Sue's Views: Ending Saturday delivery is still a long way off
MORRIS -- On Wednesday, the United States Postmaster General announced that the Postal Service will cease Saturday home mail delivery Aug. 1, saving the postal service $2 billion annually.
I was at an early meeting and had only caught a portion of the news that morning. However, by the fourth panicked phone call, I thought I had better read more about this.
Under the plan, post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open. USPS will continue to deliver packages to homes and mail to P.O. boxes on Saturdays. However, mail such as letters, magazines and newspapers would not be delivered to homes.
In speaking with postal employees, they don’t have many more details than that. And I got the sense that they are taking the same, “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach I have.
It was our nation’s first Postmaster, Benjamin Franklin, who once said, "When you're finished changing, you're finished." Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe was slightly less well-spoken in an interview with the Associated Press, saying, “Things change."
I can’t argue with either Postmaster. The one constant that I have faced in my time at the Morris Sun Tribune is that things do indeed change. The other thing I’ve learned is that if the answers were easy, we’d already have them.
But I do appreciate the concern that folks have expressed over what this means for the Morris Sun Tribune. The short answer is that for today, I am unsure what this means for us. However, this is not a new proposal. The loss of Saturday mail delivery has been discussed for at least the past four years. When the Sun Tribune switched to a once a week publication in September of 2009, the idea of losing Saturday postal service was being widely discussed and caused some indigestion for us at that time. We took a 'wait and see' approach but began making contingency plans.
The delivery options discussed then still exist today, including continuing with Saturday delivery using private carriers or switching to a different day of publication. However, any change has to be thoroughly considered, both from the news delivery and from the business standpoint. There are contracts with advertisers and press schedules, not to mention individual work schedules within this office, and the notion that each change impacts our staff, our subscribers, our advertisers and our community.
Also, it is still unclear whether the Post Office has unilateral authority to do this without Congressional approval. In fact, the plans are to move forward, unless Congress prevents it. So, as I read it, an act of Congress is still required to make any change. Senator Al Franken has been pretty vocal in his opposition to this proposal, as have other congressmen.
But let me emphasize, August is a long way off and no one, not Donahoe, not the local USPS staff and certainly no one in my office, can predict what this really means for our community. And to me that’s the bigger concern – what does this mean for everyone in Morris, Stevens County and rural areas that don’t have P.O. boxes? Will this improve the postal service or just the agency’s bottom line?
The one thing that I can guarantee you is that our goal is to provide a quality community newspaper for our subscribers and our advertisers and I am confident whatever future changes are in store, our commitment to improvement is unchanging.