Miami’s Buena Vista Station post office building sold for $43M. Good luck getting your mail until there’s a new one

SteveBlog

Miami Herald: Residents of the 33137 ZIP code, which includes Miami’s Design District, Buena Vista, Morningside, Bay Point and surrounding neighborhoods, are dreading the closure of their post office. The place where they buy 50-cent stamps is slated to be replaced by a luxe retail store where they may be able to buy $50,000 purses or $5,000 suits — whether they need them or not.

“We’re anticipating a big hassle for residents and businesses,” said David Bloom, a Morningside resident who has had a P.O. box at the post office for 17 years. “We already have lousy service. My mail delivery fluctuates wildly, and people with home delivery often go days without receiving their mail.”

The Design District post office at 66 NE 39th St., known as Buena Vista Station, is expected to temporarily relocate and share quarters with the downtown post office at 500 NW 2nd Ave., near the Miami Police Department headquarters, which is three miles south. The two nearest post offices are in Allapattah, at 1799 NW 28th St., which is 2.1 miles away, and Little River, at 1400 NE 84 St., which is 2.7 miles away.  Read more.

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Congressmen bite at chance to save Pie Town’s post office

SteveBlog

Santa Fe New Mexican: Days to the primary election: 48.  New Mexican as apple pie. Three members of Congress are campaigning to save a slice of Americana — the endangered post office in Pie Town.

Pie Town, about 220 miles southwest of Santa Fe in Catron County, is an unincorporated outpost of about 150 people. The U.S. Postal Service has decided that operations at the Pie Town Post Office would be temporarily suspended starting April 27 because of the building’s condition.

But New Mexico’s Democratic U.S. senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce say they are worried the post office might be shuttered for good.

They cited a letter the postal service recently sent to customers stating “this change is temporary and will not lead to a formal discontinuance proposal unless we conclude that it will provide a maximum degree of regular and effective postal services.”

Pearce, Heinrich and Udall state in their letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan that residents of the Pie Town area are now anxious about the possibility of the post office being closed.  Read more.  (Photo credit: Sam Palahnuk, Google Maps)

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The Court Rules on the Barcode Case (again)

SteveStory

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, issued a decision on the Postal Service’s challenge to a ruling by the Postal Regulatory Commission involving barcoding and a rate increase.  The ruling is here.

The Court’s ruling is essentially a rebuke to the Commission for failing to provide an adequate explanation for why changes in the Postal Service’s policies on mail preparation requirements constituted a de facto rate increase.

The Postal Service will probably be happy with the Court’s ruling.  The big mailers, who participated as intervenors in the case, will not be.

The ruling means that the Postal Service will now be able to proceed with implementation of the changes to the rates for barcode mail it had initially proposed in 2013.  The Postal Service had deferred these changes while the case worked its way through the PRC and District Court.

In order to qualify for the standard automation discounted rate, mailers will now have to upgrade their Intelligent Mail barcodes from the basic to full-service variety.

As discussed in a previous post, the origins of this case go back to April 2013, when the Postal Service changed its policies about mail preparation requirements for automation discounts.  Read More

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Trump Moves to Gut the Post Office

SteveBlog

The American Prospect, by David Dayen: Some may be inclined to think that Donald Trump’s executive orderThursday night establishing a task force to recommend reforms for the U.S. Postal Service reflects another salvo in the president’s war against Amazon. Trump’s attack on Amazon, a clear byproduct of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, included the suggestion that the online retailer was “ripping off the post office” by securing a special deal for the USPS to ship packages the last mile. By reviewing the finances of the post office, Trump’s task force could demand increases to that shipping contract, possibly costing Amazon billions of dollars.

Whether Amazon actually is getting a special deal on shipping is open to intense debate. The company also happens to enjoy a discount on stamps, which they then mark up to their own marketplace sellers, a pure arbitrage deal to earn profits from a publicly issued product.

But these issues have almost nothing to do with the Trump executive order. The Amazon spat is a cover for the formal unveiling of a long-wished right-wing project to destroy the post office and have private industry take over its infrastructure, which taxpayers funded long ago. All the executive order really does is create a report; it would take a willing Congress to deliver the final hammer blow. But that report, with a government imprimatur, will become part of that right-wing wish list, living on for decades in think tanks and private shipping company boardrooms as a fervent dream.

And sometimes dreams become reality.  Read more.

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Here’s what happened to the Milan Post Office that closed on in Norfolk, VA

SteveBlog

The Virginia Pilot: Post Office mailboxes seem to be on every corner until you need them.

After the U.S. Postal Service closed a location at 38th Street and Colley Avenue in Norfolk, Virginia, a reader who used the office wanted to know why it was shut down – and, perhaps more importantly, where’s the nearest place to drop off outgoing mail now?

The location, known as the Milan Post Office, closed Feb. 23. Freda Sauter, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said the federal agency doesn’t own the building and decided not to renew its lease there. Sauter declined to explain the reasoning….

Nayla Debbas, a member of the company, declined to discuss future tenants or uses for the property. A sign at the building advertises it for rent.

“We’re in the process of fixing the building and the property,” Debbas said.

As for the Postal Service, the agency said a couple of months ago it planned to reopen “as close as reasonably possible to the current site.”  Read more.

(There’s more on this previous post.)

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USPS Letter Carriers Critique 5 Vehicles Considered For Next Mail Truck

SteveBlog

Trucks.com: The U.S. Postal Service is about to decide what vehicle will become the nation’s next mail truck. Will it be the one that letter carriers want?

As the Postal Service puts the five prototype models it is considering through extensive testing this year, letter carriers shared with Trucks.com the demands they face every day and evaluated the vehicles under consideration.

The changing dynamic of the job requires a vehicle with a far more modern design than the aging Grumman Long Life Vehicle that has served as the standard delivery truck since 1987, current and retired carriers told Trucks.com.

Delivery today is all about packages from Amazon.com and other e-commerce retailers. First class mail —  letters and bills — are a shrinking segment of the business, replaced by email and online payments. That requires changes to the design of the trucks, especially the interior space.

The current truck has poor insulation, leaking vents and a small cargo area that is not tall enough to stand inside, said Kathy Denman, a letter carrier from Connersville, Ind.

“The main thing for me is having heat, defrost and good visibility,” Denman said. “And you have to be able to walk around in there.”

The five entries hoping to win the competition include:

Read more.

(For more about the problems with the current fleet of USPS trucks, see this previous post.)

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Less transparency provided on U.S. Postal Service post office leases

SteveBlog

Linn’s Stamp: For years, the United States Postal Service has published on its website information about the rent it pays for postal facilities across the nation.

The “Leased Facilities Report” became a valuable index that real estate brokers and others used to judge the value of business properties.

But no more.

As Steve Bahnsen of Chicago, who has collected U.S. mint single stamps for more than 50 years, recently discovered, the Postal Service has removed the rent paid information for its website.  Read more.

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Save the Historic Minneapolis Post Office

SteveBlog

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about changing or even completely replacing the Minneapolis Post Office with some other use at its current location.

If you’d like to save the Post Office in its current form, now is the time to write the mayor, your member of the city council and the Minneapolis Downtown Council to voice your opinion on the matter. You can find links to their offices in the right side column of this blog. You might also write your congressman and two senators indicating your support for keeping the Minneapolis Post Office intact, because it will ultimately be the federal government that officially decides the fate of the Post Office. You should also send traditional written paper letters supporting the Minneapolis Post Office to the appropriate leaders of the U.S. Postal Service.

Remind everyone that the Minneapolis Post Office is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District and should remain a part of the public realm rather than being demolished or remodeled into a complex for condos and private offices.  Read more.

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Is Amazon exploiting the post office? No more than any other company in U.S. history.

SteveBlog

Newsday: Everyone knows that President Donald Trump loves feuds, but one of his strangest targets is Amazon. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the retail giant is “scamming” the U.S. post office by taking advantage of the venerable institution’s low shipping rates.

Trump has long complained about the Washington Post, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ ownership of it. But it’s still worth assessing the merits of the president’s argument. Is Amazon exploiting the post office?

No more than any other company in U.S. history. From the beginning, the post office has subsidized the cost of delivering all manner of goods, from newspapers to mail-order clothing, to encourage service to as many Americans as possible. It has done so in the name of knitting the nation together into a single, national market. Amazon is simply the latest in a long line of commercial interests to benefit.  Read more.

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Historic Post Office in Allentown, PA, may be sold, preservations fear it could be bulldozed

SteveBlog

WFMZ-TV: Could an iconic Allentown building meet the wrecking ball?

That’s what some preservationists are fearing as the post office considers selling its location at 5th and Hamilton.

“It’s an iconic building in terms of Allentown’s streetscape. It’s a very high style art deco building,” described Lauren Golden of the Allentown Preservation League.

Allentown’s post office was born to Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. Nearly 90 years later its death could come from a 21st century cost-cutting deal by the postal service.

“The current building is 98,000 square feet and they really only have about a 5,000 square-foot need,” Golden said.

The post office is considering selling the building and moving to a smaller nearby location, and if possible, leasing back a small portion for retail.  Read more.

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