Florida’s broken unemployment system
Editor, The Beacon:
On March 29, I was able only to get a “claimant number” to at least document the date I attempted to apply online for unemployment benefits. On April 4, I printed, completed and mailed a paper application. Finally, on April 29, the CONNECT site updated, and I was designated “Active, Pending.”
Initially, the media reported that those who applied from March 29 did not need to do anything except wait for a determination, perhaps clarify some information, and eligible state and federal benefits would be paid. It was noted that the “Wait Week” would be waived, although as of late May, the Wait Week was still referenced as applicable.
The newest wrinkle is that all those with claims, even “Active, Pending” claims like mine, are now directed to “claim our weeks,” even though those weeks are long-since passed.
Great, let’s overburden an already failed system and the claimants who are trying to get by without a hint as to when they will receive benefits! And in April, the State earned $13.7 million interest on the monies in the Unemployment Trust Fund.
Today I managed to claim two of my six weeks before the system went to sleep, but not before throwing some drama my way: Claimants are asked if they earned any money during the period they are trying to claim, and I answered “Yes” because on April 17, I worked five hours, enough to earn $68.90 gross, $63.63 net.
On the following page, the CONNECT system advised that my report did not match their records. OK, if you have records, then use your records!
I finally changed my “Yes” to “No” and skipped down my happy path to the “submit” button. Then I sent the details to both Jonathan Satter and Gov. DeSantis with a copy of the pay remittance, lest I be accused of being a criminal trying to perpetrate fraud.
Also, after I claimed my initial week, a message appeared that there are now “Pending Issues,” the nature of which are not specified anywhere on the site. You couldn’t make this up!
As I indicated in my letter to Messrs. Satter and DeSantis: “If anything is criminal, it is the way the unemployed of Florida are being treated.
“Initially we were told that payments would be made once the claims were verified, without additional action on the claimant’s part. Now, an already overburdened system is handling traffic of claimants attempting to certify weeks long since passed.
“When does this end? The system was designed to fail; that’s obvious. The state has added 72 servers, transferred in 2,000 state employees to assist, spent $100 million to patch the existing system, and the people of Florida are being sent from pillar to post to collect benefits that employers pay for.
“It’s not right. It’s not moral.”
Let’s get back to God’s way
Editor, The Beacon:
I awoke remembering how, 45 years ago, I was in Kiev, Ukraine, in the Soviet Union, witnessing the contrast in cultures there and here in America.
Behavior was dictated by the government to the people of the Soviet Union, and the media were controlled with what people were told to believe.
While discussing the freedoms we have in America with my interpreter, I vividly remember the words my Russian interpreter told me: “I cannot believe that; I must not believe that.”
In 1975, America was in a similar dramatic economic downturn in the economy at the trailing edge of the Cold War, and I began to wonder how our country has changed culturally.
At that time, the culture of the church began changing too in ways that, based upon our childhood teaching, were contrary to historic traditions we were taught.
We now have, 45 years later, networks that are dictators to us on what to believe. (Just like in the Soviet Union, only in the hands of an oligarchy of media outlets.)
These few collective individuals bombard us with selective negative news that divides politically and culturally, and promotes directed behavior.
Through sitcoms, movies, news, opinions, commercials, magazines and personal agendas, they shape the culture.
Television, for example, which once showed respect for people, has turned into disrespectful dialogue in sitcoms, movies portraying violence as a solution, and commercials that demean groups of people.
The manifestation of frustrated people destroying property whenever an injustice is rewarded with hours of news coverage; where the efforts of good Samaritans are relegated to brief seconds at the end of their allotted broadcast times.
How did we get into this mess? When will we ever get back to civility with one another?
The simple answer is that there is no political answer, it is a heart answer.
God is the only One who has the answer, with behavior guidelines that work and is the basis of much of the rationale of our Founding Fathers.
They knew the failings of people through greed, envy, power and corruption that they looked at history and God to provide the insight to help protect all Americans.
Imperfect people have tried over the past 50 years to control the behavior of imperfect people with selfish ambitions and desires.
Let’s get back to doing it God’s way.
Watch your behavior if you’re stopped by the cops
Editor, The Beacon:
It isn’t just black parents; white parents also talk to their sons about how to behave if they are stopped by the police. I remember clearly when my father sat me down for that talk.
“Don’t speed, use your turn signals, make a full stop at stop signs, and don’t run a red light. Above all, don’t drink and drive.”
Of course, I knew that. I had passed the written driver-license exam. But Dad knew that didn’t mean I’d never be stopped. A taillight might be out or the police might stop me for another reason.
In fact, a highway patrolman once pulled me over and asked if I’d just passed a car on the right using the shoulder to pass. I hadn’t, and I told him I hadn’t. He said “OK. I wasn’t sure what I’d seen.”
Another time I was riding with police officers. I’d been teaching a class on criminology and two officers in my class suggested I ride the night shift with them to see how police work is really done.
I have a few stories from that night, one involving doughnuts, but I’ll save that for another time.
The event relevant to this story was when we pulled someone over for no reason. The police knew many of the cars and the men driving them. One they knew had a passenger they didn’t recognize.
So, we stopped the car to see who the passenger was. I was instructed to watch closely to see if they tossed anything out of the car when we turned on the flashing lights. Nothing was tossed, and it turned out they knew the passenger.
Back to Dad’s advice.
“If you are ever pulled over, be polite. Don’t argue. Say ‘Yes, sir.’”
And he was serious. Very serious because it mattered. Why did it matter so much? Because I might get out of a ticket.
Sports Hall of Fame inductions coming later than usual
Editor, The Beacon:
Normally at this time of the year, there would be a news release in The West Volusia Beacon about the naming of a new class to the High Schools of DeLand Sports Hall of Fame. Like so many other things, this has been postponed until later in the year due to the situation with COVID-19.
The current plan will be determined partially by decisions by the FHSAA deciding what type of athletic seasons schools will be facing in the fall. The Volusia County School Board will meet in the latter part of September, with induction into the Hall of Fame taking place in the football, basketball or perhaps baseball season. Here’s hoping that all understand the situation.
If you have any questions or want to nominate someone, email me at email@example.com.
With any nomination, be sure to list the person’s name, the high school in DeLand the person attended, and what his or her accomplishments were in high school and beyond. Be sure to have an address where the individual or the family can be contacted.
We can learn from enlightened folks
Editor, The Beacon:
Wow. Black lives matter! That would have never occurred to me if I hadn’t seen a young white female carrying a sign. Thanks for opening my eyes.
Same thing with “no justice, no peace.” It took a 20-something Caucasian male wearing a mask and a man bun and carrying a gasoline can to really drive that point home to me.
Enlightened people are out there. You just have to be ready to learn from them.