Bankruptcy Judge Limits Chester City Council Powers, Calls for Change

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland at this City Hall office
Image via Alejandro A. Alvarez, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland at this City Hall office

The Chester City government is “dysfunctional” and needs to be majorly changed, according to Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler.

That’s the conclusion of her ruling on Chester’s bankruptcy case, writes Anthony R. Wood for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 45-page ruling from Judge Ceisler described “a pattern of city officials taking care of their own and intentionally turning their backs on wrongdoing within their departments.”

She described the administration as rife with “widespread nepotism.”

In her ruling, Ceisler agreed to limit the power of City Council members, removing them from their department head duties, including oversight of the city’s finances.  

Ceisler authorized Chester’s current chief operating officer, Leonard Lightner, to become the chief of staff. He will handle day-to-day operations for the debt-plagued city.

The judge was ruling on a request by state-appointed receiver Michael Doweary was assigned in 2020 to bring stability to the city’s finances. 

She did not grant Doweary’s request to have him take control of the government.

City officials and the receiver’s office are both reviewing the court’s order.

City attorney Mark Pfeiffer said officials were “reviewing the Court’s decision.”

Read more about Judge Ellen Ceisler’s ruling and her decision to limit Chester City Council’s oversight in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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