GOP posing a threat to Philly sheriff job?

Sen. Joseph Pileggi (center) questions the connection Barbara Deeley, Gov. Rendell's nominee, has to the Sheriff's Office.
Sen. Joseph Pileggi (center) questions the connection Barbara Deeley, Gov. Rendell's nominee, has to the Sheriff's Office.
Posted: January 05, 2011

Amid the chaos at the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office, a new question has risen: Will the woman nominated Monday to be the city's first female sheriff be rejected by the state Senate?

Gov. Rendell nominated Barbara Deeley for the post after her longtime boss, Sheriff John Green, resigned Friday with one year left on his sixth four-year term as questions lingered about financial mismanagement of his office.

State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican and majority leader in the state Senate, yesterday said Gov.-elect Tom Corbett should have the chance to make his own nomination for the post after he takes office in two weeks.

That means a Republican governor could fill a traditionally Democratic-controlled top public job.

"Given all the issues that are surrounding the Sheriff's Office, it's not an appointment that we should be rushing into in the last days of Gov. Rendell's administration," Pileggi said.

Pileggi added that Deeley's experience in the Sheriff's Office is not a "strong point" in her favor. "The normal approach would be to look for someone with no connections to the office," he said.

Deeley issued a statement yesterday repeating a pledge she made to Rendell on Monday to run the Sheriff's Office with "integrity, transparency and efficiency."

"I believe my actions over the coming weeks and months will instill confidence in the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office for members of the Pennsylvania state Senate and more importantly the citizens of Philadelphia," she said.

The Sheriff's Office has been engaged in a public spat with the City Controller's Office for more than two months. Controller Alan Butkovitz, after complaining that the Sheriff's Office stymied a routine audit, is set to hire an outside firm to look into what could be the mismanagement of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Deeley must submit financial paperwork and answer a questionnaire before the Senate can vote on her nomination. Corbett could recall that nomination when he takes office. The Senate would vote on that recall and, if approved, Corbett could then submit his own nomination.

The Committee of Seventy, a government watchdog group that in 2009 recommended the elimination of the Sheriff's Office, urged Pileggi yesterday to reject Deeley's nomination.

"With all due respect to Barbara Deeley, her confirmation at this particular time would send the wrong signal to the public, whose trust in the Sheriff's Office has been severely compromised," wrote Zack Stalberg, the group's president and chief executive.

"Zack Stalberg needs to understand there is a new sheriff in town," Deeley responded. "I am not going to fight old battles, the audit will resolve them."

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