Published: Nov 30, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Mar 05, 2012 06:45 PM
Roses to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, for recognizing a mistake and correcting it. The board last week unanimously voted to rescind a 2007 ordinance that forbade simply being present at a particular street corner outside the hours of 5 and 11 a.m.
The corner, at Jones Ferry and Davie roads, has long been a gathering place for day laborers. Employers in search of workers for construction and other jobs go by there and hire the labor they need on a day to day basis.
Unfortunately, the corner also became known as the site of frequent unsavory and sometimes threatening behavior, such as public drunkenness, urination and harassment of girls and women walking past. That activity led the town to institute the 2007 ordinance forbidding loitering there, other than during the morning hours when most of the day laborer hiring took place.
Many in town have complained that the blanket ban was too heavy handed a tool for dealing with the problem. Some day laborers said it limited their job opportunities, and others criticized it as a violation of the First Amendment right of free assembly. It struck us as, at the least, out of keeping with Carrboro's spirit. So we're glad the board last week struck it down. We're glad as well that the vote was accompanied by an emphasis on protecting passersby from harassment and intimidation, and on establishing a system for coordinating and monitoring the day labor issue.
Roses to Orange Water and Sewer Authority for its prompt and responsive care in addressing an important recent customer concern. An OWASA customer wrote to the utility office after going online to change an automatic draft payment setting and discovering that the site required customers to provide their Social Security numbers in order to make such a change. "In this era of ID theft I find it surprising that OWASA continues to collect SSN's as an identifier when there are so many alternatives, " the customer wrote. He reminded OWASA of the potential financial costs, to both OWASA and the consumer, of even unintentional disclosure of SSNs and said he would "regretfully discontinue" his automatic draft payments unless some alternative could be provided. OWASA executive director Ed Kerwin wrote back the same day, thanking the customer for bringing the matter to his attention and promising to discuss it with his staff.
Shortly afterward, Heidi Lamay, the utility's finance and customer service manager, had an answer. She had examined whether there was any business need to request SSNs on the draft form and concluded that there was not. The online request for SSN, she said, was "merely a legacy item from when we used SSN as a customer identifier." Since that was no longer the case, she said, OWASA "will be changing the form."
All this happened within two business days. At a time when most are familiar with frustrations of trying to get satisfactory service, and considering that this wasn't just a request for one individual's account but for a system-wide policy change, that's a speed-of-light response.
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