Last updated: August 13. 2014 10:01AM - 198 Views
By Bill Taylor

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It seems to me that when I get one of those old adages bouncing around in my head it won’t go away until I figure out what kicked it off in the first place. The current one is, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

The idea of anyone wanting to skin a cat to begin with is kinda weird so I tried to find where this saying came from, but pretty much drew a blank. The many versions of this proverb all suggest there are always several ways to do something, but none of the references Icould find pointed to a specific origin.

One reference states the earliest printed version occurred in 1840 and Mark Twin used it in his 1889 “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” — but in every case this proverbial saying was clearly already well known. With that out of the way, let’s proceed.

The state of Colorado, in a surprising complete turnabout of its previously held position, has started issuing driver’s licenses and state identification cards to its residents regardless of their immigration status. Supporters claim it will make sureanyone driving on Colorado’s roads will have a valid license, meaning they have passed both the written and driving tests, and also have the state-required auto insurance.

They also claim the measure should help law enforcement correctly identify people in traffic stops and accidents. Applicants must present documents such as a utility bill to prove their residency plus a passport or other identification from their home country. The cards are marked so they can’t be used for voting or to obtain federal benefits. Got that? OK, I’m switching gears, so hang on.

Some years ago we bought a winter home in Florida so we could enjoy the warm weather rather than to brave the cold and snow here and thus became “seasonal residents” of that state. By the way the term “snowbird” is a slur, an exceedingly offensive reference to owners of second homes in Florida. It’s used primarily in the north by those who are envious of those who have winter homes and in Florida by those who are ignorant of the importance of the tens of thousands of seasonal people to Florida’s economy.

Anyway, Florida offers a special driver’s license to seasonal residents from several states, including ours. The process is relatively simple. The applicant must fill out a form, pass an eye exam, provide evidence of Florida residency such as a utility bill, and produce a valid home state driver’s license.

If all is in order the applicant’s photo is taken, a small fee paid, and a license which looks the same as any other Florida license is issued. The only difference is a small notation on the back stating, “Valid in Florida only.” The license may then be used as any other driver’s license such as identification for cashing checks, getting a motel room, and helping law enforcement officials identify people in traffic stops and accidents. It’s quite a convenience, especially considering the applicant retains the home state license.

I mentioned this to a Florida law enforcement officer one day who commented something like this, “We have thousands of you folks from up north here every winter and have few ways of knowing much about you. That driver’s license tells us who you are, what you look like, where you live, where you come from and it’s all in our computer files.” Oops! Hadn’t thought about that.

OK, back to Colorado. “Undocumented immigrants” generally live in a shadowy world in which their very presence, much less their identify, is largely kept concealed — and that presents a major problem fora state faced with a burgeoning population of these people. For years officials have been trying to solve

the problem of identifying who these folks are, where they live, and where they came from. And what solution have they come up with? - issuing drivers’ licenses and state identification cards to residents regardless of immigration status.

Yep, tens of thousands are eagerly flocking to the Colorado license bureaus to identify themselves as being in this country without proper authorization and to provide authorities with previously hidden information about themselves. By the way, Colorado isn’t the only state to take this route. Several others already have similar programs underway and California’s plan starts next January.

Yep, regardless of whether we agree with this solution to the problem of identifying this segment of our population, or if we think it might not be suitable here, it sure looks like the folks in Colorado have found a way of skinning this particular cat - as has the state of Florida with its seasonal residents. At least that’s how it seems to me.

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at solie1@juno.com.

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