil a $146 billion ‘Marshall Plan’ for Puerto Rico
Source: Jeff Stein, Washington Post, November 28, 2017

Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s decades-old electrical grid when it made landfall on Sept. 20, rendering millions of island inhabitants without power.  On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil an ambitious $146 billion Puerto Rico recovery plan he says will allow renewable power sources such as solar and wind to provide about 70 percent of the island’s energy needs within the decade.  The bill, which has the backing of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, also calls on Congress to consider retiring Puerto Rico’s debt and would give the island billions in additional federal funding for transportation, health care and education in the hopes of stemming a feared mass exodus to the mainland. It would also allocate funds to the Virgin Islands, which were similarly devastated by Hurricane Maria. …

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Lawmakers seek probes of award for Hurricane Maria tarps

Source: Tami Abdollah, Associated Press, December 1, 2017

Democrats in Congress are pushing for investigations into how the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded contracts worth $30 million to a fledgling company for Hurricane Maria disaster supplies that it failed to deliver to Puerto Rico. The senior Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, wrote Thursday to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, seeking more information about how FEMA evaluated Bronze Star LLC of St. Cloud, Florida. The Associated Press reported this week that FEMA awarded the small firm contracts for tarps and plastic sheeting that were never delivered. The agency ultimately terminated the contracts earlier this month without paying any money, but the episode caused a delay of four weeks. …

… Meanwhile, Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y., wants the Homeland Security Department inspector general to investigate. He sought the review in an amendment to the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2017, which cleared the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday. Maloney’s amendment cleared the committee with unanimous bipartisan support, though it was unclear when the House will vote on the measure. The amendment specifically requests an inspector general audit of all contracts awarded for tarps and plastic sheeting for the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The review would include the contracting process used to evaluate bidders and award the contracts; the assessment of past performance and technical capacity to fulfill the contracts; and how FEMA ensures the contractors meet the terms. …

Whitefish stops work on Puerto Rico power grid over payment dispute

Source: Brandon Carter, The Hill, November 20, 2017
Whitefish Energy, which is under scrutiny over how it was selected for work in Puerto Rico, is halting its efforts on the island’s power grid because it says the local power authority owes it millions of dollars.  In an interview with CNN published Monday, Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski said the company is owed more than $83 million by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and is stopping work because its repeated requests for payment were not fulfilled.  “We stopped because of the financial situation, lack of payment with PREPA has gotten beyond its maximum threshold and what we can sustain as a business,” Techmankski said.  The company’s CEO said that it has employed more than 500 contractors and subcontractors on its work to restore the island’s power grid following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. …


Ricardo Ramos, embattled head of Puerto Rico’s power utility, resigns
Source: Phil McCausland, NBC News, November 17, 2017
The embattled head of Puerto Rico’s power utility resigned on Friday, the latest controversy to hit the island as it struggles to bring its electric grid back online. Ricardo Ramos, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Agency, submitted his resignation to Puerto Rico’s governor’s office only a few days after he testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee over the controversial contract he approved with Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana firm to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid.  A few hours after Ramos resigned, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló recommended the appointment of engineer Justo González as interim director of the public utility.

After Doomed Whitefish Deal, Puerto Rico Asks Congress for $94 Billion
Source: Frances Robles, New York Times, November 14, 2017

The governor of Puerto Rico and the chief executive of its beleaguered electric company faced hours of questioning on Tuesday in Congress, where skeptical legislators questioned whether to give the island an enormous aid package on the heels of a botched high-priced contract to fix its power grid.
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló came to Senate and House committees with a huge ask: $94.4 billion to help Puerto Rico “build back better” after Hurricane Maria destroyed or damaged 472,000 homes and knocked out the island’s electricity. He also said that Puerto Rico should have more authority over its own fiscal affairs, and that he had “zero role” in awarding a highly criticized $300 million deal to a small Montana firm to help restore power. …

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Puerto Rico activists fight to keep beaches public

Source: Caribbean News Now, August 10, 2016

Environmental activists and experts in Puerto Rico breathed a sigh of relief when a law that sought to privatize La Parguera, a public maritime zone in the western coast of Lajas, was rejected. But their battle is far from over. Several public beaches and maritime zones are fighting privatization proposals. Project #1621, the bill that was recently rejected, intended to legalize floating water houses or casetas. Illegal casetas have existed in La Parguera for decades. The bill would have legalized these homes, allowed the owners to rent the property for up to 40 years and it would have turned the free public space along the casetas into an exclusive tourism zone. … Project #1621 was only one of several bills that intended to commodify public spaces on the island. In November 2015, an altercation between Marriott hotel’s administration and environmental activists made headline news after a ten year struggle erupted into a protest in Isla Verde Beach in Carolina. The organization Coalición Playas Pa’l Pueblo had established a camp site in Isla Verde over ten years ago to protect free public access in a beach located in the northern city of Carolina. … Another bill proposed this year by the House of Representatives was Project #2853, which intended to legalize the privatization of Puerto Rico’s coastal zones. This project would have created a Trust for Ecotourist Conservation in Puerto Rico under the Department of Natural Resources for granting special licenses for the private use of the coastal maritime zone. The bill was rejected by the Senate, and during the night of its hearing, activists gathered outside the Capitol of Puerto Rico to protest, and activist Alberto de Jesús, better known as “Tito Kayak”, climbed a flag pole and replaced the American flag with one that read “Beaches belong to the people.” …

Puerto Rico governor supports privatizing power production

Source: Associated Press, June 4, 2015

Puerto Rico’s governor said Wednesday that he supports privatizing electricity production in the U.S. territory as officials seek to restructure the island’s troubled public power company.

Puerto Rico Leaders Battle on Potential PREPA Privatization
Source: Robert Slavin, Bond Buyer, March 24, 2014
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Puerto Rico’s leaders are at odds over a potential privatization of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. On March 20 Puerto Rico’s Senate passed a series of bills for reforming the commonwealth’s electrical system. …. . One of the bills opened the path for a possible quick privatization of the provision of electricity on the island. This is one of the key things García Padilla opposes about the bills, the governor’s chief of staff, Ingrid Vila Biaggi, told The Bond Buyer.

Puerto Rico Dumps Traffic Cameras, Orders Refunds/ After just a few months, Puerto Rico cancels automated ticketing machine contract, refunding all citations.

Source: theNewspaper.com, January 16, 2015

The public in Puerto Rico complained so loudly about the photo enforcement program that the territory’s government listened. Red light cameras went up at three intersections in October dealing out $250 tickets for making rolling right turns, speeding or having a recently expired vehicle registration. On Thursday, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (D) had his transportation department refund every ticket issued. … Haste was important, since the program had not become fully operational. A contract clause allowed the transportation department to cancel the deal without paying the $6 million termination fee at any time before the installation was complete. Transportation officials also insist that the photo ticketing firm failed to deliver on its end of the bargain. A no-bid contract was awarded to International Traffic Systems, which also operated in Puerto Rico under the name “National Public Safety Consortium.” In the United States, this entity goes by the name InsureNet, a company run by Jonathan Miller of Georgia. InsureNet sells automated license plate readers and has unsuccessfully lobbied to have automated cameras issue tickets to drivers whose insurance or registration has lapsed in states like Oklahoma and Illinois….

Firm condemnation of closure or privatization of Mental Health Center in Guaynabo

Source: Antonio R. Gomez, El Nuevodia, October 7, 2013
(English translation here)

Patient Mental Health Clinic of San Patricio and friends of these reiterated today, Monday, opposition to the closure of these facilities or to transfer its operations to the company APS Healthcare, which is what provides these services under the health plan government “My Health”. The group appeared before the Commission on Civil Rights, Citizenship and Social Economy of the Senate, to hold hearings on mental health services received by children in Puerto Rico.

Opinion: Grounding Midway privatization was right: Now make transparency the law

Source: Donald Cohen, Crain’s, October 1, 2013

Explaining his recent decision to pull the plug on plans to privatize Chicago’s Midway Airport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote that his “most important goal was to protect the interests of the city and its taxpayers in a way that had not been done on previous public-private partnerships.” The mayor was spot-on in applying these principles to Midway. But these same principles should apply to every service or asset that Chicago has privatized or will consider privatizing in the future. …. The proposed Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance, pending before the City Council, is one solid proposal that would institutionalize the same kinds of protections included in the guidelines given to the citizens task force set up by the mayor to oversee the process.

City outlines terms of Midway privatization
Source: Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2013

Companies interested in vying for a contract to privatize Midway Airport will have to agree to an array of stipulations, including a lease of not more than 40 years, according to documents posted online Friday that invite potential bidders to submit their qualifications….

Chicago Midway International Airport Request for Qualifications
Source: City of Chicago, January 2013

Advancing Privatizing Midway
Source: Dermot Connolly, Southwest City News-Herald, January 04, 2013

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Floats Ideas That Is Gaining Some Support…Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is advancing the idea of privatizing Midway Airport but suggests having a lease agreement much shorter than the $2.5 billion 99-year proposal backed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley that fell through in 2009. …In addition to a lease less than 40 years, the press release issued by the Emanuel’s office stated that the draft RFQ guidelines include: long-term cash flow stream for long-term capital needs; and revenue share, meaning initial proceeds will be used to pay off debt issued by the city dating back to 1996 to rebuild the new Midway Airport. The city would also retain ownership of Midway Airport and receive a percentage fee that will grow over time. A private operator signing the lease would manage revenue-producing activities like food, beverage and car rental concessions and parking lots. The FAA would continue to provide air traffic control, while the Transportation Security Administration would continue to provide security operations…Responses to the RFQ are expected to be due in the first quarter of 2013. Review of the potential bidders will be conducted in the spring. Once released, the RFQ will be made available on the city’s Web site.

Emanuel moves ahead on Midway privatization, aldermen not so sure

Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times, December 21, 2012

Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved ahead Thursday on testing the privatization market for Midway Airport — with a 40-year lease, profit-sharing for Chicago taxpayers and safeguards against consumer price-gouging — but there’s political turbulence ahead. Aldermen are still gun-shy about the steep schedule of rate increases tied to controversial deals that privatized 36,000 city parking meters and the Chicago Skyway. They’re not happy about the prospect of selling off an asset as valuable as Midway — and reviving a deal that collapsed in 2009 for lack of financing — even if it’s done in a way dramatically different than one former Mayor Richard M. Daley envisioned.

Emanuel close to reviving Midway privatization — with key changes
Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times, December 1, 2012

Facing a Dec. 31 federal deadline, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has all but decided to test the privatization market for Midway Airport, but do it in a way dramatically different from the 99-year, $2.5 billion deal that collapsed for lack of financing, according to City Hall sources….

Is Midway Airport privatization deal back in the works?
Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times, May 7, 2012

City not yet grounding Midway privatization possibility
Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times, March 30, 2012

Chicago Leaves Door Open For Midway Airport Lease
Source: Yvette Shields, Bond Buyer, April 3, 2012
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FAA OKs Chicago Bid for Midway Airport Privatization
Source: Yvette Shields, Bond Buyer, April 9, 2012
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Plans to privatize Midway may fly again / As eligibility deadline approaches, some say deal is viable; Mayor Rahm Emanuel remains mum
Source: Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2012

Chicago attorney John Schmidt, a key adviser to the city on the ultimately unsuccessful push several years ago to privatize Midway Airport, says such a deal would be viable now, given that the financial markets have stabilized….A proposal to privatize the Luiz Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is moving ahead with strong interest from investors and support from the major airlines operating there, said Schmidt, who is counsel on that project and a partner with Mayer Brown LLP.

Airport Privatization Takes Off in Puerto Rico

Source: Darwin BondGraham, Truthout, April 23, 2013

…Like the public toll roads Puerto Rico has sold, the Luis Munoz Marin Airport’s privatization was justified as a means to raise cash to pay down debt. Critics say, however, that the deal shortchanged the public, and that it will only worsen the island’s debt situation….
Puerto Rico to Privatize its Airport – Update
Source: Robert Slavin, Bond buyer, February 26, 2013
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Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla will go ahead with plans to privatize Puerto Rico’s main airport. Late on Monday U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Federal Aviation Administration approved a plan to privatize San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. …

Puerto Rico Moves to Privatize Airport, Finds Mixed Reactions
Source: Politic365, February 13, 2013

Last week, Governor Garcia Padilla received his first protest, courtesy of his administration’s support for the public-private partnership (APP in its Spanish acronym) concerning the Island’s main airport, the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. The partnership, originally pushed by former Governor Luis Fortuño, and opposed, at the time, by Garcia-Padilla’s party in the run up to the elections, has been embraced by the current governor under the premise that the deal was already signed by the time he came into power. Garcia-Padilla doesn’t fully support the partnership, which would lease the main airport to Aerostar, a Mexican company who manages several airports around the world, for a period of 40 years. …

Puerto Rico in $2.57 bln airport privatization
Source: Reuters, July 19, 2012

Puerto Rico’s government selected Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC in a deal worth $2.57 billion to run its Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, the largest in the Caribbean, Gov. Luis Fortuno said on Thursday. The deal calls for Aerostar, which is made up of Aeroportuario del Sureste, an operator of nine airports in Mexico, and Highstar Capital, which has made investments in Baltimore and London, to run the airport for 40 years.

Bids submitted for Puerto Rico airport PPP
Source: Infrastructure Investor, July 11, 2012
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The ASUR/Highstar Capital consortium and rival Ferrovial/Macquarie grouping have handed over their sealed proposals and bids to Puerto Rico’s Public-Private Partnerships Authority for the PPP of Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.

Mexico’s ASUR, Spain’s Ferrovial eye Puerto Rico airport contract
Source: Fox News Latino, July 07, 2012

Puerto Rico workers protest airport privatization
Source: Associated Press, June 26, 2012

Puerto Rico picks two finalists for airport privatization
Source: Reuters, May 2, 2012

Puerto Rico officials eyeing a possible $1 billion payday on Wednesday said they had narrowed to two the finalists for a public-private concession to run the Caribbean island’s Luiz Munoz Marin Airport for as long as half a century. The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnership Authority and the Ports Authority announced as finalists, consortiums Grupo Aerpuertos Avance (GAA) and Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC (AAH). They were chosen from as many as six bidders which had made offers in March….

…The government expects a big upfront payment, with most of the money used to pay off some of the $900 million of outstanding debt issued by Puerto Rico’s cash-strapped Ports Authority….

…This is the second large public-private deal Puerto Rico is working on. Last year, the U.S. commonwealth undertook a 40-year concession for roadways PR22 and PR5 to Metropistas.

11 bidders vie for youth prison project

Source: John Marino, caribbeanbusinesspr.com, May 17, 2012

P3 Authority opens RFQ process for juvenile correctional center
Source: Michelle Kantrow, newsismybusiness.com, March 23, 2012

Puerto Rico social PPP attracts 11 bidders
Source: Andy Thomson, Infrastructure Investor, 17 May 2012
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Puerto Rico juvenile centre PPP on fast track
Source: Infrastructure Investor, 23 March 2012
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The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnerships Authority has published an RFQ for a recently unveiled juvenile treatment facility in San Juan. The project is the first social infrastructure development in Puerto Rico.