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Sheriff Retracts Speech, Withdraws Fee Hike

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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Call it the case of the disappearing speech: Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams suddenly withdrew his prepared testimony to City Council this past week in the face of opposition from activists to a proposed $500 fee increase.

In advance of his appearance before the City Council budget hearing, Sheriff Jewell Williams had submitted written testimony that included his plans for a 33-percent increase in the foreclosure deposit fee, from $1,500 to $2,000. Word of that filtered to activists including John Dodd of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

“Homeowners pay that fee if they’re trying to save their house. We think the fees need to come down. We were in negotiation to get them down, when we heard they were going to go up $500, we were in a total state of shock.”

Dodd and other opponents showed up at the hearing to protest, and suddenly the Sheriff’s written testimony disappeared. Williams then vowed to Council members not to impose any fee increases without their approval, and he later told reporters he never intended to impose the fee increase.

“There were some recommendations, but I didn’t feel comfortable with (them).”

For his part, Dodd was relieved.

“Looks like we dodged a bullet there.”

Williams later submitted revised testimony, which made no mention of his abortive fee proposal.

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