Sunday, October 4, 2015

Unkovic to US, Corbett: Stop PA 'corruption,' 'unchecked greed'

Ex-receiver says unenforced PA laws broken by "major financial institutions and their local enablers"

Unkovic to US, Corbett: Stop PA 'corruption,' 'unchecked greed'

David Unkovic
David Unkovic

"Hundreds" of U.S. municipalities "are suffering the financial ravages caused by the unchecked greed of major financial institutions and their local enablers," writes David Unkovic, longtime bond lawyer at Philadelphia-based Saul Ewing Remick & Saul and Cozen & O'Connor, and PA Gov.Tom Corbett's former receiver for cash-strapped Harrisburg PA, in this extraordinary piece in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Unkovic resigned after concluding that Harrisburg-area public officials, New York investment bankers and Pennsylvania bond professoinals had violated Pennsylvania’s Local Government Unit Debt Act, the law governing performance bonds for public construction projects, and other state laws, as laid out in this Harrisburg Authority fiorensic audit and this Harrisburg Authority management and financial audit.

He has called for state and federal investigations of the Harrisburg bond sales. His article renewed those calls: "In order for a Democratic republic to work, a fundamental respect for the law is essential, particularly by the public officials elected to carry them out and their lawyers and agents. ... Disdain for the law is so embedded in Harrisburg’s political culture that it constitutes a very insidious form of corruption.

"The tentacles of this corruption stretch into many corners. And this degree of corruption is usually difficult for the public to perceive — such tentacles are often hidden from the average citizens.. There was a highly sophisticated, multi-hundred million dollar debt scheme going on, as shown now in the forensic audit," also including "the inappropriateness of the interest rate swaps" that cost Harrisburg and other cities millions.

"It is fundamentally unfair to inflict the nightmarish results of these decisions on the backs of the citizens of Harrisburg. The corruption that ended up financially strangling Harrisburg needs to be rooted out of our democracy. There must be a renewed respect for the law in Harrisburg and across Pennsylvania."

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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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