Monthly Archives: December 2010

Week 8 Update

Below are a letter and two (2) proposals that were sent to City Council yesterday.
1) On December 15, 2010, Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Austin Burke designated Harrisburg financially distressed
Click here for the formal Order.
2) DEBT WATCH HBG sent a letter to City Council urging them to to move forward with steps to better protect the taxpayers of Harrisburg, including:
  • putting in place NOW formal authorization to proceed to Chapter 9 bankruptcy (though not actually file the Petition)
  • taking the Incinerator back under City control to better address the problem as part of pre-bankruptcy negotiations
Click here to read letter dated 12-16-2010.
3) As suspected, the timing of the Act 47 designation seems related to the 12-16-2012 Lahrs vs. the City of Harrisburg. The City moved to dismiss or stay the case on 12-15-2010, arguing DCED is now “an indispensable party” to the case. The trial did not start on 12-16-2010 and was continued until January 21.  The Judge was reviewing the issue, but it’s not clear yet if he will push back the trial further or make a quick ruling so trial can proceed.
Click here to read the City’s motion filed 12-15-2010.

More City taxpayers are joining DWH! The more of us there are, the more impact we can make on our own behalf.
Please feel free to contact us at with any feedback, questions, or suggestions.

Week 7 Update

ACT 47

Below is a link to the Brief  DEBT WATCH HARRISBURG filed on 12-8-10, arguing for a dual designation from DCED for Act 47 status and approval to file Ch. 9 Municipal Bankruptcy if need be.

The record will be formally certified to the Secretray early next week.  He will then render his decison, which in theory would be on or before 12-17-10.

Brief of Intervener DWH 12-08-10

Below is a link to the Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law submitted by the City of Harrisburg:

Proposed Findings No 1 Submitted by the City of Harrisburg

Week 6 Update

1) After a second night of testimony, the Act 47 Hearing closed on Wednesday, November 17th. The transcripts of testimony are done and forwarded to the parties.  Parties who wish to submit proposed findings, conclusions, and written arguments must do so by 12/8.  DWH will post the rest of the documents in from the hearings as soon as we can get them scanned.

2)  The first trial on claims against the City has been scheduled to start on 12/15 in Dauphin County Court. Joseph & Jacalyn Lahr have filed an equity suit against the City demanding that all monies paid by Dauphin County as guarantor of the THA incinerator debt should be repaid in full to the County and other obligations. The suit also claims that the $68 million THA City-guaranteed debt should be included in the 2010 Budget.  Access the Court filing here.  There is Motion to Stay because of the Act 47 process which is awaiting a ruling.

3)  We have no update on any of the five (5) other Incinerator-related legal claims against the City.

4) On 11/23, Harrisburg City Council voted to approve a Memorandum of Agreement securing Cravath, Swaine, & Moore to advise Council on Act 47 and Chapter 9. It is Pro Bono service, with the City responsible for certain out-of-pocket costs.

5) DWH‘s last meeting was on 11/16 @ the Midtown Scholar.  Another DWH meeting will be scheduled soon with consideration of the holidays.

In the meantime, those of you who are able and willing to help out with DWH‘s mission, the upcoming Budget Hearings give that opportunity. In these meetings, the Budget & Finance Committee, Susan Brown Wilson, Chair, will listen to and discuss presentations from City departments and administrators before City Council votes on a final 2011 Budget on December 16th.  See “Meetings & Notices” for the schedule for the 2011 Budget Hearings.  It would be effective to have at least 2 DWH members at each hearing to participate, that is attend to observe, take notes, and provide a review for DWH‘s records.

If this is something you are interested in doing, please email with your plan to attend so an account of members in attendance can be kept.

Of course, as a volunteer taxpayer group, all and any assistance is greatly appreciated.  It will be together that we succeed.

There is true strength in numbers!