State Representative Demands Change at Gulfport Driver's License Bureau

State Representative Roger Ishee is fed up with ongoing problems at Gulfport's temporary driver's license facility -- the only one in the city.

"As the second largest city in the state of Mississippi, we're being neglected."

The District 118 Representative goes on to say, "I am not only disappointed, I am disgusted at the fact that we go to this dump out here to get a driver's license and have to wait 3 to 4 hours, and some people have jobs and they have to leave and come back and go through it 2 or 3 times.  We need to do something about it."

An hour and a half after the bureau opened, 67 people had taken a number -- and most of them were still waiting.

Elsie Barnes has made the trip several times, but on Friday, she was determined to stay until she was helped.

"Very frustrating. Very. This is my third time coming, waiting, and leaving. It takes a while, it really does."

Susan Wildin and her husband are waiting to apply for a new license. They're number 37 in line.

"Well, we're just waiting for number 27 to come up. It's been stuck on this number [26] for about 20 minutes.  We're number 37, but we're staying until we're done."

So what's taking so long? I asked one of the ladies behind the counter. Mary Windstead told me, "Everybody needs something different."

This is Teresa Marshall's second time to pull a number and wait in the crowded trailer on County Barn Road.  Her complaint: there aren't enough employees.

"I don't understand why there aren't more workers. I mean there seems to be one lady up there, that's it. You know, back when it was south of the tracks there was like four people, four employees.  There's no one here."

So, I asked Windstead, "Do you have enough staff working?"

She replied, "Yes we do.  We have one that's off today, but we're fine."

Then she blamed me for the long wait, saying, "But you're really holding us up.  We really need to get busy."

Noticing there were only two women behind the counter with a trailer full of  anxious drivers, I asked her if they normally have more people on staff.

Windstead replied, "We have four as a rule."

"But there's one off and I only see two of you here today," I asked.

Windstead answered, "There's one doing a road test.  We're constantly doing road tests, okay?"

Roger Ishee says that's inexcusable.

"We passed a bill during the 2007 legislation to increase the number of driver's license examiners by 15.  I want to know where those people are today."

Ishee says Katrina is no longer an excuse, and he's ready to see some action from the state.

"The governor has mentioned privatizing, I'm all for it.  Even a special session to do it.  But we have to do something. I'm tired of my people having to go through this mess."

Ishee also says he's called the director of the driver's license office weeks ago, but has never heard back.

The trailer off County Barn Road was installed after Katrina destroyed the downtown Gulfport license bureau. The Saucier location has also since been closed, because the state lost its lease to that building.