By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s new sheriff, Jewell Williams, has announced a financial appointment that he hopes will begin to restore confidence in his office after repeated scandals under his predecessor, former sheriff John Green (see previous story).
But the appointment is already creating some possible friction with Mayor Nutter.
Williams today named Benjamin Hayllar as his top financial advisor and chief deputy for finance and accountability, effective immediately.
“Ben Hayllar has experience,” said Williams. “He has a great résumé in accounting. We feel he is the person to lead us into 2012 and above.”
Joseph Vignola, a former city comptroller who had been appointed as acting chief deputy for finance and accountability in January 2011 by former sheriff Barbara Deeley, has been named to the position of under sheriff.
Hayllar, between 1993 and 2000, was then-mayor Ed Rendell’s finance director, and in that capacity helped convince City Council to approve the now-controversial DROP lump sum pension program.
When asked about Hayllar’s new job, Mayor Nutter — who wants DROP abolished — stopped short of any sort of endorsement.
“He’s a former finance director,” Nutter told KYW Newsradio today. “I had contact with him when I was a member of City Council. He brought us the DROP program. But I have no idea what his role is at the sheriff’s office.”
Nutter says he hopes to discuss the Hayllar hiring with Sheriff Williams.
In the meantime, Williams defends Hayllar’s participation in constructing the DROP program:
“(He was) taking instructions at the time from his employer, Ed Rendell. Mr. Hayllar was doing the job he was supposed to do. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Hayllar was also was the interim president of the Philadelphia Gas Works from 1999 to 2002.
Hayllar retired in 2009 after serving as director of finance for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for five years, and has been an adjunct professor of communications at Bucks County Community College since 2009.
Prior to joining the Rendell administration he also served as director of finance for the City of Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree, an MA, and a Ph.D in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.