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Pinellas community outreach official reinstated

TARPON SPRINGS — The executive director of a local nonprofit who was fired last week has been reinstated by the county agency that funds it, over concerns about the way the termination was handled.

Executive director David Archie, 55, and two other employees of the Citizens Alliance for Progress will be placed on administrative leave while officials with Pinellas Core Management Services investigate what transpired when the three were fired on Dec. 18, said PCMS executive director Paul Lackey.

PCMS manages small nonprofits like CAP, a community outreach organization in the city's Union Academy neighborhood, for the county's Juvenile Welfare Board. The JWB is supported by Pinellas taxpayers and provides funding for social services programs for children and families.

CAP board members decided 4-3 at the Dec. 18 meeting to terminate Archie on a vote of no confidence regarding leadership, CAP officials said earlier this week. Administrative services manager Leah Johnson and program director Frances Serrano-Lux were also fired.

A PCMS official said Wednesday he was concerned after fielding several calls from people alleging that someone in the Dec. 18 meeting told CAP board members that the agency's funding would be cut off by PCMS if Archie were not dismissed.

"If this information was portrayed, that PCMS was leading this effort to fire these employees, this was an out-and-out fabrication," Lackey said.

PCMS has the authority to take the action because it directs funding for the organization, Lackey said.

CAP board member Ed Cole, who was at the Dec. 18 meeting, said he knew nothing about the statement implicating PCMS.

"I have no knowledge of that," said Cole.

Cole said Wednesday he had not yet received information about the action by PCMS and declined to comment until he did.

Lackey said earlier this week that Cole and CAP board president Annie Dabbs informed him on Dec. 17 that the CAP board would seek a vote to terminate Archie. Lackey said the PCMS board was told the issue had to do with missing receipts.

"What we understand is that there were receipts for credit cards, also payment receipts, that were not found when they conducted an audit. So it was a situation where they had been requesting the receipts for several months and they had documentation to prove that," Lackey said.

Archie responded to those accusations Thursday.

"I've done nothing inappropriate and they know I've done nothing inappropriate, and it seems like a witch hunt to fire me or to bring my integrity into question," said Archie, 55.

Archie, a former vice mayor who left the City Commission earlier this year due to term limits, said the investigation was warranted.

"It seems like the truth is beginning to come out and in the end, everybody will know exactly what transpired," he said.

Lackey said he would meet individually with CAP board members next week to determine what happened in the meeting.

"We're wanting to find out if we were misrepresented," said Lackey.

"We can't have people going out and making these accusations when they're not true, so until we get this rectified, they'll be placed on administrative leave."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4162.

Pinellas community outreach official reinstated 12/25/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:47am]
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