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First day of state furlough brings confusion, anger at DMV offices

February 6, 2009 | 12:27 pm

Tables that would normally be busy with people taking written tests are empty, seen through a window at a closed Department of Motor Vehicles office in Culver City, California.

The first day of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state worker furlough caused customer confusion and frustration at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.

The parking lot at the Culver City DMV was almost empty this morning as driver after driver pulled up and rolled down rain-spattered windows to read the signs on the office doors: “CLOSED. All DMV offices are closed on the first and third Friday of each month.”

Tom Colvin, 58, took off work today so he could pick up a form at the DMV. A driver at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, he said he was frustrated he might have to take yet another day off to come back to the DMV. “I just wish they’d informed people a little better,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been here today.”

For Darryl Wilkerson, 45, this morning was his second trip to the DMV near USC this week. On Tuesday, he waited in line for four hours to get a state ID before deciding to try another day.

After a five-minute bus ride from his home near downtown, Wilkerson was told by DMV workers that the office was closed.

“I came all the way down here for nothing,” he said.

Sheauna Johnson, 23, missed classes at Everest College and borrowed her grandfather’s car today so she could come to the DMV. Her car was impounded Thursday. Impound fees were $276, she said, and without documentation from the DMV, an additional $33 is tacked on each day.

Johnson said she was upset by the state furlough and frustrated that she was not informed that the DMV would be closed.

“The government don’t care. Arnold Schwarzengegger don’t care,” she said. “They need to stop spending on unnecessary things … like their own pockets.”

DMV workers said they shared customers’ frustrations. At the office near USC, workers handed out fliers that read: “Today … millions of Californians like you can’t get the service they expect. Governor Schwarzenegger’s furlough plan prevents state workers from doing our job.”

DMV field representative Lonna Clark-Braxton said her office typically serves 2,000 to 3,000 people a day. The first Friday of the month tends to be one of the busiest days, she said.

“We’re hoping this furlough doesn’t last,” said Clark-Braxton, 52. “It’s the public that’s losing.”

--Joanna Lin

Photo: Tables that would normally be busy with people taking written tests are empty, seen through a window at a closed Department of Motor Vehicles office in Culver City, California. Credit: Reed Saxon / AP

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