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Secrets of WorkNet petition gathering revealed



Or not. It took three open-records requests to WorkNet Pinellas and three weeks, but the agency has released what former program director Robyn Poppick made before being fired last month.

Poppick arranged for students in a federally funded YouthBuild program to collect signatures for County Commission candidate Beverley Billiris, a Republican from Tarpon Springs, to make the ballot. That's a no-no (story here) with federal programs, embarrassing the nonprofit workforce agency.

According to a letter from WorkNet attorneys at the Trenam Kemker firm, Poppick made $45,000 a year (a detail WorkNet president Ed Peachey said was "not very important" when he declined to provide it March 17). In her final paycheck, Poppick also received pay for 93.53 hours of unused vacation time.

By the way, she's now a volunteer for Billiris, says Billiris, who has blamed her Republican opponent, County Commissioner Susan Latvala, for exaggerating the event.

Other "revelations" on the jump. Some internal documents here.

The law firm said there are no documents sent or received between the U.S. Department of Labor and WorkNet regarding YouthBuild, though the federal department has said it is investigating.

Six days after being fired, Poppick wrote a letter to WorkNet stating again that Billiris had "absolutely nothing to do with this except that I asked her permission for educational purposes and because of some of the backgrounds of the students."

Peachey said in a March 12 termination letter: "This activity was approved and managed by you. You did not seek guidance or approval from management at WorkNet Pinellas." On that letter, Poppick apparently hand-wrote a note saying a federal program officer left a voice-mail message saying it was "OK if no personal gain."

She also stated that she planned to resign this summer, primarily because "I did not believe I was qualified to continue with that program in the capacity in which the program led me. It is a comprehensive program in which I had no training to administer."

David DeCamp, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:31pm]


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