Friday, August 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

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. 

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Harrisburg city's fiscal overseer abruptly quits
Joseph N. DiStefano
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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.

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