On November 5th, we’ll choose our next mayor.

The main contenders—Eric Papenfuse and Dan Miller—are debating full force at one after the other public match.

Their most heated battleground is the “Harrisburg Strong Plan,” the plan devised to move the city towards debt relief, fiscal stability, and its own urban potential.

feather_pen_nib_ttdhbgThere is much argument, though, whether the plan does that or not. And the argument is not just left in the forum of those who are campaigning, but also making its way to city corners, coffee shops, and conversations.

As it should be.

We should be having an ongoing public discussion about the city’s recovery. Citizens and stakeholders alike should be continually collecting and sharing information about what’s going on, which is no easy feat around here.

At this point in time, it’s important to outline the sequence of events.

The candidates are referring to past plans, meetings, hearings, and stances. Therefore, it’s probably helpful for the public to review the dates, documents, and occurrences of the past three years.

Before Act 47 & Receivership,  these were the financial recovery plans proposed

  • 7/17/10: Harrisburg Authority Board Member Bill Cluck’s perspective of Harrisburg’s debt.  Originally posted on the pennlive forum on July 17th, this is currently posted on Jersey Mike’s siteBill Cluck’s Debt Statement

August 12, 2010: Harrisburg Debt Forum held at the Midtown Scholar

The Act 47 Process Begins

  • 10/20/10: Public Hearing on Harrisburg’s Act 47 application.

Cravath, Swaine, and Moore Come in Pro Bono because City Council needs help

The Act 47 Plans filed and rejected

  • 8/31/11: City Council voted to NOT ADOPT the Mayor’s Act 47 Plan. Vote 4-3.
  • 9/13/11: In a Motion to Reconsider a vote on the Mayor’s Act 47 Plan, City Council voted NOT To RECONSIDER. Vote 4-3.

The State pushes to take over the City

  • 10/17/11: Senate Bill 1151 (amendment to municipalities financial recovery Act 47, allowingfor receivership) passes 177-18Senate Bill 1151
  • 10/20/11: The Governor signs Senate Bill 1151

The City files for bankruptcy & is dismissed from Federal Court

  • 10/17/11: Status Conference in Federal Bankruptcy Court

Meanwhile, the push for Receivership continued…

  • 10/31/11: First Public Consent Agreement meeting. Harrisburg elected officials agree to use the Coordinator’s Act 47 Plan as basis for the Consent Agreement, not the Mayor’s Plan.
  • 11/7/11: Second Public Consent Agreement meeting. Harrisburg City Council unanimously agrees to send a letter to the City’s creditors asking for $100 million in concessions.
  • 11/14/11: Deadline for the Consent Agreement. The City does not file one with the State.
  • 11/18/11: Directed by the Governor, the Secretary of PA’s Department of Community & Economic Development submits a petition to appoint David Unkovic as Receiver. Petition for Appointment of Receiver

harrisburg pa bankruptcy act 47 receiver lynch writ of mandamus

  • 11/25/11: City Council Majority’s attorney withdraws his Preliminary Objections after the Federal Court dismisses the City’s Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Petition. Letter to the Commonwealth Court

David Unkovic, Receiver of Harrisburg, first receiver in PA

  • 12/1/11: Commonwealth Court holds a hearing on the appointment of David Unkovic as Receiver for the City of Harrisburg
  • 12/16/11: Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic holds public meeting on financial recovery plan at Midtown Scholar
  • 1/18/12:  Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic holds public meeting at financial recovery plan at the Arsenal Building

The Forensic Audit Report on the Incinerator Retrofit Financial Transactions is released

The Plan to save Harrisburg, signed Unkovic

  • 2/6/12: Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic’s Recovery Plan for the City: Receiver’sRecovery Plan
  • 3/1/12: Commonwealth Court public hearing on the Receiver’s Recovery Plan 
  • 3/9/12: Judge Leadbetter approves Receiver’s Recovery Plan: The Order
  • 3/30/12: Receiver David Unkovic submits his letter of resignation. Access the letter here.

General William Lynch, the second Receiver of the City of Harrisburg

  • 5/11/12: Directed by the Governor, the Secretary of PA’s Department of Community & Economic Development submits a petition to appoint Major Gusaf_generals_hat-150x150eneral William B. Lynch as Receiver. Petition for Appointment of a Receiver
  • 5/21/12: Judge Leadbetter orders that David Unkovic will appear as the Court’s witness at the petition hearing of William Lynch. Commonwealth Court Order
  • 5/24/12: Judge Leadbetter approves the Petition of William B. Lynch as Receiver of the City of Harrisburg.

Lynch’s plan following Unkovic’s design

  • 8/26/13: Harrisburg Receiver William Lynch submitted Modified Recovery Plan to Commonwealth Court. Read the “Harrrisburg Strong Plan” here
  • 9/19/13: Commonwealth Court hearing on Receiver’s Modified Recovery Plan

Then there were the Senate Local Government Committee hearings on the City’s debt crisis

  • 10/4/12: First Senate Local Government Committee hearing on Harrisburg’s debt crisis. Testifiers: 
    • Steven Goldfied of Public Resources Advisory Group who worked on the Incinerator Forensic Audit
    • Bernadette Barratini, Esq;

      Tim Anstine, Esq; & Fred Reddig, representatives of PA’s Department of Community & Economic Development, which oversees municipal debt transactions

    • Former members of The Harrisburg Authority (THA) Board: Eric Papenfuse and Fred Clark
    •  Stephen Reed, former Harrisburg Mayor
    • Dan Lispi, former consultant to the Incinerator retrofit project
    • William Cluck, community activist and current member of The Harrisburg Authority Boardfornsic_audit_2_ttdh-1-1024x604
  • 11/13/12: Second Senate Local Government Committee hearing on Harrisburg’s debt crisis. Testifiers: 
    • Thomas Mealy, former Director, Harrisburg Authority
    • Robert Kroboth, Business Manager, City of Harrisburg
    • Jeff Haste, Commissioner, Dauphin County
    • Bruce Barnes of Excel Financial Advisors/Milt Lopus Associates, former financial advisor to the City of Harrisburg
    • James Losty of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), former financial advisor to the City of Harrisburg
    • Andrew Giorgione, Esquire, former special counsel to THA
    • Carol Cocheres, Esq. (Eckert Seamens), former special counsel to THA
    • James Ellison, Esquire, former counsel to THA as well as former Chair of THA Board
    • David Unkovic, Esquire, former Receiver of the City of Harrisburg

The lawsuits that were paused but potentially could still choke Harrisburg

See that list here. This list has not been updated since Receivership paused most of these processes in order to negotiate agreement. 

The CIT trial in Federal Court

The complication of the Suburban Municipalities


This timeline doesn’t even list the countless City Council meetings and hearings; the press releases back and forth between City Councilors—most especially the “Fabulous Four”—and the Mayor. This list doesn’t list the every other weekly meetings of the Receiver’s Municipal Financial Recovery Advisory Council that began in April 2012 or the Receiver’s quarterly  status reports to the court, but you can access the meeting minutes here and the reports here.

BELLIt doesn’t touch upon little “r” receiver versus big “R” Receiver, bankruptcy prohibition, or other battles waged. 

It doesn’t recall atrocious bridge loans, audits delayed, or opportunities lost and gained.

There have been community meetings, public forums, and stories galore.

While the timeline is packed with long reads, lengthy procedures, and complications along the way, it basically tells the story of how Harrisburg got to where it is today.

With less than two weeks until the election of a new mayor, let’s at least agree on the facts of what has happened and the order it’s all occurred.

Illustrations by Ammon Perry: Doodletillomega

Tara Leo Auchey

Tara Leo Auchey

Creator & editor of today's the day Harrisburg, started in 2009. Resident, engaged citizen, community activist, teacher, strategist, writer.
Tara Leo Auchey