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Funny numbers finds CEO jobless

By Daniel Ruth | Times columnist
Published: March 2, 2018 Updated: March 2, 2018 at 08:13 AM
In separate votes by two boards, Edward Peachey lost his jobs as CEO of CareerSource in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

Recently defrocked CareerSource CEO Edward Peachey has been treated — to borrow a phrase from President Donald Trump — so unfairly.

If you have been following Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Puente’s coverage of the saga of Peachey’s tenure running both CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, you know by now the vast, multi-million dollar job placement agency has been accused of fraudulently taking credit for finding employment for thousands of people who had never sought help from the organization.

Indeed, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has claimed his signature was forged on documents regarding the hiring of employees with the alleged help of CareerSource.

And now multiple investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor, the state Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have begun to look into the scope of the inflated jobs numbers.

Little wonder then the boards of directors of both CareerSource Tampa Bay and Career Source Pinellas voted days ago to can Peachey from jobs that paid him $288,865 a year in compensation. Perhaps CareerSource can help him land another gig.

It’s not entirely accurate to say Peachey didn’t help people find gainful employment.

For example, Haley Loeun benefitted greatly from the diligent placement efforts of Peachey, finding a challenging and rewarding job as a top administrator at (Ta-Dah!) CareerSource.

And in practically no time at all, as she administered and administered and administered, after just four short years at CareerSource, Loeun saw her paychecks rise from $47,554 in 2013 to a whopping $130,000 in 2017.

Now that’s some darn fine administrating.

As Loeun’s meteoric rise continued at CareerSource, so did her family’s fortunes as three of her relatives also joined the agency’s payroll. You might say the fine art of administrating runs through the Loeun family bloodline.

Alas, as revelations began to swirl that Peachey’s skills as a fervent job placement hunter were only matched by being arithmetic-challenged, it seems the Hillsborough and Pinellas CareerSource boards failed to appreciate Loeun’s administrative talents and she was subsequently escorted from the premises.

Not to worry. Anyone who can get $83,000 worth of raises over just four years certainly ought to be able to find some other paper to push around worthy of her administrative genius.

The career source board also received an anonymous letter accusing Peachey and Loeun of having, shall we say, a rather close personal relationship. Who knows? It’s entirely possible Peachey took one look at Loeun and was simply captivated with her spreadsheets worthy of a spot in the administrator’s hall of fame.

You’ll not be surprised that Peachey lawyered up to save his job, hiring Marion Hale to represent him before the CareerSource Tampa Bay board. It was a bravura performance, too, as Hale bemoaned the unfortunate turn of events in her client’s life as "outrageous."

Hale also went after the media, dismissing the stories about all the numbers fudging at CareerSource as a pack of "lies," "gossip" and "rumors."

"You know the stories are false," Hale claimed.

Now, in order to believe that you would have to believe Mark Puente woke up one morning and thought to himself, "You know what, I think I’ll write a bunch of falsehoods about CareerSource, today."

But a report from the state Department of Economic Opportunity has detailed how CareerSource did, in fact, take false credit for placing people in jobs simply based on hiring lists provided by employers who were never referred to them by CareerSource.

More importantly, though, Peachey was being paid $288,865-a-year as CEO. He ran the agency. He is responsible for its credibility. And if all this finagling was going on under his unsuspecting nose, what does it say about his due diligence? What does it say about his administrative acumen?

It appears Peachey will receive a severance package that includes five months of salary, plus back pay for the time he was suspended from his duties while the phantom numbers crunching was investigated.

What then? Perhaps Peachey and Loeun can start their own consulting firm, using their expertise to advise companies on the finer points of administration.