Editorial….It’s about time they listened to the little guyThis week’s announcement that the United States Senate supported changes to Postal Reform legislation that will help ensure the future of reliable, timely mail service to Minnesota communities was a good start.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
This week’s announcement that the United States Senate supported changes to Postal Reform legislation that will help ensure the future of reliable, timely mail service to Minnesota communities was a good start.
In fact, the people of Wright, Kerrick and Brookston no doubt took heart for the first time since the U.S. Postal Service made the announcement last October that some 3,700 smaller post offices would be closed in the near future. Each of those rural local communities met with representatives of the USPS at that time to voice why their post offices should remain the heart and soul of their respective communities, but there was a certain sense of futility that their comments were falling on deaf ears.
While residents talked about how having a post office in a rural area is more of a necessity than a convenience, and how senior citizens often rely on timely mail service to get their prescriptions and pay bills, their pleas were met with rationalizations such as how far in debt the postal service is, how much money can be saved by cutting jobs and bricks and mortar, and the belief that mail carriers can fulfill many of the same services as post offices.
While the residents of those small communities spoke of the hardships that would be created for residents and the local economy through the closures, postal representatives were measuring those post offices based on how much money they brought in and how many hours of work are performed there each day.
The other part of the equation was the proposed closure of all but one of Minnesota’s mail processing centers that would effectively downgrade the expectation that first-class mail would get to recipients – even those right across town – in a time period less than two or three days. That is something that would affect us all.
Every state in the country except Delaware is facing similar circumstances. But it took our two Minnesota legislators, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, to take residents’ pleas to heart and come up with legislation that would not only give the U.S. Postal Service a much-needed infusion of resources but also grant communities the opportunity to fight the closure of their local post offices and processing centers. Likewise, it would grant the Postal Regulatory Commission the authority to reverse closure decisions in cases deemed justifiable.
That’s the first ray of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation that we’ve seen in many months. And while the legislation does not give an indefinite lease on life for the U.S. Postal Service or its post offices, it will grant everyone more time to sort things out in an economy that is slowly beginning to demonstrate a turnaround.
It’s a small but compelling victory for “the little guy.” That, in itself, is something to be celebrated.