“The incompetence is literally off the charts,” said Epperson’s Glenn Barca, pictured here working on his petition that demands that Florida meet the needs of the state’s unemployed.

After waiting weeks for his application to receive unemployment to be approved, Epperson resident Glenn Barca couldn’t take it anymore.

So, he started an online petition, hoping to draw attention to his plight, as well as the plight of hundreds of thousands of others who have been waiting for assistance from the state.

“The main objective of the petition was that folks in Tallahassee would pay attention and take notice at how many people are upset out here,” Barca says. “They need to take the petition and the people that signed it seriously, and get to work.”

The petition demands that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department Of Economic Opportunity (FLDEO) fully implement the Federal CARES Act and “disperse without delay the monetary resources” the law is supposed to provide.

Barca, like many others, still hasn’t received a dime from the state, despite applying for unemployment on March 23, a day after his job as a self-employed driver for a luxury car service ended. 

With most of his work for business people heading to corporate events at places like Saddlebrook Resort, Barca’s rides dried up due to coronavirus fears, as staying safe became his top priority. 

“I didn’t want to end up with a tube down my throat,” Barca says. “It’s kind of hard to maintain social distancing when there is someone in the back seat.”

Now Barca, 53, worries about draining his nest egg.

His petition on Change.org has drawn nearly 10,000 signatures, with angry commentors criticizing Florida’s CONNECT website that has failed and has become a national laughingstock. 

Even DeSantis called the system a “clunker” and “problematic,” as Florida has been overwhelmed with more than 700,000 claims while distributing money to barely 20 percent of those applying for unemployment benefits.

On April 27, Barca and roughly 200,000 others were deemed ineligible to receive unemployment funds, and have had to reapply.

Barca says he made 100-150 attempts over 12 straight hours to refile his claim on April 28, only to get to get booted off the system as he reached the final screen. 

“This is so frustrating,” Barca says. “The level of incompetence is literally off the charts.”

His petition has been featured all over the country, thanks to a story by Spectrum News 13 in Orlando and the Associated Press, as well as on local television stations.

He estimates that the state owes him more than $5,000 and says that he “knows for a fact” he will get that money one day.

He also says he is not done fighting.

Barca also has signed on to the complaint filed April 24 by Tallahassee attorneys Marie Mattox and Gautier Kitchen accusing state officials of negligence. A hearing was scheduled for May 6 in Leon County, which was after we went to press with this issue.

“I kind of needed this money yesterday,” Barca says. “I have about 3-4 weeks of reserves left, but what about those people that didn’t have reserves? What’s happening to those people?”

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