Trial Unlikely in Fight Over Berkeley Post Office

SteveBlog

A federal judge seemed disinclined to order a trial in the U.S. Postal Service’s now four-year legal fight with the city of Berkeley over the planned sale of its historic downtown post office, wary of claims the city is intentionally trying to diminish the building’s value and discourage buyers.

“We’re not just talking about the Postal Service’s ability to sell one piece of property, but their obligation to serve the whole country and be self-sustaining,” said Julie Berman, a Justice Department attorney arguing on behalf of the Postal Service. “The financial situation of the Postal Service is such that it’s putting the mission at risk.”

Her argument did not convince U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

“You could still do a pretty good deal,” he said, even with the possible 39 percent decrease in value.

The Postal Service announced plans to sell the 104-year old neoclassical style building, designed by Oscar Wenderoth and listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1981.

In September 2014, the Postal Service struck an agreement to sell the building to urban developer Hudson McDonald. That same month, Berkeley passed an overlay restricting nine parcels of downtown land, including the post office, to civic and nonprofit uses.

The Postal Service argued the developer backed out of the deal because the overlay had so devalued the property that the developer said it was “destroyed and worth very little.”  Read more.

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Postal workers (and others) bid a fond farewell to Congressman Darrell Issa

SteveBlog

Congressman Darrell Issa announced today that he will not seek re-election to the House.  After spending much of his term as chair (2010 – 2015) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform holding hearings and promoting legislation that would have ended Saturday delivery, required millions of households to convert to cluster box delivery, created a commission to close thousands of postal offices, cut benefits to postal workers, removed the no-layoff clause from union contracts, eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduced the oversight authority of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and otherwise dismantled the Postal Service, Issa will not be missed by most postal workers and communities concerned about postal services. Here are some of our previous posts about Issa and his misinformation campaign to destroy the Postal Service in the name of saving it.

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Zanoni, MO, post office to reopen in pricey new alternate quarters

SteveBlog

The U.S. Postal Service plans to spend approximately $270,000 to $280,000 to reopen a post office facility in the area of Zanoni, MO, USPS real estate specialist Vee Spikes said Monday at a meeting held at the Gainesville post office.

The new facility will be open two hours a day during the week and four hours on Saturday, operated by a part-time USPS employee who will probably earn about $12 per hour, officials said.

In answer to a question, Gainesville postmaster Jeff Elliott said that, before USPS closed the Zanoni post office in February 2016 under what it called an “emergency suspension,” the facility’s revenue averaged between $500 and $600 per year. The Gainesville post office now manages delivery of mail to the 40 postal patrons with Zanoni addresses.  Read more.

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Feds Press Lawsuit Against Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center District

SteveBlog

Save the Berkeley Post Office NewsletterThe City of Berkeley and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), acting on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, will be in Federal Court on Thursday January 11, 2018. This hearing is the result of a suit filed by the DOJ against Berkeley on August 22, 2016. The DOJ suit alleges that Berkeley’s Civic Center Historic District Zoning Overlay is not permitted under the United States Constitution.

Some background: In 1998 the City of Berkeley designated our Civic Center as an historic district and the same year Berkeley’s Civic Center Historic District was entered on the National Register of Historic Places.

In September of 2014, responding to community demand, including numerous public hearings and a ballot initiative, the Berkeley City Council passed the Civic Center Historic District Zoning Overlay. The Overlay protects and preserves our Civic Center from commercial activities that are different in character than its current and historic civic, institutional and community-serving uses.

The federal lawsuit asserts that the Zoning Overlay is an unconstitutional attempt by a local government to interfere with a function of the federal government.  In this case that function is the Postal Service plan to sell our historic Berkeley Main Post Office. Possibly, the Postal Service argues, it could get more money for the building if a new owner could develop the property for whatever uses would fetch the highest return.  Read more.

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CPWU Newsletter – Winter 2018

SteveBlog

The Winter 2018 newsletter of Communities and Postal Workers United (CPWU) is out, with articles about letter carriers protesting against delivering in the dark, protests in response to postal management eliminating 36 positions at the main Des Moines post office, and more.  Read here.

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Historic downtown post office in Richmond, Calif., is listed for sale, upsetting residents

SteveBlog

Richmond, Calif., Mayor Tom Butt bemoaned the pending sale of the downtown Richmond Main Post office building while sharing the property’s real estate listing.

The mayor was among the public officials and residents who fought to keep the post office from closing.

“Despite valiant attempts to stop it and generous offers by the City of Richmond to acquire it, the United States Postal Service has formally listed the Richmond Main Post Office building for sale and is requesting offers by December 28, 2017,” the mayor said, adding, “No asking price is listed.”

Read more.  (Previous posts about the Richmond PO, here.)

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