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Saturday, February 20, 2010
An agency going down in a blaze of optimism

It is beginning to appear as though the U.S. Postal Service has a death wish.

Judging from the customer service policies we've seen in the Florida Keys recently -- or, more accurately, customer service reductions -- the agency seems hellbent on self-destruction.

And, increasingly, it is a perception shared by other communities throughout the nation.

According to The Associated Press, the Postal Service has closed 96 post offices in 34 states over the past five years, many of them in rural communities. Most of the closings were categorized as suspensions -- a technicality that allows the Postal Service to circumvent requirements established by Congress for three months' notice, public comment and the opportunity to appeal the decision.

On the list of South Florida post offices considered for "consolidation" is one in Fort Myers, two in Naples and two in Miami.

We're not seeing any Keys post offices on the list just yet, but we have seen significantly reduced service -- most notably at Key West's main post office, where the number of clerks serving customers was limited to no more than three. Prior to that cutback, managers idled workers in a standby room in a lame attempt to demonstrate they weren't needed at the customer service counters.

Making matters worse are some postal employees, apparently stressed out by workload and long lines, who slip into slow-motion zombie-worker mode, taking a minute or so to tidy up their work areas between each customer until finally delivering the carefully measured syllable, "next." (Trust us, this deer-in-the-headlights behavior generates far more ill will than public sympathy.)

We want to like the U.S. Postal Service. It has deep historic roots. Proposed by Ben Franklin, it was established in 1775 by decree of the Second Continental Congress. But contrary to what many believe, it is no longer a government agency -- at least not technically. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1983 transformed it into an independent and self-sufficient quasi-government corporation that does not directly receive tax dollars.

It also is losing money by the truckful.

Two weeks ago, Postal Service spokesman Greg Frey told The Associated Press the service has raised rates, cut the number of employees from 800,000 to 623,000 and eliminated 12,000 carrier routes because of a $7 billion deficit -- and it's looking at additional cuts, including closing hundreds more post offices.

The Postal Service blames its financial woes on a weak economy, increased use of e-mail and a congressional requirement that it pre-fund retiree health benefits. Postal customers in Key West have ample time to think of a few additional reasons while waiting in line.

For instance, the Postal Service spends a lot of money advertising its convenient new Priority Mail flat-rate boxes. But where is the convenience if you have to wait an hour in line to get them?

Ever optimistic, postal officials are looking past the long lines to a rosier landscape of online and outsourced services.

"Consumer behavior is changing," said Dean Granholm, vice president of Delivery and Post Office Operations, in a January press release on post office consolidation. "It is important for the Postal Service to adjust to the shift."

Tell that to the people tapping their toes in your lobby, Mr. Granholm.

-- The Citizen

This Editorial is Why This is Funny

A guy goes to the Post Office to apply for a job.

The interviewer asks him, "Are you allergic to anything?"

He replies, "Yes, caffeine."

"Have you ever been in the military service?"

"Yes," he says, "I was in Iraq for two years."

The interviewer says, "That will give you 5 extra points toward employment."

Then he asks, "Are you disabled in any way?"

The guy says, "Yes. A bomb exploded near me and I lost both of my testicles...

The interviewer grimaces and then says, "O.K. You've got enough points for me to hire you right now.

Our normal hours are from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. You can start tomorrow at 10:00 - and plan on starting at 10:00 A.M. every day."

The guy is puzzled and asks, "If the work hours are from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., why don't you want me here until 10:00 A.M.?"

"This is a government job," the interviewer says,

"For the first two hours, we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our ba_ _s. No point in you coming in for that."

Here's the deal....

this gets much better as soon as third class bulk mail users begin to pay their fair share of the mail load. All this advertising and solicitations that come in the mail and end up in the trash are supported by the cost of mailing first class. That's correspondence between and among the citizenry of this country. Time to get business to pay its fair share of this load. Maybe then work attitudes in the postal business will change.

From the People Who Want to Manage Your Healthcare

Government doesn't do anything well or efficiently

This is the example of excellence cited by our President as a reason for a government to take over one sixth of our economy

What a nightmare

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