Larry Elman: Unemployment Compensation and Lies in the Henderson Dispatch

What follows extends my posting on unemployment compensation of several days ago.

I am now forbidden to ever (that is right EVER) submit any letter to the Henderson Dispatch per orders of Al Wooten, the current editor. This is after censorship by him and some extended acrimony by both e-mails and personal phone calls between us. I start with this comment as a form of “full disclosure.” In addition, anything which is in quotation marks in what follows is an EXACT QUOTE of words directly out of Wooten’s mouth and were said by him directly to me on the phone. I keep careful evidence for phone calls of this sort.

Wooten answered my direct question by stating that he had himself been on unemployment “several times.” Yet despite that he published an editorial (which he also told me had been WRITTEN BY HIMSELF PERSONALLY) that included items he himself knew were lies concerning the subject. When challenged on this, he stated (with regard to unemployment compensation rules), “Everyone games the system.” When I asked if that included him, he refused to answer. If it is EVERYONE, then I might well presume he did so as well — it certainly sounded guilty to me.

So what are the two most egregious lies in his personally-written editorial in the Dispatch?

First, Wooten has taken the position that those on unemployment do not seek, and are under no compulsion to seek, new jobs. (That premise was in support of Republican moves to limit the number of weeks of unemployment compensation in NC) I subsequently contacted small business owners who state they must maintain files of who applied for a job in order for the State to verify the job-seeking, AND they must sign a form supplied by the applicant which indicates the person applied for a job, etc. IF WOOTEN WERE ON UNEMPLOYMENT, HE WOULD HAVE TO KNOW THIS — THUS DENYING THIS IS TELLING A LIE HE PERSONALLY KNOWS IS A LIE. That, in a newspaper editorial is inexcusable. Of course, if Wooten “games the system” as he claims everyone does….

Second, Wooten took the position in his editorial that persons on minimum wage jobs could quit their jobs, get the maximum unemployment benefit, and thus receive a raise for not working. (That was to support the Republican moves to reduce the maximum benefit by about $200 per week.) THE BENEFIT IN ALL STATES IS A PERCENTAGE OF THE WAGES PAID AT THE LAST JOB, and the percentage is always below 100% — 75% was the rate the last time I was faced with this. Thus, anyone quitting any job to collect unemployment will face a reduction in money not an increase. AGAIN, WOOTEN ADMITS HE HAS BEEN ON UNEMPLOYMENT — THUS HE KNOWS THIS. To say the opposite in his editorial is to knowingly lie.

I am not in favor of violating anyone’s privacy. However, the press run of the Dispatch each week is between 50,000 and 100,000 copies. On the masthead (and also on their website), the editor’s name and his work e-mail are clearly displayed — they are not exactly Classified Information. So, if any of you wish to pursue the question of the appropriateness of lies in editorials, you can contact the editor


Another interesting idea might be to send your comments to the Publisher of the Dispatch, bypassing the Editor who will naturally censor anything criticizing him. Personally, I would like to know contact information for the Corporation which owns the Dispatch — the Publisher is not necessarily a free agent in items of this sort, and based on contacts via civic organizations he at least has my respect.

Thomas Jefferson claimed that an educated citizenry and a free and honest Press were required for our Constitution to work.