Friday, February 08, 2013

Reid blasts USPS's early move for 5-day delivery; rural officials complain to their congressman

Reid (Photo: Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg)
The leader of the U.S. Senate says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stepped in it, so to speak, when he announced that the Postal Service would stop most Saturday mail delivery, an announcement made seven weeks before scheduled expiration of a law requiring maintenance of six-day delivery.

“The postmaster general’s actions have damaged his reputation with congressional leaders and further complicates congressional efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation in the future,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. “Given the importance of the post office to communities in Nevada and across our nation, such a drastic policy change cannot be enacted without approval from Congress. Instead, the postmaster general relied on flawed legal guidance to claim that he can circumvent Congress’ s authority on the matter.”

"With all of the help the U.S. Postal Service requires to close a $20 billion gap, Donahoe doesn’t need to anger Reid," Joe Davidson of The Washington Post writes in his Federal Diary column. "Donahoe’s surprise move, announced Wednesday, to shore up Postal Service finances by cutting Saturday mail delivery was bold, aggressive, perhaps even audacious. Those can be admirable characteristics in an executive when his actions work. If they don’t work, those same actions look foolish, panicky and self-defeating. Time will tell whether Donahoe gets away with his end run around Congress, but it is already apparent that he has alienated some forces whose help he desperately can use."

Some in Congress said the postmaster general did the right thing, but Davidson writes, "Donahoe may have gotten tired of waiting for Congress to act. He has begged and begged for relief, while Congress has argued with itself and slow-danced to the funeral music that seems to surround the Postal Service. . . . He clearly underestimated the congressional instinct to protect its turf." (Read more)

But John Tierney writes on Salon that Congress needed a wake-up call: "You know that feeling of pleasure you get when you see someone stand up to a bullying, incompetent boss? It’s viscerally satisfying, isn’t it? That’s the way I felt this morning when I heard" Donahue's announcement. "Our elected representatives have steered the agency into a ditch." (Read more)

Congress is hearing grass-roots opposition to the move. In Fort Edward, N.Y., yesterday, Washington County supervisors complained to Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, that the change "could be a major problem, especially on holiday weekends when delivery could be down for three or four days," reports Mark Mulholland of WNYT-TV in Albany. Hebron Town Supervisor Brian Campbell said, "Here we are in the rural area and they say now we're going to cut your postal service but we're still yet to get cell service and we're still yet to get the good Internet service." (Read more)

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