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State office closures catch several by surprise


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POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

Greeted by locked doors and closure signs, some residents were astonished to find state buildings closed yesterday on the first day of public worker furloughs.

“;We didn't think the furloughs affected this many things,”; said Geoff Oamilda, who was trying to get a marriage certificate from the Department of Health along with his new wife and 2-year-old son. “;It's kind of upsetting.”;

People showed up at the Health, Tax and Labor departments only to learn that furloughs affected more than just schools, and they wondered why the state did not make better announcements.

At the Health Department, Lovely Fernandez, 58, wanted to pick up a copy of her birth certificate.

“;It's a pain in the butt,”; she said. “;It's irritating.”;

; “;It shouldn't have come to this point,”; she said, blaming the governor for “;screwing up the whole system.”;

Some were upset that the voice mail at the Labor Department did not say anything about the closures. The phone number for the Labor Department's Honolulu claims office was not answered.

For Ben Mugunbey, 29, and his fiancee, Sophia Datmagurun, 28, getting married was supposed to be a quick and easy process but turned into a daylong affair.

The couple, who have been together for five years, planned to marry yesterday because Sophia lost her job and health insurance.

;[Preview]  First school furloughs catch few local families off guard
 

Despite the recent publicity, many people were still caught by surprise by the first Furlough Friday.

Watch ]

 

On the Health Department's front window, they found a listing of independent marriage license agents. The couple, who left their car at home in Waikiki, planned to pick up the license, then have a judge, who was still working, officiate the marriage.

“;This is my only free day,”; he said. “;That's what's messing up my plans.”;

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Sherilynn Luming, a marriage license agent, said about four couples came in yesterday, fewer than on a state holiday. She believed it was because the media had reported the closures.

“;I was shocked,”; she said. “;I thought we would have more than we did today.”;

Reynoldlyn Botelho, a single mother and student, said she could not reach anyone by phone at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations for information on filing an address change. She learned only after a 90-minute bus ride from Waianae that the office was closed.

Furloughs also closed parking garages near state offices on Punchbowl Street.

“;You know how long I've been looking for parking? Forty-five minutes,”; said Miyoko Sakamoto, who wanted to file for unemployment at the Labor Department. “;I live in Kailua. They really have to let you know.”;

Wayne Morita of Pearl City said the Department of Taxation should put a sign on the lawn instead of only on the front door, which is not visible from the street.

“;I thought only the schools were going to be closed today,”; he said. “;I should get my money back from the meter.”;