To illustrate the point of this editorial, an old joke forces you to think back to the days when meat was affordable. It’s two butchers and one of their customers, but vegans can play along.
The customer, Mrs. Schwartz, stands at the counter of Joe’s Butcher Shop.
Ms. Schwartz: âHow much is this ground beef?
Joe the Butcher: “It’s $ 3 a pound.”
Ms. Schwartz: âIt’s outrageous. I was just in Bob’s butcher’s shop down the street. He only charges $ 1.99 a pound, but he doesn’t.
Joe: “Ma’am, if I didn’t have one, I could also sell it for $ 1.99.”
It’s not much different from how the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission is defending its post-pandemic shift to appointment-only service for most transactions. MVC spokesperson William Connolly said this model cuts wait times and ridiculously long queues, a feature of many services that have been restored after closings.
But, if there is no appointment, you cannot enjoy the benefits of an appointment system. It’s like a knockdown burger that doesn’t exist.
State Senator Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, clearly understands this. That’s why he’s pushing for the MVC to return to its pre-COVID-19 service standard, which allowed most transactions to be done by mail, online, or by going to a local office in the city. ‘improvist.
The reopening of MVC’s offices from July 7, 2020 was seriously botched. Sites have been opened and closed, apparently at will, due to infections or other staffing issues. People with expired or about to expire documents camped overnight, only to learn that the location would not open that day.
During this “shakeout cruise,” it made sense for the MVC to force all routine license and registration renewals to be done online or by mail. The decision to require appointments for other services (new driver’s licenses and registration, for example) and to divide the 39 agencies into locations for vehicle documents or registration papers also potentially eliminated the chaos. .
Now, however, 14 months after offices reopened, Singleton’s beef – and it’s not ground liver – is that appointments for some face-to-face transactions are even rarer than hen’s teeth.
Her chief of staff, Jennifer Aydjian, explains, âWe appreciate that a lot of things can be done online, and that shouldn’t change. However, at Delanco, our district’s MVC (licensing center), many transactions have no appointments available, some require a week of waiting, some require a month of waiting. Some are available tomorrow. The senator believes that drivers deserve better and that MVC appointments should be accessible. “
One example is REAL ID license applications, which require applicants to submit verification documents. Soon, the federal government will require these secure licenses to board planes or enter government buildings. Anyone who has tried to make an appointment with a REAL ID anywhere in the state has experienced utter frustration. There just isn’t any.
We can make a list of excuses for the prolonged hangover from COVID-19, starting with the fact that getting unemployment benefits was even more screwed up at the height of the pandemic. But, he was grappling with an unprecedented number of new jobless claims and old computers. And, unlike restaurants and retail businesses, which still have staffing issues, many MVC workers are unlikely to have quit during the pandemic. These state employees were not made redundant and continued to receive all medical benefits and be paid while staying at home.
If the MVC fails to bring back its employees consistently, it’s a management issue that falls directly to Governor Phil Murphy. It’s surprising that he didn’t take more interest in solving it. If there’s one bipartisan issue that Republican candidate Jack Ciattiarelli can capitalize on, this is it.
Singleton’s demand that all offices return to all services, walk-in, is unlikely to be realistic. MVC seems to be anchored in the online / dating model and quite frankly it does have some advantages. However, as the senator suggests, whether it’s ground beef, tofu, or MVC rendezvous, uptime is key. If there is a shortage, someone has to own it and fix it.
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