On Tuesday morning I received a call from Mayor Dennis Sullivan reporting a potential disturbance at the Somerville motor vehicle office. When I arrived, I was appalled to see hundreds of DMV customers lined up all the way down Fieldstone Drive out to Gaston Avenue.
There were hundreds of cars parked on all streets adjacent to the MV office and across the street on Eastern and Reimer. Few of the customers were using PPE and there was practically no social distancing in violation of the governor’s orders.
I was most shocked to see that law enforcement was limited to the officers of the Somerville police department. No state police, county or any other officials except for our administrator Kevin Sluka, Nayor Sullivan and me were out there. I understand state and county police were here on Wednesday.
As the morning wore on the number of customers increased. The streets around the motor vehicle office were barricaded. Customers reported that they had stood in line for many hours without water and without the use of toilet facilities. One person was reported to have relieved himself behind a dumpster. Trash was everywhere.
I left for a few hours and when I came back the line was a bit shorter. Surprisingly the neighbors I met were very calm although quite angry at the incompetence of the DMV. Almost everyone sympathized with the poor people standing in the hot sun that were subjected to inhumane treatment by an uncaring administration.
Today (Wednesday) it appeared as if the DMV took our advice. The streets were barricaded and the customers queued down Union Avenue stopping at the school driveway. Many had deck chairs and coolers and there was some social distancing. It seems as if the customers were better prepared than the agency that were visiting.
I thought how awful it is to be treated so badly.
If a private multi-million-dollar company like the DMV was guilty of such incompetence, you can be sure the executive in charge would be fired. But no, the DMV director has visited the site twice in as many years and promised there would be changes.
She was right there were changes!
Is this Governor Murphy’s Bridgegate, the event that sent several staffers to jail? I sure hope not. Deliberate actions to inconvenience the public by a government are dealt with harshly but incompetence by government seems to be viewed as commonplace. How sad.
Dr. Granville Brady is a longtime Somerville resident and a member of the Somerville Borough Council