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RMV evades accountability hearing

Veteran driving instructor John Hickman of Southbridge testifies at Monday’s RMV hearing. Hickman explained how the elimination of license tests at the Charlton site is a hardship for many area families. Walter Bird Jr.. (click for larger version)
December 08, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Several dozen residents from Southbridge and surrounding towns turned out Monday to give the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee a strong message of their dissatisfaction about the Registry of Motor Vehicles' move to Charlton. "I think this went very well. I was very impressed with the testimonials," said Town Councilor Denise Clemence, one of its organizers. "… This was all about accountability."

Despite that intent, the Registry was not represented at the Southbridge Town Hall session by more than a note-taker. The committee's chairman — state Rep. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee — said the agency was "well aware" of the event, but the legislature doesn't normally specifically invite attendance except if acting in its "oversight capacity."

Specifically, it was a public hearing on a list of bills, including two filed by state Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton — H. 4326 and 4327. The first one would require the Registry to notify town governments and hold a public hearing if it plans to move or close an office anywhere in the future; the second calls for a hearing in Southbridge specifically regarding this summer's move. Alicea said he plans to amend one of them to include a requirement moving the office back to Southbridge.

If the second one passes, he predicted the Registry would show up, but if not, it would give the Legislature a reason to invoke that oversight authority and issue subpoenas.

"It's an insult the Registrar's office chose not to be here today," Alicea had said earlier, in his remarks that started the hearing.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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