Legislators Again Protect DMV from Independent Audit

“For the second time in the past 12 months,” Bryan Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports, “California Democrats declined to open an independent investigation into the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.” The audit request was “the most sweeping review” of the “motor voter” program and new federal ID requirement, as California Globe has reported.

Four Senate Democrats voted against the request, which would have deployed state auditor Elaine Howle. As Anderson noted, Howle “does not report to the Governor’s Office and is considered independent of state government’s executive branch.”

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), a supporter of an independent audit, told reporters, “Californians, if they were hoping if somehow their experience at the DMV was going to be improved pretty soon, would be disappointed today, what we saw was politics got in the way of really doing the right thing.”

Last year, long lines and reports of DMV employees sleeping on the job prompted calls for an investigation. DMV director Jean Shiomoto resisted and legislators handed the agency another $16 million. When the problems persisted, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered an audit by his own Department of Finance, not state auditor Elaine Howle, a proven performer. …

Click here to read the full article from the California Globe

Embattled California DMV gets its third director in just 32 days


dmvThe agency struggling to register licenses is also struggling to find a leader.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has gone through two directors in just over a month. The latest leadership shake-up came on Jan. 30, when acting director Kathleen Webb replaced acting director Bill Davidson, who had replaced permanent director Jean Shiomoto on Dec. 31, 2018.

Webb comes to the DMV by way of the California Government Operations Agency. Before that, she worked as the chief risk and compliance officer for CalPERS.

She takes the helm at a difficult time for the department. Though the DMV has been successful in substantially reducing wait times, it was recently hit with 150,000 delayed driver licenses. The department has also struggled to implement the state’s new Motor Voter program, which automatically registers people to vote at DMV offices. …

Click here to read the full story from the Sacramento Bee

Thousands can’t get licenses after paying DMV early


DMVBogged down by long customer wait times, California’s Department of Motor last fall tried to ease the pressure in its offices by sending license renewal notices much earlier than usual.

It backfired.

The DMV sent renewal notices to Californians 120 to 150 days before their licenses were scheduled to expire. But the department’s technology could only accept payments 115 days before a license’s expiration.

As a result, thousands of customers across the state who immediately paid online or by mail for their renewals are now in limbo, waiting for a card that may never arrive in the mail. Some have not gotten their money back. …

 Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Brown Leaves Newsom a Managerial Mess at DMV


dmvJerry Brown’s last days as governor have been filled with laudatory media accounts of his half-century-long political career.

Many of the plaudits were deserved. Some were not, such as claims that he single-handedly rescued California from the brink of a financial meltdown. Even he acknowledges that luck – eight years of unleavened economic expansion – played a big role in balancing a budget drowning in red ink.

Missing in the positive descriptions of Brown’s career was any mention of his penchant for shunning responsibility for shortcomings in the state government he managed for 16 years.

Infamously, he replied “shit happens” when asked about huge cost overruns and construction flaws in the project to replace a third of the San Francisco Bay Bridge – and that’s been pretty much his attitude on other problems.

He’s refused, for instance, to accept responsibility for whether a huge change in school finance he proposed and shepherded through the Legislature actually has its intended effect of improving the educations of poor and English-learner students.

In public statements, and even in responses to lawsuits, Brown has taken the attitude that having provided the extra money meant to help those kids, he should not be held responsible for whether it works.

Rather, he preaches a doctrine he calls “subsidiarity,” shifting the onus for what happens to local school officials – a handy rationalization since so far, the Local Control Funding Formula has not appeared to have much positive impact.

And then there’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, the state agency that Californians love to hate – with good reason.

The DMV and its director, career bureaucrat Jean Shiomoto, came under fire in the Legislature last year after revelations of hours-long waits at field offices for even the simplest of transactions.

The Legislature was on the verge of ordering State Auditor Elaine Howle to delve into the agency’s obvious managerial shortcomings when Brown intervened and privately persuaded members of the Legislature’s audit committee to back off. A critical report from Howle would have been a black mark on Brown’s gubernatorial legacy.

But no sooner had Brown dodged that bullet than it was revealed that the DMV had made many errors in automatically registering Californians to vote when they did business with the agency – errors so grievous that Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees California’s election system, demanded a managerial overhaul.

It was embarrassing to Padilla and other Democratic politicians who had touted “motor voter” as a way of expanding voting in a state that has a very low participation level.

Late last year, Shiomoto saw the handwriting on the wall and announced her retirement. But then another DMV imbroglio surfaced.

The federal government had notified DMV in November that it was using a faulty process in implementing “Real ID” driver’s licenses, meant to defeat counterfeiting that would allow terrorists to board airliners.

California had already issued more than two million licenses or identification cards and the DMV claims – or hopes – that they will be honored even though the agency didn’t fully follow federal guidelines for confirming the identity of cardholders.

Beginning this year, DMV said, it will require applicants for Real ID to provide additional proof of legitimacy. Real ID will be required to board commercial aircraft in October 2020 and the agency was already way behind schedule on implementing the program.

The Real ID problem will fuel new efforts in the Legislature for a top-to-bottom audit of the agency’s managerial mess and how incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom deals with them will be revealing.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.org

Feds say California didn’t comply with ‘two document’ Real ID requirement


The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued 2.3 million new IDs this year using a process that doesn’t meet the federal government’s standards, the DMV was told last month.

The development means Californians who got those Real IDs will need to provide a second form of documentation to prove their residency when their ID comes up for renewal. DMV spokesman Armando Botello said the federal government told the DMV during phone conversations about the issue that it would still accept IDs that didn’t meet the requirement in the meantime.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent DMV director Jean Shiomoto a letter on Nov. 21 saying California’s process for verifying ID applicants’ residency didn’t meet federal requirements.

Federal standards require ID applicants to “present at least two documents of the State’s choice that include the individual’s name and principal residence,” according to the letter. It instructed the DMV to send federal officials a plan to correct the issue. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Rejection of Proposition 6 Doesn’t End the Taxpayer Revolt


Gas PricesIt is understandable that many California taxpayers are disappointed with the election results. The defeat of Proposition 6 means that last year’s big increases in both the car tax and the gas tax imposed on us by Sacramento politicians will remain in effect and California’s drivers are stuck having the second-highest gas tax in the nation.

Tax-and-spend progressives are interpreting the defeat of Prop. 6 as a green light to impose even higher taxes. In fact, some now believe that the iconic Proposition 13 itself may be vulnerable. But this thinking is faulty.

There are three major reasons why Proposition 6 failed and none of them are because voters were enamored with the Senate Bill 1 tax hike last year. First, the ballot label – which may have been the only thing low-information voters saw – made no reference to the tax hike passed by the legislature last year. Rather, it ominously stated that the initiative would “eliminate certain transportation funding.” This non-specific description ignores that, had Prop. 6 passed, California would still have the fifth-highest gas tax in the nation. In providing a blatantly misleading ballot title, Attorney General Xavier Becerra did the opponents a huge favor.

Second, the financial power of the “rent seekers” — those interests which secure financial advantage through higher taxes on the general public – was on full display during this campaign. Big business, including large construction companies, teamed with big labor to contribute well over $50 million in campaign funds. A one-time $50 million investment for $5 billion in tax proceeds every year is a heck of a good return on investment. Moreover, this amount of money dwarfed the approximately $5 million raised by the proponents. With that kind of spending disparity, the disinformation spewed out by the opponents could not be challenged effectively, particularly in major media markets.

Third, opponents engaged in repeated acts of questionable and even illegal behavior. Beyond just the over-the-top threats of collapsing bridges if Prop. 6 passed, there was the well-publicized use of Caltrans-supervised work crews to stop traffic and hand out campaign fliers urging a no vote on Proposition 6. And the full integration of Caltrans management with opposition campaign operatives was an example of real, not fake, collusion. While legal actions are pending on this kind of activity, it is of little solace to California drivers who are being punished every time they pull up to the pump or write a check to the DMV. …

To read the entire column, please click here.

California Adds Extra Review to Prevent Voter Registration Errors at DMV


vote-buttonsWith the midterm elections quickly approaching, California officials are taking extra steps to prevent people from being improperly registered to vote.

The Department of Motor Vehicles, which has been automatically registering customers since the spring, will now complete a manual review of a sample of those registrations each day before sharing them with the Secretary of State’s Office to be added to the voter rolls.

California’s Motor Voter program came under fire in recent months after thousands of registration errors occurred when customers came to DMV field offices. Non-citizens are among those believed to have been wrongfully added to the voter rolls, and it remains unclear whether any of them voted in the June primary. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

California’s DMV finds 1,500 more people wrongly registered to vote

VotedMore than a thousand people may have incorrectly been registered to vote in California, according to an internal audit of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles that was reportedly released Monday.

“Approximately 1,500 customers may have been registered to vote in error,” the DMV stated in a letter to the Secretary of State’s office, according to The Sacramento Bee. “This error has been corrected and is separate from the processing error we notified you about in writing on September 5.”

None of those affected by the improper voter registration were illegal immigrants, the agency reportedly said.

The DMV’s director told the news outlet that agency officials “have worked quickly with the Department of Technology to correct these errors and have also updated the programming and added additional safeguards to improve this process.”

Secretary of State Alex Padilla in response said …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

CA Motor Voter Law Registers Twice as Many Democrats


A California law that registers every citizen to vote when they apply for a driver’s license also has resulted in over twice the number signing up as Democrats versus Republicans.

The California Motor Voter Program (AB-1407) was passed in February and became effective in April this year. It has led to a huge spike in voter registration for the three months from June through August versus the comparable period in 2014.

Under the law, each person who applied for a California driver’s license or identification card is deemed to have a “completed affidavit of registration and the person is registered to vote, unless the person affirmatively declines to register to vote.” Juveniles age 16 years and older can also pre-register through the DMV to be eligible to vote at age 18. …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California

Making the DMV Audit a Reality


dmv

Motorists across the state have had to wait in hours-long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register their vehicle or license renewal. Some have spent an entire day waiting in line. Upset drivers have flooded my office with calls and emails.

To make matters worse, DMV personnel mangled 23,000 voter registrations. How did this happen?

In 2015, Democrats passed the Motor Voter Law, directing the DMV to automatically register new voters, unless they choose to opt out. State Senate Republicans warned that this would be problematic. At the time, my colleagues and I expressed our concerns of adding to an already overburdened workload at the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV is the wrong venue to register new voters since this is not the agency’s area of expertise.

Three years later, we learn that tens of thousands of Californians have been registered to vote even though they did not want to be registered. The DMV also made “mistakes” that assigned some voters a different political party preference than the one they chose. We sincerely hope this was not a case of voter fraud.

Once again, the DMV is the state agency that just can’t get it right. It already has been criticized by the public for long wait times, which it blames on an antiquated computer system and the federal REAL ID law – passed in 2005 and set to be implemented by 2020.

Before the legislative session concluded in August, a group of Assembly Republicans called for an audit of the DMV. At the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit hearing, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto apologized for the long wait times, asked for more money and reassured lawmakers that the problem would be corrected by the end of the year. The request for an audit failed after some Democrats did not vote for it.

The public has lost confidence in the DMV.

It has mishandled its core mission, along with a long list of problems including the erroneous registration of voter affidavits. Something needs to be done to regain that trust. The best way to do so is for the DMV to undergo a nonpartisan audit, which would reveal the extent of its problems and suggest recommendations for fixing them.

Enough excuses. Let’s audit the DMV now.

California State Senate.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily