Dr. Eli Avila, the Pennsylvania Health Secretary who made headlines when he flipped out on, and later in a throes of an epic power trip, allegedly sicced health inspectors on Harrisburg’s Roxy Cafe following a dispute with its owner over an egg sandwich, has stepped down. The AP reports today that Avila, the third senior member of the Corbett administration to call it quits in recent months, cited the pursuit of other interests, and the need for more time spent at home with his family as the reason for his departure. His resignation comes just a little more than one year after being named state’s top health official.
The egg episode was just one several eyebrow-raising incidents to snarl the secretary, his office and the Corbett administration during his brief post. Prior to the events that were later dubbed “Egg-Gate,” Avila first stirred up controversy when he arrived in Harrisburg, and stuck taxpayers for special law-enforcement style jackets — similar to those worn by FBI and ATF agents — for himself and other health officials. His next clash came when he had his own Health Secretary badge made. Though he paid for that himself, Corbett’s office reportedly made him ditch it. Following the egg blow-up, Avila again became the target of mounting criticism when he attempted to block Roxy Cafe’s owner from securing a well-paying contract for the State Capitol’s cafeteria. Alleging abuse of power, and retaliation for the egg sandwich melee, the cafe’s owner filed a suit against the outgoing secretary, seeking $50,000 in damages. The health department’s executive deputy secretary Michael Wolf will fill in while a replacement for Avila is found.
Pa. health secretary resigns cabinet post [AP via WSJ]