December 18, 2014

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Lorain BMV to close March 31

LORAIN — The Bureau of Motor Vehicle office in downtown Lorain is closing at the end of the month.

Lindsey Bohrer, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the bureau, wrote in a Thursday email that the closing will coincide with the March 31 resignation of Cheryl Waisure. Waisure is a private contractor who runs the office at 300 Broadway in the City Center.

Bohrer wrote that with 38,153 transactions last year, the Lorain office was the lowest-performing full service office in a 10-county area of Northeast Ohio. It was listed as the 25th lowest in Ohio.

While overseen by state officials, Ohio law allows motor vehicle bureaus to be run by for-profit entities. Ron Nabakowski, Lorain County clerk of courts, blasted the setup in a Monday letter to Gov. John Kasich.

Nabakowski, who wants to run the office along with Craig Snodgrass, Lorain County auditor, called the system an “unholy relic of a corrupt system of political party patronage dating back to the 1970s.”

Nabakowski, a former state senator who served with Kasich in the 1970s, said the system inconveniences drivers who buy from non-dealers, making the drivers go to separate locations for titles and registration. Out-of-state drivers have to make multiple trips to bureau offices and clerk of court offices.

Nabakowski wrote that privatization of bureau services also increases the likelihood of identity theft, and privatization of public services means the BMV needs a “small army of state employees to micromanage this mess.”

In the letter, Nabakowski said he and Snodgrass would provide “one-stop shopping” for licenses, registrations and titles. Nabakowski also asked Kasich to support a law allowing clerks of court to offer vehicle licensing and remove “this unsafe, inconvenient bureaucratic nightmare from all Ohioans.”

Nabakowski said in the letter that clerks in counties with populations of 40,000 or less have the authority to run BMV offices. He called the population limitation “illogical.”

Bohrer wrote that applications by the auditor’s office and clerk’s office submitted in 2009 and last year were “substandard” and incomplete.

Nabakowski didn’t return calls Thursday.

The closing comes as Lorain officials try to attract more people and businesses downtown. The area has been hurt by competition from area malls and has many empty storefronts. Rey Carrion, acting Community and Economic Development director, didn’t return calls Thursday regarding the impact of the closing.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.