Monday, May 28, 2018
News Roundup

Hillsborough's acting Head Start chief quits after being accused of giving sex advice

TAMPA — A department director who supervised children's programs has resigned from Hillsborough County government after an investigation found she gave unsolicited sexual advice to co-workers, including subordinates.

Erica Moore, interim director of the county's Head Start program, stepped down Nov. 1 after the investigation. The Tampa Bay Times obtained a summary of the report Friday.

The report found that in multiple instances and in the presence of five different women, Moore counseled them to be sexually attentive to their husbands to keep them from straying. One of the comments was made in the presence of county human resources director Lori Krieck, as advice to one of Krieck's newlywed subordinates.

In another part of the report, prepared by the private firm Kalwary Investigations, Moore admitted giving her administrative assistant a copy of the book The Good Girl's Guide to Bad Girl Sex as a marital aid.

Two of the women claimed Moore made indirect sexual passes at them as well.

Her aide told investigators that Moore remarked on the "sexy jeans" she was wearing, adding, "I may have to start hitting on you." The other employee said Moore made a sexually suggestive comment and said, "Maybe you can be converted," meaning from straight to gay.

Moore did not return a phone call seeking comments.

In the report, the investigator wrote that Moore generally denied making sexually suggestive comments or hitting on other employees. She acknowledged talking to her aide about personal family matters but said the relationship was more "sisterly."

She suggests the aide may be motivated by a poor evaluation and that one of the other women may have been lashing out due to expected changes to her job responsibilities.

County Administrator Mike Merrill said he farmed out the investigation to an outside firm due to the sensitivity of some of the allegations. Moore's departure after less than a year on the job is the latest spate of troubling news involving directors hired on his watch.

He recently had to dismiss the head of an agency that provides financial assistance to homeless people because some of the people ended up in slumlike housing that the county was not inspecting. His animal services director is under fire from some animal welfare advocates, shelter volunteers and some commissioners for management troubles.

Merrill said the challenges are not unexpected in an organization with more than 4,500 employees. Still, he said, it is prompting him to make changes in the way he screens high-profile job applicants.

"The thing that's changed since all three of the latest were hired is I have decided it's time to use recruiters for those high-level positions and that there be assessments of the candidates before they are hired," Merrill said. "Not that that guarantees anything."

He seemed particularly caught off guard by the allegations against Moore, who was paid $104,978.

She was hired in January to be the director of Children's Services and was moved to Head Start on an interim basis when its director left. In her initial role, she was singled out for praise by county commissioners for helping to turn around a long-troubled program that houses foster children.

Her work as the principal of a school for high-risk juvenile offenders in Citrus County teaching them to build computers was featured in the Times in 2004. She also served as an assistant county attorney in Hernando and St. Johns counties.

"She really has done a superb job in a lot of ways," Merrill said. "All that praise was deserved. Any time I've interacted with her, I've found her to be professional and knowledgeable. The whole thing is really sad."

None of the allegations against Moore involved her interaction with children.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report.

Comments
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Crews were engaged in multiple water rescues and buildings collapsed in historic Ellicott City on Sunday evening as floodwaters raged through its streets following torrential thunderstorms, Howard County, Maryland, officials said.Maryland Gov. Larry ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 9 hours ago
RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

Los Angeles Times (TNS)As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy approaches, conspiracy theories still abound.The latest to back the theory of a second gunman is the senator’s son Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Sirhan B. Sirhan, a ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Frustrated by red tape and visa limits on foreign workers, tourism businesses from Maine to Missouri are turning to Puerto Ricans who are fleeing a shattered economy and devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Bob Smith, owner of S...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

NEW PORT RICHEYDriver surrenders after crash that kills bicyclistThe driver Florida Highway Patrol troopers say struck and killed a bicyclist then drove from the scene turned herself in Sunday afternoon.Shanna Marie Rampino surrendered a 2000 Toyota ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
A solemn display

A solemn display

Associated PressVisitors to Boston Commons in Boston last week pass 37,000 American flags planted to honor every Massachusetts resident killed in war dating to the Revolutionary War. The "flag garden" idea on Memorial Day started in Boston about a de...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized Sunday in Maine after he experienced low blood pressure and fatigue, a spokesman said. Just after 2 p.m., Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the 93-year-old Bush, said he was awak...
Published: 05/27/18
None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

TRINITY — No one was hurt Sunday morning after a fire broke out at a rehabilitation center.According to Pasco County Fire Rescue, Trinity Regional Rehab Center at 2144 Welbilt Blvd. is running on generator power after the blaze broke out about 10:30 ...
Published: 05/27/18