August 26, 2016

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.


  1. I’m confused what Alan Wooten has to do with any of this. I thought the editorials you were referring to was written by John Hood, of the John Lock Foundation

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  2. LBaldEagle said on:

    Hi anon3 —

    Your comment is very understandable.

    The Dispatch on 2/1/2013 ran an unsigned editorial supporting the Republican program in the NC
    legislature to reduce and almost eliminate the Unemployment Compensation program. I personally asked Wooten if he had authored it and he proudly told me he had.

    I object to a newspaper intentionally running an editorial containing misleading lies.

    As for Hood — anon3 is quite correct that my initial objection was to a column by Hood. Wooten’s editorial repeated many of Hood’s misleading statements, and thus I objected AGAIN. So far as I can tell, neither of my objections was allowed to be published as they were censored by Wooten, who pronounced that I would NEVER be allowed to voice my opinion in the Dispatch again.

    His censorship was on such technicalities as “omission of city of residence” — I have a Henderson mailing address as do most people in Vance County, but I live in Dabney and stated that in my submission.

    I again suggest that complaints be made to or to his boss the Publisher. Until an HONEST newspaper appears in Henderson, only such protests plus this website can provide true information to residents of Vance County.

    Thanks, LBaldEagle

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  3. Anonymous said on:

    It is my speculation that all ‘opinions’ express by the editor of the Dispatch are either written or approved by corporate headquarters of the Paxton Media Group, LLC at 201 South 4th Street, Paducah, KY 42003-1524. The Dispatch has had 3 or 4 different editors in the past 12 years. Why are you even looking at the paper? Even the local fish market uses other papers to wrap up fish. At least 60% of news in the paper is from outside the local immediate market and is in part or entirety covered on national and state tv news. The only reason I use to open the Tuesday sports section was to read the comic. Use to is the operative word. Save your money and avoid the local paper.

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  4. Out in Left Field said on:

    Larry, have you heard the adage, never pick a fight with the guy who buys ink by the barrel.

    Besides I agree with the common view that all editorial content is dictated from the corporate headquarters.

    Save yourself the aggravation do not read the paper. You will live a happier life ignoring their misconceptions of reality.

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  5. Evil Only Prevails When Good Men Do Nothing said on:

    Out in Left Field, I too believe that to sometimes be a wise adage to heed when confronting the pervasive ignorance sometimes perpetrated by the Henderson Dispatch.

    However, I find myself hesitating to so quickly disregard the spread of falsehoods and amateur propaganda. It seems that a problem that troubles this county is the lack of commitment to transparency by its citizens. As I review many posts on this website, I see many posts ridiculed with frustration and disappointment at the state of affairs in Vance County. However, I see no public outcry. I see no one in the street educating the local populace on back room deals or the blatant lies perpetrated by many. Having been to a few governemntal meetings myself, seeing the lack of civic participation in local governance, and watching old and antiquated ideas blindly be supported has been most disconcerting.

    So I have wondered to myself, If things are so bad in Vance County why is their no real and lasting movement for change? Why do the elected officials that do nothing truly substantial to turn the tide of rising mediocrity continually get re-elected to churn out more stagnation? As I have made my rounds, casually talking to many residents of all backgrounds and professions, some things have become apparent to me. The consensus gathered by my limited interactions seemingly pointed to two distinct reasons for low civic participation.

    The first being that most residents seem to simply be too busy to participate in the civic functions. Oddly, contrary to what i first believed, it does seem that due to nature of life these days, that remembering how much local government affects you is lost on many. You see, if you are not truly educated on the functions and roles of local government why then would you care? If there are few actually explaining the possibilities after a regime change, why then would the people fight for one? After seeing how the local municipalities conduct business I would be remised if I did not concur that the fight against amateur corruption and sloppy operating practices is an uphill battle, but i truly believe that fight we must. I tend to believe that most would agree that ignorance is the lack of understanding. Therefore I must contend that the most effective remedy for such a regression of common sense and reason to be rooted in a bold and pervasive initiative to empower local families to educate their families and their friends on local government. Most of us have heard that in order to seize the change we desire, we must first become the change. I myself am guilty of this failure in a multitude of regards. I have tried to educate my fellow man on discrepancies I perceived in governemnt and stimulate intellectual debates on the issues plaguing us. However, what I find myself confronted with seems be an absolutist attitude toward ignorant policies. It is rare that I find someone willing to devote an hour to discussing the best path forward for the inhabitants of Vance. Moreover, when I am pleasantly surprised by a willing participant, I quickly come to realize a serious deficiency in conventional wisdom. As long as residents are too busy to pay attention and are not educated in how and what to look for, regressive policies and blatant cronyism will persist and solidify for not only you and yours but the coming generations as well.

    Secondly, It seems that even those that see the adverse effects of this crony government abide the very apathy that enables such behavior. While I do understand that this dysfunction in Vance is not a new revelation to many, and that some have even tried to combat this pervasive dysfunction with at best marginal successes, it still remains in my eyes a worthy cause. The minute any of us, young and old decide that this reality is the status quo and that visible organizing against such injustice like our Constitution attempts to protect us from, is too futile, we tell our children and our families something more about OURSELVES than adversity itself. Essentially, we as their protectors and their advisors, SUBMIT to them, that GOOD governance, ANY child’s inherent birthright, is defective and that WE, those who they naturally look to for BOLD leadership, SILENTLY accept the economic shackles and recession of common place morality brought on by corrupt leadership and ill conceived policies. I fear that our children, the citizens of Vance county as a whole, will continually fall prey to such oppressive practices, if we continue to, by our own actions, set examples for our families and fellow citizens to meekly prostrate themselves, when coming face to face with adversity and systematic ignorance.

    In the end, does anyone contend that the devil is not in the details? Is there one that believes that putting local governance under a microscope and launching a committed campaign to making sure regular citizens unfamiliar with local governance are informed on matters that affect their day to day lives. What would this county look like if Economics was a mandatory course in Vance County schools? How would citizenry respond if they were not only shown the deplorable county statistics but TAUGHT to truly understand how it affects their lives? I do not believe that Vance county can be reformed overnight, or that an average guy such as myself, who has lived here only a short amount time, could possible have all the answers. I merely contend that I FEEL, whether well founded or not, that the pride that comes with standing for what’s right has been lost in Vance County. That we as people abide this rising apathy and excuse things that our ancestors shed blood to thwart and prevent. What shall we all tell our children when they ask about obvious problems facing their home county? Shall we, as many already do, tell our children to just move away? Shall we encourage them to be blind to the blatant injustices until moving away? Do we really believe that we as not raising a generation to prostrate themselves before adversity? That our children somehow, are learning from media, religious leaders, and substandard educational systems how to stand up to corruption. How can those who come after us,stand up to something that they are not taught to understand, and moreover, something that they never see their religious leaders, role models, and even their parents fundamentally DO something about? ln conclusion my final thought is this; that pervasive ignorance is our enemy, that if you know the enemy, and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. For in the end, no American should let fear determine their destiny.

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  6. royal rooter said on:

    Mr. or Ms. Evil…The answer to your questions can be told in a few words. Those who would be kings or king makers bundle funds which they use to buy endorsements by spreading the money among preachers and those organizations who issue lists. These lists tell people who to vote for and they like sheep blindly obey. Many of us have seen this happen time and time again. Very few have the time, desire or money to compete. A few years ago, they called themselves the New Direction and defeated an excellent, well-informed slate of candidates. Ask those who have been around Henderson 10 years or more how the New Direction has worked out.

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  7. Evil Only Prevails When Good Men Do Nothing said on:

    royal rooter, there are two questions I would like to pose…

    The first being that why would any sect in the local populace “like sheep blindly obey.” What has happened in Vance County that the spirit of individuality, and the integrity of truth are nothing more than fairy tale ideals? Has the PC (politically correct) police robbed the people of their voice? Is it better for a people to suffer in ignorance,for the profit of crooks, and at the the cost of civility for generations to come? I myself do not yet know what will happen when we stand together for reform, but I do KNOW what comes for inaction, stagnation, and prostration. I know that the city is not magically going to lower it’s own crime rates with fairy dust, I know that the school system is not going to sprout wings and fly to the top of North Carolina’s School report card of its own accord, and most unfortunately I know that ALL the children of Vance County are affected by this pitiful state of affairs,surely some more than others, and I for one fear daily the affects that such indifference will play on the generations of youth we are teaching our inaction to.

    Secondly, I ask who stands to BENEFIT if sheep blind obey and even the FEW who see the truth of things have not the time, desire, or money to compete? Who stands to gain if you are tired of blockades and truth distortions and can’t muster the DESIRE to visibly dissent again? Who stands to gain if local economic conditions make it to where MONEY is soo tight that investments in good government( aren’t close to being economical? Who stands to gain if local government is so convoluted and so difficult for the average citizen to follow that they decide that indeed, they do not have the TIME to pursue justice? I ask these questions not because you are wrong but because you are RIGHT. I simply propose that you look further into why it is so hard to CHANGE things locally, especially when it is so OBVIOUS that many things just don’t add up.

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  8. royal rooter said on:

    In order to save you a great deal of time in seeking answers to the questions that you pose in #5 and #7, I suggest that you talk to 4 recent members of the Henderson City Council. They being Mr. Robert Gupton, Mrs.Elissa Yount, Mrs. Lynn Harper and Mr. Ranger Wilkerson. They can also direct you to several other citizens who have first hand knowlege of the landscape of Henderson/Vance County politics.

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  9. LBaldEagle said on:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Both Royal Rooter and Evil Only have good points. HOWEVER….

    #1 I have written repeatedly trying to improve this County, and for several years all my letters got printed. It got so that a standard joke between my wife and the Publisher was when they would put me on the payroll as I wrote more than his editor. (The two were on many of the same civic committees, etc.) NOW I’M BANNED FROM THAT RAG — and yes, I called it a rag long before it banned me. I’ve complained of problems with the Dispatch for at least 6 years — I’ve lived here 7.

    #2 When I lived in CT, I and 3 other persons banded together to rid our town of a corrupt government. We won, but two of us lost our jobs and a third lost her business. Until they died, all of us would get together to reminisce and celebrate anyhow. Our fight saved the new fire house and the big elementary school as well as over 200 homes all of which were to be torn down for a corrupt motel and shopping mall the Town Council members had secretly invested in. But I was in my early thirties then, and it is over 40 years later. So I ask you guys — keep up a fight against lousy town and county governments, but get other foot soldiers.

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