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WATCHBLOG: DPW Secretary Alexander to step down from post, reports

By   /   February 4, 2013  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – Gary Alexander is going back to Rhode Island.

And this time it seems he is going to stay there, and he will likely have to leave his taxpayer-funded car behind.

According to Angela Couloumbis at the Philadelphia Inquirer – citing “sources familiar with the decision” – Alexander will step down from his office after more than two years as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Public Welfare.

From the Inky:

Gary Alexander, who oversees a department charged with helping 2.1 million elderly, poor and disabled Pennsylvanians, will be leaving his $149,000 post by the end of the month.

Reached for comment this afternoon, Alexander said he did not want to discuss his future, saying he preferred to focus on the governor’s budget address to the legislature tomorrow.

“We’ve got a big day tomorrow, the governor has a big day,” Alexander said. “That is my focus.”

One person familiar with the decision said the secretary wanted to be closer to his family in Rhode Island. It was not immediately known who will replace him.

Last December, our very own Melissa Daniels reported on Alexander’s weekly 350-mile roundtrip commutes from Rhode Island that frequently resulted in him spending four days or fewer in Harrisburg each week.  Over the course of a year, the trips cost more than $4,700 in taxpayer funds.

Alexander defended his use of the car by saying he paid part of the cost out of his own pocket, though that was not clear from expense reports obtained via an open records request.

Alexander has been sharply criticized by those on the left for his department’s cuts in several areas of public welfare spending and for a new “asset test” to determine eligibility for food stamps.

However, he has been praised from the right for implementing cost-saving reforms and bringing what was previously the most expensive department in the state government back to living within its means.

Contact Boehm at [email protected] and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter.