WATCH: Mom says MVC gave her teen the runaround, so Christie shows up
Video by Louis C. Hochman
SOUTH PLAINFIELD — It turns out that you can beat the Motor Vehicle Commission. All it takes is having the governor of New Jersey by your side.
Like generations of New Jersey residents, Stacey Pilato was at a loss against the lumbering bureaucracy of the MVC. For months, she went from one MVC office to another trying to get a replacement permit for her son Isaac, getting conflicting information and the old runaround.
Then on Wednesday evening, she decided to call up New Jersey 101.5's "Ask The Governor" program. She got on the air with Christie and, nearly emotional, told him about her problem. The governor promised that he'd visit the MVC with her Thursday morning to "straighten this out."
And that's just what happened. Christie arrived Thursday morning at the South Plainfield MVC office, walked through a scrum of news reporters and cameras and met Pilato and her son inside.
No, they didn't have to wait on line.
Christie and the two Bound Brook residents also were greeted by the MVC's deputy director and the agency's public relations officer — something else most drivers don't experience at the MVC.
After a few minutes, a beaming Isaac had his new permit.
MVC officials blamed a "glitch" for Pilato's problem, but declined to elaborate.
Pilato said she kept getting different information from MVC offices and her son's driving school.
Pilato, who is the wife of former Bound Brook Republican mayor Carey Pilato, called the situation "extremely frustrating" because her son is looking forward to getting his driver's license.
Christie insisted this was not a mere publicity stunt.
"Of course not," he said.
“The problem was that the folks here did not give these folks clear instructions about what they needed to bring in order to replace the permit," he added. "Quite frankly, I think they got frustrated in there and didn’t remember that these are our customers and they’re supposed to be helping them."
“Most of our MVC employees are really good and do a really good job but — all you need to be is one frustrated [worker] and it gives people a bad taste in their mouth.”
“Part of the whole idea of the radio show, for at least the last seven years now, has been for me to get an idea from real New Jerseyans about what their interaction is like with their government, good and bad, and we hear both on the show.”
“Sometimes [...] I just instruct people to do things. And then other times it strikes me that I need to show up myself to send a bigger message.”
Christie said he’d have more to say on MVC later this week.
David Matthau and Louis Hochman contributed to this report.