In Pennsylvania, "the laws that govern local government debt have no teeth, and no enforcing agency has clear jurisdiction. In the wild west of municipal finance, no one is minding the store, and there’s no police or penalties for robbing it," writes Nick Malawskey in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News.
The story details yesterday's state Senate hearing into Harrisburg city's outrageous $340 million in unpaid (and increasingly defaulted) municipal debt, largely for a mismanaged trash incinerator project that state and city officials approved and their paid bankers and consultants supported despite its obvious unworkability and failure to comply with finance guidelines.
Ex-Mayor Stephen R. Reed, a popular Democrat who left the city's finances a shambles, was among the authors of the city's financial collapse who testified in the six-hour session. There'll be another hearing Oct. 29.
"Depending on whom you believe, the retrofit of the city’s incinerator was done with the best of intentions and the blame belongs to now-bankrupt Barlow Construction, the firm hired to conduct the retrofit. Or it is a tangled web of financial interests, parties hellbent on getting the project done, whatever the cost. A conspiracy of consultants and politicians benefiting from the public’s largess," writes Malawskey.