ST. PETESRBURG, Fla. — The CEO of CareerSource Pinellas still has a job, despite scathing allegations he may have inflated job placement numbers in order to rake in a bigger paycheck.
At an emergency meeting held by the CareerSource board Wednesday, board members did not vote to put CEO Ed Peachy on paid administrative leave, instead forming an ad hoc committee to look into how CareerSource tallies the number of job seekers they help.
Jean Sheridan says she’s angry, but not surprised, hearing the state has launched an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. She spent six months at the agency after getting laid off from her career as an educational trainer.
“There was this sense of there's something wrong here, there's something really wrong here,” she explained. She says the agency was unable to place her, and several others she spoke with, into new jobs. “I walked away and they walked away and they haven't found employment and it's like, 'Well who is getting jobs from CareerSource?,'” she asked.
The state recently launched an investigation into CEO Ed Peachey, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, looking into claims that the agencies took credit for helping people land jobs, even when they didn’t find employment.
At the same time, the agencies raked in $32 million in federal funding last year and earned bonuses based upon the number of people they reported to have helped find jobs.
“That pisses me off that they're getting all of this money from the state and they're making up numbers so they can continue to get funding when they're not serving the community. That's painful to hear,” Sheridan reacted.
It’s upsetting for Diana Facey too, who walked into a CareerSource for the first time Wednesday and heard about the allegations.
“Be truthful. Do what you're supposed to be doing. You're there to help not get a higher wage by changing numbers,” Facey said.
Governor Rick Scott and Pinellas County Commissioners both urged CEO Ed Peachey to take administrative leave amid the allegations, but as of Wednesday evening, he’s still on the job…and says he won’t resign.
“I don’t think it would be in the best interest of either organization for me to not be there to support staff during this,” he said during the board meeting.
Commissioner Pat Gerard disagrees. She tried to get support for a motion to put Peachey on administrative leave, but was shut down. “You can't do an impartial investigation when the person being accused is sitting in the office,” Gerard said.
Peachey stands by the fact that his agency did nothing wrong.
The state’s investigation, which is being conducted through the Department of Economic Opportunity, continues to work to find out if taxpayer money was misused. Thursday, Hillsborough County Commissioners will discuss this topic and Friday CareerSource Tampa Bay will hold a similar emergency meeting.
Governor Rick Scott says he’s “surprised” the CareerSource Pinellas board did not put Peachey on administrative leave Wednesday, saying “the board should put taxpayers and job seekers first.”