Commissioners vow to take control of CareerSource operations

Hillsborough County commissioner Sandra Murman, vice chair at CareerSource Tampa Bay, said Thursday that the county does not want CareerSource Tampa Bay to merge with CareerSource Pinellas. {[ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times]



Mark Puente

Zachary T. SampsonTimes staff writer



Published: April 12, 2018

Updated: April 12, 2018 at 07:30 PM


CLEARWATER — For years, Tampa Bay’s two job placement centers operated with little scrutiny from elected officials or the county governments they represent.

That’s about to change, said the county commissioners who serve on the boards of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County.

And that likely will start with the county commissions on each side of the bay requiring board members for both agencies to reapply for the positions.

“We’re in charge now,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman. “We’re the boss. We’re going to fix this.”

The warning came during a meeting of select CareerSource board members from both agencies.

The commissioners said they were interviewed last week by officials from the U.S. Department of Labor, which is investigating whether the employment centers inflated the number of people they helped find jobs in reports to the state. Labor officials expressed alarm at the lack of financial oversight at both agencies under former president and CEO Edward Peachey.

Peachey was fired from both agencies in separate votes last month.

“We have been chastised by the Department of Labor,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard. “We need to straighten it out.”

Thursday’s meeting was scheduled so the panel could start discussing whether to merge the two agencies or split them apart under new leadership. They previously operated as separate agencies until Peachey was asked to oversee both in 2010 following a spending scandal in the Hillsborough CareerSource offices.

Peachey reported to separate boards made up of people from education, business, government and labor organizations.

In a memo last week to Pinellas commissioners, Gerard wrote that federal officials said “almost no municipality or county has handed over the day-to-day fiscal functions” to its workforce board. Many counties provide the “services themselves” or use a third party, the memo said.

The limited supervision allowed Peachey to centralize his power among “a relatively small number of” board members, Gerard wrote. She said she wants the county to consider making board members reapply for the volunteer positions.

The Pinellas commission is set to hold a workshop Tuesday to discuss the jobs center.

Murman said Hillsborough County officials are telling board members this week that they must reapply and that each will be required to live in the county. Leaders there also have assigned a high-ranking county economic development employee to work at the jobs center to help get information to commissioners, who want the agencies separated by June 30.


Even with scrutiny in the past two months, Murman said, the agencies have been slow to turn over financial records for inspection. The county is demanding to know how the agency spent $23 million last year that was supposed to serve Hillsborough residents.

Murman blamed Peachey for creating a structure that gave him total control of the organizations.

“Ed Peachey sold us a bill of goods,” Murman said. “We gave our rights as boards of county commissioners in Pinellas and Hillsborough over to one individual.”

CareerSource Pinellas chairman Jack Geller agreed, saying, “In the past, let’s be honest, Ed was running everything. Period. End of discussion.”

Peachey did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Mark Puente at or (727) 892-2996. Contact Zachary T. Sampson at