It would be interesting to learn how a $9 slice of cheesecake helps someone find a job. That's one of the questions the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance faces after WFLA-Ch. 8 investigated the alliance's records and discovered it spent more than $20,000 on food in just over a year.
The agency, which is supposed to train people for employment and help them find work, defended buying working lunches for its executives, even though Channel 8's report noted that one meal delivered to its headquarters cost taxpayers $155, including two appetizers, three entrees — and the cheesecake.
The alliance, one of 24 regional work force boards across the state, is a nonprofit that receives state and federal money. Taxpayers should be able to expect that agencies spend public money on their core missions — not on fancy lunches. During an economic recession, having board members who are supposed to help people find jobs and regularly stuff themselves on the public's dime leaves a bad taste.
State Sens. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, are taking their concerns to the director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation, which oversees the regional boards.
Fasano, who chairs the Senate committee that monitors work force board funding, plans to have the Senate bird-dog the spending habits of such boards statewide. He wants the "buffet line" closed. In its statement of core values, the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance lists two of them as "accountability" and "trust." It makes no mention of keeping its board members well-fed at taxpayers' expense.