CareerSource Tampa Bay, Pinellas CEO fired

By: Catherine Hawley, FOX 13 News

POSTED: FEB 26 2018 10:17PM EST


UPDATED: FEB 26 2018 10:25PM EST


TAMPA (FOX 13) – A damaged reputation and loss of community trust.  Those are just some of the reasons the embattled CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay, Ed Peachey, was fired Monday.

Since last month, Peachey has been at the center of federal, state and local investigations.  The head of CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas is accused of cooking the books, inflating the number of people the agency has helped get jobs.

Monday, it was his job that was on the line.

“Nobody has alleged that anybody lined their pockets, that anybody misspent any money whatsoever,” said Marion Hale, Peachey’s Attorney.  “And yet this man stands waiting to be stripped of his livelihood and his career.”

So far, there’s no proof that Peachey broke any laws.  However, Monday the Department of Economic Opportunity sent a letter saying there is “reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity.”

Something Hillsborough County Commissioner, Sandy Murman says is very serious.

“There’s a couple of words in there that stick out if you read it, criminal activity, fraudulent activity, different things,” she said.

Just last week, CareerSource fired their Tampa Bay Business Manager after receiving anonymous allegations the she was romantically involved with Peachey, he had hired several of her relatives, and Peachey signed off on raises for the top administrator.

The CareerSource Tampa Bay Executive Committee called Monday’s emergency meeting to discuss terms of Peachey’s departure.  In the end, board members agreed Peachey had to go for the sake of the organization, regardless if they think the allegations are true or not.

“I think that it’s clear for everybody in this room that Mr. Peachey needs to be terminated because he was the CEO,” Betsy Irizarry said.  “There is a perception and we need to move forward.”

After two failed motions, the board voted 6-1 to fire Peachey.  He will also receive back-pay for the time he’s been suspended without a paycheck, and will get five-months of severance pay.

Murman was the only member to vote against firing Peachey, because she had concerns about paying him severance.

“Just want ya’ll to know how serious this action is to give severance before we know finally what the outcomes of the investigations are,” the Executive Committee Vice Chair said.

Peachey also faces losing his position as President and CEO of the Pinellas CareerSource location.  Board members are set to make a decision at their meeting on Wednesday.


CareerSource CEO Ed Peachey voted out


By Dave Jordan and Spectrum Bay News 9 Digital Team,
Last Updated: Monday, February 26, 2018, 9:15 PM EST



TAMPA — Beleaguered CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas CEO Ed Peachey was voted out of his position by the board of the organization on Feb. 26, 2018 by a 6-1 vote.


Peachy was first suspended without pay by CareerSource Tampa Bay on Feb. 2 during an investigation into the agency possibly reporting more people placed into new jobs than it actually had.


Members of the CareerSource Pinellas Board voted to form a committee to investigate the matter days later.


On Feb. 21, members of the Hillsborough County Commission voted to demand Peachey resign or face being fired. However, the commission did not have the power to actually fire Peachey.


That power lay with CareerSource Tampa Bay’s board members, who voted to terminate Peachey without cause on Monday. Peachey will be provided a 5-month severance package, but the funds will not come from taxpayer dollars, according to the organization.

Hillsborough County Commission chair Sandy Murman was the only commissioner to vote against the measure. Her objection stemmed from Peachey receiving a severance package.

“How could you approve severance when there could be fraudulent activity?” asked Murman. “It’s just not right.”

Under the terms of the separation agreement, Peachey received six months of severance and back pay dating up to Feb. 25.  Both he and his attorney declined to comment.

Looking forward, both county commissions are looking at completely revamping the power structures of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay once the investigation is concluded.


CareerSource Tampa Bay fires embattled CEO Ed Peachey

By Mark Douglas

Published: February 26, 2018, 5:47 pm

Updated: February 26, 2018, 6:25 pm

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — CareerSource Tampa Bay fired embattled CEO Ed Peachey on Monday after receiving a letter from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity saying his organization has overstated job placements and there is “reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity.”

“That DEO letter clearly says there is suspicion of fraudulent activity,” said Hillsborough Commission Chair and CareerSource Board Member Sandy Murman.

The executive committee was poised to fire Peachey anyway after nearly daily revelations about trouble with his agency. There are federal, state and local investigations underway and just last week, CareerSource fired the business manager after anonymous allegations she was romantically involved with Peachey and had hired three of her own relatives.

Peachey’s lawyer insisted Monday he is the victim of a vicious media campaign to discredit him.

“You know he’s the victim of a vendetta by the news media, you know that the stories in the news media have been false,” said attorney Marion Hale. ”Nobody has alleged that anybody lined their pockets or that any money has been misspent whatsoever and yet this man stands waiting to be stripped of his livelihood and his career.”

Board members agree that whether allegations of fraud, forgery and employee favoritism are true or not, Peachey had to go for the sake of the organization.

After two failed motions, they finally agreed to fire Peachey immediately and give him back pay (he was suspended last month without pay) along with five months of severance pay.

“That way Mr. Peachey is free to move forward in his career to focus on what he needs to do. This vote allows us to have a clean fresh start going forward,” said Board Member Darren Veneri, who made that motion.

The committee voted 6-1 in favor. Only Commissioner Sandy Murman objected.

“I’m not in favor of severance, I cannot recommend it here today,” Murman said. “These are taxpayer dollars and we are supposed to be taking care of taxpayer dollars.”

Board Chairman Dick Peck insists that none of Peachey’s severance will come from tax dollars but he couldn’t  exactly explain what the source of those funds will be.

”I’m not an accountant,” Peck said. “Fees and donations and that sort of thing.”

On Wednesday, CareerSource Pinellas’ executive committee will meet to decide whether to fire Peachey from his CEO duties on that side of Tampa Bay and what, if any, severance he deserves.


CareerSource Tampa Bay fires CEO Ed Peachey

By Mark Douglas


Published: February 26, 2018, 11:10 am

Updated: February 26, 2018, 5:43 pm

The central question is how much, if anything, taxpayers will have to pay to get rid of him.


At a workshop last week of CareerSource board members from Pinellas and Hillsborough, there was general agreement that Peachey has to go due to the ongoing investigations over CareerSource claims of job placements that the organization had nothing to do with securing. They were also upset by Peachey’s unilateral decision to suddenly end that practice without consulting the boards that oversee him.

Layered on those problems are the anonymous but detailed allegations received by public officials that Peachey was having an affair with his business manager, had given her a number of promotions and lavish raises and that Peachey had hired several of that woman’s relatives.

The CareerSource Tampa Bay Executive Committee held a meeting at 2 p.m. Monday where board members discussed the terms of Peachey’s departure. At least one board member, Sandra Murman, is adamantly opposed to giving Peachey any severance. The board’s lawyer advised last week that it will be risky to deny Peachy severance even if the board fires him “with cause.”

On Friday, Peachey’s attorney Marion Hale sent CareerSource board members a letter objecting to bullying by press and public officials and saying the time to remain silent has ended.

She also offered settlement terms for Peachey’s voluntary resignation. The letter says, “He (Peachey) will accept a payment of severance equal to five months of his pay from each CareerSource board plus $125 an hour for cooperating with all investigations after the expiration of those ten months.He would also be entitled to all the benefits associated with being a CareerSource employee during those 10 months. In return, he would be willing to execute a mutual general release with both CareerSource boards”.


Port Tampa Bay Welcomes First Shipment of Bananas in 21 Years

Richard Danielson | Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

February 21, 2018 3:00 PM, EST

More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port.

More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.

It was the first shipment of perishable products to the 135,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse, which was built on Hookers Point specifically to attract shippers of fruit and other cargo requiring cold storage.

The shipment was a test run, but “we’re hoping that there will be more,” Port Tampa Bay chief commercial officer Raul Alfonso said.

“This is a huge deal for us,” County Commissioner and port board member Sandra Murman said Feb 20. “I know we’re going to build on this going down the road.”

At one time, bananas were among the port’s best-known imports. At the historic banana docks, hog-sized stalks of bananas would rise on conveyor belts from the holds of freighters.

At the end of the line, scores of sweating longshoremen would hoist and carry them off for delivery. In mid-century, when the economy and leisure time options were both more simple, some Tampanians would make a day of going to the docks to buy bananas directly off the boat.

“I still remember going over there as a kid,” port board chairman Steve Swindal said, recalling a schoolyard rumor that tarantulas would hitch rides on the bananas. “That was a big part of downtown. All those were working docks. It’s kind of nostalgic to think about how, as a little boy in elementary school, I would look at the bananas, and now we’ve got them coming back.”

Over several decades, that scene faded from view. The unloading moved away from the Arthur N. Schiro Banana Docks on the Ybor Channel. In 1989, Del Monte stunned the port when it moved its banana shipments from Tampa to Port Manatee near Bradenton. (By the end of 2015, Port Manatee was getting more than a billion bananas a year.)

In January 1997, Turbana Corp., a cooperative of Colombian growers, shifted its banana imports from Tampa to Gulfport, Miss. By 2009, with the departure of melons and cantaloupes, Tampa’s port was out of the fresh fruit business.

Over the same time, Americans’ banana consumption has dropped — from nearly 29 pounds per person per year in 1996 to 11.4 pounds per person in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Still, it is the most-consumed fresh fruit in the nation, with apples coming in second at 10.7 pounds per year.

In recent years, Port Tampa Bay has worked on plans for an on-dock facility that would bring in new business by offering fruit shippers a port of entry three days closer than Philadelphia, which has the most cold storage food facilities on the East Coast.

In 2016, construction began on the $19.1 million facility, where employment has been projected at 50 full-time workers and up to 200 part-time workers. Richard Corbett, the developer behind International Plaza in Tampa, financed the new terminal.

Port Logistics of Orlando has a 27-year lease to manage the facility, which will receive, label, package and distribute refrigerated foods. Cargoes like imported fruit and cars have been lines of business that Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson has worked to develop since taking over the port in 2013.

Port officials said they were heartened that the warehouse’s first customer came away happy.

“Chiquita is very pleased with this first shipment of bananas through Port Tampa Bay as a new entry port for the distribution of our fresh fruit into the continental U.S. market,” Chiquita Brands International logistics director Manrique Bermudez said in a statement released through the port.

Completed last fall, the Port Logistics’ cold storage warehouse includes on-site fumigation facilities, U.S. Customs and USDA inspection areas and a lab, all on deep water. It is, officials say, the first facility of its kind on the Interstate 4 corridor.

For now, however, 3,916 pallets of bananas are make up a few pixels in the bigger picture of the port’s overall business. Cargo more typically means bulk materials like phosphate, coal or limestone. For liquids, the port handles much larger volumes of petroleum and liquid sulphur than citrus juice and concentrate.

But with the port focused on diversifying its business so that it’s not too dependent on any one import or export, the return of bananas aboard the container ship MV Wild Lotus last week marked “an important milestone,” Anderson said.

The new cold storage warehouse “enables us to provide significant savings in their truck delivery costs” to customers throughout Florida, the Southeast and beyond, Anderson said. “These bananas went as far as Chicago. They went to North Carolina, to South Florida and throughout the Southeast. They were trucked out of our port to customers such as Kroger, Target and Publix in Lakeland.”


CareerSource board: CEO Ed Peachey must go

By Peter Bernard

Published: February 21, 2018, 6:47 pm

Updated: February 21, 2018, 11:18 pm


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The CEO of an agency designated to help people find jobs will probably soon be looking for a job himself.

The writing is on the wall for embattled CareerSource head Ed Peachey. Under his leadership, the agency has been accused of taking credit for job placements that did not happen. Now his bosses want him gone.

Internal calls for his resignation come amid a Department of Labor investigation into his business practices, which include incentive payments to CareerSource employees for those phony job placements.

Peachey is accused of boosting job placement numbers, including hundreds at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has even accused Peachey’s staff of forging his signature on documents. “That’s a scam. They’re forging documents. And to say that we cashed the check is just that, a bunch of nonsense,” the sheriff said.

At a workshop in Largo, CareerSource board members learned Peachey had ordered a stop to these practices on Jan. 25.

Board members wrestled with firing Peachey “with” or “without cause,” which will determine if he gets a severance payout.

“What we’re looking at is the appearance of impropriety. He’s made some bad judgment moves,” said Pinellas County CareerSource Chairman Jack Geller.

“I think the problem is that Ed Peachey has lost his credibility in the market,” said CareerSource Tampa Bay Chairman Dick Peck.

But it’s clear the majority of board members want him gone now.

“I think the best interest of the organization and for Ed Peachey at this time. To talk to him or talk to an attorney, talk and find what way is the best for us to part company,” said Peck.

Board member Sandra Murman believes Peachey is dragging the agency down.

“I think termination of employment has to be done quickly, and we’ve got to get this agency back on its feet,” she said.

The CareerSource executive boards will meet Friday in Pinellas County and next Tuesday in Hillsborough County.  They’re expected to get rid of Peachey.


Hillsborough Commission wants to fire CareerSource CEO Peachey

By a 6-0 vote, commissioners agreed to send a letter to the CareerSource Tampa Bay board, demanding Peachey’s resignation or firing. And Murman said if he is not removed promptly, Hillsborough may seek options to separate from its agreement with Pinellas.


Author: Noah Pransky

Published: 6:10 PM EST February 21, 2018

TAMPA, Florida – The Hillsborough County Commission has called for the permanent removal of the region’s top jobs chief, CareerSource Tampa Bay CEO Ed Peachey. And if he isn’t removed at the agency’s next meeting on Mar. 8, the county may move to remove board members or even funding from the agency.

10Investigates has reported since 2012 on squandered tax funds and agency mismanagement and at both CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas under Peachey’s watch. But additional reporting by the Tampa Bay Times regarding inflated job-claim numbers has led to a federal investigation and Peachey’s suspension from both agencies he oversees.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Commission Chair and CareerSource board member Sandy Murman told her fellow commissioners the agency’s records have been subpoenaed by federal investigators and “its time to get this thing back on-course.”

By a 6-0 vote, commissioners agreed to send a letter to the CareerSource Tampa Bay board, demanding Peachey’s resignation or firing. And Murman said if he is not removed promptly, Hillsborough may seek options to separate from its agreement with Pinellas.

Tasked with putting Tampa Bay residents back to work and training others so they can advance in their careers, the two CareerSource agencies receive both county and federal tax dollars. But after Peachey was named CEO of both, in an effort to save money and consolidate following agency spending scandals, he started recommending significant salary increases for himself.

10Investigates also identified problems in 2012 and 2013 with the agency turning over public records as well as awarding lucrative training contracts to a well-connected company that lacked the proper credentials and accreditation.

But when the issues were brought to the elected and business leaders tasked with oversight of the agency, few seemed to care and Peachey’s pay continued to soar.

10Investigates also brought concerns to the School District of Hillsborough County about CareerSource taking credit for job placements they had nothing to do with in 2013, but the district did not investigate. When contacted by reporters, most recently-hired teachers said they had never heard of CareerSource, even though the agency claimed they helped the teachers land their jobs with the district.

The job-placement numbers are important because the state’s job agencies are graded and ranked by the governor’s office, and funding can be influenced by the number of individuals the agencies help.



Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Mark Puente


Published: February 21, 2018

Updated: February 21, 2018 at 09:21 PM


TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state.

Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commissioners can’t fire Peachey, but they can appoint and remove board members who oversee CareerSource Tampa Bay, which helps people find jobs in Hillsborough. If Peachey fails to step down, and CareerSource board members refuse to fire him, Murman said commissioners should replace those board members.

“It does reflect on our county,” Murman told commissioners. “I believe the confidence has been eroded.”

Commissioners unanimously approved Murman’s request to send a letter to the Hillsborough CareerSource board of directors spelling out their concerns.

The board must “preserve the reputation and community trust of such an important agency” and “move expeditiously to investigate and address the serious allegations,” the letter stated.

The “seriousness” of the allegations and “the lack of an adequate response from Mr. Peachey are troubling,” it said.

Federal, state and local authorities have launched a series of investigations after the Tampa Bay Times began raising questions about how CareerSource Tampa Bay and sister agency CareerSource Pinellas report job placement figures.


Last week, the Times reported that the agencies, both of which were run by Peachey, took credit for finding thousands of jobs for people who never registered with them for help. The Times also reported that Peachey signed off on four substantial raises for top administrator Haley Loeun. He also approved hiring three of her relatives since 2014.


CareerSource employees and an anonymous letter sent to commissioners claim Peachey and Loeun are in a romantic relationship. Peachey has declined to comment to the Times about his relationship with Loeun. She has said she has a “professional relationship” with Peachey and considers him a “close friend.”


The Times articles include details that “reflect the poor decisions” by Peachey, Murman said.

“It has gotten so serious that we have to step in and make things right,” she said.

The two agencies report the number of people they help place into jobs to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which is among those now now investigating the figures. The U.S. Department of Labor and Florida Department of Law Enforcement also have launched investigations while an ad hoc committee formed by the local agencies examines their reporting practices.

Murman said she learned early Wednesday that federal officials have subpoenaed records from both job centers.

Peachey has been suspended as the president and CEO of both agencies and has said they have done nothing wrong. He has said the DEO should have caught any discrepancies with the job figures reported.

Peachey, 54, has led the Pinellas County jobs center since 2003 and took over the Hillsborough County agency in 2010, tasked with cleaning it up after a spending scandal.

The agencies are two of the state’s 24 CareerSource programs, which receive tens of millions in tax dollars each year to help train and place people in jobs. Job seekers must register with a local CareerSource center, where they can attend workshops on subjects like resume writing, interviewing and computer skills. The agency then refers individuals to employers who have agreed to consider them as candidates.

For CareerSource to take credit for placing them into jobs, the employers must hire the individuals. But the Times found both local agencies claimed credit for helping find jobs for people who were hired by companies separately, without any involvement by CareerSource.


Hillsborough County leaders make first move to create airboat ordinance

Airboat captain says business is legal

Carson Chambers

5:54 PM, Feb 21, 2018


HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — “If you can just envision a constant loud noise all day that just doesn’t leave you,” said Ron Danner.

Bayport and Bayside neighbors like Ron Danner are encouraged Hillsborough County leaders are listening.

“You can’t focus. You can’t concentrate. You certainly can’t work,” he said.

Commissioners voted to start working on an airboat ordinance after one year of complaints around upper Tampa Bay.

 “They understand we’re going after the bad operators that are abusing and really wreaking havoc on some of these neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Airboat Captain Kevin Surette says he takes his customers out on the water for fun, site seeing and more. He also says he’s not breaking any laws — even installed two mufflers to stunt noise.

“My understanding is with FWC and law enforcement, I’m legally running a business out here,” said Surette of Gulfcoast Airboat Charters.

Surette says he’s aware of neighbors’ complaints but his business is licensed and insured and he doesn’t have any plans to stop.

“There’s airboats running all over the State of Florida and they’re on lakes that have residential houses all around them,” he said.

Danner wishes he would stop so neighbors can get some peace.

“I just hope that he moves on and maybe go somewhere else where it has less implications on people that actually like to live,” said Danner.

Legislation’s push to put more restrictions on airboat captains is also moving through Tallahassee.


Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

Charlie Frago


Published: February 19, 2018

Updated: February 19, 2018 at 08:55 PM


CLEARWATER — A simmering feud between Tampa and the regional water authority avoided boiling over Monday, but little was resolved.

At a Tampa Bay Water meeting, board members requested Tampa work with the agency on the city’s plan to convert tens of millions of gallons a day of highly treated reclaimed water into drinking water.

Hillsborough County has a similar program in the works.

Tampa Bay Water was formed in 1998 to put an end to the water wars in that decade, but Tampa’s plan has stirred things up again. An attempt by Tampa to get the Legislature to settle the issue in its favor was scuttled last month. St. Petersburg officials have hinted at legal action. Pinellas County officials have said Tampa’s plan could blow up the water agency.

Tampa Bay Water has said that Tampa’s plan could threaten its debt obligations.

Monday’s meeting didn’t settle much of that discord.

Board members Charlie Miranda, a Tampa City Council member, and Pat Kemp, a Hillsborough commissioner, criticized the agency’s stance. Miranda called it insulting.

That prompted another board member, Pinellas Commissioner Dave Eggers, to fire back.

“If they don’t want it, we can just back away and not support it and continue along our merry way,” Eggers said.

“Okay, let’s not go too far,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who supports Tampa Bay Water’s position.

But Murman’s attempt at smoothing things over didn’t completely take.

Tampa’s water chief said after the meeting that Tampa Bay Water hadn’t offered anything the city hadn’t already informally agreed to do with Southwest Florida Water Management District —without Tampa Bay Water’s help.

And Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said if the agency is trying to slow the city’s plan to augment its water supply, the city isn’t interested in playing along.

“This project has the potential to be a model for the nation by replenishing the aquifer and providing Tampa Bay Water’s member governments with additional water sources they currently do not have. Rather than fear this, they should embrace it.”

Chuck Weber, Tampa’s water director, said diverting the 55 million gallons a day of highly-treated reclaimed water currently dumped into Tampa Bay would help the bay by removing trace nutrients. Pumping it nine miles north into the aquifer would help prevent saltwater intrusion, freshen up springs and guarantee the Hillsborough River doesn’t run dry in droughts.

“These are all huge environmental benefits that go beyond what Tampa Bay Water sees as a drinking water issue,” Weber said.

St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice, another board member, agreed challenges like climate change loom. All the more reason for the agency’s six-member governments to agree on the big picture stuff (Pasco County and New Port Richey are also members).

“This is a regional board with regional concerns,” she said. “To tackle this, we all have to work together.”

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