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Most of today's Legislators do not remember the old giant-killer from Kingsland, Ark., - Monroe Schwarzlose.

But no one should forget how this 'gad-fly" politician -- who never, ever had a chance to personally overthrow one of the best gubernatorial office holders -- i.e. a first-term Bill Clinton in an election.

But Schwarzlose gave the Governor-elect a political problem with the rank and file Arkansas voters -- even a charmer like Bill Clinton could not overcome.

That problem, proposed by Schwarzlose, at a Hamburg political rally and community event, challenged the Oxford educated governor of Arkansas, on why he (Clinton) raised the fee on car tags and thus complicating the confusing paper trail in the license tag process in Arkansas' DMV.

The blue-denim overalls clad Schwarzlose -- held up a crumpled license plate from the neighboring state of Louisiana -- just a few miles south of Hamburg and proclaimed that new plates in the Sportsman's Paradise were just $2. And they were easy to get, turn in your old plates, the state gave you a new set.

No paperwork. No fuss. No enhanced fee. No long lines at the DMV.

Just $2 for a new plate and renewal in Louisiana back in those days. In Arkansas the fee, if memory serves me, was six or seven times more.

Gov. Clinton was sitting on the same flat-bed truck dais as Schwarzlose preached from - that day ­-- but Clinton had no answer. He was, you see, oblivious to the problems of the masses sitting in long lines at the DMVs across the state.

That November, the GOP newcomer Frank White, a former Little Rock banker/bond-salesman, was elected governor on almost the same issue that plagues the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicle visitors today.

Today, there are local horror stories about citizens having a 2-, 3- and even 4-hour wait at the Department of Motor Vehicle offices in Springdale, Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers.

There are also stories about people prompted to make multiple visits to get all the documents for these new "enhanced" licenses. The license renewal fee is nearing $40, if not more, for extended renewal time.

And there are always tales of frustrated citizens traveling to the smaller DMV offices at Lincoln, Siloam Springs, Gravette to get quicker and better service. For general services that is true.

The only DMV's for the enhanced license are Bentonville, Springdale and Fayetteville - where the wait is oh, so long, for any service.

Some say one can get business done at the smaller sites in a third-of-the-time that it takes for a visit to the larger, better staffed offices.

For sure, the clerks at work for the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles, the virtual front-line of the agency are good, well-meaning people.

These employees, just like the fine people standing in line in front of them, are fighting a seemingly inflexible, impenetrable wall of regulations.

To receive the new "enhanced" Arkansas Driver's License there are exact status of documents that one must possess to even begin the process.

Complaints about the length of the wait at the DMV -- it seems -- falls on deaf ears.

Again, the front-line clerks get to each paper number holder in order and give each applicant their full attention once stepping to their window.

But this new system, it seems, just takes longer.

Yes, there are parts of the process that can be done on-line -- with a computer -- but again, not all this electronic process is seamless.

Or quick.

Or guaranteed to be correct.

Some will tell you they sailed right through -- no problems at all.

Yeah right, those who have waited three hours will say back.

I find it hard to understand why more and more of our elected officials have not come to the rescue of the citizenry on this matter.

Maybe it is going to take that tired old cliché, "it is Déjà Vu, all over again."

Bill Clinton can tell you it was a hard lesson he learned.

Maybe our members of the General Assembly need to be listening to the public -- they do get you all elected -- you know?

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylontrice@yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 07/31/2019

Print Headline: Lesson Learned?: Fix DMV problems before fall election

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