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Sonoma County laments plan to end Saturday mail

By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

In Glen Ellen, as in other small American towns, Saturday mail deliveries are often eagerly anticipated, especially by those who are unwilling or unable to venture into the world.

To lose that tradition, that connection, strikes some in this community as a violation of the common good.

Merrie Dickinson, left, officer in charge of the Glen Ellen Post Office, helps Aaron Cargile with his mail in Glen Ellen, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. The Postal Service will end the delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays in August.  (Christopher Chung / PD)

Merrie Dickinson, left, officer in charge of the Glen Ellen Post Office, helps Aaron Cargile with his mail in Glen Ellen, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. The Postal Service will end the delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays in August. (Christopher Chung / PD)

“It’s another hit to the spirit of public life,” Noelle Oxenhandler, a creative writing professor at Sonoma State University, said Wednesday outside the town’s post office, which according to a plaque outside the door was dedicated in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan.

Across the nation Wednesday, people absorbed the news that the Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays as a cost-savings measure. The change will take effect in August.

Mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on that day. Packages would continue to be delivered on Saturdays.

The announcement drew sharp reaction from the North Coast’s congressional delegation and from representatives of labor unions, who fear the change will result in more job losses.

The Postal Service anticipates losing 35,000 employees nationwide to re-assignment or attrition once Saturday deliveries are discontinued, said James Wigdel, a spokesman for the agency in San Francisco.

Despite its status as an independent agency, one that receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations, the Postal Service is subject to congressional control. Congress has moved in the past to prohibit five-day-a-week delivery.

Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, on Wednesday called the move to end Saturday mail deliveries “draconian.”

He advocated for other options, including modernizing the Postal Service and “fixing” a congressional requirement that the agency pre-pay retiree health benefits.

Those payments are the main cause of the Postal Service’s red ink — not reduced mail flow. The agency reported losing a record $15.9 billion last year and of that, $11.1 billion was due to mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits.

“We have to balance what we can provide to the public against our financial situation,” Wigdel said.

Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, also expressed opposition to the end of Saturday deliveries, saying in a written statement that rural, elderly and disabled residents who rely on mail delivery to their homes will be most affected by the change.

He urged “comprehensive reform” for the Postal Service and not “piecemeal changes that reduce service to the people who rely on it most.”

In Glen Ellen on Wednesday, Jim Morris said one change he’d like to see is the ability to use the Postal Service to ship the wines he produces at Alta Ridge Vineyards. Doing so could potentially save money, he said, and help the agency compete with other shipping companies.

From a personal standpoint, Morris was not saddened about losing Saturday mail deliveries. “Like other things in life, we will adjust to it. I just want to keep them (the Postal Service) in operation,” he said.

The Postal Service contends it can save $2 billion annually by delivering mail just five days a week. To cut costs, Wigdel said, the agency has consolidated about 200 mail processing plants since 2006 and also lost about 190,000 employees — or 28 percent of its workforce — in that period of time.

Labor union representatives expressed fears Wednesday that more jobs will be lost by stopping Saturday deliveries.

“They’ll use that as an excuse to get rid of more people, but there is a lot of work that’s not getting done now,” said David Ospital, general president of the Redwood Empire Area Local 1291 of the American Postal Workers Union.

Oxenhandler, who visited Glen Ellen’s post office Wednesday to purchase Valentine’s Day stamps, fears that it all adds up to a future without postal service and letter-writing.

“We just love our post office in Glen Ellen. It’s the core of our little town,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.





18 Responses to “Sonoma County laments plan to end Saturday mail”

  1. Snarky says:

    Until “Grapevines” wants to discuss the Santa Rosa Junior College cop arrested and being prosecuted (along with his wife) for theft of public funds over a years long period of time, he has zero credibility. :)

    By the way, “Grapevines,” one doesn’t need a computer to send and receive emails. And, as such, one doesn’t need to be computer literate. As usual, you are out of touch with the current era.

    NOT at all sure what you attempted to say with regard to an “offically signed document.” LOL

    If you’re claiming that we need the postal service for certified mail / return receipt… you are wrong again.

    The use of the internet for sending / receipt of documents requiring a digital signature is in use right now.

    Sorry, fella. You’re simply living in the past.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Snarky says:

    Brown Act Jack:

    You forgot that the Post Office in 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980 was supported with tax money.

    Care to comment on how the Post Office cannot support itself any longer because people don’t see value in paying for 88 cent stamps when they can email for a fraction of a penny (given cost of internet connection).

    What? You don’t care to comment on the true cost of the Post Office without tax support?

    Really? You don’t want to comment on people choosing FAST email over what we know as “snail mail.” ??

    I’m shocked, Brown Act Jack.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  3. Grapevines says:

    The Postal Service is a needed utility. Lets face it, not everyone is computer literate or has or wants access to the internet. And some medium has to exist to accommodate those people.

    And as long as there is still the need legally for an “Officially signed document,” there will be a need for the Postal Service.

    Now this “need” may vanish in 20 to 100 years, but it’s real right now.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  4. brown act Jack says:

    Over the years the postal service has worked very well
    I 1940 a stamp was 3 cents about a tenth of an hour’s wages!
    today, a stamp if 44 cents aboout a 20th of an hour’s wage!

    If the stamps were at the 88 cents they should be, the post office would be able to do all of the thing they did in 1940.

    But, the people don’t want to pay for what was provided in the past, and then they complain because the service is bad and the postoffices are closing!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  5. Steveguy says:

    Excuse me, but duh. Why make someone work on the weekend unless it’s overtime ?

    Can’t wait for Monday ? Take a patience class, maybe some yoga ?

    My birthday is soon, and my Mom always sends $75 for a birthday even at my age. What would I care about an out of state check that came a day late ( Mom is famous for being late)

    What if the postmark had to be by a certain date ?

    Those that may need a postmark had better plan on Friday. Just being real. oh my

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  6. bear says:

    The Postal Service is in the US Constitution, and is required to serve every damn address in the entire country, regardless of location or cost.

    Then, even though the PS is an independent corporation, republicans in Congress demanded that they fund pensions out to 75 years. This is the ONLY public or private agency that has to meet this standard.

    There would be little to no postal deficit without this requirement.

    Meanwhile, people in rural areas, including Sonoma County, especially the elderly, will not have a Saturday contact with someone who knows them. Many lives have been saved by the actions of postal workers who saw something was wrong.

    This is another BS attempt by republicans to reduce service, eliminate 23K jobs, and throw business to the private sector, such as UPS and Fedex. BTW those buinesses ship 40% of ground deliveries through the Postal Service BECAUSE IT IS CHEAPER FOR THEM!

    Since they will never take up the slack, it is just like the roads issue. Why should government maintain little-used roads for the benefit of peope who choose to live there? Let this small amount of property owners pay fully for their own services. Or at least stop whining!

    Meanwhile, the USPS is going to close 13K post offices in rural areas – where services are most needed. Got to admit the red state geniuses have a solid grip on delusion.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  7. The Hammer says:

    It won’t make any difference. The loss that the PO generates each year can never be eliminated. Unlike free enterprise, that many years ago eliminated the pension plans the governments fail to understand that pensions will kill them in the end.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  8. SantaRosaCitizen says:

    Letter Carriers are out there everyday, in all kinds of weather, dealing with rude people and scary animals. It is a physically demanding job. I think they do a very good job.

    Yes, the postal service may be outdated, but don’t slam those who work so hard everyday….

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  9. James Bennett says:

    R.B. Fish:
    if you go to pg. 8 ‘Property Rights Pow-Wow’ in The North Bay Independent.org there’s a story about water that WILL blow your mind.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  10. James Bennett says:

    Bear; what we are in the grips of isn’t a democrat or republican thing. not a Left/Right thing.
    It’s an oppression thing.
    This simple YouTube defines what’s going on.
    What’s going on is UN Agenda 21 implementation.

    Simple.

    Horrible.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ-4gnNz0vc

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  11. Nora Gonzales says:

    The days of snail mail, snarly service and rudeness are slowing closing down the Post Office. The mail has not been able to evolve into a viable service capable of meeting the demands of business and the public.

    The US mail days of bad service is just about over and it won’t even be missed.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  12. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    You Republicans petition the Congress Republicans to change the law that requires the billions of dollars of upfront funding of the pensions, way over what is even reasonably required. The law was created to destroy the US Postal Service. That law is the only reason that US Post is in trouble financially.

    It’s the Republicans’ fault.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 14

  13. R.B. Fish says:

    @Jim

    I was in Healdsburg yesterday and while waiting I read the local paper.

    Now they want to have you follow County instructions on how to power wash your house and driveway. They want you to create a reservoir to capture all that “nasty” run off water stuff (that’s going to poison little children and kitty kats) put it in a pail, bring it into your house and dump in your perfectly sterile toilet.

    Better yet they want the city (paid by tax dollars) and land owners (paid by property owners)to video all sewer laterlas private and public in the city to check for blockage and leakage. There is no foundation, no complaints, no indications, no problems, for this activity other than proof that current so-called evnironmentalists are pyschotic and don’t know it.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  14. pamela corley says:

    In a day and age of technology, Fedex and UPS, the post office is as though we are still making buggy whips for our horse. The quality of service is awful, the speed of action and the knowlege base of customer service is way below par. Junk mail has been keeping the post office aflost, I say let it go by way of the horse and buggy. Focus more on developing jobs for the now and future.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

  15. Reality Check says:

    I wonder if the same complaining accompanied the end of pony express & Western Union telegraph services?

    It may be true that there’s nothing so permanent as a temporary tax, but a close second surely must be subsidized government services more appropriate to a bygone era.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

  16. bear says:

    @james bennett.

    I am so liberal that it’s a minor miracle I don’t fall over in that direction.

    Yet everything you say is absolute truth.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5

  17. James Bennett says:

    Agenda 21 101:

    First you defund maintanance of the rural roads, redundantly tax them for fire services, implement all manner of well and septic shenanigans. Then you (incrementally of course) cut back on postal services, school bus routes, then schools themselves. Create lack and shortages through water and hay price manipulations. Have Fish & Game release an agressive strain of wolves not indiginous to terrorize citizens and damage ranchers. Release lots of elk to eat the rancher’s grass. god help a rancher caught shooting a wolf before it attacks a calf. Then you put GPS units in their vehicles and tax them per mile (VMT). Bed taxes for lodging, criminalize guest cottage rentals. Make rebuilding your barn an act of God.

    It goes on and on.

    But.

    Business in the UN Smart Growth village known as Windsor is on the uptick.

    tune in next week for more propaganda and indoctrination on…

    as the Republic turns.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 7

  18. Snarky says:

    If a person “laments” the discontinued Saturday mail, that person needs to get out of the woods and into the sunshine, anyway.

    Life changes every day. Only the Press Democrat would focus on such a shallow concept as “lamenting” the discontinued Saturday mail.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 11

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