Tampa Bay jobs chief Edward Peachey is not fired after all.
Board members for the two agencies he headed in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have effectively rescinded votes taken last week to terminate him, throwing the centers into further disarray.
In separate actions, individual members of the executive committees for CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay have called for a do-over. They have invoked a rule that would require the full boards of both agencies, for which Peachey has served as president and CEO, to decide his fate.
The executive committees, subsets of the larger governing boards, voted to fire him last week amid allegations that the agencies inflated their job placement numbers in reports to the state.
Pinellas board member Lenne’ Nicklaus has sought a vote by the full board over concerns about a threat from Peachey’s lawyer to sue the agency after his dismissal and fears that other board members do not trust the executive committee.
"I feel that if we’re getting sued, I want the whole board to be a part of that," Nicklaus said Monday. "I don’t want it to be just the executive board making that decision."
Last week, another Pinellas board member, Kim Marston, exercised a similar option to stop the executive committee’s decision to give Peachey five months pay in a settlement.
In Hillsborough, County Commissioner Sandy Murman has expressed concern that her fellow executive committee members also voted to pay Peachey five months of severance. She said she feels the decision should face a wider vote.
"It needs to go to the full board so everyone is held accountable," said Murman, who still supports Peachey’s firing.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity also is reviewing whether Peachey is subject to a state law that limits public employees to six weeks of severance.
The Pinellas board is set to meet March 21. Hillsborough is set to meet March 22.
Pinellas board chair Jack Geller said he respected Nicklaus’ decision to seek a full board vote but was in "total shock" because she supported the firing last week as a member of the executive committee.
"She voted for it at the meeting," Geller said.
Peachey is now back on paid leave in Pinellas, Geller said. In Hillsborough, he reverts to unpaid leave until a final decision is made. Both executive committees had put him on leave before firing him.
Nicklaus said she has not spoken to Peachey but would like to hear from him, not his attorney, about numerous allegations of mismanagement and what a state inspector general has called possible criminal activity.
"I think he should speak to the board and address some of the issues and explain it because we have not heard from him," Nicklaus said. She said she stands by her vote to fire him.
Both local CareerSource agencies receive millions in tax dollars each year to train and connect people to work. Last month, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the jobs centers took credit for finding work for thousands of people who did not seek their help.
Current and former employees have said Peachey also had a romantic relationship with a top administrator, Haley Loeun, whose pay rose dramatically as three of her relatives joined the agencies. Loeun was fired two weeks ago.
The state DEO launched an investigation in January when the Times asked questions about CareerSource hiring figures. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have since joined the inquiry.