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USPS becomes a political pawn before the election

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

The COURIER and the post office have worked together for decades to deliver the newspaper in a timely manner. Even though it’s more expensive, USPS delivery has proved to be reliable and a good fit for us.

That being said, the post office is an incredibly frustrating business to work with. It seems almost every week now there’s some sort of delivery delay for some of our readers. It’s still a small number, but any delivery issue is not acceptable. We expect perfection every week.

Mail delivery is now a serious issue as the president lobbies for cuts in service before the election. How has your mail delivery been lately? A little slow? There’s a reason for that. And he sits in the White House.

Over the years my father Martin and I learned firsthand how internal changes in the post office impact delivery. And since they are always strapped for money, this problem has never really been addressed.

Just a few years ago, our local postmaster at the time was absolutely convinced the COURIER should be treated like junk mail, with a two- to three-day delivery window. Given the newspaper is produced just one day before delivery, this was a serious problem, having a huge impact on everything from news coverage to advertising.

When I mentioned we had been promised overnight delivery to Claremont and La Verne, the postmaster back then was not interested in listening. He needed to make budget cuts by changing delivery routes. The COURIER then went through the painful process of adjusting all printing deadlines to accommodate the post office. It caused serious issues.

After just a few weeks, we received help from the National Newspaper Association (NNA) that discovered USPS had a regulation guaranteeing 24-hour delivery for newspapers. This was originally set up largely for the public good to keep us informed.

So it seemed our local postmaster wasn’t even aware of his own regulation. Finally, USPS senior leadership in New York called and within days overnight delivery was reinstated.

I fully understand USPS is a mess. And because of huge pension obligations and other inefficiencies, it will be sinking until a comprehensive plan is put in place. But the answer is not to put the post office out of business. It’s far too important for the American people.

Rural areas still rely on snail mail, including businesses that continue to send print products through the mail, just like the COURIER and mail-in ballots. And I can promise from experience that America’s senior citizens still use mail delivery on a regular basis.

The post office supports our democracy, enabling every eligible citizen an opportunity to cast a ballot. Now after years of neglect, we have a president who chooses to starve the USPS budget for his own political gain. But we never should have been in this situation in the first place.

On Tuesday the US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy did make a statement saying he would wait to make any operational and budget changes until after the 2020 election. But what does that mean? Of course it literally took an act of Congress to break their recess and meet with Mr. DeJoy, which they will do when he testifies to them today and Monday.

Congress still wants more details from the postmaster about future changes to USPS, especially before November. But there’s still concern. And there should be.

“Mr. DeJoy is failing to fulfill the mission of the USPS to provide prompt and reliable mail delivery at a time when that mission is as important as it has ever been,” said Carolyn Lewis, who served on the USPS board of governors from 2004 to 2010.

The problem? The more people vote, the more President Trump loses. He lost the popular vote in 2016 by over three million. And mail-in voting will allow more citizens to be counted. He’s already told followers that if he loses, the election has been rigged, yet has absolutely no proof of this happening. He met with Republican leadership in Congress to see if they would consider delaying the election. That didn’t work. Even floated the idea himself. No one really responded. Then he was focused on the post office, dealing with a postmaster who supports him. Now the president pushes for making it physically impossible for the post office to deliver ballots. Who loses in this scenario? The American public.

But it’s perfect timing. For him.

Our Founding Fathers created a government where oversight is essential to our democracy. And it’s needed now more than ever.

 

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