Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Save Us from the Bureaucrats

 Nothing like being caught in a bureaucratic nightmare where everyone points the fingers at each other while spinning around the poor citizen so much that his head flies off. A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday.

So. I went to get a chest xray today. Last week I had discovered that my license had expired and I put it in my coat pocket in order to go renew it,  however I felt like punk, and therefore did not go get it renewed.

Today I drive out to MEA for xray and labs, because...still feeling like punk.  The desk woman wants my license, for admission to clinic. No jacket no license. Drive long assway back to house for license and go up to license renewal place and sit with the unhappy masses and wait three hours for them to call my number.

We all sit and bitch and share stories for three hours. Finally, sweet baby Jesus in the blessed manger they call my number. I practically skip to he desk. She takes my picture, bad picture, but what the hell, I have had my number called! Then she twiddles with the computer for 15 minutes. Can’t give me my ugly picture, my social security name does not match my driver license. Need my social security card to get ugly picture. I don’t know where the duck my social security card is!

It is 3:35, I cut a corner because there is n telling where ss card is. I zip down to federal building to get a new card. Easypeas. Take another number and sit again. My number gets called. I go skip to the desk. She pulled me up. Needs my driver license. Expired. Needs a medical record. Circle back up to top of page. I could not see a doctor because my license is expired.

Ouch.  Nothing like bureaucrats. However,  Times-Picayune reporter Chelsea Brasted can beat that story.  I almost hesitated posting this column from several months ago because I didn't want to inspire our local bureaucrats:

It cost me $31.49 to buy a $3 bicycle registration in New Orleans. I went through it so you don't have to.

Here's why: A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with Kevin Louis, a local musician who ended up getting a traffic ticket for four bike infractions, including biking against traffic and not having bike lights nor registration, tallying up a $920 fine. When I wrote about the ticket and the punishment that didn't match the crimes, several emails landed in my inbox.

"Most frustrating," read one, "is the fine for not having the bike registered."

Louis was charged $157.50 for that infraction. That's a fine costing more than 50 times the cost of the registration itself, so what would it take to actually register your bike? I had my doubts about whether it was as impossible as I read in my email inbox, so I hopped on my own set of wheels Tuesday (July 3), hoping to figure it out for myself.

My bike -- I've named her Stella -- is a big cruiser I got as a birthday present in 2014, and she's my preferred method of transportation around New Orleans when the heat index is somewhere below 108.

But until writing Louis' story, I didn't know bike registration was required. City code mandates all bikes be registered, but those with wheels 20 inches or less in diameter or those valued at $100 or less get the $3 fee waived. The purpose of this is unclear, and if you do a cursory search online, you won't find any official information from the city explaining how this is to be accomplished. What you can find is information from other entities and non-profits, but none that actually tells you what to do about registering your bike.

Dive into the city code, however, and you'll read that bike registration must be managed by the New Orleans Police Department, the New Orleans Fire Department and New Orleans bike sellers. Representatives of those entities also can refuse to register a bike they feel isn't mechanically sound, though questions about what makes some city officials qualified to make that judgment, what happens to the money raised through bike registration and how much it totals were referred to the municipal code itself.

On Tuesday, I wanted to figure out, at least, how to register a bike, so I rolled Stella right into the lobby of NOPD headquarters off Broad Street.

At first, I was turned away because it's 2018 and, though you can buy drugs on Instagram and pay your rent with Venmo, to do business with some parts of the city of New Orleans, you need a check or money order. I walked to a nearby gas station and secured the latter. (Ka-ching: $6.49, between the cost of the money order and ATM fees, because you have to pay cash for those.)

But if, like me, your bike came from outside Orleans Parish or through a second-hand dealer, and you don't have the original receipt, things get more complicated. At NOPD, the man who first came down to fill out my registration, informed me I needed a signed and notarized affidavit with the bike's serial number, stating I was its owner. So, I was turned away from NOPD for the second time, and I wasn't allowed to take the form with me to understand what other information was needed.

I wheeled across Broad Street to the nearest lawyer I could find and met John Radziewicz at the Crescent City Law Firm. Radziewicz, who said much of his business comes from traffic tickets, offered up a cautionary tale: Some bike infractions will count against your car insurance, if you have it, so cycle wisely. Good to know.

Radziewicz wrote up my affidavit, including the serial number I read off from Stella's grimy underside, and I returned to NOPD, triumphant, but another $25 poorer. (Radziewicz also sent me the blank affidavit, which can be downloaded as a Word document by clicking here, for those hoping to secure their own bike registration. You can have it signed and notarized, if you don't have proof of purchase.)

I had the money order. I had an affidavit, stamped and all, from a local notary, and I had my bike, which I rolled up to the department's front desk.

Within minutes, a woman appeared to fill out my registration form. As she wrote in my contact information, she came to the line for the serial number.

"That's not right," she said.
A bike registration sticker features the NOPD logo and a unique license number.


"That number isn't the serial number."

My eyebrows raised. I wasn't eager to leave NOPD empty-handed for the third time.

The woman pointed instead to dirt-covered digits I hadn't noticed were imprinted in my bike's undercarriage between its pedals. I leaned down, eventually lying prostrate on the floor of the police headquarters, reading the numbers off as the woman wrote them on the form.

My $25 affidavit, it seemed, was essentially worthless.

Maybe it was tenacity. Maybe it was because the woman believed I hadn't stolen the bike, though I could have lied about that to Radziewicz when he notarized my form. (I didn't, I promise!) Or maybe it was because I looked pathetic enough with my face pressed against the floor, but the woman went ahead and filled out my form anyway. Then she smoothed the NOPD's registration sticker onto my bike.

Before I left, one of the three women at the front desk who had watched me come and go from the police headquarters asked me how much I ended up spending on the whole process, and I told her. All three shook their heads as I snapped on my bike helmet and headed back into the steamy New Orleans Tuesday afternoon, this time for good.

So, is bike registration impossible in New Orleans? Nope, it can actually be done, even though the city offers no direction about how to do it.

Is it an unnecessarily tedious process? Absolutely. But was there any doubt about that?

Thankfully, the New Orleans just abolished bike registration. 


Anonymous said...

Which city abolished bike registration? NOLA or Jackson? Since so many bikes are stolen, do they check for registration or just send them to auction (that is for either place; whichever City has not abolished).

Anonymous said...

"I leaned down, eventually lying prostrate on the floor of the police headquarters, reading the numbers off..."

Or just flip the bike over and read. Duh.

Anonymous said...

And this ladies and gentlemen is what blue city/state governments create. If you like this crap, keep voting Dems into office.

Anonymous said...

or just call ahead and ask what you need to bring with you

Anonymous said...

@1:18 PM, wow, why didn't the reporter think of that? You are so brilliant. Why don't you contact her and give her that wonderful suggestion?

You may want to write this down: Calling city government in a blue city like NOLO that employs 1,000s of people who feel "entitled," is like calling the Jackson water department and asking where your water bill is?


Anonymous said...

If you are concerned about efficiency, why are you living in New Orleans?
Duh! Watch the intro to the Twilight Zone every time you cross the lake into the Big Easy and you will be prepared. If you live there, just stay drunk. It works.

Anonymous said...

Typical of what happens when government invades every corner of your life. Whenever I hear of someone who wants more government regulations I have to believe what they are really saying is they want to be the person who decides whether or not to give you the registration sticker.

Anonymous said...

The drivers license process is a nightmare in MS. I don't know if the employees simply started off smug and innefecient or if they all just end up that way.

Watched a woman who left the DMV come back to find her number had been called previously. The woman at the counter told her that she could not be seen as her number was already called. The customer argued then stormed off slamming the door. Shortly afterwards she came back in and walked right up to the same counter where the MHP employee explained to her, for 40 minutes, that she could not be helped as her number was called. Meanwhile the room is full of people who have waited 6 plus hours. The MHP employee essentially explained the same thing over and over until it was 5:00.

There is almost nothing the government can't screw up.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I did not want to suffer getting licenses at the Pearl office.

We made the pleasant and stressless drive up to Kosciusko last week, and were served by the two nicest DMV clerks that you could ever meet.

The small office only has two clerks, and they couldn't have been more helpful and friendly.

We only waited about 10 minutes to be served.

Please keep this little secret to yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should put a license renewal office in Mynelle Gardens, since only 200 people a year come there. We could get some use out of the facility.

Anonymous said...

I lost my license a couple of months ago and had to travel on business for work. Needed to get a replacement. Went to the central DPS office, was shown to the kiosk immediately, punched in my information, paid by card, got photographed and got a temporary license. They mailed my new one to my house within a couple of days. Whole process at DPS took less than 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...

City of Jackson, go get a permit to work on a house and they will make you spend a good day jumping through hoops to pull a permit to do work on your own house. They freely let them fall in but do not try to improve one.

A permit is required to replace a single piece of siding.
A permit is required to remove a toilet and replace it. Even putting the same one back in.

They love to catch someone working without a permit--it is their job I suppose.

Anonymous said...

As a state government employee, I’d like to add this comment to the mix: those ladies at the DMV are probably making somewhere around 20k. And the computer system they use is most likely an ancient product from the mid 90s. I have no doubt there’s a ton of laziness and ineptitude involved, but I feel like Republicans starve government and then complain about it not working properly. Cruise on over to the state personnel board’s job listings and take a look at what we’re paying these government workers y’all complain about. Note that the job listings will have a salary range, but everyone is making the minimum in that range, with only some mild bumps for extra education or experience. So your friend can sit with “the masses.” He’s more than adequately compensated come tax time.

Anonymous said...

BUT.....SIX damned hours? I don't give a freakin' rat's ass what anybody is paid! There is no excuse for a process that requires someone to sit in a government 'waiting area' for one hour, much less 2, 3, SIX!

I understand there are no Industrial Engineer jobs in the State Personnel Board job listings, but there damned well ought to be!

Anonymous said...

10:22pm.....yes, but we pay for them the rest of our lives. Starve government????? Are you kidding? Get rid of the waste and corruption and the good ole boy system and those ladies could double their salaries and get mac books. Government workers need to keep their mouths shut when it comes to what we pay.

4:55pm....the kiosk must have been broken shortly after you used it. It hasn't worked in months.

Anonymous said...

Mr. state employee, if y'all don't like the gubment wages, then get a job in the private sector and make more. But just remember, if you don't perform there, you are history.

Anonymous said...

Kosciusko is a charming place, even the DMV. Take a leisure drive up the Trace, spend 30 min. at the DMV, lunch at the Starlight on the square, do a little shopping, head back home. Very nice day.

Anonymous said...

Agree on all points made at 6:48am and 7:24am
I’ve had the misfortune of a recent DMV visit and I was told by an employee “that Kiosk has been broken for months”.
Your friend is lucky, 4:55pm.

Anonymous said...

State government employee here. I tried to be balanced in my comment and acknowledge that, in addition to poor pay being a factor, there are lazy and inept people in government. Y'all just want to make a complex problem simple and then rage at your straw man. "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity," or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Yup, but after 25, those 'lowly-paid' gubmnt workers are laughing at us the rest of their lives.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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