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Reader Submission: No joy at the DMV

FAILThough Governor Chafee made a great show of improving the DMV early in his term, we still hear no end of complaints about the agency. Below is an email a reader sent us about her recent experience:

I spent an hour on hold where a single sentence repeats over and over and over just to get to a voicemail box of an employee in the communications department?

I need my vehicle title returned. There seems to be an online database that I could use to accomplish this task, but can’t access without paying a huge amount of money. Why restrict it? So many of your customers could be using online tools instead of perpetually unavailable personnel to solve their problems.

I paid to register my car and my title was sequestered. Now I need to pay to recover it? And waste hours of my time to get no service whatsoever?

Your service is so terrible that dealing with you is the most dreaded errand of any errand. I’d rather spend a day cleaning toilets with a toothbrush than visit your offices. At least I would know that my goal was something that could be accomplished.

You have a new building, and NOTHING has improved except for your lobby. You should have stayed in Pawtucket, hired 10 more people for customer service, and 5 people to put any service possible online for FREE.

How have your experiences at the DMV been of late? Better? Worse? You wish you were dead so you’d never have to go there again?

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News & Notes

cornell-tech-campus

Proposed Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Inside Higher Ed: The Lure of the City

Cornell, one of the only top private research universities in the country not located in an urban area, saw expansion into New York as a necessary component of its future ambitions and was willing to go to greater lengths, invest more money, and better conform to what the city wanted, officials said.

The competition helps cement the idea research universities have been pushing in recent years that they can serve as economic engines to local communities and the country as a whole, and could spawn a host of similar initiatives in other cities.

It also reinforces a growing notion that research universities are going to need access to the resources provided by urban areas to continue to serve as such engines. “We believe the city had the right idea at the right time,” Cornell President David Skorton said at the announcement. “The tech sector of universities is shifting from simply the pursuit of knowledge to service of business and industry.”


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News & Notes

The Providence Journal: Panel would have power over redevelopment of Route 195 land

In addition to deciding on all redevelopment plans for the soon-to-be-vacant highway property, the proposed quasi-public commission would have the power to buy and sell land, borrow and lend money, invest money and negotiate tax agreements – all without state or city approvals. Employees of the commission would not be considered employees of the state or the city.

The legislation would give the commission such powers as setting zoning regulations and granting sales-tax exemptions to the companies it chooses to redevelop the land.

“Reading this bill set off a lot of alarm bells in terms of good government,” Common Cause Executive Director John Marion said in an e-mail. “Quasi-public entities should only be created when absolutely necessary. This entity will have the ability to tax, fine and hold elections. That is incredible power for an appointed entity.

“Even more worrisome is that this quasi-public [agency] will possess the powers of a number of city and state agencies, including planning and zoning, among others,” Marion said. “Essentially, this creates a separate city within the City of Providence, and one that is not controlled directly by the people.”

The powers of the proposed commission would stretch beyond the former highway land if a developer chosen for a project within the highway zone also owns abutting parcels. In that case, the abutting land would be subject to all the “powers and authority of the commission,” and not subject to any local review or approval.

The commission is authorized in the legislation to sell two parcels to Johnson & Wales University, provided that construction would begin within 12 months of the contract date and be completed within three years.

The university wants those irregularly shaped chunks of land along Friendship Street that adjoin its campus – known as parcels 31 and 36 – for student housing and academic buildings.


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News & Notes

Transportation for America: The Fix We’re In: The State of Rhode Island’s Bridges

America’s infrastructure is beginning to show its age. Our nation’s roads, highways and bridges have increasingly received failing scores on maintenance and upkeep. The American Society of Civil Engineers has rated our country’s overall infrastructure a “D” and our bridges a “C.” For roads and highways, this manifests itself in rutted roadways, cracked pavement and abundant potholes, creating significant costs for drivers and businesses due to increased wear and tear on their vehicles. For the nation’s bridges, lack of maintenance can result in the sudden closure of a critical transportation link or, far worse, a collapse that results in lost lives and a significant loss in regional economic productivity.


The Providence Journal: R.I. Governor Chafee: ‘Fix the DMV’

Good luck with that.


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