Harrisburg councilman accuses mayor of funneling money

//June 30, 2008

Harrisburg councilman accuses mayor of funneling money

//June 30, 2008

Harrisburg City Council Vice President Dan Miller has accused
the mayor’s office of misappropriating money.

Mayor Stephen R. Reed used $150,000 from the sale of the Harrisburg Senators baseball franchise to pay
the salary of National Sports Hall of Fame Foundation President John Levenda,
Miller said.

Reed flatly denied the charge, saying no funds from the sale
of the team were funneled to the foundation. He deemed Miller’s comments as an
attempt at “character assassination.”

City Council has refused to pay Levenda’s salary because the
Hall of Fame has never developed past a concept stage for years, Miller said at
last night’s council meeting. Miller
questioned why $150,000 from the sale of the baseball club was given back to
Senators Partners, which bought the Senators last year, to pay for the group’s
transaction costs.

A line item on the city’s sales statement obtained by the
Business Journal shows the city paying $150,000 for the purchaser’s transaction

In an e-mail to Miller, City Controller Jim McCarthy said
the city did not pay any transaction fees, but Senators Partners did make a
$150,000 charitable donation to the foundation.

Miller asked why
the city paid for the transaction costs of $150,000 and why Senators Partners also made a $150,000 donation to the
foundation. Miller said he believes the $150,000 was given to the foundation
from the sale of the baseball club under the guise of a donation to pay for
Levenda’s salary.

“This is misappropriation of funds,” Miller said.
“That $150,000 came directly from our money.”

IRS documents show Levenda was paid $91,000 in 2006, the
most recent filing available. The sale of the Senators went through on Oct. 11
of last year.

Levenda is being paid to direct the National Sports Hall of
Fame on City Island, which doesn’t exist, Miller

Levenda did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Reed strongly disagreed and said the hall of fame is still a
viable project under development.

Reed said in a faxed statement it takes six to seven years
to take a project from a concept to groundbreaking. The same can be said of the
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, the Hilton Harrisburg hotel, the
National Civil War Museum and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology,
he said.

No money from the sale of the Senators was funneled to the
foundation, Reed said. Senators Partners made a $150,000 contribution to the
foundation because it believes placing a hall of fame next to the baseball
stadium would help baseball operations, he said.
The hall of fame has secured $9.5 million in state construction funds, most of
the hall’s design has been completed and the foundation has secured site
approvals from some regulatory agencies, Reed said.

The facility will include 60,000 square feet of office space
and a master lease to lease all of the space has been presented to the
foundation, Reed said.

Miller’s comments were way out of line, he said.

“His comments were outrageous, devious and malicious and
right out of the Washington
political playbook for conducting a political campaign of character
assassination and defamation,” Reed said.