Butkovitz report blasts Nutter, sheriff on reform effort

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Report claims Sheriff Jewell Williams violated city agreement.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Report claims Sheriff Jewell Williams violated city agreement.
Posted: July 01, 2014

CITY CONTROLLER Alan Butkovitz wants to know why the Nutter administration is not following through on an agreement intended to clean up the Sheriff's Office.

Following news that the office has continued to dole out contracts to politically connected people with little oversight despite a recent reform effort, Butkovitz today will release a harsh report on the subject.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News, says the administration and Sheriff Jewell Williams have failed to implement many aspects of a 2012 memorandum of understanding between the Mayor's Office and the Sheriff's Office.

The controller said those aspects include: using the city's procurement process and getting OKs from the Law Department and Finance Department for all contracts; using city funds for contracts, rather than less-transparent revenue sources raised directly by the Sheriff's Office; and having the city treasurer set up new bank accounts for the Sheriff's Office.

"These are the very people who said, 'Trust us. We're going to clean up this mess,' and now they make a joke of the whole process," Butkovitz said. "Both sides dropped the ball."

The agreement expired last year, but Everett Gillison, Nutter's chief of staff, said that he and Williams are still working to implement its reforms.

"Has everything happened in the [memorandum of understanding] that should have happened? No, it hasn't all been done, but we've accomplished quite a bit," said Gillison, who wrote the 2012 agreement. "At the end, when all of the changes are accomplished, all of these things will actually be in conformity with the parameters that we set out almost three years ago. I'm trying to move things as quickly as I can."

The Inquirer last week reported that Williams' office unilaterally approved 14 small contracts, some with politically connected partners, violating the agreement's contract requirements.

Gillison said that he was aware of the contracts at the time and disagreed with how they were handled. But he chose to focus on making sure bigger projects, like rebuilding the office's IT system, got done first, he said.

"I've always said to people I'll start at the large or I can start at the small," he said. "I'll start at the large, get those things done."

Williams did not respond to requests for comment.

FBI agents raided the Sheriff's Office last year. Officials said at the time that the raid was part of an ongoing federal investigation into the tenure of former Sheriff John Green, who resigned in 2011 amid questions about finances.

Nutter at the time floated the idea of eliminating the Sheriff's Office - which is responsible for transporting prisoners and managing sales of foreclosed properties - and folding its duties into the administration or courts.

Gillison, however, said last week that if the office can be reformed, it may not have to be canned.

"If we end up getting to where we need to be, then maybe at the end of the day we don't need to talk about eliminating an office," Gillison said.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


comments powered by Disqus