High-level Corbett official who had gotten in parking tussle is reassigned

Posted: August 17, 2011

HARRISBURG - First he lost his state car and his parking space. Now, Philip Abromats has lost his high-level job in the Corbett administration.

Abromats, a deputy secretary in the Department of Public Welfare, allegedly berated a woman last month outside the Capitol complex for parking in his designated space. He has been reassigned to a newly created post overseeing audits for the agency.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Welfare said Abromats, who served less than six months as the deputy secretary in charge of an office that oversees billions in county assistance funding, had been appointed executive director of program audits and regulatory review.

A veteran DPW official, Lourdes Padilla, will now head the Office of Income Maintenance, which handles programs to provide food stamps and temporary cash aid to the needy, DPW spokesman Mike Race said Tuesday.

He said he could not discuss the reasons for the reassignment because it was a personnel matter.

Race said salaries for both Abromats and Padilla were still under discussion.

Abromats got into a tussle July 20 with the Rev. Norma Kenley-Barber of Harrisburg after he found her parked in his spot.

Kenley-Barber, 66, said she takes a diuretic for a heart condition and had to rush to a restroom. When she returned, Abromats had blocked her car and gone inside to call the police.

"When he did come out, he said, 'What part of 'reserved' don't you understand?' That was just the way he said it," Kenley-Barber told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "I said, 'What part of 'rude' don't you understand?' "

"Then he called me an a-. He said it twice," said Kenley-Barber, a military veteran and day-camp director.

Yvette Long of Philadelphia, a citizen member of a committee that advises the agency on welfare issues, praised DPW Secretary Gary Alexander for taking action, but said she thought Abromats should have been fired.

"Abromats should have been terminated because of his behavior the day of the parking incident and because of the behavior he showed toward the Income Maintenance Advisory Committee," said Long, the committee's chairwoman.

She said that the committee has had four meetings in Harrisburg since January and that Abromats did not show up for a single one as the bylaws require.

Abromats' confrontation with Kenley-Barber was the second parking incident involving an administration official to draw attention since Gov. Corbett took office in January. The first involved Health Secretary Eli N. Avila, who in May tussled with bloodmobile workers who had parked in front of the Health and Welfare Building, apparently impinging on Avila's designated space.

Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com.


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