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California unemployment agents target audits when criticism grows

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California unemployment agents target audits when criticism grows

California unemployment agents face a barrage of bipartisan criticism from lawmakers this week over continued delays in approving unemployment claims, with calls for audits and for Governor Gavin Newsom to step in with new corrective actions.

The renewed complaint came when the state’s Department of Labor Development reported Thursday that it had processed 6.7 million claims for unemployment benefits since March 14, just before Newsom announced a state-wide coronavirus emergency, and had paid $ 33.5 billion in return .

MPs including state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said their office had been flooded with calls from constituents who filed claims weeks or months ago that had not yet received approval or received money. Callers also continue to have difficulty getting EDD representatives on the phone to help them with jammed claims, the legislator said. This problem has existed for months despite promises by the state to solve it.

“That’s bad,” Wiener said in an interview. “We are now 3½ months and getting worse. This is just an unacceptable situation.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus delivered the message to the Newsom administration and has received assurances that the problem will be resolved, Wiener said. In addition, he and Assembly Members David Chiu and Phil Ting, also San Francisco Democrats, sent a letter to the state Labor Secretary Julie Su last month saying they had “serious concerns” about the failure of the system to respond to unemployed Californians.

“It’s very frustrating to hear stories of constituents who are indebted to stay because they haven’t received the benefits of EDD,” Chiu said on Thursday. “We have to do things differently. California people need help now. “

He said in a series of social media posts that even his staff had been told that they could now only speed up one constituent case that involved significant difficulties in a week, and it took four weeks to respond to staff members of parliament in other situations.

Assembly member Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) said that of the active cases handled by her staff, 40% applied for benefits in March and April and still had not heard back or received benefits a few months later.

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Newsom acknowledged concerns that continued again this week, noting that EDD had received 6.7 million new claims that were unprecedented in a short period of time.

“That is not something the country has done in the past, and I am proud of the work they have done in very difficult circumstances,” Newsom said on Monday. “We are not ashamed to be honest about the frustration we have together, the thousands of people we have to re-employ to help support telephone lines that are dealing with large call volumes.”

Newsom’s office postponed comments to EDD about new complaints by legislators, but at a press conference earlier this week the governor said problems in the system were receiving attention from state officials.

“All of these areas are opportunities to do more and do better, but I am very proud of the team for being able to fulfill this moment extraordinaryly and to advance some best practices for the whole nation,” the governor said.

One component of the state budget agreement agreed by Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders will extend unemployment benefits for another seven weeks and allow the state Department of Motor Vehicles to provide identifying information to help EDD ensure compliance with unemployment rules.

EDD spokeswoman Loree Levy said data was not available on how many claims had been rejected or were still awaiting resolution of the problem including identity verification. Most claims are processed within 21 days, he said.

“The others will always take more than three weeks, whether we are in a pandemic or not,” Levy said. “This is the case for every state when we comply with the federal state program’s regulations.”

Claims that require more time, including those from EDD, must verify the identity of the claimant before releasing wage records related to a person’s Social Security number, wage information that does not match company records, and errors or missing information on the application, Levy said.

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“This claim must be done manually by staff,” he said.

Levy said EDD recently announced plans to employ 4,800 more people to help with the claims process and so far 1,200 of them are in work, while 1,400 job offers are being completed and around 500 others have conditional job offers while agents await the results of background checks .

Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) said that after EDD sent a letter to the benefit applicants asking them to verify their identity, the prosecutor responded immediately. But some have reported that their claims have been disqualified because of the amount of time EDD has spent processing evidence of their identity. The others have waited two months to get a response.

“This has become a full-scale crisis in my district,” Friedman wrote in a letter to Newsom on Thursday. “Delays in identity verification place an unimaginable burden on people whose lives have been damaged by this pandemic.”

Terrence Taylor, a company coach and musician who filed a claim for benefits on March 22, provided proof of identity when requested in April and still has not received any payment. He had asked for help from his state senator and had sent proof of identity back after being first told that he had failed to do so and was therefore disqualified.

Meanwhile, he had to give up his place of residence in Long Beach, require him to stay with various friends, and face other urgent bills he could not pay.

“This is terrible,” he said. “I’m annoyed.”

Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) took to Twitter this week to complain that many of his constituents also had not received any benefits.

“That is unforgivable, and I ask the Administration to take corrective action,” Gloria said.

Last month, more than 8,000 Californians who filed new claims for unemployment benefits rated their experience as “poor” or “very poor,” according to a state survey, but the majority of respondents – 76.5% – rated “good” or “very good, “according to EDD.

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Taylor questioned the accuracy of the survey results, saying that his experience was “very bad.”

David Goldfarb from Vallejo said the EDD operator had hung up repeatedly or failed to answer when he tried to call about the benefits, which he had not received despite being told that his claim had been certified.

“This program is truly a failed state operation,” said Goldfarb, who conducts maintenance for restaurants. “People lose their jobs and cannot pay their bills. In my own case, I have spent thousands of dollars in credit card debt just to buy food and other necessities. “

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) cited the complaint in asking for an EDD state audit to look at problems including the failure of the telephone system and computer technology to handle large amounts of California unemployment.

Other legislators have indicated that they want to sign the request before it is followed up in August by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, where Patterson works, a representative said.

Patterson said EDD had had technological problems for more than a decade, but the problem had worsened during the pandemic.

The lawmaker said in a letter to the committee that he recently met with representatives of Deloitte Consulting, a private company that was given an EDD contract to help with call centers.

Patterson said he was told that during one week in May, 1.5 million telephone calls were received from 600,000 callers, but only 150,000 could talk to people who were still alive.

“People really need help and know that 75% of them within a certain week cannot contact EDD is unacceptable,” Patterson said on Thursday. “Without that person-to-person phone call, many people are desperate with no other choice. This is another striking reason why EDD requires an in-depth dive audit. “

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Portuguese plan to save energy, explosions on Russian gas pipelines and other TSF events

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Portuguese plan to save energy, explosions on Russian gas pipelines and other TSF events

Details of the energy saving plan laid out by the government were released on Tuesday. The document, published in Diário da República, includes measures for the efficient use of water, public lighting and temperature limits in air conditioners.

For example, from December 6, 2022 to January 6, 2023, Christmas lighting in Portugal should only be on from 18:00 to 24:00.

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The abolition of fees for teaching Portuguese abroad will not be accepted by parliament, MP says – Observer

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The abolition of fees for teaching Portuguese abroad will not be accepted by parliament, MP says - Observer

According to Socialist MP Paulo Pisco, the views of the BE, PCP and PAN on the abolition of fees for teaching Portuguese abroad were voted on Tuesday in a parliamentary committee.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs and Portuguese Communities voted on Tuesday in favor of four projects – from the Left Bloc, the Communist Party of Portugal, “People-Animal-Nature” and “Enough”, which mainly advocate the abolition of fees for teaching Portuguese abroad and free school textbooks.

According to Paulo Pisco, a socialist member of the commission, the opinions of the BE, PKP and PAN were approved, but Chega’s opinion deserved to be abstained from the PS because it contained “xenophobic elements” in its purpose.

The MP had in mind, in particular, the recipients of this teaching, which is currently intended not only for the Portuguese or the descendants of the Portuguese, but also for those who want to learn the Portuguese language, with which Chega allegedly disagrees, according to Paulo Pisco. .

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After the approval of these opinions, the abolition of the bribe would be discussed and voted on in the plenary session of the Assembly of the Republic, but Paulo Pisco said that they should not be approved, since the “commitment” of the government is different.

“The government’s obligation is to reduce the burden of the Portuguese” and this will always be determined “in every approved state budget”.

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Portuguese health minister rejects conflict of interest over marriage to president

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The health minister said there was no conflict of interest in her marriage to the current chairman of the Order of Dietitians, saying that the trusteeship of that body had been delegated to the Secretary of State for Health Promotion.


Portugal Digital with Lusa



“Honestly, I don’t think it exists. I have no doubt that this Lady Secretary of State will fill this leadership role,” Manuel Pizarro said on Monday (age 26) on the sidelines of the Pharmacist’s Day celebrations in Sintra, in the Lisbon area.

Aware of the possible conflict of interest, Manuel Pizarro explained that he took “the most appropriate measure (…)”, which was to entrust the functions of guardianship of the Order of Nutritionists to Margarida Tavares.”

“(…) Since I took office as a minister, I have been aware that, since professional organizations have an administrative oversight role, (…) there is a risk of conflict of interest, and I have taken the measures that seem to me the most appropriate, which from the very decided at the outset that he would delegate this oversight function over the Order of Nutritionists to the Secretary of State for Health Promotion,” he stressed.

When asked about the reasons why Margarida Tavares’ name still does not appear in the Diário da República, the official said that “it was necessary to wait for the inauguration of the secretaries of state” and then “to organize the whole process of delegation of authority.” .

“It’s even a good chance that there is a Secretary of State for Health Promotion. I think custody of the Order of Dietitians has been well handed over to the Secretary of State for Health Promotion,” he repeated, noting that “he definitely won’t go through the Minister’s order.” [da Saúde]”.

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“If the secretary of state is responsible for this, it should not go through the minister,” he stressed.

Manuel Pizarro’s statements came after news that the government official may have a conflict of interest because he is married to the chairman of the Order of Dietitians, Alexandra Bento.

The Order of Dietitians was created in 2011 with the approval of the current Minister of Health, who at the time served as Secretary of State for Health.

In addition, Alexandra Bento was the only President of the Order of Occupational Health to attend the inauguration of Manuel Pizarro on 10 September.

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