Two post offices in Iowa to close: Not to worry, they’re just “relocations”


The Postal Service has announced plans to close two post offices in Iowa.  The main post office in downtown Iowa City will be closed and replaced with a new, smaller facility, location yet-to-be-determined.  It’s also closing the office in Coralville, and opening a retail space in the carrier annex, on the outskirts of town.

The Postal Service is calling both closures a “relocation,” so there won’t be a discontinuance process or an opportunity to appeal the closures to the Postal Regulatory Commission.  That’s how the close post offices these days.

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said the city received many complaints over its lack of accessibility of the annex facility.  He also said the Postal Service’s decision seems rushed and questioned the agency’s sincerity in wanting public input with the meeting set for a weekday afternoon.  “It’s almost like they’re going through the process,” he said.

Read more and more. (Photo credit: Evan Kalish)


Going, going, gone: Historic post offices on the GSA’s auction block


When journalists ask the Postal Service which post offices might be sold, they’re typically referred to the USPS-CBRE website, as if it represents a complete list.  But there are other post offices for sale, and a few of them are currently listed on the GSA auction site

Apparently, selling these properties didn’t turn out to be the boon the Postal Service may have once expected.  Now that efforts to sell them at anywhere near the asking price have been unsuccessful, the Postal Service has turned them over to the General Services Administration for auction.  Instead of the asking price, the Postal Service will take what it can get.

Today there are about a dozen USPS properties being sold by GSA.  According to postal official Peter Nowacki, nineteen properties, most of them east of the Mississippi, will be auctioned off through the GSA in the near future.

Three of those currently on the GSA auction block are historic buildings — Yankton, South Dakota; LaFollette, Tennessee; and Charleston, Illinois;.


Yankton, South Dakota

The former Yankton post office at 335 Walnut Street was constructed in 1905, with an addition in the 1950’s. It is one of twenty landmark structures in downtown Yankton, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Postal Service closed the post office in January 2012, and postal operations were consolidated into an annex, two miles from the downtown location of the old post office.  The Postal Service never did a discontinuance study on Yankton because it considered the closure a “relocation.”

The new post office in the annex has been a hardship for a lot of customers and an added expense for many small businesses, including Yankton Media, which used to be able to walk next door to the post office and now must send someone on a time-consuming errand.

According to the Invitation for Bids, the building comes with a Historic Preservation Covenant agreed to by the Postal Service and the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Officer.  The covenant requires the new owner to get permission from the SHPO before doing any construction, alteration, and remodeling. 

That may be putting a damper on the sale.  When the building was initially listed on the USPS-CBRE website, the asking price was $395,000 (it’s no longer on the site since the sale is now the GSA’s problem).  The starting bid is now $75,000. 

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Berkeley mayor files appeal with the PRC to stop the closure and sale of his city’s historic post office


Tom Bates, the Mayor of Berkeley, California, has written a letter to Ruth Goldway, Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, informing the PRC that he is “personally appealing the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office because this transaction is not a relocation of services, it is in fact a sale of the historic building.”

Mayor Bates notes that the Postal Service is calling the closure and sale of the post office a “relocation” without even identifying the new location.  According to the mayor, “there is no suitable location in area code 94704 to which to move retail services.”

As for the Postal Service’s statement that it’s possible they would lease back space in the building and keep a post office there, the mayor writes, “This is playing semantic games with the public trust and contributes to public distrust of government.”

“If the Postal Service has a place to relocate the retail postal service other than 2000 Alston Way (its current location),” says the mayor, “it should be required to make it known prior to moving ahead with a scam relocation.”

The Postal Service will inevitably file a Motion to Dismiss the mayor’s appeal, as it did recently on the appeal of the Bronx GPO closure, on the grounds that relocation decisions are outside the jurisdiction of the Commission. That motion is still before the Commission.

Mayor Bates has been trying everything to stop the sale of his city's historic post office.  He wrote directly to the Postmaster General, and got this unsatisfactory reply, basically saying, "Sorry, there's nothing I can do about it."   Mayor Bates also wrote to 54 mayors across the country who are facing similar closures of historic post offices.  The mayor and the city council also filed an appeal on the relocation decision with USPS Vice President, Facilities, Mr. Tom Samra, and that got nowhere either.  Whether the PRC appeal will fare any better remains to be seen.    

(Photo credits: Berkeley's Mayor Bates)


Dumbfounded in Dumbo: Residents wonder why automated post office remains locked


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has a story about an automated post office in DUMBO (for non-NYer's, that's "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass," a hip neighborhood in Brooklyn):

"DUMBO’s only post office – an unmanned 'Self-Service Kiosk' at 84 Front Street — has been shuttered since last Wednesday and snail mail customers are growing increasingly frustrated.

“'I mailed a package on Monday and according to the tracking it doesn’t show that it’s progressed past the DUMBO location,' DUMBO resident Maria Hoey told the Brooklyn Eagle. 'My guess is that it’s locked inside — although it's possible that it’s lost somewhere else in the system.'”  Read more, and more here, too.


Building a powerful nationwide grass-roots movement to Save the People’s Post Office


Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and an organizer with Save the People’s Post Office, has written a lucid and informative summary of the grass-roots movement to stop the dismantling of the Postal Service for private profit.  It starts like this:

"Without question, the big-business class – and their agents in USPS headquarters, the executive branch and Congress – are on a path to dismantle the Postal Service, privatize the profitable parts of it, and neutralize or destroy the postal unions.

"Their whole economic system is in crisis. It’s not working. So the 1% are trying to pull their own chestnuts out of the fire by a full-bore attack on unions, the workers and the poor – an attack on our union contracts, our jobs, economic security, wages, benefits, conditions, and social services. Their assault on the Post Office is part of this strategy."  Read more.


Berkeley sleep-in on post office steps goes into third day


About fifteen protesters camped out on the steps of the Berkeley post office for the third night since the rally on Saturday.  Protesters denounced the Postmaster General's decision to sell historic post offices in Berkeley, the Bronx, and LaJolla,, close thousands of post offices and mail processing plants, end door-to-door and Saturday delivery, and lay off 100,000-plus unionized postal workers, in what they said was a "systematic plan to dismantle and privatize the postal service."  Read more.  (Press release)