Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 2:07 a.m.
Longtime residents of Southern Nevada remember the days in the 1980s and early 1990s when visits to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles were so miserable it could take longer to register a vehicle or obtain a driver’s license than it would to drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. A trip to the DMV wasn’t simply a chore like going to the supermarket or bank. It was a day-long nightmare in a bureaucratic jungle.
Over time, the DMV worked hard to improve customer service. It opened branch offices, extended hours of operation and made it easier through the Internet to renew vehicle registrations and transact other business.
The last thing residents need is to return to the days when the DMV was one of the most despised government agencies.
But a plan by Gov. Jim Gibbons would return the agency to the Dark Ages. As reported Sunday by David McGrath Schwartz in the Las Vegas Sun, the governor informed legislators last month that he intends to eliminate Saturday hours in Las Vegas and Reno and place DMV employees on work furloughs in response to the department’s $3 million budget shortfall.
Think of the hardship this would create for Nevadans who work Monday through Friday, especially for those without Internet access. With DMV offices closed on Saturdays, many people would be forced to take time off from work simply to get a driver’s license or register a car. Business productivity would suffer and longer lines would return to the DMV, thanks to one fewer day of operation per week and fewer employees to serve the public.
It’s a sure bet that Gibbons wasn’t thinking about any of those ramifications when he devised his senseless scheme.
Instead of finding creative ways to preserve and improve government services, the governor uses the only weapon in his arsenal — a machete — to address a problem. Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said she’ll introduce emergency legislation, if necessary, to preserve DMV’s service levels.
Anything less would be intolerable.