Glitches rankle jobless-benefit seekers


It might be popular in some circles to bash people just because they are jobless and must rely on unemployment checks. But is there an excuse for the state Employment Security Division putting them through an emotional ordeal?

One Southern Nevada man said nearly two weeks ago that he dialed 300 times and never could connect to a human being who could help him file his claim for unemployment benefits.

Then a Las Vegas woman on Sept. 9 said she used a speed-dialing device for four hours and never reached a person who could help resolve her daughter’s claim problems. That afternoon she phoned back to say she finally got through, only to receive a busy signal for the person she was told to contact. She could not leave a message.

About 50,000 people a week receive unemployment benefits in Nevada. Another 3,000 new claims are filed each week. As far as some of them are concerned, the Employment Security Division has not been able to process claims in a timely manner since Aug. 26 when it shut down its computer system to switch over to a new $30 million system.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he understood that everything was back to normal. He noted that the Employment Security Division employees had been working overtime to clear up computer problems. He added there always are glitches when one computer system is turned off and another one turned on. Once all the kinks are worked out, Sandoval said the unemployed would like the new system.

That afternoon, the Las Vegas woman said she had called the governor’s office to complain about her daughter not receiving her check and received a call back from the employment office. But she said the man told her he was not an employment office call center employee and could not help her with her problems. She said Sandoval was not being told the truth about the continued problems with the new computer.

Then on Thursday another woman told the Review-Journal she could not contact the employment department call center despite repeated dialing. She added she had been able to file online the previous Sunday for benefits. But then she did not receive one of the checks she was due, and the other was $23 short.

When she tried to contact a live person to help with her problems, she said, all she got was busy signals.

“They are not telling the truth,” the woman told the Review-Journal.

ANOTHER GOP VS. GOP PRIMARY

Add yet another Republican member of the Nevada Legislature who is expected to face a conservative primary opponent in the 2014 election.

Assembly freshman Paul Anderson of Las Vegas, representing District 13, will have to get past announced primary challenger Leonard Foster to win a second term.

Anderson is at least the fourth Republican state lawmaker out of 19 incumbents expected to run for re-election who have GOP primary opponents.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson of Las Vegas, and Assemblymen Randy Kirner of Reno and Lynn Stewart of Henderson face primary challengers as well.

Foster ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly District 13 seat in 2008 and 2010 as a member of the very conservative Independent American Party. He ran again in 2012 as a Republican but lost to Anderson in the primary.

Foster’s campaign website describes him as a Republican who believes in limited government, low taxes, free markets and school choice for parents.

Foster has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which says he will not vote for any tax increases if elected to the Legislature.

Anderson was one of nine Republicans in the Assembly who in the 2013 session voted to approve the continuation of a package of taxes that otherwise would have expired on June 30. The extension was sought by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval to avoid further cuts to public education and state services.

The district has a strong Republican advantage over Democrats in active registered voters, 13,353 to 12,219.

The primary battles will make it tougher for the GOP to gain ground for the 2015 legislative session. It is the minority in both the state Senate and the Assembly.

CHAMBER TO TOUT FOSSIL MONUMENT

Plans to designate Ice Age fossil beds on the northern outskirts of Clark County as a federal landmark worthy to be noted and protected are about to get a push from the Las Vegas business community.

A contingent from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is traveling today to Washington on its annual lobbying mission to Congress. Near the top of the group’s wish list is for lawmakers to pass a bill creating a Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.

Business leaders see an opportunity to attract explorers and ecotourists from around the world who visit the Grand Canyon and the national parks in Utah. Already archaeologists are drawn to the fertile trove littered with thousands of bones of mammoths and other extinct species.

“We are interested in that not only because of the historical importance as a monument designation but also because we feel it would strengthen the Southern Nevada tourist economy,” chamber President Kristin McMillan said.

Tule Springs conservation is the centerpiece of a broad bill that also would set aside 1,886 acres of federal land in North Las Vegas for a new UNLV campus, deliver 1,200 acres to Clark County for an off-road vehicle park and grant Las Vegas and North Las Vegas more than 600 acres apiece for development.

“We think this is a significant piece of legislation that is going to further our economy and create jobs,” McMillan said.

McMillan is leading a group of 15 chamber members and staffers on the visit through Thursday. Among them is North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee.

In meetings through the week, chamber officials also will continue to pursue the top priority of securing federal funding and credit assistance to develop an interstate highway connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix as part of a corridor stretching from Mexico to Canada.

Besides meetings with Nevada lawmakers, the visitors are set to meet with Arizonans and also members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who would have to sign off for the proposed Interstate 11 to advance.

The business leaders also will seek updates on efforts to reauthorize federal job training and update travel visa policies to encourage more international visitors.

MARSHALL TO avoid college plan ADs

State treasurer Kate Marshall, an announced candidate for secretary of state, will not appear on any television advertisements touting the state college savings plan program after the filing period for political office opens in March.

Steve George, one of her top aides, said Marshall wants to avoid any appearance of using her office to gain political advantage.

Former state Treasurer Brian Krolicki received a lot of flack in 2006 when he appeared in advertisements about the college savings program as he was running for lieutenant governor. He requested an advisory opinion from the state Ethics Commission, which said he could appear in the advertisements during the campaign period.

Part of the state treasurer’s job is publicizing the college savings program, where parents or others put money into an investment pool to pay for their children’s education in the future.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801 Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com, or call 775-687-3901. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.

 

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