Fred Nelson was kind enough to share his KINS News Talk Radio July 25 “Community Comment” with me and I feel the need to add my perspective to the Post Office’s latest round of “consolidations.” I was fortunate enough to succeed Fred Nelson as the postmaster of Eureka and was proud to serve in that capacity from 1985 through 1996. In 1997 I took a detail to the San Francisco District as FAA coordinator and retired in 1998 with 35 years of service. I didn’t want to leave the postmaster’s position, but my years of fighting the finally wore me down.
When Fred and I began our careers with the Postal Service the emphasis was on the word “service.” We felt an intense responsibility to make sure that every postal patron received the best service we could provide. That’s because we were part of the community; if there were problems I heard about it from my friends and relatives, not as feedback from some middle manager 250 miles away.
Now the byword in the Postal Service is “business” and I don’t mean the local businesses as in the hundreds that still require that the mail be timely and dependable. Make no mistake: the ultimate goal of the politicians that meddle with the Post Office (and some of the higher Post Office managers) is the privatization of the Postal Service. One of the ways to expedite that process is to adversely effect service and then say “I told you so.” Eureka has always been fortunate to have a dedicated cadre of postal employees that worked hard to serve their friends and neighbors.
These consolidations have already taken place in many areas and there are a few constants as a result of these “minimal service changes”:
1. The potential savings are never realized.
2. Service standards are always adversely affected.
3. Service lost is never restored.
4. You, the people most affected, will never see the managers that advocated the changes. They’re moving on.
5. Jobs lost in the community never come back.
Service to the 955 area will be even more affected than most of these ill-considered changes. The North Coast is unique due to the remoteness and the uncertainty of transportation for large portions of the year. During my tenure as postmaster our office at one time or another reported to Redding, Sacramento, North Bay, Oakland, and San Francisco. None of them had any other associate offices that performed the variety of duties that Eureka had. My direct bosses almost never came to Eureka: too far to travel! Now the proposal is to send the mail volume for over 100,000 people, incoming and outgoing, to Medford, Oregon — an area hundreds of miles away with their own long existing service problems.
Fred noted that these changes have been on hold for about a year—the main reason for that is the public hasn’t been fooled by the “changes with minimal impact” propaganda and they’ve been giving their elected representatives an earful. The only chance to save the service on the North Coast is to let your local politicians know your concerns. If the Postal Service holds “public forums” on the changes please attend along with your friends and neighbors. History says if you don’t stand up and fight for your service now you will end up with no local recourse and no one in a position of authority who cares.
John D. Segress, proud past postmaster for Eureka, resides in Mountain Home, Arkansas.