NEW YORK - The City Council attorney in distressed Harrisburg has asked the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to table all state takeover activities and subpoena former receiver David Unkovic to ask him why he abruptly quit.
Mark Schwartz, filing Thursday on behalf of City Council President Wanda Williams, City Controller Dan Miller and City Treasurer John Campbell, accused Gov. Tom Corbett of overreaching.
Schwartz said Unkovic’s reference to “political and ethical crosswinds” requires a follow-up by the court.
“Corbett essentially is trying to run the city,” Schwartz said in an interview. “He refers in a status report to the 'office of the receiver.’ The receivership act provides for no such office. It’s like referring to the office of the president when there is no president.”
Days before his resignation, according to Schwartz, Unkovic cited past corruption without calling for a criminal investigation, then asked U.S. Attorney Peter Smith and state Attorney General Linda Kelly to investigate incinerator bond deals that are central to the capital city’s debt crisis.
Then, after a Dauphin County court ruled that incinerator creditors, including bond insurer Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp., were entitled to their own receiver, Unkovic’s irritation showed at a press conference. “I wish my name was never out there,” he said two days before he quit.
Schwartz and a majority on the seven-member City Council have asked for a federal investigation of the bond deals. Mayor Linda Thompson referred to such calls as “distractions” to the city’s financial recovery.
“Those council members who oppose the court-ordered financial recovery plan are simply stalling the process as much as they can get away with, just as they have over the last two years.” Thompson said in a statement.
Brad Koplinski, long a Thompson critic on the council, called on Thompson to resign. “She was on Council and voted for the 2003 bond issue that got us into this mess — and then got her campaign advisor James Ellison to head the Harrisburg Authority and passed the 2007 issue that got us further into debt,” Koplinski, a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, said Thursday “I am asking for her resignation and reiterate my call for federal investigation into the dealings that created this disaster.”
According to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Thompson spokesman Robert Philbin said the mayor “broke down laughing” over Koplinski’s statement.