I was not surprised with the raid last week of former Mayor Steve Reed’s home in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, who many times has been named one of the top performing Mayor’s in America. He served 28 years. Investigator’s, who conducted the raid, were sent there from The Pa. Attorney General’s Office, and they took out a lot of property and many artifacts (western and others) from his home. The entire street was blocked off all day, and there were reporters from all over the State of Pennsylvania who were camped out all day and night, including WHP-TV 21 News, which is owned by The Sinclair Broadcasting Group based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ongoing rumors, innuendos, and public comments on social media and in print, for many years, have identified him and other well-known local names, law firms, and financial operations as having “possibly” done illegal acts, that threw Harrisburg, Pennsylvania into a financial disaster to the brink of Bankruptcy. Also, the ripple effect has hurt,in many ways, all of Dauphin County and Cumberland County in Pennsylvania, and also the Pennsylvania Government. This raid was only a part of the entire work of the now sitting State-wide Grand Jury meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it is apparent that the purchases of the artifacts by Reed himself with public funds, which cost multi- millions of dollars from the assets of bond issues, is a part of their interest. Please remember, this raid does not indicate that Mayor Reed or anyone else that has been named by different sources, did anything ILLEGAL, even if eventually indicted.
Will this raid itself be the beginning of the total destruction of the lengthy and, in my personal opinion, extraordinary legacy of the tremendous accomplishments of Mayor Steve Reed? I certainly hope not. I must say that Mayor Reed, when he became Mayor, was only 32 years old. He had already distinguished himself as an effective political leader in Pennsylvania, and he inherited a City that was on the verge of Bankruptcy at the time. Most of the critical problems he faced were brewing for many,many years. Steve took the challenge, and over the years, the City greatly prospered. Just to name a very few of his significant accomplishments for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and they can be seen today; The stunning Hilton Hotel, Whitaker Center for the Performing Arts, The magnificent City Island, The Harrisburg Senators Baseball Team, The unique Harrisburg University, & The National Civil War Museum.
He also left a great police and fire department, a new City Hall, a thriving downtown Restaurant Row, great additions and improvements to many well-known parks and playgrounds that had become a disaster, a very responsive and highly trained River Rescue, the beautiful ship on The Susquehanna River,The Pride of The Susquehanna, the improvements and maintaining of one of Harrisburg’s “jewels” The Italian Lake, & many other significant lasting projects. He created many much needed social programs throughout the entire city and beyond. He was awarded so many State and National awards for his work, that there are too many to mention right now. His well-known governance stretched far beyond the City, and he was written about all over The Country.
His personal passion, & night and day work ethic set an ongoing highly positive tone for the people, and not just residents of the City,myself included as a life-time resident of 74 years. The Capitol City of Harrisburg was envied all over Pennsylvania, and people said that Harrisburg was definitely in very good hands. So, what happened? Did he stay much too long as Mayor, I definitely think so. I don’t think anyone should be Mayor of any City for more then two 4 year terms. Things started to look troubling about the last 10 years of his reign. Remember, that does not mean there was illegality. But, the multi-million debt at the Incinerator, the purchase of the millions of dollars of artifacts, and how the entire debt developed, has caused great anger and very specific questions.
All this is finally being investigated,along with other multi-million dollar financial transactions, by a State-wide Grand Jury from The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and possibly The Federal Government. Why this investigation has taken so long to occur is not a question I can answer. The first Receiver, appointed by The Governor, as Harrisburg was failing, David Unkovic called for a criminal investigation several years ago , and then he resigned under most “unusual” circumstances. A well-respected independent audit was prepared years ago that was at least was a beginning “road map” for investigative authorities to follow and see where it led, but it never happened, There has even been a Pennsylvania State Senate investigation and Hearing of a small part of this entire debt that was accumulated.
These have all raised red flags and finger-pointing by many in and out of Dauphin County and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and beyond. However, we must all remember,and honor that legal direction, that because there is an Attorney General “investigation” and testimony, and possibly even indictments might come, we must NEVER assume there was any illegal activity by anyone.Could it have been just bad or unintentional decisions were made? Could there be a Civil Case against anyone?In any case, all people are entitled to “due process” under law in America, from the time of any indictments or arrests through the entire case, if there are, in fact, any indictments. Even the sitting of a Grand Jury itself does not mean there was any illegality, as only the prosecutors present the cases against the potential defendants to the Grand Jurors. There is NO cross examination by the defense during a Grand Jury proceeding.
So, we have to recognize that ALL individuals are innocent until proven Guilty or enter a plea of Guilty . Whatever happens, I certainly hope this will result in finally putting these years of bitter controversy to rest. Rumors and innuendos have and do destroy reputations and careers. We, therefore, ALL have to give everyone named or possibly indicted, the fair opportunity to defend themselves, just as WE would want for ourselves and our loved ones. Frankly, I would think that those already publicly named , eventually indicted or not, would finally want the opportunity to clear their names.