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Miami Mirror – True Reflections 

 
SOUTH FLORIDA WORKFORCE

Executive Director Rick Beasley’s Astonishing Claim


He said he is determined to build on such successes.
October 26, 2010

Miami Mirror
by David Arthur Walters

Miami Beach, Florida

The percentage given by South Florida Workforce Director Rick Beasley in his 24 June
2010 Miami Herald editorial entitled ‘Accountability is our priority’ was astonishing if not
incredible on its face:

“The greatest proof of our operational accountability can be seen in our improved
performance,” Mr. Beasley effused. “For example, 96% of the adult and laid-off workers who
received training funded by South Florida Workforce got a job, according to state official data.
Additionally, 89% of these workers were found to still be employed six months after receiving
training.”

Indeed, his claim elicited guffaws from a South Florida Workforce staff member who
sells training programs offered by educational institutions identified in South Florida Workforce
literature as Workforce “partners,” such as Miami Dade College. The staff member did not want
to be identified for fear of being fired by Mr. Beasley.

It’s an easy sell for easy money. The student pays nothing for the government funded
programs, and the providers of training services have not been regularly held accountable for
their performance. There has been a long line of students to get training dollars, which are
inadequate during these hard times, especially given the waste. South Florida Workforce spent
$12,000,000 on training in 2009. Incidentally, Mr. Beasley presented Miami Dade College with a
$1,000,000 check in 2009, to buy materials such as textbooks and uniforms for nursing students
and to help fund a Take Stock in Children program.

According to a report filed by Toluse Olorrunipa and published by the Miami Herald on
11 May 2010, South Florida Workforce performance has been abysmal. Indeed, Mr. Beasley
admitted that the South Florida Workforce had one the worst performances records in the state
when he took over in 2005, but he thinks he has made remarkable improvements. Yet, in 2010,
reportedly fewer than 10% of students funded by South Florida Workforce funders wound up in
jobs over the past three years related to the training. Few schools had returned any of the
undeserved tuition, which can run up to $10,500 per student.

Complaints were made about the appearance of impropriety, i.e. an apparent conflict of
interest: representatives of institutions receiving money are on the investment board awarding it.
For instance, Donna Jennings, dean of workforce education and development at Miami Dade
College was reportedly on the investment board.

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Miami Mirror – True Reflections 
 
Money going to bad performers actually increased, according to the newspaper report.
Workforce record-keeping was so badly done that it is impossible to come up with credible
numbers. The training centers themselves said the success rate since 2007 was 29.3%.

Mr. Beasley, in marked denial, claimed the real success rate was 69.4%. In any event,
millions had been lost while, according to Carlos Manrique, a director on the local Workforce
investment board, Mr. Beasley just let the money slide away, paying no attention to it.

Information is not readily available no matter how skewed or inaccurate it might be, not
even to investment board directors; Mr. Manrique actually had to file a formal public records
request to get information about refunds made by the training centers. Mr. Manrique has not yet
responded to a request for information regarding Mr. Beasley’s overall performance and
management style.

Again, the success rate claimed for the previous three years was the 29.3% claimed by
the training centers or the 69.4% claimed by Mr. Beasley in May 2010. Yet in June 2010 Mr.
Beasley would apparently have us imply from his statement that the current success rate is an
astounding 96%. How can that be?

A cynical person might think that it might have something to do with his own
performance review. Denishia Robinson, Public Information Specialist for the Agency for
Workforce Innovation has not yet responded to our request for Mr. Beasley’s beginning and
current salary, and for a copy of the agreement between South Florida Workforce and its partner
Miami Dade College. And Adriane Grant, Director of External Affairs for Workforce Florida,
Inc., the independent overseer of the Agency for Workforce Innovation, has not yet responded to
our request to discuss Mr. Beasley’s performance or nonperformance.

To be fair, Mr. Beasley did not explicitly state that the training programs were completed
or that the jobs obtained were in fields related to the training. He said: “96% of the adult and
laid-off workers who received training funded by South Florida Workforce got a job, according
to state official data. Additionally, 89% of these workers were found to still be employed six
months after receiving training.”

Those numbers could include someone who enrolled in training, dropped out after a few
days, and got a job in an entirely unrelated field. Perhaps someone who gave up on becoming a
public relations specialist, and out of desperation got a job serving burgers at Burger King, might
be counted as training success because serving burgers calls for relations with the public. Who
knows what is behind the numbers? What the “proud” Mr. Beasley has bragged about may
amount to virtually nothing. For all know, all the improvements he otherwise lists may be
rhetorical instead of real.

We note that one of Mr. Beasley’s job qualifications, for a starting salary of $150,000 -
$180,000, was “Ability to work effectively with the media.” That is, he must have public relation
skills, which includes “Ability to make effective public presentations.” He must put people first,
respect people, command their respect, and motivate them. And he had to have a bachelor’s
degree along with “some” working knowledge of state and federal funding sources along with
knowledge of regulations. The deadline for applications was 23 May 2005, and he was hired.

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Miami Mirror – True Reflections 
 
The job description did not say that he must be able to deceive people, to stonewall the
media, to respond to inquiries with silence or to respond evasively, or otherwise avoid
responsibility and accountability. Of course if the state and federal government, the taxpayers,
the workforce including his own employees, and the media do not hold him accountable, that is
not his fault. Therefore I sent him the following request, wherein I courteously gave him the
benefit of the doubt, on 4 June 2010:

Rick Beasley, Director


SOUTH FLORIDA WORKFORCE
Re: Miami Herald June 4, 2010 op ed 'Accountability is our priority'

Dear Mr. Beasley:

Congratulations and thank you for the stellar performance of South Florida
Workforce in obtaining sustained employment for workers who received training:

"96 percent of the adult and laid-off workers who received training funded by
South Florida Workforce got a job, according to state official data. Additionally,
89 percent of those workers were found to still be employed six months after
receiving training."

The statistics quoted seem to be out of sync with previous Miami Herald reports
that refunds were being or might be sought from the institutions doing the training
because many students were not completing the programs. Would you please
comment on that issue, and e-mail me a copy of the statistical report you are
referring to in your article?

Thank you!

David Arthur Walters


Journalist

I did not receive a reply from Mr. Beasley to my original message or to follow-ups, not until I
mentioned that I would proceed to blow a whistle without him. And then he still did not provide
me with the statistical report, or his explanation for the seeming discrepancy. One might think
that a person skilled in public relations would be happy to do just that.

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