With A Little Help Vet Breaks Through Inept Unemployment System


CHICAGO — Since November, Carlton Jones watched his checking account dwindle whereas ready for calls from Illinois’ unemployment office.

He known as extra instances than he can rely. Every day, he despatched emails pleading for assist. He even requested his ex-wife to order an additional spot within the digital unemployment line.

Jones received so determined he despatched a plea for assist reasonably than an application to a job opening on the Illinois Department of Employment Services.

Nothing labored.

So, he courted the assistance of strangers, begged state representatives, lastly known as me hoping sharing his story publicly would possibly get outcomes.

“I got a call from IDES,” Jones instructed me. “They’re going to pay me, and I’ll get back pay. They’re releasing the money on Monday. I’m almost relieved. Until I see it in my bank account, I won’t totally be happy.”

Jones would possibly as nicely be a poster boy for all that is fallacious with how Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has mishandled the state’s unemployment disaster introduced on by the pandemic. The stress of ready to obtain unemployment advantages was simply a part of it.

While Jones was nonetheless gainfully employed as a legislation agency office supervisor, somebody stole his id to file an unemployment declare. Jones and somebody from his company every notified IDES that the declare was a scam. Still, Jones would later be taught, the state despatched money in his identify to a checking account in Virginia.

Jones received laid off in November. The fraudulent declare stopped him from with the ability to file for unemployment. He did not hear again from the state aside from a voicemail message on Jan. 11 till this week. And that was after a reporter and some strangers helped advocate on his behalf, together with Raquel Chavez, whose son’s Little League coach knew of Jones plight.

“Without what Raquel has done and you raising hell, this might not have happened for me,” Jones stated. “This experience is very frustrating and a lot of people are going through it. I was at a point where I couldn’t get a pack of gum without sweating it. I’m so thankful for everyone sharing their intellectual knowledge. It was a vast help.”

Jones instructed me the IDES consultant supplied to launch his unemployment advantages on Friday within the type of a debit card despatched by means of the mail.

“I wanted to say, ‘Yes,’” Jones stated, “but then I’d have to worry about dealing with the post office. That’s a whole other nightmare.”

And a column for an additional day.

Mark Konkol, recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for native reporting, wrote and produced the Peabody Award-winning collection, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story.” He was a producer, author and narrator for the “Chicagoland” docu-series on CNN, and a consulting producer on the Showtime documentary, “16 Shots.”

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