The cost of kleptocracy

By Cate Long
November 29, 2011

Gary White, a former official of Jefferson County, Alabama, had his conviction on conspiracy and bribery charges affirmed by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today. White, a former county commissioner, is already serving a ten-year term in a South Carolina federal prison for his involvement in the sewer scandal that ended in the largest municipal bankruptcy ever. He’s just another piece of detritus from one of the largest cases of municipal corruption in recent American history. The Birmingham News reported the courts decision:

Harrisburg back to square one

By Cate Long
November 28, 2011

Federal bankruptcy judge Mary France dismissed the Harrisburg City Council’s petition to file municipal bankruptcy last Thursday. According to Bloomberg her ruling stated:

Harrisburg needs the bankruptcy option

By Cate Long
November 18, 2011

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett took the next step in the process of pushing the bankrupt capital of his state towards fiscal recovery today. Bloomberg reports:

Make Jefferson County’s receiver its salesman

By Cate Long
November 18, 2011

The story of Jefferson County, Alabama filing the largest municipal bankruptcy ever last week is well-known. The county went into hock for about $3 billion to build an EPA-mandated sewer system. On the way to completing the system, every local crook and corrupt politician piled onto the project to skim off some pork. Many of these players ended up in prison and left the taxpayers saddled with a sewer system they really can’t afford.

Harrisburg’s leadership shortage

By Cate Long
November 14, 2011

Harrisburg is a town that’s been crushed by debt and years of incompetent management. The city has been led by a mayor, Linda Thompson, who is unable to work with a majority of her city council and who will likely find her role greatly diminished as the state takes fiscal control of the insolvent city. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a politician who has so little control over the affairs of her city. Edith Honan and Kristina Cooke of Reuters did an outstanding backgrounder about the level of dysfunction among the Harrisburg’s political class:

Jefferson County goes kaboom

By Cate Long
November 10, 2011

Crushed by sewer debt and stripped of 48 percent of its general fund revenues by a state court, Alabama’s Jefferson County filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history yesterday. The filing brings three years of financial chaos to an end and represents the largest default of municipal bonds and derivatives ever.

The sharks circling Harrisburg

By Cate Long
November 9, 2011

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is being smothered by its outstanding debt of $463 million. The sharks are circling and the city has only about $244 million in assets that can be liquidated easily. Let’s guess how this game will play out.

Harrisburg is insolvent

By Cate Long
October 20, 2011

The capital of the Keystone State is swirling with political infighting and power grabs over the issue of money. There is just not enough of it to pay all of Harrisburg’s creditors who have appeared at the door. Now that the county has said “Enough!” to providing more loans to cover debt payments, it’s the end of road and events are accelerating.

Harrisburg has more than incinerator debt

By Cate Long
October 14, 2011

The current bankruptcy drama in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is just the third act of a long running effort to make the city something more than a corridor for those who commute into the city for work. Most of the current debt problems of Harrisburg stem from failed projects intended to revitalize the city and extremely bad business decisions.

A Harrisburg scorecard

By Cate Long
October 14, 2011

“Who benefits from all this tap-dancing? Who’s interest is the Commonwealth promoting? Not the public, not the city of Harrisburg. They are promoting the interests of the bond insurers.”