Pinellas Co. suspends job agency boss; Hillsborough Co. on deck

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The embattled CEO of two local organizations that used taxpayer money to help people find work was suspended by with pay by one of the organizations. Now the Hillsborough County Commission wants him suspended without pay from the other.

Ed Peachey is the head of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay.

Peachey was hired in 2010 to address accountability and transparency issues previously exposed by Target 8.

Now, Mr. Peachy finds himself faced with similar problems.

Hillsborough commissioners voted unanimously to recommend CareerSource Tampa Bay’s Executive Committee to suspend Mr. Peachey without pay while investigators look at whether the job placement numbers the agency boasts are phony.

“It’s quite obvious there are some really serious wrongdoings over there,” said Commissioner Les Miller. “I’m inclined to make a motion to suspend him without pay.”

“I would be in favor of dismissing Mr. Peachey just because of his what I perceive is a lack of competency,” added Commissioner Stacy White.

Hillsborough Commission Chairperson Sandy Murman who sits on the Career Source Tampa Bay board thinks letting Mr. Peachey work while the agency is under investigation, is like leaving a fox in the hen house.

“You’ve got the feds the state and now local government, three levels of government and the Governor’s office questioning your transparency and accountability, there’s a big problem,” explained Commissioner Murman.

U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D)-Florida and Marco Rubio (R)- Florida are also asking the Department of Labor to investigate the allegations of inflating job numbers.

Peachy was supposed to restore transparency and oversight to an agency crumbling amid a cheesecake scandal.

In 2009, while unemployment was through the roof, our Target 8 investigation revealed executives of the then Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance were busy chowing down on expensive meals including cheesecake desserts with money meant for finding people work.

CEO Renee Gilmore okayed extravagant parties and hosted workshops in placed like the Tampa Improv Comedy Club, and even paid a comedian to entertain employees, calling him a public speaker.

When we questioned the organization, Workforce Alliance Chairman Ron Smith blew me off. “I think you’re nitpicking here,” he said.

The state began investigating and Ms. Gilmore resigned. We’re having déjà vu all over again.

At the time, Mr. Peachey was the head of Career Source Pinellas and offered to help out. He eventually became CEO for both organizations.

After refusing on Wednesday to allow Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard to introduce a motion to suspend Mr. Peachey, Mr. Green today informed Career Source Pinellas Board members he reconsidered and suspended the CEO with pay until an Ad Hoc Committee completes its investigation and recommends any necessary and appropriate disciplinary action.

Commissioner Sandy Murman tells us the Peachey investigation is heating up.

“The allegations are so serious and I have talked to the Governor’s office, they say they have much more than what has been reported to the press about the allegations of miscounting the misuse of funds,” Murman explained.

The vote by the County Commission to suspend Mr. Peachey without pay is only a recommendation, which Commissioner Sandy Murman will take to the Career Source Tampa Bay Executive Committee meeting on Friday.

If you know of something that should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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