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Southeast Texas employers under seige, unemployment fraud?

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1813 has learned some Southeast Texas employers are against the wall with a raft of questionable, frustrating, and even potentially illegal actions by employees.

We will focus on just one Southeast Texas bedding company. In the admirable race to protect the jobless, the Texas Workforce Commission is failing in its responsible of verifying the cause of job seperation and ripping off employers. The “cause” of joblessness was listed by the employee as “disaster” or, in other words, the COVID19 crisis. Thing is, the employee left of her own accord. Basically before the onset of the crisis and for reasons unrelated to COVID at all. 

TWC didn’t verify the claims. Three days after the employer got notice that a claim had been filed and before the company could even respond, TWC notified the employer that the case had already been closed. The full-time employee had been given a $1200 stimulus check. And vanished right after her exit interview. 

You can see the documents below. The employer wasn’t allowed to fight the claim because the matter had been settled before the company could even respond by May 8th. Unemployment benefits are typically NOT awarded to employees who quit on their own. But TWC has apparently decided to move FAST instead of moving fast while being thorough. 

So the employer said enough is enough and attempted to call the hotline designed to give Texas companies a remedy from fraudsters. The hotline was busy for HOURS according to the “boss.”

It is a felony to falsify unemployment requests, but the state is doing nothing to protect the employers it seems. 1813 has learned several other employers have been struggling to get workers to return. The unemployment benefits are just too alluring. 

We expect developments in this story. Give us your views.

 

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Shelley Luther released from jail. Defiant & jailed hair salon owner sprung by Texas Supreme Court

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North Dallas hair salon owner Shelley Luther has been released from Dallas City Jail – on the orders of the Texas Supreme Court. Luther’s boyfriend Tim Georgeff talked with 1813 on Wednesday (May 6, 2020) Georgeff told us Luther never expected to be jailed – and refused to admit to Judge Eric Moye she was “selfish” by re-opening her business. That’s why she was jailed on contempt of court charges. 

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Shelley Luther goes to jail, Texans leap to her defense

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton have all weighed in with disapproval at a Dallas area judges ruling that seems to show just how crazy our times have become. At a time when Dallas County judges are ruling to release jail inmates because of COVID19, another judge has put Shelley Luther behind bars.

Who is Shelley Luther? Well, don’t feel badly. Nobody knows much about Luther. She’s the owner of a North Dallas hair salon called “A La Mode.” Which is to say she could be any of us.

Luther has now been sentenced to a week behind bars for reluctantly deciding to re-open her salon. Her boyfriend Tim Georgeff says she did so for one reason only. She had reached the end of her financial resources, couldn’t get approved for the unemployment that tens of thousands of Texans are seeking, and needed to help her “tenants” i.e. the other hair stylists to keep food on the table of their kids. 

Wednesday 1813 talked with Jefferson County GOP Chair Judy Nichols who levelled a scathing criticism of the judge who put her behind bars. That would be the fairly aggressive and oft-embattled Judge Eric Moye. A judge who was once accused with pulling a gun on a driver. Yeah, an overly genteel dude!

We’ll cover more on Luther in coming days. For now, examine and comment on the extraordinary views of Nichols.

https://www.facebook.com/KevinSteeleTV/videos/2691105407787176/

Thursday bulletin: Suing the Beaumont federal prison camp

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Prison mismanagement. And lawsuits. The allegations. Wish we had better news. The largest male federal prison camp in the United States, in Beaumont, is facing a whirlwind of criticism and likely at least one federal lawsuit. 1813 has learned an inmate in his 60’s – with more than 20 years served (on a 25 year sentence) has died with complications of COVID19. Roughly 550 inmates are crammed into tight quarters (3 to a space at times) and there are allegations of human rights violations. At last one attorney has accepted a case that could result in a monumental lawsuit. Bureau of Prisons has been called again. Bureau of Prisons once again has no interest in telling you its side of the story. 

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Orange County Judge John Gothia is bracing for serious county economic belt-tightening as a result of the COVID19 crisis. “This years money (sales tax receipts) is next years budget so we will definitely have to run a tight ship next year in our budget. We dont know that number. (Up until the crisis) our sales tax numbers were good,” he said.

“I dont think we will have to have cuts,” said Gothia. But he says Orange County will likely take on no new expenses and trucks and tractors won’t get replaced. Gothia believes base operations will continue with no new capital outlay for 2021. And as far as testing – there’s a new testing site for OC residents. It will be available ONLY TO THE FIRST 100 CALLERS (as if a radio give-away just happened) who ask to be tested. Held on Cionco de Mayo (next Tuesday) at the Expo center there on FM 1442. Its a mobile site that will be moved to the other counties as well.

ORANGE COUNTY REOPENS tomorrow and restaurants will be able to allow sit-down customers up to 25% of capacity. Who’s enforcing it? Nobody. Gothia freely admits that its pretty tough to enforce. “I’m sure I’ll get calls from people saying so and so has more than 25 percent capacity in their restaurant.” Hey, what are you going to do? He’s already running a tight ship in a county strapped for cash. 

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Friday Bulletin: BISD set to be sued? Mayor set to be censured?

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1813 has learned a Beaumont ISD employee is threatening a potential lawsuit over the district’s handling of the COVID19 outbreak. The employee who will not be identified by 1813 says contractors are getting infected, district employees are testing positive and one employee has passed away. Our source says some employees are getting the equivalent of “hazard pay” while others are not. The employee says its created a mess. The employee says the district is actively threatening its faculty and staff with reprimands if they speak out publicly about the COVID19 impact on the district. BISD has not responded to an initial request for comment made at 1:26pm Friday.

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1813news has learned Beaumont Councilman Mike Getz will vote for a censure resolution against Mayor Becky Ames. Getz told 1813, “I think a censure resolution is appropriate to be presented to council for a vote.” Getz says he would support the censure and indicated he might even make the motion to put the wheels in motion. Councilman WL Pate says, “at this point I don’t know if there will be an agenda item to take action on the executive session. Hopefully, we can have an item added to the agenda to give us an option on action to be taken. I am working on it.” 

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How come Governor Andrew Cuomo failed to protect his people from COVID19? He seems willing to admit that the federal government can’t always be counted on to save the nation, so how about do it yourself? Possibly Cuomo is criminally liable?

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Clear evidence we’ve learned from the USS Theodore Roosevelt: COVID19 was NOT more dangerous than the flu. Of the 4,800 men and woman aboard, 86% didn’t get it, despite the tight quarters aboard the vessels. Of those who contracted it, 60% of the sailors were asymptomatic.  

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Worldometers.com reports in the first 4 months of this year the flu killed 2 and a half times more people than did COVID19.

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In Richmond Virginia the Catholic diocese is witnessing a spiritual revival. More people are attending mass via online technology compared with the number who attended in person BEFORE the outbreak. Dude!

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Home health care expert: COVID19 is manageable, and being managed

A home health care company president and RN says FEAR of COVID19 is paralyzing too many people, the CDC needs to step up, and the Governor of Texas should re-open business WITH standard sanitary precautions.

Karie Spell has been in the industry for 25 years and has been the half owner of the gold-standard home health care company Signature Health Services since 2007.

Spell’s company has a staff of more than 70 and sees around 350 patients at any given time. One thing she believes with all her might? That the media has created a “mass hysteria” around COVID19 – and a hysteria that is misplaced. She says the direction provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sorely lacking.

“When the story first broke I became very attentive… and there is another story,” said Spell. She says with hundreds of media outlets churning out thousands of stories on the disease there is a lot of misinformation. “Peripheral noise” as she put it. And she says the climate is NOT helped by people who believe themselves experts because they “googled it.”

Early on, Spell called the Emergency Operations manager at the CDC and asked for guidance. Her nurses and other staff work closely with patients over a 7-county region extending into the Winnie area. She was met with confusion and finally an officer who said, “I’m not really familiar with that.” From a clinical vantage point, Spell was looking for much clearer protocols for how to move forward.

Not a single one of Spell’s nurses has contracted the COVID19 virus, despite seeing hundreds of patients in close proximity daily for months now. And that includes those who worked directly with a patient who tested positive on March 31st. Spell’s professionals had worked with the patient for about a month. In that case, two nurses and a therapist were pulled from circulation and quarantined. Thing is, they had taken standard precautions and DID NOT GET IT.

She credits a tenured staffer who had worked for years at a charity hospital (through tuberculosis scares, AIDS, swine flu and other outbreaks) with the maxim we should have. Go to work every day, pray, follow your best practices and all will be well. The nurse told her of COVID19, “this won’t be any different.”

Spell says America started to think of the virus as an assassin in wait. “COVID19 has become paralyzing because somebody is always in our ear.”

She says conditions then worsened. Borne of that hysteria, people who needed care for a myriad of other illnesses started backing away from the very assistance they needed.

“And we began to get calls from patients who didn’t want care,” she said. “So now you have a sick population who, because of this fear, are eliminating health care workers… fear began to culminate in confusion. It blocked people from making the best choices.”

Spell says “medical” friends all around the country started describing a common theme. Hospitals at half capacity. Administrators who were calling for reduced hours. And “government” still driving a theme that we are all going to see the grisly scene witnessed in some hospitals in New York City.

“We are not New York… when we were at our worst, at a 4 percent death rate, that still means 96 percent are surviving… It’s like anything else. If you’re sick, stay home. Or at risk, don’t go to a crowded place. Wash your hands. Be very vigilant about hygiene,” says Spell.

And, at a time when some observers believe the economy is beginning to flat-line, this medical professional has a message for Texas Governor Greg Abbott. She believes in the prudent re-opening of businesses.

“Give the people the power back. These are our rights. These are our freedoms. You’re fearful? Stay at home, but give people who are well, the ability to go back to work.” 

Spell believes the fallout from the business closings will be far worse than the virus itself. And will create certain prejudices like never before – like how neighbor perceives neighbor. She believes people with the virus are being shunned as though a leper. And she expects lawsuits to be filed as a result.

The Signature Health Services president knows it’s been a rough ride already but told 1813 that American business owners can learn key truths through this generational crisis.

“Be confident. Wash your stuff down. Make sure (your employees) are well when they come back to work. But when we do those things and we continue to rise up – we replace fear with confidence.”

Friday bulletin: Westrock has a potential coronavirus mess on its hands

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1813 has learned the coronavirus mess at the Westrock paper plant may be quite a bit worse than first thought. Sources tell us “the union has been asking the mill to check temperatures (of employees) for weeks now. They just started doing temps last Friday.” The well-placed source says contractors have been undergoing tests for roughly 2 weeks. 

1813 reported a week ago that no less than 20 reported cases of sickness consistent with coronavirus have been confirmed at the Evadale plant but that many employees have been taking heat over talking about it with outsiders.  Westrock has confirmed 4 confirmed cases to other media. Westrock natioanl media relations personnel have declined to return calls for comment. 

“We just got masks handed out today (Friday) because they just came in… and they did not clean areas or quarantine all the people they said (they quarantined),” according to one source. 

We’ve learned from insiders that a crew is on-site to clean the plant but they only work days. One employee is said to have been forced to go home from working at Paper Machine #5 last Saturday and that the only follow-up by Westrock was to ask those who worked directly on shift with him to watch themselves for two days and check for symptoms. 

1813 is looking into other so-far unconfirmed allegations of other plants failing to follow cleaning or safety precautions amid the national outbreak. 

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Monday bulletin: SETX comes back to life?

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Back to life means different things to different people.With a little over 250 confirmed cases of coronavirus 19 in our area there is little consensus on re-opening businesses. People are very polarized on whether it should happen. After talking with several area leaders we think it will happen reasonably soon on a phased-in basis. Restaurant tables will be spaced out. We’ll probably have a lot more on this tomorrow. 

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A reliable source tells us 20 employees of Westrock (paper mill) in Evadale have quarantined over the COVID 19. We are withholding further information until we hear back from Westrock. 1813 called the company two days ago but we still haven’t heard back. 

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Rioting at the Lansing Correctional facility in Kanas. 14 staffers and 12 inmates had tested positive for COVID 19. More than 30 employees of the JBS meat packing facility have tested positive in Greeley, Colorado. 

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Tele-doc counseling is being done for the battered women of the area. Call Family Services of Southeast Texas for more information. 

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The checks are rolling in. Southeast Texans are seeing the first of President Trump’s stimulus checks and there’s a lot of excitement over it.

Melanie Zumo of Nederland got a direct deposit of 2200 bucks for her family and told us, “I think it will give the people a little hope! I think the problems of this country run way deeper! (but) people just need a little something to hold on to right now.”

Zumo told us the money SHOULD stimulate the economy because, “people have been laid off and yet it’s impossible to file for unemployment because you can’t get through. The website crashes (and) people are in panic mode with zero income.”

The Administration says 60 millioin payments will be made by direct deposit.

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How to get an antibody test in Southeast Texas? To see if you’ve had it already and are immune? Call 888-910-CURA. Testing will begin soon behind Chili’s off I-10 in Beaumont.

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The sale of pre-mixed drinks has gone up 100 percent during the quarantine. Who knew?

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Southeast Texas country singer David Joel’s new single has hit a Triple Play on the Texas Regional Radio charts. That’s most adds, most spin increase, and highest debut. Its moved into the 70’s on the charts. That’s the song “If I Had It My Way” with Mickey Gilley.

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Don’t be sad if your 401k gets hammered this week. The banks and industrials are going to have to report earnings. I never have investment advice, but its going to be bloody I predict. Many believe it will all come back around. 

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Southeast Texas churches resurrect Easter services – with modifications

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Southeast Texas churches were not to be outdone by a coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than a half million Americans.

Calvary Tabernacle Beaumont is just one of the churches adapting with new technology to serve the congregation. The service was broadcast over an FM radio frequency to the vehicles assembled in the parking lot. Dozens of vehicles. 

On Easter Sunday 2020, Pastor Carl Vickery took to the portico roof of the church just off I-10 near 11th Street – to lead a drive-up service.

Even when heavy rain began to pour down, Vickery stayed atop the church and belted out a sermon from the 16th chapter of Mark. Some of the adherents stepped from their cars, but seemed to stay at a distance from others. Clearly several people were moved by the service, and several stepped out into the rain to worship.

Calvary Tabernacle is just one of dozens of churches that have adapted to the COVID 19 outbreak and adopted new policies for their services.

Additional visuals here!

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Exclusive: Former Congressman Stockman fears for his life because of CV, wife Patti pleads for Presidential intervention

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The wife of jailed former Congressman Steve Stockman has made a dramatic appeal to the President for help amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Patti Stockman says her husband, an inmate at the Beaumont federal prison unit, has reason to fear for his life because of several confirmed cases of the disease within the prison system. 

Patti argues against what she calls an unjust prosecution by the Obama Department of Justice. She says in a videotape released to 1813 that unfair DOJ attacks are, “something you have witnessed yourself.”

Stockman asks that her husband be pardoned from a “sentence” that would become a “death penalty. And a death penalty in short order.”

 

 

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