One reason CA is creating a debt monkey on it’s own back….

Since I never tire of good humor and believe EVERYONE is entitled to a good laugh, I am continuing on with my ‘new’ 2010 unemployment saga. To be deprived of what I received in the mail today would be bad form and prevent all of you from laughing with me.
Here is a brief recap to get you up to why today is hilarious: I was a substitute teacher in 2009 until June 15. I gave notice as the agency I worked for could not provide summer work (there is no summer school or need for subs in CA during the summer). I continued looking for work – anything to pay my bills. Back in May 2009 I received a contract from Maria Soti Girls Education Centre to be a consulting principal. I signed it and accepted it and the job was to begin 6 August 2009. In my mind I believed I could work up until I left the country if I could find a job. There is no shame in doing odd jobs, so I continued the search. Sadly, at the height of the meltdown in unemployment I had a couple things going against me – I have a MA degree and teaching credential, both completely useless when pink slips had been handed out in March 2009 like chocolate on Valentines Day. I was ‘overqualified’ for just about any job you can think of, and trust me, there were many I applied for and submitted on the back of each unemployment form even though there was not an X in the box requesting I do so.
Fast forward and I filled out paperwork for my father in Des Moines to be my power of attorney when I left the country and sent the paperwork to EDD as I wanted them to be able to find me. I worked (okay, I attempted to work but corruption literally and figuratively prevailed in spite of my best efforts). I found my personal safety in danger. I consulted with friends and family (I did not go to U.S. Embassy as everyone in Kenya hates Ambassador Rannenberger since Obama was elected and the U.S. has higher levels of accountability for Kenya) about what to do on the personal safety front and the corruption front. I declined to sign on an un-audited school bank account. I paid my own money for school repairs, etc. Ultimately, it was too unsafe and I believed that since I knew what was going on in the way of corruption at the school, if I could not intercede, I became culpable as well, not something I would ever desire to be party to. I resigned my position and came home. I applied for unemployment as when I left I had $5,000 banked benefits I had never used.
Forward to today: I contested the denial of unemployment from the sub agency I had worked for who retroactively (almost one year later) declined the claim on grounds I took a job that would pay less or be less unreliable. I had so hoped they would have shared this knowledge with me when I signed the contract for Kenya but I guess back in May they were not feeling the Nostradamus Effect so strongly because no one was asking them to pay unemployment insurance.
It was my right to contest the denial of benefits and I did. I filled out every form, responded in a timely manner, provided all documentation of above and even stated it seemed unfair for EDD to hold me accountable to a higher standard of proving unemployment when no teacher could find a job in the summer of 2009 and the sub agency barely could provide me with half time work at exceedingly low rates of pay, plus, I legitimately went to the ends of the earth (literally – 50 Km from the equator) to take a job I had expected to go for 3-5 years as I had previously been a Peace Corps Volunteer on the continent and wanted to go back and not for ‘vacation’.
On April 7, 2010 EDD sent a letter stating I was indeed entitled to unemployment. I filled out all the paperwork they sent and submitted it. I have waited for the unemployment checks. I am working as an independent contractor and was recently offered to work temporarily for the U.S. Government as a Census Bureau Enumerator to start on April 27th.

Today I received multiple envelopes from unemployment stating they could not pay me as I have contested the claim…….
Well, of course I did and then they realized indeed I was entitled to unemployment. Instead of paying me, EDD decided they would hold on to the paltry less than $1,000 and make me go to an administrative judge who will look at letter of April 7, 2010 and tell them to pay me. While I am not an economist, I do know that the interest on $1,000 for even three months is less than the cost of the paperwork, time, postage, etc. to go to the administrative judge so CA taxpayers are actually paying MORE for my unemployment claim then they should even have to. Although I should feel guilty, I am a CA taxpayer and will pay out the wazoo for my independent contractor status and NOT BE ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT for anything earned as an independent contractor.
This is how I keep laughing as I really, truly want to cry and just pay rent.
I thought about writing my CA State Senators but figured they have enough on their plate so I just put a tag to their name with this blog – obviously I am one of many going through this ridiculousness and maybe they want to evaluate it as they think about the State of CA budget. If you think this story is as funny as I do, write your Senator – get something for your tax dollars!

Update to most recent question asking EDD about my check:

Thank you for submitting your information to the Employment Development Department on 4/15/2010 at 1:35 PM.

Category:
Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Do NOT respond to this message through email. If you need additional information or assistance regarding this matter, contact us through the Ask EDD Web site. Be sure to select the same category and include your Reference Number: 2984181.

Topic:
Checks – Where is my check?

You wrote us the following:
While I continue to appreciate EDD using humor to delay paying me unemployment, I don’t think the administrative judge will find wasting the taxpayers dollars quite as funny. On 4/7/2010 your office sent me a letter stating I was awarded unemployment insurance in the amount of xxx/week. This claim was what I have been stating since January when EDD kept on denying the claim. Once the claim stopped being denied, I no longer need to see the administrative judge as I have been granted unemployment benefits – which is what I have been asking for and was contesting the denial of in all the paperwork I kept receiving and promptly replied to. I filled out all paper work and responded with documentation. I am now unclear why I would still need to see an administrative judge at even more cost to the taxpayers of CA when you already told me in a letter I now am ENTITLED to unemployment insurance. What might I do to encourage EDD to send the money owed to me and avoid going to an administrative judge. While it seems to save CA money by delaying payment to me in this circuitous paper trail, it is costly both to me and the judge to have to read papers of which the judge will surely say,’You gave her the letter stating she is entitled to unemployment insurance, please pay her.’ Please let me know what would be the best way to help EDD get its paperwork in order. I would hate to have an administrative judge laughing with me at incompetence.

Here is our reply:
The EDD has scheduled you to a telephone interview to resolve an issue of eligibility. Interviews are conducted by phone within the timeframe and date stated on the Telephone Interview Notification and Instruction notice DE4800/Z/mailed to you. Should the interviewer call and find you not available, the decision regarding your eligibility will be based on the information available to the Department. The Caller ID will display as “PRIVATE,” so please be sure to answer your telephone during the specified time. You may be asked to call 1-800-300-5616, or an alternate phone number may be left by the interviewer. The EDD interviewers have 10 days after the telephone interview to determine your eligibility. All checks/benefits will be delayed until a Determination decision has been made by the Department. A Notice of Determination (DE 1080) may be mailed to you when that decision is reached. Appeals may be filed within twenty (20) days of the issuance date if you are not satisfied with the decision. If the department finds you eligible, benefit payments will be processed for all certified eligible weeks. Please allow 7-10 days for mailing benefit checks.

Your Reference Number is 2984181.

Today I forwarded all of this to Mr. Swandre Swanson, Assembly member for District 16. This afternoon I spoke with Mr. Mickey Jones. I am going to Mr. Swanson’s office to sign a release of information so that he can review my file with EDD. In addition, I will bring all my copies of paperwork.

According to Crystal Ordonez at EDD who called me on the morning of 23 April 2010, the letter EDD sent was not a real letter, rather it was a letter of potential but they send potential letters to everyone. Yes, I can go to an administrative judge hearing but no one has a clue when that will be as they are backed up at least 3 months.

Update:  Our taxpayer dollars were used to confirm I acted in accordance with what a reasonable person would do.  The administrative judge awarded me my unemployment payments and stated I do not owe EDD anything.  There is a 20 day wait though as the other side can determine it would like to appeal and I suppose they will.

Further update 3 November 2010:  During the month of August 2010 I took a job which I thought was going to allow me to do something I love – teach science as a ‘kitchen’ cooking project. Unfortunately (it only took six weeks to figure this out in spite of desperately wanting to make it work) the business which hired me had little to no understanding of (1) science (2) professional issues surrounding the teaching of science, such as sanitation and safety.  After being asked to make cupcake batter (with eggs in the post salmonella scare CA) in a room that had not been adequately cleaned in five days due to ‘running out of cleaning and sanitizing supplies’ with children and then letting batter sit in refrigerator (to my knowledge not sanitized with bleach after having set idle for the summer) for five days before it could be baked (organization was not clear on concept at all of the point of experiment – how does baking powder make cupcakes ‘rise’) was more than I was willing to take on with my teaching credential. In fact, it was definitely more than I was willing to take on as I was studying for my pharmacy technician course work and if I could not identify sanitation in the classroom setting, I would have one hell of a time explaining it in a pharmacy where compounding and sterile processes were used.   So, I resigned.  In my mind, I had not ‘earned’ enough in unemployment to apply for it and my ‘punishment’ was to find another job and get it together.   Alas, unemployment contacted me……with a letter for an interview. Which I participated in for 45 minutes on 26 October 2010. Ultimately Ms. Solomon, who contacted me, asked for faxed copies of the e-mails which substantiate what I was saying (all the while being agasp at the story as her son attends an after school care program which does ‘cooking’).  Ms. Solomon stated she needed to make a decision and so I could not snail mail the paper work.  I spent $20 to fax the paperwork from the local Office Max and wouldn’t you know it, have heard nothing from EDD by e-mail, phone or snail mail.  I sent a message to EDD (#3682882) two days ago asking for some follow up……after all , they contacted me – I had not applied for unemployment.   As of this writing, no response.  I am unsure the $20 fax was of value to me, EDD or will even help me get another job nor help me spot stupidity in an employer faster…….

Update:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/11/07/state/n100503S24.DTL

Update: 24 November 2010 – After manually filling out the paperwork for unemployment again (per e-mail from unemployment) as I was told in writing,  by unemployment I can collect,

since “I did not attempt to defraud unemployment” ( impressive  they understood this  concept considering I neither contacted them initially nor even thought I was entitled due to not ‘banking’ enough from last job and I resigned – never a way to collect unemployment),

I then recieved the forms to fill out  as if the ‘claim’ had never closed…..which is ridiculous since they had just told me to fill out new forms and I needed to fill out a federal form since I had worked for the U.S. Census Bureau over the summer.

By now EDD has used at least two trees – just on me. Why??? I have not a clue but surely being disorganized and not streamlined keeps a great deal of my fellow Californian’s employed.

Hearing for the most recent craziness of November 3, 2010  is on 2/28/11 with Judge C. Stanley Snead

Outcome:  Employer ‘magically’ filed paperwork on 25 of March indicating they never meant to appeal my collecting unemployment.  Administrative judge worked to contact them and give them benefit of doubt they might show up – they did not so appeal was found in my favor.  Cost to me – $0 as I had to be in the general neighborhood for an interview at 1:00 PM; COST TO TAXPAYERS (you and me) – huge, all the paperwork, court time, judge time, etc.  Makes one wonder what is with employers and why EDD does not fine the employer for misuse of court system.  Why should our tax dollars go to support stupidity in HR?

And further proof the universe understands and was in full force: After the court hearing I walked about 1/2 mile to the local health foods market and ate lunch.  Afterwards, I was walking around inside and bumped into some one I recognized but could not remember from where….It was some one who was hired after me and just left the employer (of which I was in the appeals court today).   Why did this other person leave?  Same reason(s) as me, essentially the longer we had an affiliation with this crazy employer, the more likely we were to damage our own reputation so we had to cut our losses  AND employer was funded by our tax dollars..

And an update on 2/19/11

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/02/19/state/n064427S47.DTL

And an update on 3/3/2012

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/03/state/n195413S37.DTL&tsp=1

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