Will Sheriff’s Office go the way of the BRT?

PHILADELPHIA. The Committee of Seventy has some good news and some bad news for those who want the city to close the Sheriff’s Office.

The positive: City Councilman Frank DiCicco sponsored legislation Thursday to put the required charter change to a public vote. The negative: “As I see it, it’s too late to get it on the Nov. 8 ballot,” said Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, policy director of the watchdog organization.

Council recessed for summer after Thursday’s meeting, so debate and the 45-day period needed to advertise any ballot question can’t happen before Election Day “unless something extraordinary happens, like Council coming back early from break.” DiCicco’s office is looking into the timing issue.

Sheriff John Green will retire before his term ends in Jan. 2012. State Rep. Jewell Williams was quickly installed as Democratic front-runner as successor and John Kromer, who served as Office of Housing and Community Development under Mayor Ed Rendell, is mulling a run.

Kaplan said city Democrats should have debated “whether there is a more efficient and less costly way” to run the office. Coincidentally, the measure could end up on the same ballot next May with a primary slate of sheriff candidates.

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