Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Deafening Silence of the Department of Workforce Development w/Update

As we, the late great Gary Welsh and Paul Ogden have written about previously. The Hoosier state’s unemployment insurance program as managed by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) continues to hurt everyday Hoosiers, be a dumping ground for every two bit political hack where they use taxpayer money and funnel it to them and their cronies. Click herehere and here for more information on the corrupt possibly illegal conduct performed by members of the DWD leadership. And they refuse to be open and transparent notwithstanding that this agency is supposed to safeguard the state’s unemployment insurance funds. 

Back in 2012 Gary Welsh and Paul Ogden both reported on Whistleblower’s at DWD who revealed that mismanagement at the agency was to blame for the bankrupting of Indiana’s Unemployment Insurance Fund. From the end of 2008 to 2015 the state was forced to borrow money from the federal government to cover the shortfall caused by the incompetence and corruption by the agency heads at DWD. WISH-TV’s Deanna Dewberry did a wonderful report on DWD back in 2012 which can be read by clicking here. Unfortunately the agency has not noticeably improved at all over the years. The agency has especially been dropping the ball when it comes to preventing and go after unemployment insurance fraud.

On December 30th, 2020 Indystar posted Nick Penzenstadler’s USA Today article “How scammers siphoned $36B in fraudulent unemployment payments from US”. The article reveals how since are least May of 2020, online scammers have been responsible for at least $36 Billion of fraudulent unemployment claims. Pezenstadler interviewed one of the people who has engaged in this massive cyber fraud and explains how it had been done. We wrote about unemployed Hoosiers having to fight the very state agency that is supposed to help them deal with unemployment fraud back in March

Now a sensible administration after all of this negative publicity, we would think would want to at least attempt to appear to clean up there act. If only to try and stem the continuing bad public relations. But as WISH-TV’s Richard Essex reported last Wednesday July 7th, 2021 DWD is just doubling down on avoiding public scrutiny. In a wonderful story entitled “How the Department of Workforce Development stonewalls Hoosiers”, Essex had this to say about his attempts to speak with DWD:

For months, News 8 has asked the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for a sit-down interview with its leader, Commissioner Fred Payne; News 8’s request have been repeatedly denied. 

So on Wednesday, News 8 went to the state government’s office building to make a request in person.

The Department of Workforce Development main office appears to be right next to the public entrance of the Government Center South building.

“Hi, I’m Richard Essex of WISH-TV. We are trying to make an appointment to see the commissioner, Fred Payne,” News 8’s Richard Essex said. “Is this the office?”

Upon News 8’s arrival at the office, a security guard hired by the state said she wasn’t sure where Payne’s office was located.

“Well, you can go down there to the other office and get a hold of him,” she said. 

The security guard escorted News 8 to another office that she called the intake office. Once inside that office, News 8 made the same request; a woman lady behind the desk at the intake office said she was new to the job and wasn’t sure who we needed to speak with. 

After waiting an hour, News 8 was told someone was coming to talk.

Next thing that happened, the office door was closed and locked.

News 8 waited in a hallway after being promised someone would come to talk. No one ever appeared, so News 8 went back the first office.

As it turns out, News 8 were not the only ones in the building trying to get answers.

Kathi Dean told News 8 the Department of Workforce Development claims she was overpaid. Dean had grown tired of waiting for callbacks and unanswered emails, so she came to downtown Indianapolis for answers.

“What about people that worked for years and put time into this and have to work and wait and wait on this money?” Dean asked. “So if you want to stop our PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), just go right ahead on and give us our money from unemployment back pay all at one time so we can go ahead on and live.”

A security guard told Dean to make an appointment.

News 8 continued to wait for someone from Workforce Development to come out and talk, or at least make an appointment.

Several people were in the office; none of them came to the door.

Here’s the video from WISH-TV’s website featuring the comically inept conduct displayed by DWD:

We are most pleased that Mister Essex is not alone in his quest to get answers out of DWD. Bob Segall over at WTHR has also done his own championship work on the problems plaguing DWD.

We cannot recommend enough that you all check out Mister’s Segall’s and Essex’s great work, it’s YUGE!

Looking into all of this craziness at DWD reminds us all of a story that Paul Ogden mentioned on his blog back in 2011. Itwas a report about a possibly non existent state agency, Kara Kenney as always did an incredible job reporting on it at the time.

Many questions remain, and much digging needs to be done. One of the biggest concerns is how do Hoosiers navigate the labyrinth, that stands in the way of them receiving their benefits? To be honest we are not sure quite yet how. Perhaps a few little birdies might clue us in. Gary Welsh is gone physically from this world but his work had barely begun. Hang tight fellow ruffians! Things are going to get interesting!

P.S. Note to all of you, according to what we hear through the grapevine the Leadership Team at DWD, including the Commissioner have offices on the third floor of DWD in the government center south. Word of caution, should you get to the third floor our sources tell us that the atmosphere is a bit thinner than elsewhere in the building. Just FYI.

UPDATE: An alert reader just sent us this awesome tweet from Rob Kendall giving his take on the whole situation:

UPDATE: If anyone is having trouble with an unemployment issue please click here to go to  WISH-TV’s website and fill out the form on the page. 

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