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Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance ditches 20 managers

TAMPA — The jobs of five top administrators at the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance are being eliminated, part of a restructuring that will cut 20 management positions.

The more than 100 other Workforce Alliance employees who directly help clients secure jobs will be kept on, said Ed Peachey, interim president at the troubled agency. Most of the cuts were to management positions in the communications and business services departments.

Among those whose jobs were eliminated: Pamela Adkins, the agency's newly appointed director of communications; James Blount, vice president of service support; Tom Stewart, vice president of workforce solutions; Carol Brinkley, vice president of workforce services and consumer affairs; and Julie Sanon, senior vice president and innovation officer.

They were notified of their impending termination dates in a letter this week, Peachey said. They will be able to reapply for newly formed positions, which could be opened to outside candidates if they aren't all filled internally.

"There were too many layers of management. We needed to streamline," said Peachey, brought in to stabilize the Workforce Alliance, a publicly funded agency that provides job training to the unemployed and working poor.

Peachey, who also serves as president of WorkNet Pinellas, has been remaking the agency following the Feb. 15 resignation of CEO Renee Benton Gilmore, who stepped down amid accusations of lavish spending on food for staff.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the Workforce Alliance and its vendors. The U.S. Labor Department and the Agency for Workforce Innovation are conducting their own probes.

Last month, a St. Petersburg Times investigation revealed that one of the Workforce Alliance's largest vendors is a felon.

Laurise Thomas, head of the Tallahassee-based consulting company, Strategywise, served five years of federal probation for using phony names and Social Security numbers to obtain $158,618 in credit.

Thomas was fired from her administrator job with Florida's minority business office. Nevertheless, her company has secured more than $2 million in contracts from the Workforce Alliance.

Thomas is the former sister-in-law of Gilmore, the agency's departed CEO.

The Workforce Alliance also recently fired one of its managers, Shantae Gilmer, who helped found a company that received a $23,0000 contract from the agency last summer.

When that company, Expanding Visions, began on June 3, Gilmer was listed as registered agent and vice president, and her husband, Dwight Gilmer, was president. Their names were removed from records days before the Workforce Alliance contract was secured.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is pushing to tighten regulations on all 24 of Florida's workforce boards.

He has proposed a bill that would require full-time directors of workforce programs to be approved by local elected officials and elected chairmen of workforce boards to be confirmed by the Senate.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or kwilmath@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance ditches 20 managers 04/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 7:12am]

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