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If you lost your license, keep waiting

Sunday, July 1, 2012
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So here we have a fellow, Ed Varno, by name, who lost his driver’s license about four years ago after a felony DWI conviction and also after being seriously in arrears on child support payments, which I actually didn’t know could cost you your license, but it can. He had to make good on the support payments, he had to pay some $2,000 in fines for the DWI, and he had to go through alcohol treatment and be certified clean for more than a year, all of which he did, according to him and according to his lawyer, Bruce Trachtenberg.

It was done through the Driver Improvement Bureau of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, to which he applied for reinstatement after fulfilling the requirements he was given. He was turned down.

A letter to Trachtenberg from a DMV lawyer, Ida L. Traschen, stated, “The Department expects relatively soon to finalize revised procedures and regulations regarding relicensure after revocation. At that time, we will review your client’s application in light of those revisions and contact him regarding his status.”

Which sounds like changing the rules in the middle of the game. Varno met the requirements he was supposed to meet, and now the DMV tells him it’s revising the requirements. They’ll let him know if he meets the new ones.

Thank you very much, says Trachtenberg, but not fair. “If additional or different requirements are later put in effect, delaying and then requiring additional hurdles after he has completed all that is presently required of him is, effectively, an unconstitutional ex post facto law.” The syntax misses a beat there, but we know what he means. You can’t write a law that takes effect retroactively, per the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” (Don’t ask me what a Bill of Attainder is.)

I was unable to get a response from the DMV to this interpretation of their rule-revision.

Trachtenberg also says someone at the Driver Improvement Bureau told him 5,000 New Yorkers are in the same position as Varno, that is, waiting for reinstatement of their licenses but at the mercy of requirements they don’t yet know about.

Varno, in case you’re wondering, is the son of retired Schenectady Fire Department Lt. Edward Varno and the nephew of former Schenectady Fire Chief Thomas Varno.

His family owns Clardon Swimming Pool Service on Central Avenue in Colonie, which is where he works. “I’m confined to the grounds,” he told me when I asked him how the lack of a driver’s license affects his job. “I could be on the road.”


Ladies and gentlemen, loyal readers: With this column I complete 24 1⁄2 years of writing three columns a week with just occasional breaks to visit out-of-the way places of the world. I am now going to reduce my workload, which many of you thought was ridiculously light to begin with, and will henceforth produce just one column per week, which will appear on Sundays.

Carl Strock is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper's. Reach him at

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July 1, 2012
10:19 a.m.
+0 votes
grant18 says...

What a disappointment to hear that we'll only be reading "The View From Here" once per week. But this is a wonderful chance to say "Thank you" for so many thought-provoking, humorous and worthwhile columns up to now. Here's wishing you the very happiest of (semi-)retirements!

July 1, 2012
11:38 a.m.
+0 votes
steveg says...

I'm sorry too. Your column is actually the main thing that keeps me subscribed to the Gazette. Whether one agrees with you or not, your voice is clear, direct, intelligent, good-humored, and without jargon, name-calling, or vulgar insinuations. And it's always independent——pragmatic rather than ideological. All these things are pretty rare in contemporary 'opinion' journalism by my impressionistic estimate. I'm glad you'll still be there on Sunday, but I'll really miss you those other days. I hope you find equally good use for your freed-up time. Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes views and common-sense judgments you've offered.

July 1, 2012
8:19 p.m.
+0 votes
twohands says...

Yikes! Best wishes Carl, but I will miss your common sense and sterling-quality prose. I place you among the great columnists of the past 50 years (my reading life).

July 1, 2012
8:32 p.m.
+0 votes
FrankLowe says...

Your opinions aren't always right, but your facts are. I'll miss your column during the week.

July 1, 2012
8:51 p.m.
+0 votes
march84 says...

I too have enjoyed your column - even the ones I disagreed with you about. You have certainly earned the reward of retirement and I will look forward to reading the Sunday Gazette to see what you have to say.

July 2, 2012
7:44 a.m.
+0 votes
RKrough says...

Carl, For years I have enjoyed your columns even on the days when they pissed me off! Alas, I now will have to settle for being pissed off just on Sundays.

July 2, 2012
10:28 a.m.
+0 votes
ChuckD says...

I don't see how you could sustain the frequency you did, Carl. congratulations and thanks for the interest you've shown in our community and your reporting on same. Well done!

July 2, 2012
11:47 a.m.
+0 votes
Woodrow says...

Carl - Some things increase in value the more scarce they become...Prescious metals, for instance. Also visits by skunks.

Seriously though, I will enjoy all the more reading you on Monday mornings...

July 2, 2012
12:47 p.m.
+0 votes
skody54 says...

Carl - I have to agree with the gang. Happy Retirement.
Who's going to keep the 'ducks' in line?

July 2, 2012
8:54 p.m.
+0 votes
drhuggins says...

Carl, as a teacher who spent 34 years with 8-12 year olds before retiring on my exorbitant pension, I don't know what to say...

... except, "Thank you." for your years of enjoyment and information. Make good use of your parole time; I'll look forward to the Sunday edition, despite all those ads and flyers. :)

Your columns have been the highlight of my subscription for years.

July 3, 2012
7:22 a.m.
+0 votes
carolynclayton says...

I'll take whatever I can get. I have enjoyed reading your thought provoking take on so many subjects for many years. Sunday will now be known as Carl's Day in my house. I know how much you love dogs so get yourself a big old slobbery, affectionate pooch to take on long walks. Great for your health and you may meet lots of interesting folks along the way. Enjoy your (almost) retirement Carl. You will be missed but it is well earned.

July 8, 2012
7:38 p.m.
+0 votes
whlevering says...

Hmm. You are only going to sound forth opinions on Sunday? Starting a church? :)
I hope you enjoy retirement and know how much your writing has stimulated good discussion. Let me know if you want to test your skills in a pulpit.

- Rev. Bill Levering


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