Tester questions USPS for proposing closures while comment period is still open
Senator demands reevaluation of closures with ‘proper public input’
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester has a response to the latest proposal by U.S. Postal Service: Return to sender.
The Postal Service today announced it will “move forward” with plans to reduce mail delivery standards, which could delay delivery by several days.
The Postal Service’s plan assumes the closure of more than half of its 487 mail processing centers—including those in Kalispell, Missoula and Helena.
Tester is questioning today’s announcement because the public comment period for closing the Kalispell and Missoula facilities doesn’t end until next week. The Postal Service held public comment meetings on the Kalispell and Missoula facilities just last week.
“By presupposing the closure of processing facilities, the Postal Service is sidestepping due process and violating its legal obligation to fully consider public input before closing these mail centers,” Tester wrote in a letter to members of the Postal Regulatory Commission, who oversee the Postal Service.
“The clear implication of today’s statement is that the Postal Service intended all along to close these facilities, regardless of public opinion,” Tester added. “Given that public comment about these closures has been overwhelmingly negative, this type of interference with the public comment period is inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Tester wants the Postal Regulatory Commission to “use all mechanisms at your disposal to force the Postal Service to reevaluate these closures with proper consideration of public input.”
In advance of last week’s public closure meetings, Tester told the head of the U.S. Postal Service that closing Montana’s facilities “would further erode the quality of mail service in Montana,” affecting the timely delivery of medicines, equipment, correspondence and paychecks. Today’s announcement is expected to delay first-class mail delivery nationwide by an additional two to three days.
The public comment period on the proposed closure of the Missoula mail processing facility ends December 14. Public comment on the proposed closure of the Kalispell facility ends on December 15.
Text of Tester’s letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission appears below.
December 5, 2011
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20268-0001
I write to express my concern with a United States Postal Service press release today stating that it intends to “move forward” with changes to the national service standards by closing Area Mail Processing facilities.
As you know, many of the processing facilities first proposed for closure in September are still going through the steps required to ensure thorough review and adequate public consideration of these potential closures. By presupposing the closure of processing facilities the Postal Service is violating its legal obligation to fully consider public input before closing these mail centers. In at least three cases in Montana – Kalispell, Missoula and incoming mail to Helena—the time for public comment is still open. Indeed, at recent public meetings, Postal Service officials reminded the public that written comments would be accepted for 15 days after the meetings. The clear implication of today’s statement is that the Postal Service intended all along to close these facilities, regardless of public opinion. Given that public comment about these closures has been overwhelmingly negative, this type of interference with the public comment period is inappropriate and unacceptable.
It is my understanding that the Postal Regulatory Commission has the authority to review the Postal Service’s statement to determine whether the study processes have been compromised. I urge you to use all mechanisms at your disposal to force the Postal Service to reevaluate these closures with proper consideration of public input.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.