May 13, 2004 – The Motor Vehicle Bureau office in Sub Base was open and doing a brisk business Friday morning.
"We're fine; everything's moving," Lawrence Olive, MVB director, said as he assisted customers in the lobby. A short line, about five persons, was moving rapidly from Window 1 to Window 2, where motorists left their old registrations and picked up a number to be brought in Monday to complete the transaction and pay for the renewed registration.
The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with customers kidding back and forth, in sharp contrast to the charged environment early in April, when long lines formed awaiting service, which wasn't readily available.
The bureau instituted mail-in and drop-box service territorywide on April 26, and this has relieved tension and all but eliminated the lines in the bureau offices. Except for Thursday's closing, Olive said, "it's been like this for the last three weeks."
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, Police Department spokesman, said on Thursday that the reason for the closing of the Sub Base facility "appeared to be a sickout." (See "Motor Vehicle Bureau Office Closed without Explanation".)
Olive said on Friday, however, that it was not a "job action." "The employees just called in sick," he said.
Whatever the reason, all employees were present and accounted for Friday and, to all intents, operating efficiently. Olive sat in an office off the main lobby, conducting business with an apparent open-door policy. Customers were walking in and addressing him directly with their concerns.
On Thursday, Hannah had referred to Olive questions about how the new mail-in and drop-off procedures are going, but Olive was not available by telephone to comment.
On Friday, Olive said the two options have netted about 1,500 responses on St. Thomas, but only about 27 or 28 were acceptable. The problem, he said, is that people had not gotten their existing registrations checked against outstanding liens and tickets before submitting the paperwork for renewal.
Information released to the public was not specific enough about the need to include this information, Olive said. Police Commissioner Elton Lewis had said in announcing the start of the mail-in and drop-off services that motorists should check for liens or tickets if they thought they might have any outstanding, but he didn't make it mandatory to submit a court clearance document with all renewal applications.
In a revised release, according to Hannah, Lewis said motorists must make sure their registrations are approved by the Territorial Court clerk and must attach a document verifying they have no liens or tickets on their vehicles to the other paperwork.
On Friday, people were getting their registrations checked for liens and tickets at Window 1, and then dropping their clearances and other paperwork into the lock box in front of the bureau office.
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