Experts Gather on Harrisburg Campus to Explore Issue of Municipal Financial Distress
Web Editor - Published: April 18, 2014

Video of the symposium is also available.

“Make no mistake. It’s not over yet. There’s plenty of hard work left for the city,” said General William B. Lynch during the Distinguished Address at “Bankruptcy and Beyond: Solving the Problem of Municipal Financial Distress,” held on Monday, April 14th on Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus.

Lynch, the second receiver for the city of Harrisburg, was one of many experts on municipal bankruptcy, finance, and local government law who spoke at the well-attended event. He touched on the challenges facing Harrisburg during the process, including costly challenges presented by the Harrisburg incinerator, parking authority woes and costly sewer system requirements.

“We decided we would recognize it wasn’t a math problem. It was a people problem,” Lynch said of efforts to find a positive solution that “would help each of the parties find something positive in our proposed solution.”

Lynch praised the “world-class team” put in place by his predecessor David Unkovic, who spoke during the day’s first panel, Financing Municipalities.

Observing that local governments are “inadequately protected in the bond market,” Unkovic, who is now an attorney with McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC in Lancaster, said, “Financial institutions are intimately involved with these funds.”

The student-run Widener Law Journal hosted the daylong conference. Professor Juliet M. Moringiello, who specializes in bankruptcy law and served as the Robert M. Zinman Resident Scholar at the American Bankruptcy Institute during the spring semester of 2010, spearheaded the program.

In addition to Lynch’s distinguished address and the first panel featuring Unkovic, the day included opening remarks from Jarad Handelman, First Executive Deputy General Counsel to Governor Tom Corbett. Additional panel discussions included: Pensions and Other Hot Topics in Chapter 9 Cases; What is Unique about a Chapter 9 Case? The Judges’ Point of View; and Beyond Financial Restructuring: The Future of Today’s Distressed Municipalities.