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Author: Sarah McMichael

The need for micro grids in Puerto Rico after the fallout from Hurricanes María and Irma

Before Hurricane María hit in September 2107, Puerto Rico was already facing a major financial crisis, as the territory was $73 billion in debt and had recently filed for municipal bankruptcy. $9 billion of this debt was owed by the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA), whose leadership then fell under scrutiny after María for awarding shady building contracts, particularly concerning Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny construction company from Montana that quickly, and suspiciously, won a $300 million bid to rebuild the grid. Contention surrounding mismanagement lead to the resignation of PREPA’s chief executive, Ricardo L. Ramos in November...

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The effects of displacement on Puerto Rican K-12 students in Florida after Hurricane Maria

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, many residents were left with nothing and chose to move to the mainland following the many who had migrated to the states in previous years. Since so many schools were destroyed and had to be closed due to storm damage and budgetary concerns, it was unclear after the hurricanes as to how students would be able to receive an education. According to the most recent data available from the US Census Bureau, migration from Puerto Rico to Florida increased significantly from less than half a million from around 2001, to...

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Puerto Rico has the least safe water of any state or territory

After Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, finding and distributing drinkable water immediately became one of the islands’ residents main concerns. Lack of access to  relief supplies and donations after the storms, especially water, has been a controversial issue, since it was recently discovered that millions of water bottles were abandoned on a Puerto Rican airport tarmac and were never handed out to storm survivors. Although the hurricanes may have compounded this problem, having access to clean water is not a new worry for Puerto Rico’s residents, as the territory’s drinkable water was already deemed...

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The controversy over pension benefits of Catholic school teachers, in context

In the past few years, there have been many cases brought before the Supreme Court of the United States involving denials of pension plan payouts to beneficiaries of church-affiliated entities, especially cases involving Catholic Hospitals and their employees. The issue of pension plans is back in the news again, but this time, it concerns Catholic School pension plans in Puerto Rico. In 1974, a federal law titled “The Employee Retirement Income Security Act” (ERISA) was enacted in order to establish minimum standards that would help protect individuals who were beneficiaries of most voluntarily established private industry pension and health...

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Puerto Rico government facing difficulties dealing with Oversight Board

Puerto Rico has recently suffered the wrath of many economic woes, most which are tied to the territory’s budget shortfalls and overdue bills to creditors. As if the humanitarian crisis created by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 wasn’t enough, the fiscal crisis is ongoing, as Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is going head-to-head against the Congressionally-mandated Financial Oversight and Management Board that was specifically created to help Puerto Rico deal with its bankruptcy issues. The notion of enacting fiscal control boards is a newer concept, but is becoming more typical. It has become commonplace that US cities under...

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