Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday named retired Air Force Major General William Lynch as receiver for the state’s distressed capital city of Harrisburg.
The Commonwealth Court must approve the nomination.
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker announced the appointment on behalf of Corbett. Lynch, if confirmed, will replace David Unkovic, who resigned on March 30, citing “political and ethical crosswinds.”
Lynch, 69, retired from the military in 2004 after a 40-year career.
Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, whose city has $310 million of incinerator-related bond debt that it cannot pay, said her office would cooperate with Lynch.
“We will be transparent with the city’s process of the recovery plan implementation. Additionally, the city will conduct a series of Town Hall meetings to focus public discussion of the implementation process and its impact on the city,” Thompson said in a statement.
City Council attorney Mark Schwartz was skeptical. “It appears he doesn’t have any financial experience. But it doesn’t matter whether the governor selects Warren Buffett or Mother Teresa. A new receiver without a new environment means little. The environment needs to change.”
Schwartz and the majority of City Council members say Corbett is essentially running the city.
City Council member Brad Koplinski, a critic of both Thompson and the receivership bill the state legislature passed last fall, cautiously expressed hope.
“Some are suggesting that the major general’s history is that he will not ask who is dictating the steps he should follow but rather he will salute and do what is asked of him. I hope they are wrong and that he will follow Mr. Unkovic’s model of being fair and independent in this process,” said Koplinski, who on Thursday called on Thompson to resign.
Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George Hartwick 3d said in a statement: “We are pleased the recovery process is moving forward and will continue to work with city officials and other parties to develop a recovery plan that puts the city back on the path toward solvency.”
Unkovic, during his four months as receiver, issued requests for qualifications related to the sale or lease of the incinerator — the focal point of the city’s debt crisis — as well as revenue-producing parking garages and the sewer and wastewater systems.