Seeking The Star

On October 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration will stop accepting the old Ohio driver’s license as a form of identification.  If you want to travel after that date, you need to have a new, compliant Ohio driver’s license — one with a little star in the upper right-hand corner.  Because deadlines such as this have a tendency to sneak up on you, and then suddenly you’re desperately trying to do everything at the last minute, Kish and I decided to be rational and proactive instead.

web1_compliantStep one in seeking the star means pulling together documentation to prove that you are who you say you are.  Kish assembled separate packets of compliant documents for each of us.  My documents included my current driver’s license, my passport, my original, dog-eared from being carried around in my wallet forever, paper Social Security card, issued in about 1969 when my family still lived in Bath, Ohio — I can’t believe I still have it, more than 50 years later — and multiple bills that show our current residence address.  (You can get information on the necessary documents here.)  Getting the required documents together is a big part of the process; I’ve heard about people who had to go back several times to get everything they needed.

Step two meant going to the sprawling BMV location on Alum Creek Road.  The office opens at 8 a.m., and we got there just as the doors were being unlocked.  There was already a line, and we steeled ourselves for a long wait — but that BMV location knows what it is doing.

We first went through a kind of processing line, where employees determined what we were there for and, in our case, looked at our documents, told us we had what we needed (Yay!  Thanks, Kish!) and put the documents into a specific order, then gave us a number and directed us to the waiting area.  When our number was called a few minutes later, we dealt with a pleasant, professional woman who looked at the documents, typed our information into the system, asked us background questions, gave us the eye test, collected the fees for the new licenses, and then ultimately took our pictures — which, in my case, was remarkably unflattering.  The whole process, from beginning to end, took about a half hour and was remarkably efficient and painless.  We’ve all heard people make fun of the BMV, but these employees really did a good job.  I even responded to an on-line survey to give them kudos for their efforts.

We’re supposed to get our new, compliant licenses in a few weeks, which will be step three in seeking the star.  Until then, we’ll be carrying around our old license, with a kind of paper version of our new license information.  We’ll also be carrying around a welling sense of pride that we didn’t wait and get snarled in a last-minute crush in our quest for the star.  It feels good to be proactive every once in a while.

That Inexplicable Political Perspective

In Ohio we’ve had two recent examples of how politicians just seem to think about things in ways that are different from the rest of us.  Both involve Democratic candidates for statewide offices, and both involve cars.

Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive — that means he’s the county’s top official — had no driver’s license at all for six years, then he had a “learner’s permit” that required him to drive in the company of another adult as part of a series of temporary permits for additional years; in all, he went 10 years without a permanent license.  This came to light when the story broke that FitzGerald was found in a car with a woman who was not his wife at 4:30 a.m., during a time period where he had a learner’s permit.  FitzGerald says nothing untoward happened, but he acknowledges that after he dropped the woman off at a hotel he drove home alone — which violated his permit.  It’s unclear how many other times FitzGerald violated his learner’s permits, but another Democratic official admits seeing him drive himself back and forth from work frequently during the time before he had full driving privileges.

Then there’s David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General.  It turns out that Pepper has wracked up more than 180 parking tickets over 14 years — some which were for driving with expired license plates — including one as recently as last month.  Pepper, who served as a Hamilton County Commissioner and a Cincinnati City Council member during that 14-year period, has paid more than $9,000 in fines on the tickets.

Of course, both the FitzGerald and the Pepper campaigns say these curious matters are being emphasized by Republicans just to distract voters from the more important issues.  Perhaps that’s true, but these strange stories still tell you something about the candidates.  How many working adults in America don’t have permanent driver’s licenses, and how many would drive under a series of restricted permits rather than just going to the DMV, waiting with the rest of the unwashed masses, taking the necessary tests, and getting their license?  I would be a nervous wreck driving myself around in violation of a permit.  Wasn’t FitzGerald worried about getting pulled over, or getting into an accident and having to show his license to police?

As for Pepper, his campaign says he had a “hectic schedule” during the time period he got all of the parking tickets.  Of course, that could be said about most working Americans — but somehow we find ways to park our cars legally.  I can understand parking in an illegal space in an emergency, but there is no way Pepper experienced more than 180 true emergencies over 14 years.  If he got 180 tickets, how often did he park illegally and not get ticketed?  Can’t he read parking signs like the rest of us?  And didn’t he come to conclude after his first, say, $1,000 in parking tickets that it might be prudent to pay attention to signs and leave himself more time to find legitimate parking spaces?  Why shouldn’t voters look at this record of personal responsibility and question whether Pepper would be a responsible choice for the position of Ohio’s top law enforcement officer?