Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Did Harrisburg's receiver jump? Or was he pushed?

David Unkovic's version doesn't match state's story

Did Harrisburg's receiver jump? Or was he pushed?

David Unkovic
David Unkovic

More about how the man Gov. Corbett tapped to manage Harrisburg's debts found himself questioning the state capital city's political-financial arrangements - and what happened next - in my Sunday Inquirer column here. Excerpts:

1) From David Unkovic's statement on why he quit as Harrisburg's court-appointed receiver:

"After my news conference of March 28, 2012, I was called into the Governor’s Office of General Counsel. Steve Aichele was adamant that I was no longer able to negotiate a settlement with the creditors, given my criticism of them and my call for an investigation of possible criminal activity in connection with the incinerator financings."

 When "I offered to resign." Aichele "proposed that I might no longer be able to remain on as receiver," but instead take a state finance job "and continue to work on Harrisburg matters behind the scenes. I came away from that meeting believing I would be removed as receiver — and therefore decided to resign and leave state government at the same time."

2) State officials tell it differently. Said Steve Kratz, spokesman for DCED, "We never said, we had no intent, to remove him." Rather, "we had concerns about his behavior." In a court hearing, Unkovic had been "acting irrational. During questioning, he was slamming his fist down. Not acting in a calm and controlled manner."

Plus, "holding a news conference to make public accusations, we thought that could be detrimental to the recovery process. So we called the meeting to get back on track." Even then — rationality aside — Unkovic’s office remained "independent," and Unkovic "had the utmost confidence of the governor." So when Unkovic resigned, Kratz concluded, "we were as surprised and shocked as anybody."

3) Result: The conscientious Unkovic is now ex-receiver. And Aichele was named to a new job on Thursday — as Gov. Corbett’s chief of staff.


Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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