Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unemployment Office in Kaneohe Closed

From: To: Subject: FW: Kaneohe Unemployment Insurance Division and Workforce Dev. Div. Offices Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 09:58:57 -1000
Aloha Ms. Thielen,
I am writing to you in your capacity as the governor's representative to our neighborhood board.
I just received the following email informing us that the Unemployment Insurance Division and Workforce Development Office in Kaneohe will be closed in the near future. Frankly, this announcement came about as a surprise to me and I have not yet been able to consider all the ramifications and effects the closing of this office might have on our community.

Would you be able to provide some additional background or information concerning this closure at our next Neighborhood board meeting on April 17th, this Thursday?

I think board members will want to hear your respective positions on this closure. I am sure there are those on our board that may be thinking that this may not be an appropriate time to close this office in view of the fact that most economic predictions for the Hawaii's future seem somewhat pessimistic at the current time.

I think our members might also like to know how the decision to close this office came about and whether there were any discussion about it with the DLIR director prior to the decision being made? And in anticipation of the need for the services previously provided by this office how will services be provided to residents in our community?

Mahalo for your consideration of this matter of community interest.

Roy Yanagihara Kaneohe Neighborhood Board


Kaneohe Neighborhood Board said...

I am very concerned with this closure. It will create hardship for the unemployed.

I am particularly concerned that the state did not bring this to our attention. A note in a newsletter is not adequate notice.

This is a total surprise to me. I cannot remember any kind of formal notice to the board.

Bill Sager

Kaneohe Neighborhood Board said...

Rep. Meyer has received word from Darwin Ching, Director of Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations that the Kaneohe Unemployment office will be moved to the Kaneohe Atrium Building located at 46-005 Kawa St. #205 which is across Kahuhipa St. from the Kaneohe branch of Central Pacific Bank.

Roosevelt L. Freeman

Office Manager

Representative Colleen R. Meyer, 47th House District

State Capitol, Rm 333

(808) 586-8540

Kaneohe Neighborhood Board said...

You need to read the attachment to the message I sent you yesterday. It is from Darwin Ching at DLIR but seems to be ambiguous.

While the notice states that the office will be moving to the Atrium building accross the street it also suggests that the office will have only limited hours. I happened to run into the owner of the Atrium building last night who confirmed that the unemployment office will be moving to her building but the space they are renting is less than a third of what they have now. She seems to think only part of the office will be moving into the new location.

As you know, the unemployment office is only part of the current operation. It also houses the state employment agency offices and training room now. So the real question is how much will the service be cut back?

As chair of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board I would like to know why weren't we informed of the downsizing and possible reduction of services and hours before the decision was made? It should be clear to everyone, particularly those in DLIR, the Hawaii's economy is on a downturn. Meaning that there is an anticipated need for increased services in the future. Let's see, Aloha Airlines, ATA, Weyhauser, Molokai Ranch, etc. I am particularly offended by Darwin Ching's suggestion that Windward residents will have the ability to go to the offices in Aiea and Downtown Honolulu.

This office serves the entire Windward side of the island and should not be closed.

Kaneohe Neighborhood Board said...


I remember way back in my younger days when the construction company I was working for went out of business and had to file for unemployment and it was so easy that there was an office right here in Kaneohe. Yes with the down turn in the economy its just more the reason we have these services here in Kaneohe.

Mahalo and thank you for the scoops on this impotent issue

Chris Steele

Bill Sager said...

Aloha Roy,

Thank you for your response and for your shared concern over this closure. While we official sent correspondence to Director Ching in February, this has been an issue I have spoken to him about since 2007 when this issue came to our attention. It was also raised by concerned residents at the Catle HS Town Hall meeting held by myself, Rep. Chong and Rep. Ito in early January. As you may recall, we also wrote about this issue in our February 2008 Koolau Konnections newsletter.

According to DLIR, approximately 300 walk in customers utilize the Kaneohe Unemployment Office monthly, primarily for workforce development services, given that unemployment claims are now largely processed via phone. In talking to the Director, I made it quite clear to him that if the office were to close due to increased cost (lease rent has tripled), that these services must be provided somewhere on the windward side, possibly at another state or city facility. He indicated to my office in February that this would be the case.

I put a call into Director Ching yesterday upon receiving their fax, and will be following up with a call today to get more information as to the permanence and consistency of hours at the Kawa Street location, and either myself or a representative will update the Board next Thursday. If I cannot get a representative there due to conference committees, I will be sure to get you our report with an update. Especially in light of recent job losses and a struggling economy, these services are very important to our windward residents.


Jill Tokuda

Anonymous said...

Check out:

Press release from DLIR two days after the move was completed. I sense an attempt at damage control brought about because the Neighborhood Board expressed some displeasure over not be told about this in advance. Sorry Director Darwin Ching too little, too late.