The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 27, 2013

Readers' Forum 2-27 | Employers share blame of jobless aid fraud

Submitted by Readers

— The Tribune-Democrat’s Feb. 22 article about unemployment compensation (UC) fraud (“Pa. tops nation in jobless aid fraud”) was unfairly simplistic and failed to address the most effective ways of reducing UC overpayments.

There are many reasons for overpayments. Fewer than one out of four overpayments in Pennsylvania is for fraud. The rest are simply good-faith disputes or misunderstandings about eligibility where the unemployed worker is found ineligible after initially having been paid benefits.

Many overpayments occur because employers fail to respond to unemployment claims within the 15-day deadline. When they finally respond after many months, as is currently permitted, a claimant has already been paid benefits that may be ruled ineligible. In contrast, workers who miss the 15-day appeal deadline have their claims forever denied.

Overpayments also occur when workers do not understand the rules of unemployment. Normally, a call to a UC Service Center could help a person comply with the confusing UC rules. Unfortunately, for some time, workers have been unable to get through to the service centers without spending hours or days redialing.

We agree that fraud must not be tolerated and that UC should not be paid to people who are not entitled to it. However, the solution should not be to increase penalties on the unemployed and further restrict eligibility. New reforms must be made to tackle overpayments at their source. Those reforms should include penalizing employers who do not contest claims promptly and improving UC Service Center operations.

Sharon Dietrich

Managing Attorney

Public Benefits and Employment

Michael Hollander

Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services

Working-class people being exploited

Regarding The Tribune-Democrat’s article, “Pa. tops nation in jobless aid fraud” on Feb. 22, it’s easy to point a finger at double-dippers who collect unemployment and work another job, getting paid under the table to make ends meet. But before you cast your headliners out onto rough waters consider this:

Western Pennsylvania, with all its money and industry, has deteriorated into a cesspool. The majority of working-class citizens are being exploited, not employed. In Johnstown, people are treated like commodities and prostituted as “good, cheap help.”

Highly paid individuals spearheading crackdown efforts zero in on those they consider bottom feeders; but what’s even lower are companies falsely advertising fake full-time jobs just to get some bites on part-time jobs.

The weary and financially exhausted reject the offer because the $7.25/hour crime wave doesn’t even cover necessities.

Many also invest money into Internet job-board contracts that enter applicant’s personal information into federal new-hire databases without any real intentions of hiring. Ask anyone who has wasted time running around to bait-and-switch interviews and job fairs. They’ve come to realize that these companies were just fishing for information and helping government and marketing agencies identify who’s still unemployed and who’s not.

In the meantime, towns shrivel up and families are fractured in a make-believe job market.

God says, “Thou shalt not oppress thy neighbor, nor rob him of his wages,” Leviticus 19:13. Create real job opportunities and there will be no need to entertain with investigative drama.

Kirstin DiNinno

Central City

A tree grows through it                                                                              I agree with the letter to the Readers’ Forum concerning “Tree in building a neighborhood eyesore” on Feb. 21 by Virginia Sobotkin.

Some time ago, I wrote to the forum on this very matter. I hope someone with some authority would do something about this building.

It is an eyesore on the busiest street in Cambria City and right across the street from the Discovery Center. Somebody please do something – soon.

Bill Smedo

Cambria City

America, not Obama, is the victim                                                             I am responding to the letter on Feb. 24 by William Wantiez, “On Capitol Hill, return of the clowns.”

Although I agree that members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, have acted like children at times, the idea that the president is a victim is hilarious. America is the victim. Accepting that Barack Obama won and accepting how he won are two different things. He won both elections for three reasons:

* For this election, there were more people voting who wanted handouts and welfare than conservatives who pay their own way. I blame this on lazy Christian conservatives who did not show up to vote and now complain.

* The president campaigned with lies, half-truths and promises that he can’t or will not keep, i.e., Republicans want dirty air and water, grandma will loose her Medicare and Social Security or the transparent administration promises to work together.

* This is the worst one. The liberal press will not tell the truth about this president. The three “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” broadcast stations – ABC, CBS and NBC – continue to cover up or censor the truth about this administration, such as the Benghazi coverup and the latest, the sequester issue. The sequester was the president’s idea two years ago and now that it has come around to bite him, it has somehow become the Republicans’ fault because they refuse to cave on more tax increases without spending cuts.

All this would have been a press-feeding frenzy for a Republican administration.

Evan Klein

South Fork

Why can’t church leader serve?

Regarding Riley Martin’s Readers’ Forum of Feb. 19, “More questions than answers,” I would ask him to please explain his objections as to why a good, well-read Byzantine Catholic should not be a member of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority board?

His statement suggests his ignorance in the knowledge of the Byzantine religion and church.

I suggest he would be best served if he focused on learning about the Byzantine religion and church before criticizing or condemning.

Michael Mazar



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