Friday, July 31, 2015

Is this the worst official state government portrait ever?

For a bureaucrat who seems to be obsessed with his image, Health Secretary Eli Avila okayed an official photo that makes him look like "an egg with eyebrows."

Is this the worst official state government portrait ever?

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Call me petty, but I've never uttered the phrase "Do you know who I am?" or kicked anyone out of my parking space. (Then again, I don't have a parking space, unless you count the gravel pit off the alley behind my house.)

Eli Avila is a man seemingly obsessed with his image and stature. This, we know, because he's the only Pennsylvania Health Secretary in history to make headlines for going to the mat over an egg sandwich. Also, he thinks he's some kind of state superhero who needs a badge, walkie-talkies and special jackets. 

Last year, Avila walked into Roxy's Cafe near the Capitol, ordered an egg sandwich, and complained that it wasn't fresh enough.

A testy exchange followed, according to the cafe's owner, ending with Avila allegedly shouting "Do you know who I am? I am the secretary of health!" Now, the restaurateur is suing Avila alleging that the government official not only sicced a city health inspector on the establishment, he also thwarted Roxy's attempts to win a contract to run the Capitol cafeteria.

Every time we publish another story about this fierce fella, I'm reminded of the fact that Avila  was so concerned with his official portrait that he ordered an American flag superimposed on the image.

That got me thinking about the photo itself: Avila looks tired, sullen and about as excited to be the Secretary of Health as anyone would be getting a colonoscopy or any other intimately invasive procedure.

Seriously, if there's a less-flattering official portrait of anyone in the Corbett administration, I haven't seen it. Have you?

Lest you think I'm predisposed to criticize, I showed Avila's picture to an innocent bystander who didn't know who he was.

"He looks," she said, "like an egg with eyebrows."

Update: Keen readers pointed out Avila's striking resemblance to the lead character in the animated movie, Despicable Me. So I've included that, too, for your viewing pleasure.

-- Monica Yant Kinney

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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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