February 22, 2020

Letter to the Editor: The East Providence Excise Tax Debacle Of 2019

Posted

In late November of 2019, we received a notice from the Administrative Office of the Division of Motor Vehicles of the State of Rhode Island Providence Plantations, dated November 20, 2019, that we had “excise tax amounts owed to” East Providence and that therefore we were “unable to register any new motor vehicles or renew any ... current motor vehicle registrations until the Division of Motor Vehicles is informed that all outstanding excise tax amounts have been paid.”

Said notice, which according to the media, was sent to 8,000 East Providence motor vehicle owners, was unwarranted and offensive.

It was unwarranted because it was totally wrong. It was offensive because it presupposed that we were in arrears, which we were not, and did not allow for the possibility that the City of East Providence was in the wrong, which turned out to be the case. In other words, in effect we were tried, found guilty, and sentenced without benefit of a hearing or opportunity to defend ourselves.

The notice of November 20 was followed by a quasi rectification from the Division of Motor Vehicles, dated November 22, 2019, that the Division had received “information in error from the City of East Providence.” The notice of November 22 added insult to injury inasmuch as it did not contain an apology.

Furthermore, to date the City of East Providence has not apologized either. Instead, again according to the media, its spokesperson attributed the mistake to a software glitch. What utter and absolute nonsense! Human beings program computers, human beings input data into programs, and human beings operate the programs.

We all make mistakes, but are we not supposed to assume responsibility for our mistakes, and not only rectify them if possible but also ask for forgiveness or at the very least, say we are sorry?!.

What ever happened to mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, which in this case should be MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA, MEA EXCULPA. Or is it too much to ask that our elected and appointed officials govern efficiently and treat us, the voters and taxpayers, with respect?!

Michael T. and Carmen Victoria Hamerly

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