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Quick retirement, quicker nominee for sheriff

Longtime sheriff left his post suddenly over the weekend after 23 years.

When the City Controller’s Office announced an unprecedented forensic audit of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office’s finances, Sheriff John Green delayed his retirement as a sign of cooperation. The delay did not last long enough for Controller Alan Butkovitz to assign an auditor.

After receiving a retirement letter from Green — who retired very quietly on New Year’s Eve — Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday nominated Green’s chief deputy Barbara Deeley to replace him. With state Senate confirmation, Deeley would be Philadelphia’s first female sheriff. Via letter to Rendell, she vowed to serve “with integrity, transparency and efficiency.”

The move surprised Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg, who’d asked Rendell to appoint an “independent” sheriff several weeks ago.

“The sheriff’s office seems to be a mess and Deeley’s a high-ranking member of it,” he said. “It’s the easy choice, the party choice, but it’s a mistake.”

Butkovitz called for the audit after seeing a “number of red flags suggested a heightened risk for improprieties.” He hopes the cooperation his office received since meeting with Green in November continues.

“We will proceed exactly as we were proceeding,” he said, noting that his office is fielding bids through Friday. “I was confused by his decision [to postpone retirement despite a looming DROP deadline] in the first place.”

 
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