A 10/10 review for the Santa Clara DMV!

A 10/10 review for the Santa Clara DMV!

A 10/10 review for the Santa Clara DMV!

Written By Marcus East

Today I went into the Santa Clara DMV office, and I’m writing this review to thank the staff there for their outstanding service and friendly approach — I had a great experience with them!

It’s a pretty big center with around 30 desks staffed by approximately 100 DMVers, and I went to renew my California driving license, which expired a couple of years ago when I moved to Washington DC.

Although I wasn’t able to book an appointment online, I submitted my request via DMV website and then attended as a walk-in at 11:20a on a Friday.

The process was very efficient:

1. I joined the ‘No Appointments’ line, which was about 20 people long, and a DMV officer was walking the line checking people’s paperwork. By my estimation, around 50% of the people she talked to had some problem with their forms, and she directed them to gather more documents or to join a different line. In my case, she said that everything was fine and gave me a ticket number.

2. Just before 11:45a, I made it to the front, and a nice lady behind the counter did a formal document review, and then confirmed that everything was in order. She circled the ticket number on my receipt, re-organized my documents, and told me to take a seat until called. I was number 322, and they were processing number 290 when I sat down.

3. At about 12:05p my turn came up, and I went to a desk on the other side of the floor, and a gentleman confirmed that my appointment was a license renewal and checked my documents, which I handed over as bundled-up by the previous officer. He asked me if I wanted a Real ID and asked me to clarify some of the details on my documents. I confirmed my identity using my thumb on the fingerprint scanner.

4. He spent around 20 minutes completing forms, copying my papers, and getting me to check things before letting me know that everything was nearly ready and that I would need to do an eye-test. That was extremely easy; the signs were hanging right behind his head, and all of the letters were the same size. He then gave me a receipt and sent me to join another line.

5. About 30 seconds after I joined the line, another cheerful lady called me forward to have my photograph taken. I told her that I was having a bad hair day and asked what she could do to help, and she assured me that I looked pretty good and confirmed my identity again with my thumbprint. She allowed me to go around the counter to look at her screen, and the photo looked great, and we both chuckled before she sent me off to join another line

6. I waited about 10 minutes in this final line before another officer asked me to confirm the details on the document that she produced when I gave her my receipt. Once I had done that, she handed me my temporary license and made me check the address one final time and told me that I would get my license in the mail in a week or two.

Lovely staff!

Everyone that I dealt with was very professional, had a pleasant demeanor and really seemed to be very proficient at their roles; I was intrigued to see so much paper involved — one person had to manipulate nearly 30 pieces of paper at one point, and they seemed to be well practiced and very fast.

I was in an Uber and on my way to lunch at 12:51p, 90 minutes after I had arrived.

Thanks to everyone in the DMV for being so pleasant and so efficient!

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What a wonderful day to be British! 🇬🇧

What a wonderful day to be British! 🇬🇧

What a wonderful day to be British! 🇬🇧

The Duke & Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day — May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England

It was a real privilege to be back in England to experience the euphoria, warmth and spectacle of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle…

In world riven with so much conflict, hatred and sorrow, it was wonderful to take a moment to share in the happiness of a beautiful couple so obviously in love, a nation so clearly delighted for them and to reflect on how special it is to be British. It was a reminder that love conquers all and that family is the most important thing in life.

Watching the genuine affection between Harry and Meghan, and observing the fairytale wedding of a mixed-race American girl from Los Angeles who has become a princess moved me…

Very few nations enjoy the benefits of the unifying, non-political leadership that our monarchy brings, and on days like this when millions of people around the country paused to celebrate and seemed so genuinely happy, it was a reminder of just how special an institution the Royal Family is.

Watching Prince Harry marry his beautiful, American bride before an audience of over a billion people around the world, serenaded by both traditional British wedding music and the wondrous sound of a gospel choir reminded me of our country’s incredible history and diversity — and why I love the Royals!

I have always felt a special connection to the Royal Family, due to the strong influence of my fiercely Royalist mother, and today was particularly special, watching a young lady of color and an American marry into the First Family.

I wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex every happiness for the future; welcome to the [British] family, Lady Meghan!

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kiss on their wedding day

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kiss on their wedding day — May 19, 2018 in Windsor

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Brexit: The Human Cost

Brexit: The Human Cost

It has been a tumultuous week in British and global politics, and whilst I have adopted a pragmatic approach to the result of the Brexit referendum — embracing the vote to Leave, even though I voted to Remain — on reflection, I may have focused too much on the strong economic arguments that countries like the UK, Norway and Switzerland are better off outside the EU, and not enough on the human impact.

Today I went to my local dry cleaners, and spoke to the husband and wife team who have built an incredibly successful business in the heart of one of London’s nicest neighbourhoods, having moved to the UK from Romania a couple of years ago in search of a better life.

They are two fantastic entrepreneurs who have brought energy, enthusiasm and a great work-ethic to London and who love their new lives here and appreciate everything that living in the UK has allowed them to do.

 However, the Brexit result has rocked   their world; they are genuinely scared.

They now worry that people don’t want them here in Britain, and that the great life that they have built for themselves is under threat.

They worry about how having to return home might affect their families and their future.

They worry that what they have fought hard to build may be destroyed by a vote in which they had no say and no voice.

We talked about this for about 30 minutes, and it gave me genuine pause for thought.

I remain excited by the opportunities ahead for an independent Britain and the potential for forward-thinking, globally-oriented policies to set us up for success as a major trading partner for the rapidly developing nations that will shape the future world, but, before we get there, we must ensure a number of things:

Clarity for EU Nationals

There must be clarity for the millions of EU nationals living and working in the UK, and a strong political voice confirming that there will not be any push to force them to relocate to the EU once Britain leaves — they must be given certainty about their place in British society.

Acknowledgement of London’s Unique Role

London must be treated as an exception; most Londoners voted to Remain, and so whilst the wishes of the majority of the electorate must be respected, the Mayor of London is right to seek greater powers to allow people to work in London through some sort of special ‘London visa’, recognising London as a special economic and cultural zone as the pre-eminent global city.

Strong Leadership

The Conservative Party must quickly select a leader with the skills necessary to unify the nation, but also to negotiate our exit from the EU in an orderly manner.

As a member of the Conservative Party, I will be voting for Theresa May for leader.

She brings experience of serving in Government at a senior level, of negotiating hard with Europe, whilst at the same time being someone who was minded to Remain in the EU despite understanding the benefits of leaving.

Ms May will be able handle the detail and minutiae of the negotiations, whilst not coming from too firm and ideological approach, which rules out Michael Gove as leader in my mind.

A 10-point Plan

We need a 10-point plan detailing the key steps that we will take from where we are today to get to a bright future with the UK outside the EU.

This is a hard road to travel, and one that many of us would not have chosen to go down, but living in a vibrant democracy requires flexibility and collaboration; Brexiters and Remainers alike must now work together to articulate clearly to the world the steps that will be taken and then to make them happen.

Everybody Needs to Calm Down

HRH The Queen has already provided some of what is lacking in our politicians; a calming voice, urging people to stop and think about the future, rather than rushing into knee-jerk reactions.

Whilst many are putting their energy into trying to secure a second referendum, and into calling anyone who doesn’t agree with their views ‘thick’, or ‘xenophobic’, the sensible thing to do is to develop a clear strategy for the future with a cool head.

Her Majesty said in her speech at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament that it was a time to allow “room for quiet thinking and contemplation”, and as is so often the case, she is absolutely right.

In my final thoughts, this situation reminds me of my favourite poems, the classic ‘If’ from Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

There is undoubtedly a rocky road ahead, but with the correct approach and the right leadership, the destination will be worth it.

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So excited by the Royal Wedding!

Prince William and Kate Middleton are a beautiful couple, and obviously very much in love.

Kate has a certain air of strength about her that I think will stand her in good stead for the amazing media attention to which she and Prince William will be subjected once they are married.

There is a lot of excitement here, but our American cousins seem even more excited, and I’ve been fascinated by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric’s coverage which reflects some Americans’ near obsession with everything royal.

I have always rated Prince William highly, and I’m impressed by Kate’s (Princess Kate’s?) confidence and intelligence.

Good luck to them both for the day of their marriage, and for their lives ahead!

Labour’s plan to close libraries in Enfield is dangerous and disgraceful

As I predicted, the Labour administration in Enfield has chosen to close three libraries, targeting some of the poorest parts of the borough.

Libraries are an absolutely essential service, but we knew that there were likely to be problems when Cllr Stafford, (Cabinet Member for Finance) announced at an Area Forum that he believed that there were too many libraries in Enfield.

Many families, especially those on lower incomes, rely on the services in libraries to provide essential access to books and to the Internet for their children to help them with their studies and general education. Closing these libraries will hit those families hard, forcing them to purchase books or – even worse – be forced to neglect their children’s education.

Under the previous Labour Government, educational standards declined rapidly in this country, and this Labour Council’s decision to close the Bullsmoor, Enfield Highway and Ordnance Road libraries reflects the utter contempt that they have for maintaining educational standards.

Libraries are a very important part of a young person’s development; I would never have made it to Cambridge University and built successful career without the access to books that enabled me to learn effectively and without great expense to my parents – I feel passionately that these libraries must stay open, and I will fight these closures through every possible avenue.

The people of Enfield Lock really need to ask themselves why their local councillors, like Cllr Ozzie Uzoanya, promised to deliver them improved services and investment in the east of the borough, but are clearly lacking when it comes to real action.

Will he and his fellow local Labour councillors stand with the people of Enfield Lock in fighting  these ill-judged cuts, or will he tow the Labour party line and remain silent yet again?

The people of Enfield Lock must be regretting their decision to vote Labour; I’m sure that they will not make the same mistake at the next election.