Harrisburg Takeover: What Was the Governor Thinking?
As citizens in Harrisburg and surrounding areas were desperate for leadership from Governor Corbett to help solve the City’s fiscal dilemma, I can’t help but believe he fell far short of the mark. Case in point:
There are some items that are fairly obvious even to the most casual observer –
1. We have had absolutely no leadership from Mayor Thompson and City Council during this crisis.
2. The bankruptcy petition only served to make matters more confusing than was necessary.
3. The Report of the Act 47 Team was obviously flawed. No matter whose numbers you choose to use; if each recommendation is followed, the City’s deficit will be enormous for years to come.
4. Governor Rendell’s selection of the Act 47 Team was irresponsible at best. The team is now called “the fourteen white folks from out-of-town.” Not only did the so-called “team” not have a single minority or a Harrisburg resident on it, but they never met with local citizen groups in preparing the Plan. An egregious oversight.
5. Governor Corbett was blatant in his political interference with the Act 47 Team. The press reported that rather than letting the team act in a professional manner, the Governor instructed team leaders not to propose any increase in taxes as part of their recommendations.
Even with that degree of damage already done, Governor Corbett was given one more glaring and major opportunity to bring leadership to the table and act responsibly. Act 1151 allowed him to appoint a receiver who: Had a reputation for integrity and independence AND was well respected by the citizens of Harrisburg and surrounding areas. Did the Governor take the opportunity to do so and let his appointment reverse the previous shortcomings? No, he did not.
Instead, he appointed David Unkovic, Chief Lawyer of the Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development Department; an individual with such a conflict of interest that both Republicans and Democrats were critical and disappointed. As the Patriot-News pointed out, “Unkovic worked for three firms connected to the City’s $317 million incinerator debt.”
Why did the Governor add to the confusion with this appointment? No one knows, but describing Governor Corbett as “naive” would the most complimentary word that enters my mind.
Please Governor, withdraw Mr. Unkovic’s name and appoint a new receiver. Show us that you, indeed, do have some responsible leadership qualities.
by Michael A. Sand