What happened after my TED Talk? I quit my job, wrote a book, grew my organization, and promoted a US postage stamp in Times Square

This is great. We need to jumpstart letter writing in the U.S. You’ve already started doing this. Good luck!

TED Blog

Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash

Hannah Brencher strolled onstage to give her TED Talk, “Love letters to strangers,” with a US Postal Service mail crate propped on her hip. And that mail crate full of letters turned out to be a metaphor for what happened next — a box of surprises and possibilities.

Onstage at Joe’s Pub in June 2012, Brencher told her story of writing love letters to strangers — yes, in her own handwriting — and leaving them on café tables, tucking them in books at the library, and sending them to anyone on the internet who asked. The project, which she began as a way to fight her post-college depression, took on its own life, so Brencher set up the website More Love Letters to help the letter-writing project expand to anyone who…

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Stop USPS Dismantling New Deal Legacy through Sell-Off of Historic Post Offices

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Why is the US Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, trying to Sell Off America’s Historic Post Offices?

Lower East Side Mural in Madison Square Post Office in NY by EdenPictures on Flickr CC

Lower East Side New Deal Era Mural in Madison Square Post Office in NY by EdenPictures on Flickr CC

USPS leaders seem determined to sell off our precious New Deal era historic post offices as fast as possible with the help of the major real estate company CB Richard Ellis Group (CBRE). An article in Commerical Property Executive by contributing editor Barbara Murray on July 21, 2011 entitled, “CBRE Wins Exclusive Rights to 300 MSF USPS Contract” states:

“Clearly, CB Richard Ellis Inc. didn’t mail it in when bidding for a big contract with the U.S. Postal Service, because the commercial real estate services firm has just become the chosen one. CBRE is now the exclusive strategic corporate real estate solutions provider for USPS and its 300 million-square-foot portfolio of owned and leased properties.”

CBRE received exclusive rights from USPS to manage all of the billions of dollars worth of USPS properties.

Instead of selling off our brick and mortar post offices which are technically owned by the American people, especially those built before the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, let’s revitalize them with creative solutions to keep them as Post Offices and expand services for communities.

Ontario California Post Office Mural by Jimmy Wayne on Flickr

In addition, there needs to be a new law that entitles the American people to say what happens to their own post offices. Unfortunately the USPS has been very busy undermining the ability of citizens to stop the steam rolling misguided leadership of USPS from selling off its historic post offices.

In recent years through changing various rules, the USPS uses “relocation” as a means to prevent citizens from being able to legally file appeals with the Postal Regulatory Commission. It is a devious way to undermine due process of the citizens in a community to be able to stop sales of their precious post offices which serve their cities and towns.

Santa Monica CA New Deal Post Office in Jeopardy

The Santa Monica community and all interested Americans who care about preserving our national treasures and the New Deal era architecture and art, need to know that the US Postal Service is deciding if it will sell off an historic icon in Santa Monica. Of course, one must ask who is guiding the hand of the USPS to make these choices despite the outrage or confusion of the communities that these post offices serve. Again, one needs to look at the manager CBRE of the postal facilities.

America’s Commons: Historic U.S. Post Offices built and bought–at least before 1970–are more than Real Estate Property, They Belong to the People of the United States who Paid for Them

What will the people of Santa Monica and Los Angeles and all of California do to protect the heart of their community — their beautiful Art Deco Post Office?

It is time for America to wake up and realize that through sinister design or through ignorance, some people in the halls of power in the U.S. Postal Service have decided to sell off our history. What is frightening is that as the following New York Times article, “Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price,” by Robin Pogrebin points out, in 2009 the New Deal Era Virginia Beach post office was sold and torn down, and a Walgreens was built despite pleas from the community to keep their post office.

The NYT article quoted above had interesting comments from readers. The passion of the readers to save their historic post offices came through. Here is a quote:

Patricia Allan of Hamburg NY, March 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm (Recommended by 57 people) replied in the Comments of the March 8th NYT front page article about the USPS:

“What will be gained by selling these jewels? Who gets the ransom money for them? If our government cannot restore and build, it will soon lose the power it has to govern…….it seems to me that if National Parks and environmentally endangered sites can and should be preserved for our cultural and physical wellbeing, then these jewels should be, as well. Doesn’t history have to be handed on to enrich those who are our future citizens?”

What is the Best Role for the U.S. Postal Service?

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One of my favorite sources of news about the post office is the blog http://www.savethepostoffice.com. I urge you to also bookmark this wonderful news source about all things related to the ongoing saga about the real story of the postal service.

The mainstream media is just beginning to finally write about some issues beyond talking points of folks like Darrell Issa and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. However, even though Americans in every single U.S. city affected by potential post office closures or processing centers emphatically say absolutely NO, the media is only partially covering the story and much news is only in local news.

The fact is that every single community told their post office will be closed, “relocated” or “consolidated” has repeatedly fought to save their post office. The people in each community are unhappy about the potential negative effects economically, socially, and on the entire well-being of the community.

It’s Time to Stop Forcing USPS to “Act Like a Business”

Why is the U.S. Postal Service forced to “act like a business?” As a result the top executives of USPS claim their high salaries and bonuses which exceed the Vice President’s salary and Cabinet Level Secretaries are warranted because they are supposed to be comparable to a “business model.”

Here is a recent list of USPS high Executive salaries. However, as the Save The Post Office Blog points our here, the list does not include the bonuses which for some folks could be over $25,000/year or more. Here is a letter from Congresswoman Hochul to the Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors regarding the unusually out of touch high salaries of the USPS executives.

The Executive Team seems to pride itself on creating “efficiencies” at the same time they are requesting that the Postal Regulatory Commission not reveal a study they conducted that shows potential negative revenue impacts of the combined strategies they have to cut costs like:

  1. Closing and selling off over 3600 post offices, many historic in nature with important historic murals and art
  2. Closing and selling off over 252 processing plants which would put tremendous pressure on the people processing mail in remaining plants
  3. Potentially slowing First Class mail from overnight delivery to two to three days.
  4. Potentially cutting back mail delivery from 6 to 5 days.
  5. Potentially cutting or eliminating through attrition and other means over 100,000 to 220,000 jobs
Congressman Gerald Connelly filed a brief recently according to this article on Save The Post Office requesting that the PRC release this important study.
Connelly’s brief requesting the USPS release its study of the consequences of its proposals to close post offices, processing centers, slow mail, states:

In its submission to keep revenue impact information secret, the Postal Service claims that releasing revenue projections would provide an advantage to its competitors. I am concerned that it is the Postal Service’s proposal itself that will force customers to take their business to private competitors. The Postal Service is proposing sweeping reductions in service standards, processing facilities, and Post Offices. Congress and the public have a right to understand the aggregate impact of those decisions on Postal Service revenue. The Postal Service has proposed specific facility closures on the premise that such actions will save money. If it actually would result in greater revenue losses than savings, then both Congress and the public should have access to that information. Such information is relevant because multiple Members of Congress have petitioned the Postal Service to delay or stop facility closures and because the public is participating in a statutorily-protected public input process on this proposal through the Postal Regulatory Commission. Both aggregate and regional revenue data could have direct bearing on Members’ decision with respect to postal legislation and on citizens’ comments with respect to proposed facility closures, which is why that revenue data should be made public. While the Postal Service’s submission expresses concern about competition, it is precisely because of my concern that the Postal Service’s own downsizing proposals will divert mail to competitors and harm the Postal Service financially that I am filing to make revenue information public.

Conclusion

Based on the arguments submitted above, I am requesting that the Commission make public the Postal Service’s market research information file as Library Reference, USPS-LR-N2012-IINPI4 and NPI.

Why is USPS hiding important potential negative revenue facts from Americans at the same time it claims it is trying to save itself through its drastic cuts? The reality is that the combined plans could destroy the post office and have disastrous domino effects on local, regional, national and possible international businesses that use the U.S. postal service. In addition, USPS could potentially lose many customers, both individuals and businesses, due to slower mail delivery and making it harder for people to gain access to a postal facility due to closures and “relocations.”
The U. S. Postal Service is More than a Business

Professor Steve Hutkins states in “Bad News Comes in Threes: How Congress, Industry and Management Have Made a Mess Out of Things,”:

The idea of the Postal Service as an essential national infrastructure that serves the American people has been seriously undermined. This democratic vision has been replaced by the view that the Postal Service is merely another player in the mailing industry, a player whose primary purpose is to facilitate the business model and increase the profits of commercial marketers and mailers.

It is inappropriate that USPS hides behind having to “act like a business” in order to suppress its study on the combined effects of its policies and strategic plans which would gut the infrastructure of the U.S. Postal Service. Already the U.S. Postal Service is doing everything it can to cut the public out of appeals regarding historic brick and mortar post offices like those in Venice and La Jolla, California, by classifying these post office closures and sales as “relocations.”

We have to put the “public” and “democracy” back into the U.S. Postal Service leadership that seems to have another agenda other than serving the American people and fulfilling the Postal Service’s original mission to provide a service to bind up this nation and facilitate communication for the public good. It is undemocratic that the USPS is trying to cut the public out of a process that prevents them from filing an appeal regarding the closure and sale of their post offices.

If this is “acting like a business” then Congress must act to change the model currently being used for the U.S. Postal Service before the fire sale of our historic New Deal post offices and other historic post office treasures are sold on the market for a quick profit despite the protests of each local community.

What Would Benjamin Franklin Say About the Post Office Today?

Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General on July 26, 1775 by the Continental Congress.

On July 26, 2011 Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced the possible closure of thousands of U.S. post offices, including the Benjamin Franklin Post Office, which was opened on the 200th anniversary of when Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, July 26, 1975. This significant Post Office and museum is in Philadelphia in the home of the founding father, Benjamin Franklin.

What would Benjamin Franklin think of the possible closure of his post office? And, why is it on the closure list?