AFSME Local 602 - MSU Moorhead

Licensed to Serve

Neng Lor: “Some folks are trying to sneak around the system. You can’t let them.”

If you’re renewing your license tabs, applying for a passport, or need a copy of your birth certificate, you want a guy like Neng Lor behind the counter.

Lor, of Local 2822, works at the Hennepin County Service Center in Maple Grove. He’s the kind of guy who can help you wade through the paperwork the law requires for licenses, legal IDs or other vital public records. In these days of identity theft and the continued focus on national security, Lor must know a tangle of rules from Washington and from all 50 states. He must know which forms of identification are valid – or not – and for which purposes. Doing his job right means he also must understand privacy law and who has access to records like birth certificates – and who does not.

“Change is constant,” he says. “Keeping up with new rules and regulations is a given.”

Keeping up also means doing more with less -- the county already has eliminated half a dozen positions at the center this year, Lor says. He and his co-workers serve an average of 400 people every workday. They administer eye exams and take mug shots for drivers licenses. They renew vehicle registrations for cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and watercraft. They issue copies of birth, death and marriage certificates. They process applications for U.S. passports.

They handle property-tax payments and title transfers, county park permits and a variety of business licenses. As a lead worker, Nor also does an office “audit” one or two mornings a week. In his 8 years with the county, Lor says, he’s learned how to deal with the range of duties – and the range of problems and frustrations he faces at the counter.

“Some folks are legitimate. They just don’t have right documents. You have to direct them the right way. You have to put yourself in their shoes, empathize with them. The forms can get pretty complicated.”

On the other hand, “some folks are trying to sneak around the system. You can’t let them. You just have to sense it when someone’s doing something illegal.”

Adapted from an article that originally ran in the March/April 2009 issue of Council 5's Stepping Up.

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