PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy has announced he will be resigning from his position in September. His resignation will be effective Sept. 4, city officials confirmed Tuesday.
.@PhiladelphiaGov Managing Director, Brian Abernathy walking into work Tuesday morning. After less than 2 years on the job, he’s expected to announce his resignation today @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/CvNuDRBCEZ
— Howard Monroe (@HMonroeNews) July 14, 2020
Recently, Abernathy has been in the public eye handling the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest. In his resignation letter, Abernathy says the events this year have taken a toll on his family, mind, body, and soul.
“Our city has weathered tremendous hardship over the past several months. In a short period of time, we’ve faced a pandemic, the worst economic crisis in a century, and important but difficult civil unrest. At the same time, we’ve seen a worsening opioid crisis, pervasive homelessness, and a rising murder rate. Throughout these months, there have been too many nights and weekends where my daughters have wondered where I was, and I’ve placed too many burdens on my wife’s shoulders. I love my job and my city and have made these sacrifices willingly, but 2020 has taken a toll on my family, on my mind, on my body, and on my soul,” Abernathy said. “So with humility, a deep love for my city, and enormous appreciation to my colleagues, I am resigning effective September 4th.”
Abernathy has served as Managing Director since January 2019 and previously served as First Deputy Managing Director beginning January 2016.
“I thank Brian for his service to the City of Philadelphia,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement Tuesday. “I’ve worked closely with many public servants throughout my career and few match Brian’s level of integrity and commitment to making our city better. I particularly thank him for his tireless dedication while managing multiple unprecedented crises in the past four months. I will miss his counsel and measured leadership, and I wish him well on all of his future pursuits.”
The mayor’s office will conduct a review of the structure of the managing director’s office and plan a search process for the next managing director.
On paper, and as it’s explained on Philadelphia’s website, the managing director’s job is to oversee the city’s departments. They also develop and implement public policy. In other words, they are the mayor’s right hand. For Brian Abernathy, the job was more high-profile than recent managing directors, and he also came under more fire.
During social justice and police reform protests in late May and early June, spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Abernathy helped craft the city’s response. Which included removing the Frank Rizzo statue from the steps of the Municipal Services Building.
But it also included the gassing of protesters on I-676, which was highly criticized, and led to an apology by Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
Protesters also called for Abernathy to resign. Prior to the unrest, Abernathy was the point person behind Health Commissioner Tom Farley’s plan to suppress the coronavirus. The move to essentially shut the city down to prevent the spread was mostly praised but it has also led to a slowdown in city services.
Abernathy also oversees the streets department. Because of the coronavirus-caused staffing issues and increased trash, the department has repeatedly been behind schedule on pickups.
CBS3’s Howard Monroe contributed to this report.