Monthly Archives: November 2010

Week 4 Update

1. The Act 47 Hearing will resume this Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. in the Chambers of City Council. BE THERE. Anyone who did not testify the first night will be permitted to testify. A new Presiding Officer has been appointed by DCED. He is Edward Finkelstein, an attorney with experience presiding at administrative hearings at other agencies.

After the transcripts of all testimony is provided, the parties will be permitted the opportunity to submit written proposed facts and conclusions of law for the Secretary of DCED to consider in entering his decision on the application. The full record will be certified by the hearing officer and then sent to the Secretary for a determination.

2. A members meeting of DWH will be held Tuesday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m. It will be upstairs at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

3. Equity/Mandamus case, Lahr v. City of Harrisburg. A Trial on claims against the City of Harrisburg that was scheduled for next week has been continued until December 15.

4. DWH submitted a response to a request from the Upper Dauphin Sentinel regarding a forthcoming article of the impact of the Debt Crisis on others in the County. We addressed what we deem to be poor choices in the use of tax monies to sustain legal fights between local governments.

5.The New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore have offered to advise City Council and the City on Chapter 9 Bankruptcy and Act 47 pro bono. The agreement is subject to formal approval, which is hopefully forthcoming.

6. The Harrisburg Authority is exploring the possibility of transferring monies form their water funds to the City to assist in their short term economic needs. There may be a vote this week. Members of DWH attended last week’s budget hearing to push THA to get a genuine forensic audit underway.

7. Assured Guaranty lawsuits against City and THA. The City filed Answers to the Complaints seeking receivership and attachment of our tax dollars. Assured Guaranty and the Banks Have filed motion seeking to effectively accelerate the appointment of a Receiver against at least the Incinerator operations, despite pending objections by THA to the Complaints.

8. Our numbers are growing. Keep up the good work!

Historical City Council Meeting

Tuesday night’s Legislative Session of the Harrisburg City Council was likely the most significant City Council meeting since the passage of the current City Charter 40 years ago.

First, with tremendous understatement, DCED briefly introduced an Interim Coordinator they have appointed while the Act 47 hearing process continues. It brings real help — and not the Scott Balice firm — to our city government in examining and addressing how they manage this City. He is Bob O’Donnell, former speaker of the State House of Representatives and a lawyer familiar with municipal finance.

The second and most important event was City Council unanimously approving a Resolution that recommends engaging the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore to advise on the good and the bad of pursuing Act 47 and Chapter 9. Council has 2 weeks to finalize the process of bringing them on board.

Even better, though a true national powerhouse law firm, Cravath has offered to bring their might and fierce national reputation to the aid of the taxpayers of Harrisburg PRO BONO as a public service. That’s right. No attorneys’ fees. They are one of the most respected and feared law firms in the nation, and we now have them as a great champion on our side. They should be applauded for their commitment to the legal profession and unflinching sense of public service.

The road is still long and fraught with peril, but our company on this journey is now much, much stronger.

 

Week 3 Update

1. In regard to Act 47 hearing, on Tuesday, a telephone conference of legal counsel occurred to review pending issues, but no formal action was taken.

2. DWH participated in the weekly meeting of Dauphin County Commissioners, essentially introducing the group to the Commissioners and voicing our concern with a litigation strategy that ultimately means that taxpayers incur the legal costs of three (3) local parts of our government – the County, the City and the Authority – fighting each other in court. We encouraged that our local governments become aligned in order to resist the actions of the banks, bondholders and insurers.

3. DWH held a public meeting to review the goals of the organization, the list of seven (7) currently pending legal proceedings related to the DEBT CRISIS, and other issues. We discussed the need for taxpayers to be protected from these proceedings, as our interests seem to have been lost in the legal proceedings.

4. Members of DWH attended the first-ever THA budget meeting on Thursday.

5. There are more THA budget meetings coming up and we encourage everyone to attend. (click: Meetings & Noticesfor dates)

6. City Council has a Legislative Session on Tuesday, 11/9  @  6:00 p.m. We are hoping they take swift action on hiring a firm to advise the on Act 47 and Chapter 9.  Please, show up and be heard.

Thanks for all who have inquired about our group!

And remember (as a new member said), WE’RE WATCHING!

Thanks,

Neil A. Grover

DEBT WATCH HARRISBURG, We’re Watching