Wednesday, September 19, 2018
News Roundup

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severed his agency’s contract with CareerSource Pinellas on Monday after learning that the jobs center told the state it helped 624 sheriff’s employees get hired since 2014.

The sheriff said he has no record of CareerSource Pinellas ever sending his agency any potential job candidates to review, let alone help get them hired.

The job center offered to provide pre-screened individuals for the Sheriff’s Office to consider for civilian positions but never did, Gualtieri said. Instead, the sheriff said the jobs center took credit for placing people in jobs using a list it obtained of the agency’s new hires.

"This looks to be a scam," Gualtieri said. "I don’t want to participate in this. I’m putting a stop to this nonsense. I’m astounded they did this."

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: FLORIDA JOBS CENTERS

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Last week, state investigators launched an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and its Hillsborough County counterpart, CareerSource Tampa Bay, after the Tampa Bay Times asked whether the two job centers were inflating the number of people they helped get jobs.

The sheriff said his staff undertook a "deep dive and vetted" the names on the list, and found that at least five people listed as sheriff’s employees in the state database had never worked there or even applied for jobs.

For example, he said CareerSource claimed it helped hire a "sports director" for the Sheriff’s Office. Gualtieri said his agency has no such position, and the person listed as being hired has never worked nor applied there.

CareerSource also took credit for the 2016 hiring of an information technology worker that Gualtieri said was actually recruited by another firm. There’s a retired FBI agent on the list, the sheriff said, that he personally recruited to join his agency’s Criminal Intelligence Unit.

"A retired FBI agent doesn’t go to CareerSource. I interviewed him," Gualtieri said. "I am very troubled by this."

Both the Pinellas and Hillsborough job centers are run by Edward Peachey, who did not respond to a request for comment. Florida’s regional career centers receive federal funding, in part, based on how many people they train and place in new jobs.

During the Times inquiry, it also asked the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office about 624 of its employees listed in a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity database as having been placed there by CareerSource Pinellas.

The sheriff’s response: He dispatched a lieutenant to deliver a one-paragraph letter to Peachey severing their contract because CareerSource "breached" the agreement. A CareerSource employee refused to accept the letter because Peachey wasn’t at its headquarters off Ulmerton Road in Largo.

The DEO’s inspector general is investigating whether both the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs centers are claiming credit for the kind of hirings that Gualtieri and others are disputing.

The Times found that both CareerSource agencies were asking employers across the bay area to provide information on all new hires, including ones that did not use CareerSource services. The two agencies asked for information such as names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, job titles, salary and start dates.

For CareerSource to take credit for getting people jobs, according to state rules, the job seekers must register in a statewide database and receive placement assistance in a job center. The CareerSource agency then refers them to local employers.

If an employer hires one of them, CareerSource can report the hiring to the state as a successful job placement.

The rules also say people who receive either employment or training assistance at a career center or via employflorida.com and find a job within 180 days can be counted as a placement, according to CareerSource Florida, the statewide workforce policy and investment board.

Several employers told the Times that neither CareerSource agency had anything to do with the employees it hired. Several of the employees also told the Times that CareerSource did not help them get their jobs.

The two agencies received a total of $32 million in 2016, records show.

The agreement called for CareerSource to reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for no more than 50 percent of an employee’s salary for 10 weeks or 400 hours. The Sheriff’s Office received $26,215 for 10 employees, according to records. The sheriff said he will ask county officials to return the money to CareerSource Pinellas.

Gualtieri said he learned how CareerSource Pinellas was getting information about his new hires: It had asked a sheriff’s employee to have new workers sign releases that allowed the jobs center to receive their personal information.

"I never authorized this," the sheriff said.

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente

Comments
Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

WASHINGTON — While Hurricane Florence barreled through the Carolinas, a different type of storm was brewing within the federal disaster relief agency tasked with responding to the fallout.The fate of Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergen...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Falling just short of winning a championship the past few seasons has done nothing to erode fans' confidence in the Lightning.Not just locally, but also nationally and across Canada.The Lightning is the runaway favorite to win the Stanley C...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Valet parking? A concierge? Midtown Tampa outlines plans for an amenity-rich office building

Valet parking? A concierge? Midtown Tampa outlines plans for an amenity-rich office building

TAMPA — A sudden boomlet in premium office space is getting boomier as developers detail their plans for the first of three office buildings planned at Midtown Tampa, a $500 million mixed-use development near Interstate 275 and N Dale Mabry Highway.M...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Another problem for Jameis Winston; selling Hillsborough’s proposed school tax; milestone win for Blake Snell

The Daystarter: Another problem for Jameis Winston; selling Hillsborough’s proposed school tax; milestone win for Blake Snell

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• It’ll be a sunny morning but the clouds will gather by the afternoon. The change of rain also increases to 30 to 50 percent in the afternoon and into the evening, according to the Nat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Blake Snell wins major-league-leading 20th in 4-0 win over Rangers

Blake Snell wins major-league-leading 20th in 4-0 win over Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — One of the things that has made Blake Snell so good this season for the Rays is his refusal to be satisfied with anything he does.No matter how well he pitches, he finds flaws in his performance and identifies something ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did after ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Tuesday’s Rays-Rangers game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Tuesday’s Rays-Rangers game

LHP Blake Snell certainly gets the bulk of the credit for his remarkable season, and there's definitely some due to pitching coach Kyle Snyder. But don't ignore C Jesus Sucre, who Snell likes throwing to and has been both a good target and a calming ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Epilogue: Robert Judson Jr., a pioneer in Pasco-Hernando education

Epilogue: Robert Judson Jr., a pioneer in Pasco-Hernando education

Robert Judson Jr. was known simply as "The Voice.""He had a magnetic voice, made for radio, made for television," said Tim Beard, president of Pasco-Hernando State College, a position Mr. Judson held from 1994 to 2005."To hear him talk was like, ‘Wow...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hope comes with a haircut at gathering for Tampa’s homeless

Hope comes with a haircut at gathering for Tampa’s homeless

TAMPA — At first, Gerald Williams couldn’t help but flinch when he felt the unfamiliar buzz of an electric hair clipper tickle the back of his neck just behind his ears.It had been at least three years since Williams, 48, cut his hair, he said. For y...
Published: 09/19/18
‘Imminent’ bankruptcy filing for law firm of suspended St . Pete lawyer Mark Stopa

‘Imminent’ bankruptcy filing for law firm of suspended St . Pete lawyer Mark Stopa

The law firm of suspended St. Petersburg attorney Mark Stopa is in such chaos that much of its staff has quit — some after suffering stress-related breakdowns — and a liquidation bankruptcy filing is imminent.In an emergency motion filed this week in...
Published: 09/19/18