No end in Climax: The temporary suspension of the post office goes on and on

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The owner of the building that formerly housed the post office in Climax, Georgia, has asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to do something about the de facto closing of the post office last year.  Morgan Wolaver, the landlord, has submitted an extensive Memorandum to the PRC arguing that the Postal Service illegally closed the post office and that the Commission should review the case.

Mr. Wolaver is the president of the  Association of United States Postal Lessors (AUSPL), the country’s largest association of postal lessors, and his family has been in the business of owning post offices for five decades.  As his Memorandum to the PRC shows, Mr. Wolaver is not happy about what happened in Climax, and for good reason.

The post office in Climax was on the POStPlan list, set to be reduced to six hours a day.  Last July, the postmaster took the retirement incentive, which created a vacancy, which triggered a POStPlan review.  On September 28, 2012, Climax residents and city officials received the survey about the four POStPlan options, as well as a letter saying there would be a meeting with the Postal Service on November 8th. 

Then in mid October, everyone got a second letter from the Postal Service saying the post office would close at the end of the month.  The Postal Service said that negotiations with the landord to renew the lease had broken down, so the office was closing for an emergency suspension.

Mr. Wolaver disputed the Postal Service’s story and explained that the negotiations were underway and the two sides weren’t very far apart, just 25 cents a square foot, as a matter of fact, but then in September he received notice from the Postal Service that they weren’t interested in renewing the lease and that they would be opening a Village Post Office in Climax.

The post office closed, Mr. Wolaver appealed to the PRC, and in April of this year, the Commission dismissed the case as “premature” because the Postal Service had not yet gone through a discontinuance review and had not yet issued a Final Determination to close the office completely.

It’s been over three months since the Commission issued its order dismissing the case, and nearly nine months since the post office was closed.  The Postal Service has yet to complete the discontinuance study and to issue a final determination.  There's no indication that the Postal Service will ever reopen a post office in Climax, in Mr. Wolaver's building or anywhere else, but it has never gone through the closing procedure required by law.

Mr. Wolaver’s Memorandum to the PRC is extremely thorough.  It runs to nearly 30 pages with all the exhibits, and a good portion of it was written by the law firm of Ford & Huff, the same firm that has been hired by the National Post Office Collaborate to fight the sale of historic post offices in Berkeley, the Bronx, and elsewhere.

The Memorandum to the Commission paints a devastating picture of the Postal Service's actions regarding the Climax post office.  This passage sums things up rather nicely:

“The most charitable view which can be taken regarding the Postal Service’s actions in Climax, and the notices given by the Postal Service, is that they are the result of the botched execution of contradictory plans; a more studied review indicates misdirection in the execution of a predetermined plan to close the Climax Post Office, and reduce postal services, while preventing any meaningful input from the community or this Honorable Commission.”

The language of the Memorandum and the fact that Ford & Huff been retained suggests that while Mr. Wolaver is looking for action from the PRC, he’s prepared to go to court if necessary.  Given the PRC’s track record on dismissing appeals, a courtroom is probably where things will end up.


Image credits: Former Climax post office.

Previous posts on Climax:
 
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Occupation of post office thwarted in Portland, protestors celebrate birthday of the Post Office

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Dozens of demonstrators rallied and attempted to occupy the Main Post Office in Portland on Friday in protest of postal privatization, but a heavy presence of Department of Homeland Security police, Postal Inspectors and a half dozen postal managers standing inside the post office lobby prevented the protestors from entering the building.  That didn't stop them from breaking out into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate the July 26, 1775, establishment of the U.S. Post Office.  Read more.

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APWU Joins the fight: Save Historic Post Offices From the Auction Block

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The APWU has joined the fight to stop the sale of historic post office buildings.  The union has created a guidelines document that it's distributing to local and state leaders who are engaged in efforts to stop the Postal Service from selling historic post offices.  Finding common ground with communities fighting the sales, APWU President Cliff Guffey and Legislative and Political Director Gary Kloepfer write, “These protests coincide with our efforts to stop consolidations, excessing and reductions in service standards."

The historic preservation review process requires the Postal Service to complete five key tasks prior to selling a historic postal building. These tasks are outlined in Fighting for your Historic Post Office: Guidance for APWU Locals [PDF].  Read more.

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Opponents of historic post office’s closure in Glendale speak out

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The Postal Service is moving forward on its plan to sell the 1936 post office in Glendale, California.  As with so many other New Deal post offices in California — Venice, Santa Monica, La Jolla, Ukiah, and Berkeley — the Postal Service says the building is too large and it would prefer to lease a small space.  As usual, the Postal Service is rushing the process, so opponents don't have time to fight back.

Opponents of the building’s sale said two months isn’t nearly enough time to weigh alternatives, including leasing out unused space or consolidating one or more of Glendale’s four other post offices into its Broadway operations.

“This shouldn’t be a fire sale,” said Vartan Gharpetian, a real estate agent recently appointed to the city’s Historic Preservation Committee.  Read more.

 

 
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Mold closes another post office

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The Postal Service seems to be having a mold problem.  In 2011, it closed the post office in Royalton, Kentucky, because mold had rendered it unsafe.  Last year, post offices in Knox, New York, and Bangor, Wisconsin, were deemed unsafe and unsanitary for customers and employees because of mold and other problems.  This week, the post office in Dupree, South Dakota, was closed because of mold that developed after some water got into the building.  Read more.  

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U.S. and British postal workers fight privatization

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A British parliamentary spokesperson announced on May 13 that the world’s oldest postal service would be privatized this fall.  The U.S. Postal Service, originally part of the British postal system, is also threatened with privatization by powerful congressional and corporate forces.  Postal workers, however, are organizing resistance to the for-profit theft of the “people’s post office” in both countries. “Save our post office!” will be a main chant in nationally coordinated protests against privatization on July 26 and 27, the USPS’s 238th birthday.  Read more.

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