Tom Hanks has a piece in the New York Times today, "I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?" It's mostly about his love of good old fashioned manual typewrites, but the last sentence suggests that his love goes further than that: "Come to think of it, I’d better start hoarding stationery and pray the post office survives." Read more.
The Contra Costs Times has this:
"Though the group of people camping out at Berkeley's historic post office in protest of plans to close it have been warned to move off U.S. Postal Service property, they have no plans to disperse.
"A group of postal inspectors and postal police met with protesters Friday and told them that they needed to break camp and remove signs posted on the post office's walls at 2000 Allston Way, said U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch.
"Fitch said the visit went well and that protesters are more than welcome to express their views on the post office's imminent sale and closure, just not on the steps of the property." Read more.
Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have introduced their version of postal reform legislation, the Postal Reform Act of 2013, a.k.a. PRA and S.1486. A summary is here, and the whole bill is here.
The new bill contains several changes from the earlier Senate bill, S.1789, that should bring the House and Senate closer together and make the passage of legislation more likely. In that sense, there’s been some progress, but unfortunately, it’s mostly in the wrong direction.
Comparing S.1789 and the PRA
A look at the earlier S.1789 and the new S.1486 suggests that several changes have been made to align the Senate bill with Issa's bill in the House. Here are a few of them:
S.1789 had a section (201) that would have maintained overnight delivery standards for three years, which would have prevented the closure of many processing plants. The PRA has deleted that section.
S.1789 had a section (203) that would have established retail service standards to help guarantee access to a post office. One such standard, for example, would have put a limit on how far and how long you should need to travel to your post office. That provision has been removed from the PRA.
The earlier bill had a section that would have helped protect historic post office buildings by giving federal, state, and local governments the opportunity to lease excess space rather than seeing the Postal Service close the post office and sell the building. That section has also been deleted from S.1486.
Section 207 of S.1789, on “delivery point modernization,” would have authorized the Postal Service to convert how you get your mail — at the door, curbside, or centralized cluster box — even without your permission (which is now required). The new PRA has a similar section. But S.1789 said only that the Postal Service “may” change your mode of delivery. The new bill requires the Postal Service to change your mode of delivery to the one “that is most cost-effective and is in the best long-term interest of the Postal Service.” That’s much closer to Issa’s bill, which mandates 30 million conversions to save $4 billion.
The earlier Senate bill would have maintained Saturday delivery for two years. S.1486 maintains it for just one year, and then in the second year permits the Postal Service to switch over to delivering just packages on Saturday. In the third year, Saturday delivery could be ended completely.
The Santa Monica Lookout reports today:
"Despite losing the battle to keep Santa Monica's 75-year-old post office open, officials and residents are working to make sure the New Deal-era building sticks around a little longer.
"City Hall, with the help of the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Landmarks Commission, is working closely with the U.S. Postal Service to make sure that when the Federal government sells off the multimillion dollar property in Downtown Santa Monica, the building won't undergo any dramatic changes….
"To offset the impact of the closure on residents, the USPS converted a sorting facility at Seventh Street and Olympic Boulevard into a full-service post office, much to the chagrin of some residents." Read more.
The historic post office in Westport, Connecticut, was built in 1936 under the New Deal as a way to put people to work and to promote confidence in the federal government. Now the Postal Service has a different agenda — putting people out of work and undermining confidence in the government.
One way to do that is sell off the symbols of the New Deal, like the Westport P.O. The office closed late last year, and now the building has been converted into a high-end restaurant. The name Post 154 is not a nostalgic reference to the post office, though. It's located at 154 Post Road. There won't be many signs of its past identity, even though it's a historic building and should have been treated with more respect. The Postal Service will probably boast that another historic post office has been successfully "repurposed," but it's nothing to brag about.
Well, maybe the food will be good. "It will be world-class, creative cuisine. Very elegant and flavorful. A little bit of everything," said the new chef. Read more.