Saturday, July 4, 2015

Court taps new Harrisburg receiver; state calls old one 'irrational'

City still owes more than $300 million.

Court taps new Harrisburg receiver; state calls old one 'irrational'


Comonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter today approved Air Force Gen. William B. Lynch as Gov. Tom Corbett's new receiver for cash-strapped Harrisburg. “He impressed me with the personal qualities that we need to handle this very, very difficult situation,” said the judge, according to this Bloomberg report.

Unkovic told the court he'd been “put in a box” by creditors who convinced another state court judge to appoint a rival receiver to take control of the infamous incinerator whose multiple refinancings have left Harrisburg broke. That receiver "will be a tool of creditors, including Dauphin County and Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp.," according to Bloomberg.

"Unkovic quit March 30, two days after publicly calling for state and federal probes of more than $300 million worth of bond deals that is at the heart of Harrisburg’s insolvency."

The receiver was brought in to help Harrisburg pay off that money. But after reviewing the city's finances and the history of the bond sales, Unkovic called their structure "disturbing." After calling for investigations, Unkovic said he met with lawyers for Gov. Corbett and realized he would be replaced. Instead he resigned, citing political "headwinds." 

During a break from testimony today, state Department of Community and Economic Development spokesman Steven Kratz called Unkovic "irrational," said he was "slamming papers around" during a meeting with state officials, and added that "it became clear he couldn’t handle” the job, Bloomberg reported. Unkovic wouldn't comment. Leadbetter praised Unkovic's work for the city.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

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