Opinion

State government expanding online services

An editorial from The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When all other means of communication fail, try words.

Of course, we encourage printed words … on newsprint, but online will do just as well.

As a rule, government — the public sector — is often slow to grasp social change.

But, apparently our state government is finally getting the message.

Recently, the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allowed state residents to take care of many mundane tasks via new online services that formerly required in-person visits.

DMV horror stories may still abound, but this upgraded website — dmv.wv.gov — will spare many drivers headaches, and time.

For instance, this site allows you to pay license reinstatement fees, check your driver’s license status, search for personalized plates and much more.

And surprisingly, even when visits to a DMV office are a must, this website can help make them more convenient.

In a similar step forward, next week Monroe County will begin allowing for cases be to electronically filed, joining Marion and Jefferson counties’ circuit courts.

The system is expected to go statewide and plans call for users, not taxpayers, to pay for it.

Certainly, electronic communication has its pitfalls, too.

This past week, the State Police cautioned the public that its Facebook page was not constantly monitored.

That warning came in light of private messages posted on its site from people in need of immediate help.

The public should always call 911. In cases where calling 911 puts the caller at risk, he or she should post a plea on social media for a follower to call 911.

Though most emergency responders use social media, few monitor it hourly, or even daily.

In another case of a failure to communicate properly, the Ohio County Board of Education voted this week to no longer allow its members to phone it in.

That phrase is best defined as fulfilling a responsibility with a minimum of effort.

In this case, one of that school board’s members often called in to meetings to participate, collecting $160 a session. She vacations in Florida and had called in to 22 meetings since taking office in 2010.

The state’s Ethics Commission advised the board that government bodies do not have to allow phone participation by members.

How we communicate with government and each other clearly has a bearing on the quality of our lives.

A notable 18th century clergyman once said, “The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”

With all due respect to him, electronic communication, TMI and all, still appears to be having the last word.

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