Saturday, November 28, 2015

Corbett sends general to run Harrisburg

Retired Air Force officer William B. Lynch would replace bond lawyer as Harrisburg's receiver

Corbett sends general to run Harrisburg

Retired Air Force Gen. William B. Lynch
Retired Air Force Gen. William B. Lynch

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has tapped retired Air Force Gen. William B. Lynch as his new Receiver for the financially troubled City of Harrisburg, a month after his first pick, bond lawyer William Unkovic, resigned from the post citing "political and moral crosswinds" and calling for a federal investigation of the bond professionals who profited from city deals as the city slipped toward default.

Unkovic has not explained his reasons for resigning, nor have Gov. Corbett or Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Leadbetter, who's reviewing the city's financial reorganization, called on Unkovic to explain, despite demands from city officials.

Corbett has not yet explained why Lynch, who received less than 10% of the vote in a 2004 Republican Congressional primary, is the right man to set Harrisburg's finances in order. Unkovic had been tasked with selling city assets to pay its towering debt, but said during his brief term that even the sale of the city incinerator, parking garages and other assets were unlikely to solve its long-term financial problems, which include a lack of taxable real estate in a state where public schools depend on property taxes.

Corbett acted after Harrisburg's treasurer, controller and City Council president demanded a halt to the receivership process, since no one held the receiver's job. Those officials want Harrisburg to file for federal bankruptcy protection in an attempt to reduce city liabilities and conserve assets, and to pay Harrisburg's debts with higher county sales or income taxes, moves generally opposed by Gov. Corbett, suburban legislators and their allies. 

More coverage
Harrisburg city's fiscal overseer abruptly quits
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PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at and his Inquirer columns at Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph at or 215 854 5194.

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