Some cities end up on the ash heap of history; others, like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, are undone by ash heaps. Harrisburg’s foolhardy investment in its aging incinerator over a decade ago nearly bankrupted the city.
Propelled by profligate politicians and unscrupulous developers, the project forced Harrisburg into state receivership, turning Pennsylvania’s capital city into a national symbol of municipal imprudence. But now, after years of fiscal uncertainty and a self-serving and wrongheaded attempt to file for bankruptcy, the city may be poised for a turnaround, thanks to a sound recovery plan and a determined mayor.
Judah Bellin researches higher-education policy at the Manhattan Institute and is associate editor of Minding the Campus.
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