Archive for March, 2012

Developing: Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic Resigns

March 30, 2012

Updated from earlier version.

Court-appointed Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic has resigned.

Harrisburg Hope founder and president Alan Kennedy-Shaffer released this statement regarding Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic’s resignation amidst intense pressure from interested parties on his fiscal plan for the ailing city:

Receiver David Unkovic’s resignation is a major setback to the recovery process. Getting Harrisburg out of debt is going to take concessions from creditors, sacrifices from residents, and creative solutions on all sides. David Unkovic was listening to the community. He was leading the way – slowly – toward a solution to the debt crisis.

Without leadership, the prospect of bankruptcy for Harrisburg becomes much greater. With leadership, Harrisburg can recover, if everyone does their part. It is now going to be more difficult to fully investigate the causes of the debt crisis. Harrisburg is still waiting for accountability — criminal or civil — for what David Unkovic called a “house of cards.”

Kennedy-Shaffer’s Harrisburg Hope has hosted Unkovic and other officials involved in the city’s recovery plan.

Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski earlier issued this statement: Mr. Unkovic had been serving the city well. He listened to every voice on the subject and was fair and honest. He was asking the right questions and coming to the right conclusions. I hope that the Governor and the DCED Secretary appoint a replacement that will continue to review the information in a fair manner and uncover the truth.

Advertisements

Equality Pennsylvania Announces Endorsements for 2012 Primary

March 27, 2012

Harrisburg – Equality Pennsylvania today announced its slate of endorsed candidates in the April 24, 2012 Primary. The organization made endorsements in races for Attorney General and Auditor General, as well as State legislative and congressional seats across Pennsylvania. Adanjesus Marin, chair of the organization’s 501c4 board commented, “We have candidates we are supporting from across the state, from the big cities to the rural center, and all of these people, if elected, will be strong advocates for the LGBT community. We urge all our members to vote for these exceptional candidates.”

Additionally, Equality Pennsylvania endorsed five openly gay candidates seeking state legislative offices this year. Adrian Shanker, President of Equality Pennsylvania, stated, “In a state that has never seen an openly gay legislator, it is encouraging to see five well-qualified openly LGBT candidates seeking the opportunity to serve, and all in the same year!” The five candidates are: Roy Christ (Dauphin County), Jeff Dahlander (Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming), Chris Dietz (Dauphin), Kelly McEntee (Dauphin), and Brian Sims (Philadelphia County). Pennsylvania has never had an openly gay state legislator.

Endorsed Candidates:
Statewide:
Barack Obama, Incumbent, President of the United States of America
Patrick Murphy, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Eugene DePasquale, Auditor General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Central Pennsylvania:
Roy Christ, Pennsylvania House – 103rd District (Dauphin)
Jeff Dahlander, Pennsylvania House – 111th District (Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)
Eugene DePasquale, Incumbent, Pennsylvania House – District 95 (York)
Chris Dietz, Pennsylvania House – 104th District (Dauphin)
Kelly McEntee, Pennsylvania House – 105th District (Dauphin)
Linda Small, Pennsylvania House – 93rd District (York)
Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania House – 47th District (York)

Gene Stilp, U.S. Congress – 11th District (Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Luzerne, Northumberland, Perry)
Rob Teplitz, Pennsylvania Senate – 15th District (Dauphin, York)

Lehigh Valley:
Leslie Altieri, Pennsylvania House – 138th District (Northampton)
Kevin Deely, Pennsylvania House – 131st District (Lehigh, Northampton)
Jackson Eaton, U.S. Congress – 15th District (Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton)
Joseph Hass, Pennsylvania House – 187th District (Berks, Lehigh)
Michael Schlossberg, Pennsylvania House – 132nd District (Lehigh)
Judy Schwank, Incumbent, Pennsylvania Senate – 11th District (Berks)

Philadelphia and Southeast:
Beth Alois, Pennsylvania House – 168th District (Chester, Delaware)
Sheamus Bonner, Pennsylvania House – 163rd District (Delaware)
Kathryn Boockvar, U.S. Congress – 8th District (Bucks, Montgomery)
Michelle Brownlee, Incumbent, Pennsylvania House – 195th District (Philadelphia)
Madeline Dean, Pennsylvania House – 153rd District (Montgomery)
Kelly Devine, Pennsylvania House – 150th District – (Montgomery)
Paul Drucker, Pennsylvania House – 157th District – (Chester, Montgomery)
Larry Farnese, Incumbent, Pennsylvania Senate – 1st District – (Philadelphia)
Joseph Frederick, Pennsylvania House – 143rd District (Bucks)
Vincent Hughes, Incumbent, Pennsylvania Senate – 7th District (Montgomery, Philadelphia)
Daylin Leach, Incumbent, Pennsylvania Senate – 17th District (Delaware, Montgomery)
Steve McCarter, Pennsylvania House – 154th District (Montgomery, Philadelphia)
Mark Painter, Pennsylvania House – 146th District (Montgomery)
Damon Roberts, Pennsylvania House – 186th District (Philadelphia)
Brian Sims, Pennsylvania House – 182nd District (Philadelphia)
Will Sylianteng, Pennsylvania House – 151st District (Montgomery)
Manan Trivedi, US Congress – 6th District (Berks, Chester, Lebanon, Montgomery, Chester)

Western Pennsylvania:
Missa Eaton, U.S. Congress – 3rd District (Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer)
Dan Frankel, Incumbent, Pennsylvania House, 23rd District (Allegheny)
Erin Molchany, Pennsylvania House – 22nd District (Allegheny)

Sean Wiley, Pennsylvania Senate – District 49 (Erie)

In addition to the above candidates, Equality Pennsylvania urges the community to support President Obama’s openly gay delegate candidates: Gary Van Horn (14th Congressional District), Mark Segal (1st Congressional District), Equality Pennsylvania’s President, Adrian Shanker (15th Congressional District). Equality Pennsylvania will offer additional endorsements in the Fall General Election.

Equality Pennsylvania is the statewide voice for LGBT Equality in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and works collaboratively to establish a comprehensive network of individuals and organizations united in securing equal rights for the LGBT community.
For more information: http://www.equalitypa.org. Equality Pennsylvania is a proud member of the Equality Federation.

Capital Region Stonewall Democrats Announce Endorsements

March 27, 2012

The Capital Region Stonewall Democrats have announced endorsement of the following candidates in the April 24 Primary Election.

For the US House of Representatives
Harry Perkinson, PA 4th District, http://www.perkinsonforcongress.com/
Gene Stilp, PA 11th District, http://genestilp.com/about
Jackson Eaton, PA 15th District, http://www.jacksoneatonforcongress.com/
Aryana Strader, PA 16th District, http://straderforcongress.org/

For Statewide Offices
Patrick Murphy, PA Attorney General, Patrick Murphy for PA Attorney General
Eugene DePasquale, State Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale for Auditor General

For the PA Senate
Rob Teplitz, 15th District, RobTeplitz on Facebook

For PA State Representative
Kelly Jean McEntee, 105th District, http://www.votemcentee.com/
Chris Dietz, 104th District, http://www.votedietz.com/meet-chris
Patty Kim, 103rd District, http://pattykim.com/
PA Representative Mike Sturla for Reelection, 96th District, Mike Sturla-PA House
PA Representative Eugene DePasquale for Reelection, 95th District, http://eugene4pa.com/
Linda Small, 93rd District, http://www.smallforstaterepresentative.com/
Charles R. Comrey, 92nd District
Sarah Speed, 47th District, http://speed4pahouse.com/meet-sarah-speed/
John Weigel, 43rd District, http://www.votejohnweigel.com/

Justice Dept. Responds to Harrisburg Call for Investigation

March 21, 2012

In a letter released yesterday (March 20, 2012), Peter Smith, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, responded to Harrisburg City Council’s request for a federal investigation of the financial dealings related to the financing of the retrofit of the Harrisburg Incinerator, according to City Council member Brad Koplinski.

Koplinski called for the investigation in January after the release of The Harrisburg Authority’s (THA) Forensic Audit. The THA forensic audit of a series of financial transactions is available on the authority’s web site www.hbgauthority.com.

In the letter (see below), Smith acknowledged that the issue was of “great importance to the citizens of Harrisburg.” While he said that it was inappropriate for him to make any specific comments regarding the existence of an ongoing specific investigation, he did state “that the subject matter of it is under review” in his office and has provided the forensic audit to the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies.

Koplinski said that the letter is encouraging.

“This is encouraging news that the federal government is listening to the citizens of Harrisburg. They want all the answers as to how and why the financing of the Incinerator Project and other financial dealings resulted in our city owing over $300 million for this botched and shaky financial deal. Only federal subpoena power will allow the people to get the complete answers as to what happened,” Koplinski said.

Capital Region Stonewall Democrats Host Candidates

March 20, 2012

The 2012 Primary Election (April 24) heats up as candidates court various consituencies.

See candidates’ survey responses online.

Capital Region Stonewall Democrats last night (March 19, 2012) hosted candidates for all levels of elected office at Harrisburg’s Stage on Herr.

The organization has listed online 2012 Endorsement Surveys filled out by prospective candidates running for seats in the US Congress, statewide Pennsylvania races, and Pennsylvania General Assembly seats in the April 24 Primary Election.

CRSD is a political action committee, an organized group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and straight allies in the state’s Capital Region, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and nearby communities. The mission is to advocate equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Info: http://www.capitalstonewall.org

Issue Analysis: Does Receiver’s Plan Go Far Enough?

March 16, 2012


Thompson Hints Tomorrow State May Help Harrisburg

By Frank Pizzoli
(March 15, 2012) – On the Ides of March about 200 people crowded into Midtown Scholar Bookstore where the ubiquitous Harrisburg Hope and Alan Kennedy-Shaffer hosted court-appointed Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic, Mayor Linda Thompson, and City Council Vice President Eugenia Smith discuss the city’s fiscal future.

The receiver’s fiscal recovery plan is now in play after Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter March 12 gave the 180-page document the green light.

The plan is not without its critics.

Ten nearby municipalities argued before the court that the receiver’s plan is unfair to their jurisdictions. Their plea since rejected, the group asserted past sewage fund transfer practices and the plan’s resolution to those practices puts them at an unfair disadvantage.

Citizen’s organization Debt Watch objected in court to the receiver’s plan as almost identical to the original plan put forth by the state Dept. of Community and Economic Development. The original DECD plan and a second, modified plan by Thompson, also criticized as too similar to DCED’s document, have been rejected by Harrisburg City Council.

City Controller Dan Miller, along with Harrisburg City Treasurer John Campbell, City Council President Wanda Williams, City Council member Eugenia Smith, challenged the receiver’s plan in court as inadequate. They pleaded “bankruptcy is inevitable”.

A significant caveat in the judge’s March 12 order – and a victory of sorts for its detractors – is that Unkovic must “bring back concrete details” regarding the sale or lease of city assets. Miller told Central Voice, “The judge referred to the plan as ‘preliminary’ in her order. She wants him to bring back concrete details.” He says that’s “a big victory as now the judge is involved”. Miller and other challengers will have a chance to present an opposing view if necessary. (See below “What Court Decision Means to Harrisburg City”)

With regard to one aspect of his plan, Unkovic has released a list of 14 parties interested in leasing city parking facilities, a deal he hopes to have complete by June.

Perhaps foreshadowing, payment of $5 million on two general bond obligations due today will not be made. “It’s unfortunate,” Unkovic told the crowd. He decided to “pay payroll, not bonds” and continue operating city services. On two other occasions the city was able to find money for similar payments by raiding rainy day funds not intended for that purpose or through other maneuvers. Unkovic said he “stopped those transfers.”

Any viable financial recovery plan must cover $326 million left over from a dizzying swirl of financial deals, credit swaps, and fiscal line dances in which a number of local and regional players participated as bond counsel, legal counsel, and related pass-the-baton teams.

Not yet clear, and a source of distress to elected officials and engaged citizens, is exactly how the receiver’s plan will cover the city’s structural deficit estimated between $8 and $12 million and growing like weeds on an abandoned city lot owned by an absentee landlord. Unkovic called the city’s irksome structural deficit a problem that “will be fixed.” City council member Smith reiterated her consistent concern that filing for bankruptcy is “the only option.”

Although Unkovic’s plan indicates proceeds from a parking garage sale and/or lease would accrue to city expenses, the plan is a moving target with every significant step along the way requiring tedious negotiations among parties heretofore only hissing at one another. It’s easier to get the parties to a court house than a table.

Simply put: Under Unkovic’s plan there may not be enough dough to go around for both incinerator debt and the city’s ballooning deficit. Plus the role of the city’s three labor unions and possible “give back” concessions remain in the “you first” stage of negotiations. Signaling that communications may not be full throttle, union firefighter representative Eric Jenkins, again waiting for a public forum, asked about ongoing activity regarding firefighters.

Another matter irking the public is finding a way to hold accountable players in the round of financial deals that landed the city in such a deep mess. Unkovic has consistently indicated that his ongoing analysis of past financial deals – and they are legion – may result in civil damage suits if legal time and timing allow. Funds shaken loose from civil actions may provide more money to pay down city debt, and as Unkovic indicates in his plan, for economic development.

Pols “In”
Inevitably, the city’s fiscal failure has candidates for city-linked state House (103rd) and Senate (15th) seats refining their talking points on the issue. Sen. Jeff Piccola, the architect of the city’s fiscal take-over by the court-appointed Unkovic, and Rep. Ron Buxton, often criticized for not taking stronger stands on defending city interests, are not seeking re-election. “They took us to the dance too many times and left us there. And they know it,” said one city observer.
103rd House District candidates who weighed in for a March 1 Harrisburg Hope panel are Harrisburg City Councilwoman Patty Kim, former Harrisburg Council President Gloria Martin-Roberts, former Harrisburg School Board President Roy Christ, and charter school administrator Karl Singleton.

On March 8, Harrisburg Hope hosted candidates in the 15th Senate District. That race is between Democratic candidates Rob Teplitz, chief counsel to Auditor General Jack Wagner, and former county commissioner candidate Alvin Q. Taylor; Republican and Harrisburg businessman Josh First, Lower Paxton Township Supervisor Bill Seeds, and former Dauphin County Republican Committee chairman John McNally. Although invited, McNally and Taylor did not attend the Senate debate hosted by Harrisburg Hope.

As the state House and Senate candidates have expressed on the campaign stump, not one of them is pleased with the situation. Why are their views important?

Recent regional history tells us that it took one House member, one Senate member, a city council, bus loads of lawyers, lobbyists, and assorted carpetbaggers, to arrive at this cliff. The path out of this fiscal mess will involve a group grope on the city’s fiscal reigns. The solution will reflect Harrisburg Hope’s mission of civil discussion for the good of the larger order rather than the private interests of any one person or group.

Crime Scene
Butting up against an already cranky public, web site Neighborhood Scout this week ranked Harrisburg as the 20th most dangerous US city. That means the capital city has about 15 violent crimes per 1,000 residents or five times more dangerous than Philadelphia.

Three days ago the city’s local daily called for the state police to step in, same as when in 2009 former Mayor Steve Reed asked Gov. Ed Rendell for help after 19 shootings in one summer month. Thompson has decided not to ask Gov. Tom Corbett for state police assistance, explaining at a previous press conference that such assistance comes with an invoice for which there are no funds to pay.

Although not specifically asking for state police help as did Reed, Thompson did tell the crowd that as soon as tomorrow she may have an announcement that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may be offering help.

Thompson also said the city needs about $500,000 for hiring extra police. Other efforts to stem rising violent crime include an offer by Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marsico of $25,000 from his funds to cover police overtime and for help with crime camera installations. The mayor is also asking residents to step up crime watch activity. (See below “Harrisburg City Crime Stats, Feb. 26-March 3”)

“My No. 1 priority since taking office” has been crime,” Thompson assured the gathering. Every Monday of the week, the city police department holds public briefings on crime.

What Commonwealth Court Decision Means to Harrisburg City
By Frank Pizzoli
Elected City Controller Dan Miller explains for Central Voice the Commonwealth Court’s recent decision to require the court-appointed Receiver David Unkovic to bring his asset lease or sale plan back for her review. Miller is running for mayor in the next election cycle.

Numbers
In a nutshell, the receiver’s side “admitted that there is only a general plan and not a detailed plan with numbers,” Miller points out. The judge referred to the plan as “preliminary” in her order. “She wants him (Unkovic) to bring back concrete details,” Miller said.

Details
The receiver’s requirement to “bring back concrete details” means that he has to come back to court before he can sell or lease assets. Miller says that’s a “big victory as now the judge is involved” because Miller and other challengers will have a chance to present an opposing view if necessary.

Cooperation
The receiver’s attorney said in court that they would be glad to work with both City Treasurer John Campbell and Miller in order to agree on numbers. “They have not worked with us in the past and this gives us a chance to get correct numbers before we go back to court,” Miller said.

Assets
Miller says the most important part of the judge’s decision is that “in her summation she says that it doesn’t make sense for Harrisburg to sell assets if the plan is ultimately going to fail. If we can convince her the plan will not work, then that would stop her from allowing him to sell assets.” Basically, Miller says the judge allowed Unkovic to proceed constructing a complete plan and then brings it back to the court.

“We were extremely pleased with what happened in Commonwealth Court,” Miller concluded.

Harrisburg City Crime Stats, Feb. 26-March 3
Source: Today’s the Day, Tara Leo Auchey
Via Spotcrime and compiled by Jan Konkle

17 vandalism
34 thefts
5 robberies
6 burglaries
24 assaults
1 shooting
1 arson

2012 Campaign Trail Analysis: Pa. Senate Primary Race Heats Up

March 9, 2012

From left: Teplitz, First, Seeds.


Not your father’s Republican

By Frank Pizzoli
March 9, 2010

March 8 more than 100 people made the ceremonial trek to Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore, the city’s crossroads of community involvement, to hear three of the five announced Senate candidates plead their case.

Democratic candidate Rob Teplitz, chief counsel to Auditor General Jack Wagner; Harrisburg businessman and Republican Josh First, and Lower Paxton Township Supervisor and Republican Bill Seeds addressed the crowd. Invited but not attending were Alvin Q. Taylor, former county commissioner candidate, and John McNally, former Dauphin County Republican Committee chairman.

Following custom, Harrisburg Hope’s Alan Kennedy-Shaffer offered his initial broad-based questions before turning the microphone over to the public.

Moderate Republicans?
One theme for sure is that First and Seeds are not your father’s Republican. They are more like what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican, a GOP faction who held moderate to liberal views. The term today is “moderate Republican.” Modern Rockefeller Republicans are typically center-right, reject far-right policies, and are culturally liberal. Many espouse government and private investments in environmentalism, healthcare and higher education as necessities for the nation’s growth, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller, Alexander Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt.

For example, Richard Nixon, a moderate, establishment Republican founded the Environmental Protection Agency, cooled tensions with China and the Soviet Union, and in 1971 announced he was a Keynesian, meaning government can and should stimulate the economy when needed. Rockefeller Republicans were very common in the New England, West Coast, and the Middle Atlantic States, where there historically existed larger liberal constituencies.

Discrimination
Both First and Seeds think any form of discrimination is wrong without the usual weasel-out caveat that they exclude include lgbt voters. Both would support House Bill 300 that would make it illegal in Pennsylvania to fire someone for being gay, among other public accommodation protections. The measure has been introduced many times without success. Teplitz would co-sponsor such a measure.

Drilling tax
One couldn’t have started a fight on this issue if he tried. All three candidates think the Corbett administration has mishandled the situation by allowing Marcellus Shale drilling to damage the environment without extracting dollars to pay for that damage. First disclosed that he is an investor in land sites that have drillable gas and in land without gas underneath and even he wasn’t happy with the situation.

Pay fair share
All three candidates think that Harrisburg, in serving as the state’s capital, is forced to provide services yet the state has never adequately provided for what the city looses in tax revenue. The Capital Complex, related state-owned properties, and many nonprofit parcels are not taxable.

State workers and others essentially double the city’s population daily, using roads, bridges, water and sewage, and other city resources for what amounts to a free ride. As a group, the amount of money they may spend on lunch, dinner or happy hour – which represent discretionary expenditures – in no way comes close to the level of regular grind they apply to the city.

Schools
All three candidates agree that the current educational system – locally and nationally – is broken. In one form or another they favor charter schools, public and/or private school vouchers, and deep reform. Seeds stressed, and the two others amplified, how basing education on real estate taxes is an antiquated way to run the system.

Impressions
I think the term limits question provides a way to further evaluate these three candidates.

My impressions are that Teplitz is a ready-made machine candidate. The fact that he said “I’m not going to commit” when asked about term limits was revealing. He did say that he thought term limits should apply to the executive branch because they set the tone, as if entrenched members of an assembly do not.

First stated for the record he would not seek more than three, four-year Senate terms, would not accept a state pension, car or perks. Seeds committed to no more than two terms.

If elected, Seeds would leave after two terms.

Next Opportunity
The next opportunity for public comment on the city and region’s state of affairs is March 15, 6 p.m. Kennedy-Shaffer and Harrisburg Hope hosts Receiver David Unkovic, Harrisburg’s Mayor Thompson, City Council Vice President Eugenia Smith.

2012 Campaign Trail Analysis: PA House Candidates Face Public

March 2, 2012

Candidates, from left: Patty Kim, Karl Singleton, Roy Crist, Gloria Martin-Roberts

2 of 4 Candidates against Same-sex Marriage
By Frank Pizzoli

Packing the house with 150 people at Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore seems routine when Harrisburg Hope offers the public a microphone.

Four candidates for the 103rd State House seated held by Rep. Ron Buxton assembled at the midtown bookstore tonight (March 1) to field questions from the public.

Selected Grand Marshall of the 2010 PrideFest Unity Parade, Buxton is not seeking re-election. Recently, he’s been criticized for not playing a stronger role in protecting the city’s interests as the city’s fiscal dilemmas unfolded.

Buxton was in the audience, as were many other elected city officials along with openly-gay Kelly McEntee, running for 105th District State Representative seat in Dauphin County and Chris Dietz, who is campaigning for the 104th District State Representative seat in Dauphin County (if his district boundaries remain the same), and possibly Lebanon County if boundaries change.

103rd District candidates present were Harrisburg City Councilwoman Patty Kim, former Harrisburg Council President Gloria Martin-Roberts, former Harrisburg School Board President Roy Christ, and charter school administrator Karl Singleton.

The 103rd legislative district includes the Harrisburg City, Swatara Township (part), Steelton Borough, Highspire Borough, and the Central Dauphin, Harrisburg City, Steelton-Highspire school districts, as well as Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg University, Penn State-Harrisburg.

Harrisburg Hope’s Alan Kennedy-Shaffer moderated the panel with his usual panache and established pattern of asking three questions before turning the microphone over to the public.

Against Same-sex Marriage
The most significant statements made regarding lgbt civil rights came from former Council President Gloria Martin-Roberts and charter school administrator Karl Singleton.

When asked if they would support same-sex marriage by openly-gay Harrisburg City Treasurer John Campbell, representing Equality Pennsylvania, Martin-Roberts said, “I do not support” such measures. Singleton said he also does not support the unions, clarifying that although he wouldn’t work for such legislation neither would he work against it.

Crist brought a round of laughter from the crowd when he said, “If you don’t agree with same-sex marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex.”

Kim said she thought all citizens should have the same civil rights in every way possible.

Anti-discrimination Laws Okay
When Josh Appleman, representing the LGBT Community Center Coalition, asked the candidates if they would support anti-discrimination legislation regarding employment and other public accommodations, all four candidates agreed they would support such measures. “I’d be honored to support such legislation,” Kim said.

Other Issues
There were familiar themes flavoring the evening’s public discussion.

As might be expected with three failing school districts in the legislative district, all four candidates favor educational reforms. None of the candidates support tuition vouchers.

Environmental issues and “greening” properties was on their list too as a way to recover blighted areas scarring the landscape all over the district. Martin-Roberts made special mention of access to health care services noting that “nothing else matters” if you don’t have your health and insurance coverage.

Marcellus Shale drilling and the way the Corbett administration has fought off taxation irked all four panelists. Like a chorus singing from the same book, they called for drilling taxes. Singleton reminded the audience of the history of the Coal Barons in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Coal Region. “Drive not too far north of here and it looks like the ground was bombed with what they left behind,” he said.

As is the Harrisburg Hope custom, Kennedy-Shaffer presented each candidate with a Civility Award signifying the non-partisan organization’s goal of promoting civility in the public arena.

Next Opportunities
The next opportunity for public comment on the city and region’s state of affairs is March 8, 6 p.m. at the bookstore. Then Pa. Senate candidates, both Democrats and Republicans assemble to address the public. Invited candidates for the 15th District Senate seat are Rob Teplitz, Alvin Taylor, Josh First, John McNally, and Bill Seeds. Sen. Jeff Piccola is not seeking re-election and is the legislative architect of legislation that has, among other things, eliminated until June 30, 2012 the ability of the city to petition the court for bankruptcy.

March 15, 6 p.m. Kennedy-Shaffer and Harrisburg Hope hosts Receiver Unkovic, Harrisburg’s Mayor Thompson, City Council Vice President Eugenia Smith.