Monthly Archives: November 2011

More Postal Service inaccuracies challenged

So you have the same info I do, if you want, download the pdf of the Proposal to close the Ward Post Office, and the pdf of the budget information.

Based on the info in those two docs (and one other letter that’s quoted in my response), I wrote the following letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been reading over the proposal to close the Ward Post Office and subsequent correspondence, again, and I have some more observations and questions to which I’d like answers. I have not seen answers to these questions yet

  1. Marcela, in your letter to Pat Cypher of October 28, 2011, you state:
    “The projected 10-year savings from the discontinuance of the Ward Post Office is $655,139. This amount includes the postmaster salary and fringe benefits. The postmaster salary and benefits for the last fiscal year was $83,675.”
    The latter number, multiplied by ten ($83,675 X 10 = $836,750), would be $181,611 MORE than the former number, which should be the total savings from closure, and BOTH are different from the number actually quoted for “EAS Craft and Labor” in the economic savings breakdown in the proposal, $899,639. So what does this discrepancy mean? How do we trust your (ie the postal service’s) “savings” calculations, when the numbers seem to shift at will?
  2.  In looking at the POD Financial Summary, under Investment there is a line item: Construction/Renovation, with a negative figure: ($14,000). To what does this refer? Farther down, in the column, 10-year Operating Variance, there is another negative number, ($92,859). To what does this refer? Further, I don’t understand the two figures: Total 10-year operating variance: $855,476, and the “POD 10-year NPV, $655,139.” Please explain the difference.
  3. In the proposal, one of the advantages (and disadvantages) you note is “The loss of a retail outlet and a postmaster position in the community. Retail services may be provided by the rural or contract delivery carrier.” I’m pretty clear how this is a disadvantage, please explain to me how this is an “advantage.” I will point out that the same conditions that make travel to Jamestown impractical (it’s a steep, curvy road that’s often snowpacked and/or icy in the winter) also make the carrier’s route timing somewhat less than predictable. So you want us to stand out in below-zero, high-wind (80mph is NOT uncommon), or blizzard conditions, to meet the contract carrier? Or drive an hour+ round trip in dangerous conditions to do our postal retail business? We’re pretty tough, but that’s asking a lot.
  4. Your proposal suggests providing delivery services by highway contract route, I presume using CBUs (Is this government acronym speak for Cluster Box Units?) Who pays for the boxes? Their installation? Their maintenance? The snow plowing necessary to keep them open in the winter? The locksmith to come and unfreeze the (100+) locks when we get one of our common sub-arctic systems? Heck, where are you going to PUT 100+ boxes? Private property? Government property? Who pays the rent on the land? Who pays to reinstall when the snowplow driver can’t see them in the 6 foot drifts and drives over them, or the out of control pickup truck slams into them, and scatters mail from here to Timbuktu? Who gets to go back to banks, billing companies, clients, and the senders of all the other important mail we receive and tell them, “Sorry, I didn’t receive your check, bill, notice.” For instance, I have an FCC Amateur Radio Operator’s License. The FCC is very clear – if they can’t reach you by mail, your license is revoked. If you are caught transmitting on a revoked license, that’s a felony. FYI, there are 7 Ham Radio licensees in the Ward Post Office area.
  5. In the “advantages” section, item #2, “Customers opting for carrier service will have 24-hour access to their mail.’ In point of fact, we have 24-hour access to our mail right now, in a semi-warm (ie not below freezing), protected-from-wind-and-snow, lighted location right this very instant. So that is by NO means an advantage – it’s decidedly a downgrade and a distinct DISadvantage. Item #4 suggests that CBUs and parcel lockers add security and convenience. Already have it, so please keep your CBUs, they are NOT an advantage. None of this addresses how “access” to a CBU will work for the elderly, sick, disabled. Please address this, particularly for our problematic winter months.
  6. Enquiring minds want to know: who decided what was convenient for Ward or what would “adversely impact” it? Have they ever visited Ward, even in summer, much less in winter? Why not?
  7. Item 3 states that “Savings for the Postal Service contribute in the long run to stable postage rates and savings for customers.” In response, some observations and suggestions: from what I’ve seen of the investigations into USPS finances there are several issues that would go a long way to fixing the PO financial woes. The first is to either eliminate the requirement to pre-fund the 75 years of retirement or to extend it over a 40 year period. I know that’s legislative, but that should have been explored first, before putting forth community-destroying proposals. Same with the $6.9B refund. From what I’ve been able to find out, if the USPS were to close each and every one of the rural post offices, it would amount to less than 1% of the USPS budget. That implies to me that the cost “savings” to the PO will be nowhere near enough to actually fix the Postal Service’s fiscal problem.
    I understand there are 67 District Offices across the US and seven Area Offices that bring in $0 (zero dollars). How many people work in the Area and District Offices for the zip code 80481? What are their salaries? Why are you eliminating offices with revenue and not offices that solely administer and never touch the mail, and don’t make a cent for the USPS? So here’s another suggestion: close the District and Area offices. If there are Post Offices where you’ve determined that there isn’t sufficient workload, assign them some of the work the Area and District Offices do now. Post Offices stay open, postmasters stay busy, and you eliminate administrative costs, building rental, utilities, salaries at both the Area and District Offices. What valid reason does the Postal Service have for not considering these kinds of notions before going straight to “screw the customer?” If, in my business, I did that, yeah I’d be out of business in pretty short order too.
    I’ll say this here, from my discussions with my constituents (I am a member of the Ward Town Government), no one that I’ve spoken to, not even the most raging anti-government among us, is even okay with, much less happy with the idea of losing our Post Office. And all to whom I’ve spoken would be okay with the idea of a shortened work week, which would dramatically lower the cost of operation. We’ve talked about half days, 5 or 6 days a week, or only 3 or 4 days a week of window service. We’re not intransigent, but we’re absolutely opposed to the total closure of the post office.
  8. Item #5: “Customers opting for carrier service will not have to pay post office box fees.” $44 per year saved hardly makes up for potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in increased costs of doing business with the post office in a town an hour (RT) away, or waiting for the driver by the highway, especially for those of us depending on the US Mail for some part of our small, home-based businesses.
  9. Item #6: “Saves time and energy for customers who drive to the post office to pick up mail.” And increases time and energy for customers who have to drive to the CBUs (especially in bad weather) to pick up mail. Depending on where you would put the CBUs, it’s probable that it would increase the number of people who have to get in their cars and drive to the boxes, and it would certainly increase the number of people who have to get in their cars to do PO business, even if one can transact with the carrier, even if you’re not physically present. (Let me ask you: would you leave cash in a box by the highway, say for a money order, or for insurance on a package that you want to send? Yes lots of folks in this town not only don’t have a car, they also don’t have bank accounts, and so operate with cash.) At best that “advantage” is a wash.
  10. Among the disadvantages, you mention changing the mailing address, but that the community name will continue to be used. I run a small business, one of 30+ small businesses, government agencies, and non-profits in the Town of Ward (a list is attached). I am here to tell you that that could be devastating – I’ve had thousands of customers over the years and though most contact me by phone or email, some still contact me by mail, and many pay me by mail. Matter of fact, probably half of my income is from big clients whom I invoice and who pay me by mail. I also get some residuals and royalties for work done long ago – always nice to walk to the Post Office and find a surprise check. I would have almost no way to contact those payees to inform them of an address change. I’m resisting exaggeration, but the potential for loss is staggering, and I’m not completely sure my business would survive it. I know that other business owners here feel the same. That’s not to mention the family/friends/ acquaintances who have my address from the 20+ years I’ve used this post office. Another loss of time and money to me. Additionally you say “the Zip Code is not expected [italics mine] to change.” Boy that leaves a hole you could drive a Postal Service 18-wheeler through.
  11. Factual errors: Ward IS an incorporated community. It is administered politically by the Ward Town Government, consisting of 6 elected council members and a mayor, not by Ward Town Hall. Ward Town Marshall provides Police Protection, not Boulder County. The Ward Post Office building IS listed as an historic landmark (115+ years old), and even though the Postal Service has been operating from that building for only 37 years, we’ve had postal service in this community for 148 years. Why do you not count the years we’ve had postal service, only the years it’s been in that building? You’re not changing buildings, you’re looking to eliminate the service altogether, in this town. Why have you not corrected these factual errors?
  12. Over the past 4 years, only one year has seen a decline in revenue, and the September year-to-date in 2011, still shows an increase in revenue over September ytd 2008 (from the historical figure in the financial reports), and that is in a general economic downturn that has affected our community as much or more than many others. In evaluating the mail volume sheets, I notice that the numbers show both ups and downs, not a consistent or steady decline in most categories, as your justification states. So effectively, though the revenues/volume are not high, by your own figures they are NOT steadily declining, as stated in paragraph 2 of the justification. (You even note in paragraph 3 that there has been a slight INCREASE in revenue over the last few years. Please. Make up your mind.

Again, if decline in workload is an issue, we are open to a reduced hours compromise. Has this even been discussed? Why not?

If this proposal had used accurate information, that supported your justifications, then the conclusion might be more reasonable. However in my industry we have a saying: GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out, ie you can’t make a good decision based on faulty information.

Additionally, nowhere in any of these documents do you speak to the intangibles of what happens when you shut down the heart of the community; that’s not listed in the “disadvantages,” but to the community it’s an overriding consideration. Closing the Ward Post Office would devastate our community. I have seen what happens to communities, isolated to begin with, that lose their post offices. “Adversely affected” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

For the third time, we are open to alternative ideas for how to keep our Post Office open.

Thanks for the detailed and accurate answers I expect you to provide in answer to these questions.

Yours truly,

Karelle Scharff

Small business owner

Member of Ward Town Council

 

 

National Survey Affirms Public Support of Post Offices

A new national consumer survey conducted by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) concluded that the vast majority of Americans continue to oppose post office closings. In addition, the polling data substantiates NAPUS’ arguments before the Postal Regulatory Commission against the Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI), relating to the American public’s use of post offices.
The survey, which was released on Thursday, found that 72% of Americans are opposed to the planned closing of the RAOI-targeted post offices. This data is consistent with past survey results conducted over the past two years by Gallup and the Washington Post. In addition, the survey results conflict with USPS assertions about the rarity of customer visits to post offices; the ACI survey found that the average person visits the post office more than once a week, and that the visit is not just to purchase stamps. In fact, according to ACI, 68% of the public visit the post office to ship parcels, 53% to send priority or express mail, and 50% to weigh packages or envelopes. Another crucial finding is that nearly half of those surveyed stated that they would have to travel more than seven miles to the next nearest post office if their post office was closed.
The cross-tabs on the survey (i.e., the detailed data) provide some fascinating insights relating to rural post office customers. Approximately twice as many rural customers use post office boxes, as compared to non-rural customers. Within the context of NAPUS’ cross-examination of the USPS at RAOI hearing, the USPS witness conceded that USPS does not collect data to record post office visits relating to post office box mail retrieval. Also, approximately twice as many rural customers visit a post office multiple times a week, as compared to non-rural customers. And, 64% of rural postal customers would have to travel in excess of seven miles if their post office was closed. Hence, as NAPUS pointed out at the RAOI hearings, rural postal customers would suffer a disproportionate decrease in postal access if their retail facility were to be closed. Another interesting finding in the survey is that 68% of postal customers who identified themselves as Republicans oppose post office closings, 69% of Independents oppose closings, and 81% of Democrats oppose closings. Simply stated: a bipartisan and overwhelming majority of Americans oppose post office closings.

What YOU can do

If you use the Ward Post Office, EVER, you need to write to the Postal Service department that’s coordinating closures. There are comment forms in the Ward Post Office on the bulletin board, along with partially addressed (I didn’t want them to look like they all came from me) stamped envelopes. Then call your Colorado senators. Their website contact pages are listed to the left. Tell them that it’s a hardship to you for the PO to close.

You can also download a copy of the comment form by clicking here. Fill it out and send it in, preferably from Ward, but that’s a little less important.

Ideas for a letter, use what’s appropriate, or other information if that’s appropriate:

  • Impracticality of an hour round trip to the next nearest PO (either 26 to Jamestown or 28 miles to Ned, RT),
  • negative social impact on the community
  • impact on local businesses
  • impact on the town – budget (PO pays rent to the town), town mail pick-up, especially on a more limited budget
  • impracticality of CBU (cluster box units) in bad weather, especially with regard to locks freezing, ice, wind, snow and its plowing
  • Might mention how this might impact the elderly and disabled who often don’t drive or don’t feel comfortable driving in winter conditions, but need to get their SS check, or their meds through the mail, and frequently don’t have a computer, or an internet connection, and maybe not even a bank account.

Address it to:
Marcela Rivera
7500 East 53rd Place
Rm 224
Denver, CO 80266-9998

Please go to our Facebook page and like it: http://facebook.com/SavetheWardPostOffice

Go view the youtube videos:

Becky’s new song:

and the KGNU interview (starts the same as the song):

Continue Reading

Bennet: USPS ‘Time-Out’ Provides More Time to Evaluate Effects of Potential Post Office Closures? Maybe yes, probably no.

U.S. SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET
Member: Agriculture, HELP, Banking and Aging Committees

CONTACT: Michael Amodeo – 303-249-5286
Laura Brandon – 202-573-5350

Bennet: USPS ‘Time-Out’ Provides More Time to Evaluate Effects of Potential Post Office Closures

Announcement Comes on Heels of Several Bennet Efforts to Ensure USPS Reform Recognizes Impact on Rural Communities

Washington, DC –Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced that the USPS has issued a temporary “time-out” on post office closings that will provide more time for the Agency to examine potential effects of these closings on local communities and help Coloradans avoid frustrating and needless holiday season service interruptions.

This month, USPS issued a notice to all Area Vice Presidents, directing them to temporarily suspend all Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) implementations and post office closings beginning November 19, 2011 through January 2, 2012. While districts may proceed with the post office discontinuance process, the physical closing of a post office or the physical relocation of routes will be temporarily suspended during this window.

“Although we are not out of the woods yet and reforms to place the Postal Service on a more secure financial trajectory are absolutely needed, this temporary ‘time-out’ ensure that the USPS can step back and more closely evaluate the potential effects of post office closures on local communities,” said Bennet. “We have worked hard to communicate the important role post offices play in rural communities, and we hope the USPS uses this time-out to take a closer look at the potential effects of these closures on Colorado communities.”

This announcement comes on the heels of several Bennet efforts to ensure USPS reform takes into account potential impacts on rural communities.

Earlier this month, Bennet and Senator Mark Udall wrote a letter to Senate committee leaders urging them to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service. In the letter, the Senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

In June, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages.

In September, they sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

KGNU Interview

Moratorium on Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) Implementations and Post Office Discontinuances Announced

From NAPUS.org truly good news. However this is respite, not victory. Please continue to contact your elected representatives about Senate Bill SB 1719 and related house bills. Also continue to fill out the comment forms and send them to Marcela Rivera in Denver, at USPS 7500 E. 53rd Pl. Denver, CO 80202.

Moratorium on Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) Implementations and Post Office Discontinuances Announced

The Postal Service has issued a notice to all Area Vice Presidents, directing them to temporarily suspend all Delivery Unit Optimization(DUO) implementations and post office closings beginning November 19, 2011 through January 2, 2012.  Postal officials said the moratorium was issued in an effort to avoid service interruptions or logisitical challenges. Districts may proceed with the post office discontinuance process, including community meetings and related actions required prior to closing, but the physical closing of a post office or the physical relocation of routes from one office to another (DUO) will be temporarily suspended beginning November 19, 2011 through January 2, 2012.

NAPUS President Bob Rapoza, who sent a letter to Senate Committee leaders last week requesting the inclusion of a moratorium on post office closings as part of S. 1789, applauded the action by the Postal Service.  It should be noted that the NAPUS advanced amendment was included in yesterday’s markup of S. 1789. Under the Moran Amendment, the USPS must take into account proximity to customers, demography (age and population density), and transportation and climate challenges in remote areas in setting standards. Moreover, the amendment requires a moratorium on post office closures, pending the implementation of the retail standards (i.e., 6 months from the date of enactment).  Also, the standards would apply to communities that suffered the loss of their post office, during the time period one year prior to enactment (e.g., post office subject to the Retail Access Optimization Initiative).  The amendment carried the bipartisan sponsorship of  Senators Moran, Tester, Collins, Begich (D-AK), McCaskill (D-MO)  and Landrieu (D-LA); it was approved by 12-4 vote. The only Senators voting no were Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK),  Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Fires today – according to OEM

It appears that Lee Hill may be closed, due to a fire at Deer Trail and Lee Hill, but the evac order (radius of one mile) has been lifted.

Also a fire was reported at 3000 block of Fourmile, that is reported to be contained.

More info at http://boulderoem.com/emergency-status

There was a transformer with a loose ground wire this morning up by the Peak to Peak. Xcel was called and the fire department responded and monitored it until Xcel arrived.

Post Office closing process a sham

At this point, without immediate and direct pressure on the US Postmaster General it is clear to me that the Ward Post Office will be closed.

It is also clear that the USPS Closing Process has been a sham, that the USPS has ignored their own regulations, that there is NEVER a consideration of community input, and that rights of community members have been violated during this process.

In the case of the Ward Post Office, Scott Prestige of Senator Bennet’s office, Danielle Henry of Congressman Polis’s office, and State Senator Jeanne Nicholson can verify that at the Post Office Community meeting of Sept 6, Ward customers presented oral and written testimony regarding the Historic Ward Post Office, including National Registry #, about the extreme high altitude winter weather and dangerous roads, about the many businesses and non-profit organizations, including Boy Scouts, American Legion, Boys/Girls Club Camps, the long distance over 20 miles round trip to nearest other post office, etc., etc.

Almost a month later the USPS posted its Proposal to Close the Ward Post Office.  The proposal listed the followimg:

1.  Ward Post Office is 37 years old. (Actually the building is about 118 years old and the PO service to Ward close to the same)
2.  Not listed as a historic landmark. (Yes, it is)
3.  No significant historical events related to the community. (It was the Ward schoolhouse for half a century, and plays parts in many historical Ward events)
4.  Only 3 businesses in Postal area. (Actually there are dozens of micro and small businesses in the community and its surroundings)
5.  No non-profit organizations in the Ward Postal Area (Probably 10 exist)

Under disadvantges to closing, no mention was made of over 1 hour round trip to other Post Office, high altitude environment, danger of travel on mountains roads, impact on elderly/low income/people without cars/lack of bus service, negative economic impact on small business, Fire Protection District, Town of Ward administration, community as a whole or ANY issue rasied by Ward Postal Customers in a petition, in letters, surveys, oral testimony.  ALL COMMUNITY INPUT WAS IGNORED.

In additon, the USPS has not complied with their own required procedures for the closing process.

1.  Would not schedule meeting at time when most customers would have access (requested in a letter to USPS)
2.  Promised in a letter in response to our request for line-item fiancial information that the financial information would be attached to the Proposal to Close which would be posted and we did not have to file a FOI request — requested info did not accompany Proposal, we did have to file a FOI request.
3,  Did not attach ANY copies of letters received, surveys, petitions, etc. regarding the closing when they are required by USPS regulations to attach ALL communications received regarding the Closing.
4.  USPS has not responed in writing to questions from Postal Customers that were written in survey, by letters, etc.

In essence, the USPS has totally ignored the community, legislators, historic societies, as well as disregarding rights of citizens.  This is in the case of the Ward Post Office.

After researching what has happened in other communities, it is clear that the USPS operates in a similar manner in ALL communities, has already made a decision to close all Post Offices indicated “for study” (in some cases the closing coordinator actually told community members it was a “done deal” and not to bother fighting it or in some cases communities received Final Notice of Closing before study was ever concluded), that over and over the USPS has refused to correct blatant errors in financial info, community information, has violated citizens rights by not allow video taping of the public meeting, has refuesed to comply with community requests to correct information, refused to comply with requests for financial information, and in many cases, did not comply with FOI requests.

This whole closing process is a SHAM.  Apeeals to the PRC are summarily turned down with no explantion for decisions.  The PRC Chair herself has said

I am concerned the public’s rights to notification and participation in the closing process are now ignored. The Postal Service is a government monopoly with obligations to all its citizens, not only a delivery service for business mailers — as important as that may be to our nation’s economy.

Ruth Galway, Chair, Postal Regulator Commission, May 11, 2011

Senator MCCaskill of Missouri has openely questioned the USPS process  http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=535177&shr=addthis

In Appeal after Appeal, attorney’s for large and small communites have cited examples of citizen’s rights being ignored and USPS regulations violated.  It is clear that the USPS has already made up its mind to close Post Offices on the “study list” and the study process and citizen input are a SHAM.

At this point, the only things that can help Rural Post Offices have any chance for a fair hearing is a MORIATORIUM ON POST OFFICE CLOSINGS–nothing else will make a difference at this point.  Until and unless a Moratium is implement, rural communites have no hope for a fair hearing.  We elect our Legislators–they need to stand up for us.

This letter constitutes a Complaint again the USPS regarding Closing Post Offices, a request for an investigations, and a request for an immediate Morotorium on Closing Post Offices.

Pat Cypher
Citizens to Save the Historic Ward Post Office

Colorado’s Senators Bennet, Udall Urge Senate Leadership to Consider Rural Communities in Postal Service Reforms

UNITED STATES SENATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 7, 2011
CONTACT:  Tara Trujillo – 202-224-4334
Michael Amodeo – 303-249-5286

Bennet, Udall Urge Senate Leadership to Consider Rural Communities in Postal Service Reforms

Washington – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, along with Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are urging Senate committee leaders to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service.

“We think a long-term viable postal service must be placed on a secure financial trajectory while protecting the important role that USPS plays in rural America,” the Senators wrote in the letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the subcommittee dealing with the Postal Service.

“While it is imperative that we address current structural dilemmas facing the USPS such as the mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits and overpayments into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), we must set the Postal Service on a new course that embraces innovation and creative business practices and protects the millions of Americans who depend on this longstanding institution regardless of sleet or snow, six days a week, year after year.”

In the letter, the Senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

In June, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages.

In September, they sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

Full text of the letter is included below.

Dear Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Collins, Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Brown,

As the Committee and Subcommittee explore potential reforms to the United States Postal Service (hereinafter, USPS or the “Postal Service”), we encourage you to value the essential role that it plays in western states and rural America as a whole. USPS delivers to 308 million locations daily, bringing in $67 billion annually at zero operating expense to American taxpayers. From personal banking services to retail advertising, both public and private sectors rely upon USPS to facilitate contact with rural communities and markets that might otherwise lack connectivity.

In fact, private sector enterprises often rely on USPS to provide final destination deliveries to many of these remote locations that would otherwise be deemed unprofitable. It is critical that any changes to the USPS do not undermine current law to provide maximum access to postal services for both urban and rural Americans.

We are supportive of your recent efforts to introduce postal service reform legislation, and would ask the Committee to consider the following standard as you seek to move forward. We think a long-term viable postal service must be placed on a secure financial trajectory while protecting the important role that USPS plays in rural America.

Encourage Innovation

The USPS must transform itself to meet the demands of 21st century consumers and businesses. The Postal Service has a long tradition of adapting to changing technology and it must do so again with the ever increasing prevalence of the internet. The USPS has to work quickly to identify and adapt to new markets such as digital mail services and build stronger partnerships with the private sector to strengthen and expand its business.

Creative Approaches to Existing Assets

We are also concerned with plans to close a number of post offices serving rural areas. Small and remote communities especially in rural and mountain regions, often depend on the local post office for their mail service and as an accessible representation of the federal government. Additionally, the possible closure of post offices on Indian reservations would place a significant burden on residents, many of whom live in remote areas and lack reliable transportation.  Reservations post offices perform a critical service where many residents rely on their post office to engage in commerce, access to government services and pay their bills. We believe that there are considerable opportunities for the USPS to reassess its existing capital assets and maximize their unique role in rural communities. For example, the Postal Service should be encouraged to work with other government agencies to explore housing multiple government services through existing post office centers. We are also supportive of efforts to identify potential post office locations whose services could be housed elsewhere in local communities such as markets and banks. Proposals such as these offer opportunities to save costs, promote efficiency and strengthen accessibility for the general public.

Maintain Competitive Edge

Some proposed reforms to the USPS include eliminating Saturday delivery to institute a shortened delivery week. By doing so, the Postal Service would be relinquishing a significant portion of its market share for relatively nominal savings. A number of businesses that depend on the USPS for Saturday delivery such as banks, retailers, and periodicals would turn elsewhere for Saturday service leaving the USPS at a competitive loss. Similarly and as mentioned above, the Postal Service provides a unique product to thousands of rural and remote communities that would otherwise lack the same access to the broader marketplace. We do not believe that it is in the Postal Service’s best long-term interests to forfeit these considerable components to its overall business portfolio.

While it is imperative that we address current structural dilemmas facing the USPS such as the mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits and overpayments into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), we must set the Postal Service on a new course that embraces innovation and creative business practices and protects the millions of Americans who depend on this longstanding institution regardless of sleet or snow, six days a week, year after year.

We appreciate your consideration on these matters.

# # #

 Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is questioning the post master general’s attempt to reach out to the public regarding the closure of Missouri post office locations.
She’s questioning whether  local hearings were being held in good faith.
McCaskill says she hasn’t heard back from the U.S. Postmaster about whether or not testimony from public hearings has ever altered the postal service’s decision to close a local office.
Across the nation, the USPS is currently reviewing 3,700 retail local offices, 167 of those are in rural Missouri.
From: Ozarks First (including video)

Village Post Offices are no golden solution (Reuters)

(Reuters) – The financially troubled U.S. Postal Service has determined that its plan to replace money-losing offices with retailers contracted to offer basic services will not work in many rural communities.
The world’s largest mail carrier hoped the plan, announced in July as part of a series of cost-cutting moves to combat recent losses, would save hundreds of millions of dollars.
The agency set an eventual goal of 2,000 “Village Post Offices,” but it has fewer than 10 fully operating.
It is now looking at ways to operate some rural post offices more cheaply rather than closing them.
“When you get west of the Mississippi, it’s more prevalent that you don’t have stores in these communities, you have nothing in these communities. It’s pretty much just the post office,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told Reuters in an interview.
“I think as you get out to these areas that don’t have that option, we’ve got to figure out the best way to provide.”
The Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer money for its operations, has struggled with the loss of mail volume to the Internet and the economic recession. A massive annual payment imposed by Congress in 2006 compounded the problem, and the agency lost $20 billion in the four years through 2010.
The Postal Service is constrained by law in how it can cut costs and sees closing post offices as one of its few remaining options as it awaits a legislative overhaul of its operations.
Officials in July said they would study almost 3,700 of its 32,000 post offices for possible closure. Many would be replaced with Village Post Offices housed in general stores and other local retail outlets, the agency said.
The announcement sparked an outcry from communities and lawmakers seeking to protect their post offices. Critics said the expected savings — about $200 million, compared with operating expenses of about $70 billion — would be too small to justify closing thousands of post offices.
The Postal Service still plans to establish new Village Post Offices, but the lack of potential retail partners could allow some post offices to remain open. Thirty Alaska sites were removed from the list when the agency decided they were needed to maintain service. “We found out there were no roads to get there,” Donahoe said.
Six Village Post Offices are operating now, and one opens next week. Four retailers are finalizing their agreements, and about 30 others are in various stages of the contract process, according to a Postal Service spokesman.
“In practice, they haven’t been able to sign up that many Village Post Offices, and they are discovering that in these rural areas they’ve identified there aren’t necessarily other businesses that would take on the rural post office,” said Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.
“It’s not going to be their great solution to the problem.”
ALTERNATIVES TO CLOSING
The agency now is considering keeping post offices open in some rural areas for only the few hours each day when they experience the most traffic. Postmasters, who are often the only employee at rural post offices, would receive lower pay and benefits to manage those offices, Donahoe said.
“There’s no reason to have it open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. if, for those other eight hours a day, somebody’s standing there looking out the window,” Donahoe said.
Bob Levi, director of government relations for the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, called the shift “better than nothing.”
“That is a strong indication that Village Post Offices are not all they were cut out to be,” Levi said.
Several bills now before the U.S. Congress seek to fix the agency’s woes, including ending Saturday mail delivery. Absent an overhaul, the agency is still studying the post offices for closure, though Donahoe said none would close before February. The Postal Regulatory Commission is working on its own advisory to guide the Postal Service through the closings.
Donahoe said USPS still plans to close post offices where residents can access another post office or where rural letter carriers — who can sell stamps, pick up packages and offer other services — could make up the service.
(Reporting by Cezary Podkul in New York and Emily Stephenson in Washington; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Recap of Post Office closing Town meeting

Thank you all for the wonderful support at the meeting with the US Postal Service on Tuesday, Sept 6 at the Ward Union Congregational Church.  It was a dark,cold, rainy Ward mountain evening and we especially thank all the attendees from out of town who traveled long distances come to our meeting.

Thank you Nederland Mountain Ear for the great editorial.  We had TV coverage on Channels 4, 7 (nterveiws about the Post Office Closing) and 9 (coverage of our re-enactment of the 1863 Horseback Postal Delivery) and radio news coverage on KGNU, KCFR and KOA radio. Thank you David Grimm for the telephone interview with KOA.
Marela Rivera and two other Postal Service representatives attended.  Marcela spoke to the Postal Services financial issues, their legal responsibilty to pre-fund employees health care/retirement for 75 years which Congress can overturn, and the criteria by which Post Offices were chosen for the “discontinuance study.”  She indicated that the USPS proposal would be posted at our Post Office and spoke about the process that would be used for final determination, the opportunity for continued customer input, and the appeals process.

Colorado State Senator Jeanne Nicholson, a mountain resident who understands life at this high altitude, spoke opposing the Post Office closing on our behalf.  She knows what the roads are like in the winter. US Senator Michael Bennet’s Legislative aide, James Thompson attended and spoke of a letter Senator Bennet was sending opposing closing of remote, high altitude Post Offices in Colorado.  US Congressman Polis’s aide Danielle Henry attended, as did representatives from the Ward Town Council (Fountain, Grimm, Schraff, Lawrence),  Ward Town Clerk Bakke, the Ward Fire Chief, Chair of the Ward Water Board, and Chairman of the Board of the Indian Peaks Fire Protection District.

Smitty, Chair of the Board of the Indian Peaks Fire Protection spoke of the negative economic impact on the all volunteer Fire Protection District’s small budget if the local Post Office was closed, as did Pat Marrocco on behalf of the Ward Water Board.  George Lewis spoke to the history of the Post Offiice , Amber and Rebecca Hawk on behalf of children and families (Amber, age 13 has us in tears); Barbara Monroe about the hardship that would be caused to rural box holders in losing retail services at the Ward Post Office, Mark Graff and Pat Marroco about the economic loss to small businesses; Cynthia Bakke, Ward Town Clerk, about the need for the Post Office for mailing referendums, town business, and hardships that would be created for low-income, elderly and those who walk, ski, snowshoe to the P.O..; Ed Martinek who recentlly retired from the Boulder County Road Commission after plowing roads for 30 years reinforced the danger of driving our roads in the winter; and  Mike Parker of the Ward Area Rural Poets spoke of the many local artists and jewelers who economically depend on the local Post Office and gave an empassioned poetic plea for the post office as the center of our community,  Many other Ward Post Office customers and box holders spoke opposing the P.O. closing and many written comments were delivered at the end of the meeting.

I read the Petition opposing the closing and opened the mailbag that Derek Stevens, our Pony Express re-enactor delivered to the Church steps. I presented Marcela Rivera of the Postal Service with 13 signed petitions, and copies of the more than 400 postcards and letters sent in opposition to the closing, including a letter from Columbine Family Practice, Dr. Cameratta’s office in Nederland who recently cared for two elederly, end-of-life patients at home in Ward and which addressed the clinic’s dependence on the Ward Post Office for contacting patients who had no telephone or internet.  I also spoke of the various organizations who operate camps, retreats, confernce centers in the Ward Postal area and who signed the petition including the Seventh Day Adventists (Glacier View Retreat and Conference Center), Boy Scouts of America (Camp Tahosa and Tahosa High Altitude Base Camp),  American Legion Post #32 Beaver Resorvoir Camp/Recreation area, Boys and Girls Clubs of Denver Gates Camp,and  Phonstuk Choling Buddhist Study Center.

A Statement of the Boulder County Commission opposing the closing, a copy of a letter opposing the closing sent by our Colorado State Representative Claire Levy to the Postal Service, and a letter from the Boulder Historic Society opposing the closing were included.  State Senator Nicholson will be forwarding a copy of her letter to the Postal Service to us.

Thanks to Becky Martinek, Christina Zahn, and Karelle Scharff of the Board of the Ward Union Congregational Church for their work in setting up the Church for their meeting, to Christina Zahn, Amy LaRue, David Grimm, Ann Gillis, J.J.Whittaker Cal of the Brainerd Lake Campground Hosts, Apache, and our esteemed Postmaster, Becky Malle for appearing/speaking to t.v. reporters.

Special thanks to our 1863 Postman Derek Stevens for his great ride with his horse, mule and Betsy Ross flag  delivering the mailbag with the Petitions.You were awesome!

Thank you Flip for coordinating that ride with the TV cameramen. Thanks Ann Gillis for directing parking, thanks Barbara, Brenda and all who brought cookies, thanks Danny, Nigel and JJ for their wonderful Colorado Coffee Roasters coffee.  Thank you customers of the Ward Post Office for standing on the Church steps and cheering for our Pony Express rider and, most of all, expressing your opinions.  Thanks Barbara Monroe, Shelly Rose, Ann Gillis, Justine Sanchez, Becky Martinek, David Grimm, Germaine Pierre, Brenda Thompson for circulating the Petition and postcards, and thank you to the people and businesses in Nederland, Gold Hill, Jamestown,  Allenspark, Estes Park, and Boulder who supported us.

A special thanks to Smitty who braved the Church stairs while still recovering from his terrible accident to speak on behalf of our Fire Protection District and to George Lewis, our cherished community elder speaking of his grandfather, R.D. Ward, the Switzerland Trail Ward Stationmaster, who often had to brave hours of winter winds by horseback to retrieve the mail when the train got stuck, and for talking about what our Ward Post Office has meant throughout the years.

Thank you David Grimm for all your calls to legislators and the media — for your strategic planning and for moderating the meeting.  We did it folks — started on time — done by 8:30 and  the community delivered a powerful message to the Postal Service.  We oppose the closing of the historic Ward Post Office.

It’s still not over; this was just Act I  — we have got to keep letters and calls going out and ask that our US Congressional Representatives specifically request the Postal Service to remove the Ward Post Office from the Closing List, as did Alaska Congressmen were able to have 12 remote Alaskan Post Offices removed. We expect nothing less from our Colorado Congresssional Delegation.

Now that we have support letters from our State Senator, Representative, and County Commission, Historical Society, we would hope that Governor Hickenlooper would send a letter as well.

We are also investigating information from the Colorado State Historical Society regarding a legal mandate for all federal agencies to initiate a review under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 before action is taken than will affect properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thank you Colorado State Senator Jeanne Nicholson, Colorado State Senator Claire Levy, Boulder County Commissioners, and Boulder  Historical Society for your clear opposition to closing the historic Ward Post Office.

Please keep sending your ideas and concerns.  Together we can only get better.  I am so proud to be a member of the Ward area community.

Patty Cypher

Save The Historic Ward Post Office
CBS Channel 4

Channel 9