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Perdue: 'Ludicrous' situation could lead to changes at ESC

Posted October 4, 2010
Updated October 15, 2010

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— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Monday that she will send a team of computer experts to the state Employment Security Commission this week to sort out problems plaguing the agency.

Perdue said she is frustrated with the ESC's management and might consider changes at the agency.

"I've got to fix the system. I've got to fix the leadership team to be sure we have people in place who can do what they need to do," she said. "I'm not at all reluctant to ask somebody to leave my administration if I think it's best for the people of North Carolina."

Last week, the governor ordered the ESC to stop docking unemployed North Carolina residents for jobless benefits that they mistakenly received this year and to waive repayment of the $28 million that was improperly paid.

A computer programming error led to overpayments to about 38,000 people receiving a second year of benefits, according to ESC officials. The mistakes started with checks issued in January, and they continued after an internal audit caught the problem in mid-May.

The agency recently began sending letters to people to inform them of the errors and to detail how much they might owe. ESC Deputy Chairman David Clegg said many of the people receiving letters would end up owing nothing, and about 15 percent were underpaid and would be eligible to receive more money.

"How can I trust the amounts I've overpaid are supposedly correct," said Olivia Jacob, who received four letters in the past week with varying amounts that she reportedly owed the state.

"The first thing I did was just cry," Jacob said.

Employment Security Commission, ESC logo Perdue sending IT experts to ESC

Other unemployed residents were incensed when the ESC began cutting their weekly benefit checks in half to recoup the money mistakenly paid out earlier.

"This has been very irritating to me, very troublesome," Perdue said. "It was absurd the ESC leadership would ask for folks to repay money that had been wrongfully sent to them.

"I'm going to find out why something so ludicrous happened."

ESC spokesman Larry Parker issued a statement late Monday, saying that the agency looked forward to working with the outside IT experts.

"The ESC continues to assist those affected by the overpayment error. We've corrected this problem so it can't happen again," Parker said.

ESC Chairwoman Lynn Holmes said that the agency is trying to determine how to refund people who already had money deducted from their checks.

The agency also needs to work with the U.S. Department of Labor to find a way to repay the $28 million.

Holmes has acknowledged the ESC didn't handle the overpayment issue well and needed to communicate better with unemployed people.

Numerous job-seekers have said their benefits are based on confusing formulas, and they can't get through to the ESC either by phone or by e-mail.

Jacob said she finally spoke to someone at the agency this weekend.

"Their customer service level is horrible. They are not sympathetic at all," she said.

The agency has extended the hours of its phone lines to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends to answer questions. The agency can be reached toll-free at 888-737-0259. Answers to common questions also are posted on the ESC website.


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  • renaizzanceman Oct 15, 2010

    The only thing "ludicrous" is why is this woman still governor? As lkanzig said " time for a good swift kick to the curb!"

  • lkanzig Oct 5, 2010

    this is going to stop be cause bev said so?? yeah right! she is just as guilty of using buddy system, corruption and to numerous other things!example... education ceo (WHY???!!!???) bev reminds me of a minature chiauhua, all bark no action and with a good swift kick can go sailing curbside! her yapping is just as high pitched and nonstop like one!

  • jarrettbailess Oct 5, 2010

    This story is inaccurate you cannot call them after 4:30 with the # given.

  • mkg1047 Oct 5, 2010

    It is time Bev Perdue cleans house. Offer jobs to the unemployed who would be willing to go the extra mile to make sure this doesn't happen again. The buddy system has to stop!!

  • Hater like Darth Vader Oct 5, 2010


    The major difference here is that the ESC isn't nearly as cut and dry as a standard checking or savings account, and their employees reviewed the payments with the client and agreed to them. If the bank were to enter a contract with you, they wouldn't back out because "The interwebz caused it".

  • DizzyDaphnee Oct 5, 2010

    Poor writing skills has contributed to the misinformation of what exactly is LUDICROUS. What I percieve her meaning to be from the words I read is HOW this whole situation has come about. Let's see, now we know some facts, over pay in Jan. '10, figure out in May'10 that this overpayment occurred, wait three months before taking any action, then the action u take is caustic and harmful to the very the clients they claim to serve????????? WAKE UP PEOPLE, THAT IS THE POINT OF THE SITUATION THAT IS BEING CALLED LUDICROUS. I am just sitting here shaking my head that understanding and communication have hit an all-time low this year and the decline seems to be expanding. I will keep a positive outlook that this could bring a positive result. :)

  • dirtydozen431 Oct 5, 2010

    Bev is rolling Saturday Night live skit. A good cartoonist could make millions off of her.

  • dirtydozen431 Oct 5, 2010

    Bev is a rolling Saturday

  • ncguy Oct 5, 2010

    maybe she will appoint her friend Meg Scott phipps to the position?

  • 499greg Oct 5, 2010

    Purdue is ludicrous. She has appointed unqualified people to top State Organizations. There qualifications being what the committed to her campaign. If she wants to do the right thing for the people, she should resign. Time to give the Republicans or Independents a go in that office.