When this story about bribery at the California DMV appeared on May 18:
It didn’t surprise me.
What surprised me was how little interest it merited.
I understand why more bad news about the California DMV wouldn’t be of interest to people outside our state.
But I thought the California media outlets would be on this story like flies on…you know.
National and local, all I saw online was reprints of the same Associated Press story from above, that starts with:
“California Department of Motor Vehicle employees at two Los Angeles-area offices took thousands of dollars in bribes to approve driver licenses, federal prosecutors said.”
And ends with:
“The scheme involved sending the drivers to the window of a participating DMV employee who had an identifier, such as a red hat.”
We’ve gotten so used to bad news about our DMV, and bad service from our DMV, that back on April 19 I did a post in which I referred to it as the “asshole of California.”
“A bit harsh,” someone commented.
I think not.
I based my assessment on the encounters I’ve had with the DMV over the years, and recounted the most recent. I’d mailed paperwork to them six weeks earlier, and wanted to know the status of my request. After many fruitless and frustrating attempts to learn something on the DMV website, in desperation I called them.
Eventually I connected with a person and explained why I was calling.
And without bothering to ask me anything – not even my name – his excuse was well-rehearsed, immediate, and creative:
“Due to the pandemic and the Post Office, everything at DMV is delayed.”
The conversation went downhill from there. He was less than useless, and if you think that isn’t possible, you haven’t dealt with our DMV.
A bad experience at our DMV is never a surprise, so neither are bad headlines, like these:
In case you don’t know what the Golden Fleece Award is for…
“The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) – a cartoonish poster child for bureaucratic incompetence – has won the Independent Institute’s seventh California Golden Fleece® Award, a distinction given quarterly to California state or local agencies or government projects that swindle taxpayers or break the public trust.”
And note, those headlines were all pre-pandemic.
Since the pandemic started in March 2020…
One thing you can count on the DMV to be is…
OK, back to the most recent – the May 2021 bribery story.
This involves two Los Angeles-area offices and at least five employees, one of whom “admitted to accepting weekly bribes exceeding $50,000.”
A different bribery accepter said a “network of ‘brokers’ would contact him on behalf of drivers who could not pass the exam and then forward the drivers’ bribes to the DMV employees.”
You’ll be relieved to know that in a statement responding to this latest, the DMV said:
“Fraud prevention is one key component of customer service. The DMV takes very seriously its responsibility to uphold the law as we serve our customers and we applaud our thousands of employees who work with integrity and pride.”
Which I suspect is similar to what the DMV said back in 2012 after this story broke:
And after this 2015 story:
And this 2018 story:
And this 2019 story:
Back in January 2019, our governor, Gavin Newsom, committed to fixing the DMV by appointing a “strike team”:
As time passed and nothing changed, we were all wondering…
That question was answered in July 2019:
But let’s don’t get discouraged!
An April 2021 report from AutoInsurance.org assures us that the California DMV made a Top 10 list.
A Top Ten list! That’s a good thing, right?