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Harrisburg Takeover?

If Harrisburg doesn’t get its act together and implement the state Act 47 coordinator proposal fast, there could soon be a takeover of the city.  According to Gov. Tom Corbett who is in favor of the Senate Bill 1151, issued by Jeffrey Piccola, it would facilitate the city’s financial recovery plan while stampeding “any efforts by the city to declare bankruptcy.”  Should city leaders fail to act on this Bill, Piccola will look toward a “three-person management board” to put it into effect.

No More Bankruptcy Options

It seems like the longer it is left, the less chance Harrisburg will have to file for bankruptcy.  The Act 47 plan is remiss of any “debt forgiveness” too.  Corbett – somewhat sensibly IMHO – is saying that he will indeed sign it should it get through the legislative process.  According to councilman Brad Koplinski, Corbett’s support is great, “and really should put all of us on alert as to how quickly this is moving on, and I hate to say it, but the fix might be in for Harrisburg.”

Act 47 Disadvantages

But of course there are always two sides to every coin.  While Corbett may be an Act 47 supporter, he might not realize that it would lead to an increase in taxes and unemployment, alongside a selling or leasing of the “city’s  parking garages and incinerator…to ensure banks get their money back.”  So it seems like the main beneficiary here would be Wall Street, according to Koplinski.

Piccola’s argument however is that Bill 1151 seeks to “protect municipalities and the state itself.”  Declaring bankruptcy is only going to end up “hurting credit ratings elsewhere,” rendering it much harder for townships to borrow money. The city’s mayor, Linda Thompson pointed out however that the bill fails to “respect the publicly elected officials in this city.”  She just doesn’t feel that it is the “appropriate process at this time.”

Well, we might know a little bit more in a few days’ time since it could get to the Senate floor “for a vote Friday,” moving on to the House by next week.  But then state lawmakers are going to be on recess so the timing might end up being not so great and once out of sight, may become out of mind.

Graduating: Once, Twice, Third Time Lucky

Harrisburg High School Graduate Hears Name

It took three times but Justin Kanowicz finally heard his name called and received his diploma from Harrisburg High School. The first two attempts at the graduation failed due to a threat of storms and then storm clouds which sent students away without their diplomas. Finally, as Penn Live reported, the third attempt worked and 324 students graduated in a ceremony held at the school’s gymnasium.
While a lot of students see graduation as a beginning of the new part of their lives, Durrell Burns said something quite contrary to that, when he said it was more like a “goodbye for now,” as he has “every intention of coming back one day,” after his time at Millersville University where he wants to train as a teacher.

Well, Harrisburg isn’t the worst place to come back to, so it makes sense Burns doesn’t really want to leave forever. Since he had such a good time out of his time at Harrisburg High School, it would make sense that he would want to make a real – paid – career out of it. The school has a great reputation and it seems like Burns would feel honored to “give back” some of what he gained from his experience there in the capacity of a social studies teacher and then ultimately principal, which is his long-term goal.

Police Lose Popularity on Poplar Street

It seems like the police blew it again.  A recent incident on Poplar Street at the Economy Inn Hotel most certainly did not put the police in a good light even if it was ultimately for a good cause and will in the long-term assist police strategy.  A man and woman were in a hotel room when the Harrisburg Police Department accused them of armed robbery. The individuals exited the room about half an hour after the police storming began.

According to Chief Bob Smith, “it was an ignorant attempt by another law enforcement agency.”  The street was closed off 15 minutes before the arrival of the State Police and traffic was rerouted.

At the same time, Smith was trying to work out exactly what the warrant was but after his phone conversation to Arkansas, realized no warrants had been issued.  Once the two had been taken into custody, he learned the Arkansas authorities did not want the two to be detained so they were released on the scene!

But this was the plan.  According to Smith, it was all undertaken for strategy and tactics.  According to Smith, “everything went according to plan and there were no problems.  We conducted this operation with safety of our citizens at the top most priority, we are sorry if we inconvenienced motorist through Harrisburg by closing Poplar Street.  The situation was resolved where no one was hurt.”

Nonetheless, on the other side of the coin, the operation was criticized as it can be somewhat risky and according to the article in The Daily Register, officers become very frustrated “when they’ve taken risks for what amounts to no good reason.”

It may have been an important endeavor for the Harrisburg Police Department, but I don’t think it’s going to end up winning them any awards in the popularity department, especially not on Poplar Street.

Harrisburg Man Let Off

A Harrisburg man has just been told he is free to go when a mistrial was called after a jury failed to reach a verdict.  According to an article in PennLive, the 21-year-old man, Damon Lewis, was accused of “robbing two women at a city bus stop.”  Probably what ultimately caused the case to be dropped was the fact that neither of the witnesses were able to select the man from a photo lineup just days following the robbery.  Nonetheless they were “able to finger him at trial and in an ATM photo.”  They also said that he “held a gun to their heads and repeatedly pulled the trigger.”

Lewis Still Acquitted

Perhaps Lewis should have been a bit more sensible in his thinking though when he tried to avoid the police by hiding on  a roof when they came for his rest during the holdup on 20th and Market Streets on August 23.  He has now been acquitted by the jury for this.  Further, he has been charged on two counts of robbery and of using one of the victim’s bank cards.

Lewis might also not be so lucky vis-à-vis the other robbery charge since Deputy District Attorney Johnny Baer has said that he will be retried on this.  It sure is a shame that the ladies weren’t able to make the identification but a lot can be said for shock in a situation like this and thus there is still a chance Lewis will be found guilty at a retrial.

New Law Good for Harrisburg?

At the end of the day, it always comes down to money.  By July 1, Harrisburg needs to make a decision on its state budget which basically means, what money goes where.  At the moment it seems like the Lehigh Valley Arts Council is pushing lawmakers to push for its own state funding because right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to be getting all that much money.  Currently there’s a proposal out that, if passed, is going to make a substantial cut on funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Big Budget Cuts in Art

Indeed, if this goes ahead, monies going towards the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts will be reduced from $8.2m to $2.5m (that’s a staggering 70 percent reduction). So if Harrisburg lawmakers vote in favor of this, it’s not going to bode well for Lehigh Valley artists who are set to lose around $350,000 in state support in 2012.

Other Big Budget Busts

It’s not just going to be the arts that are going to be suffering though.  It seems like pretty much everyone in Harrisburg is going to have to watch out since the proposed budget cuts are coming in thick and fast, impacting a whole slew of areas.  Education and health care will probably suffer too.  So who exactly is going to benefit?  And what are people meant to do?  Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery is advising candidates to try to remember that their “state lawmaker voted in May 2011 to cut state support for local schools or other programs.”  People need to remember this when they enter a voting booth next year, in November 2012.

If all these budgetary cuts go through, people are not going to be happy.  Everyone will be affected in some way and not in a good way either.  Arts,  health and education are likely to suffer the most.