Huffman Slams U.S. Postal Service for Lack of Transparency on Proposed Petaluma, Eureka Postal Facility Closures
WASHINGTON—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today wrote the United States Postal Service (USPS) to express his opposition to their proposal to close the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Petaluma and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center. In a letter sent to Postmaster General Patrick Donohue, Huffman noted that the USPS has provided inconsistent information to his constituents and has not offered a convincing justification as to why these facilities must be closed.
“I am frustrated at the Postal Service’s lack of transparency throughout this process, disregard for public input, and ambivalence to the impacts reduced service standards will have on local communities,” Huffman wrote. “It has come to my attention that the USPS declined to meet with local leaders from my district stating that the decision is final and there is nothing more to discuss, when just the month prior I was personally assured that the process was ongoing and no final decision had been made.”
Huffman convened public town hall meetings in August of 2014 in both Petaluma and Eureka to allow his constituents the opportunity to learn about the Postal Service’s proposed plan and an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. Representatives from the USPS were invited to participate in these forums but declined to attend.
The full letter can be found HERE or below:
September 23, 2014
Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, D.C. 20260
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:
I write again to express my strong opposition to the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) plan to consolidate mail processing operations from both the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Petaluma, CA and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center (CSMPC) in Eureka, CA. I am frustrated at the Postal Service’s lack of transparency throughout this process, disregard for public input, and ambivalence to the impacts reduced service standards will have on local communities.
As you are aware, I convened public town hall meetings in August of 2014 in both Petaluma and Eureka to allow my constituents the opportunity to learn about the Postal Service’s proposed plan and an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. Representatives from the USPS were invited with ample notice to participate in these forums and yet the Postal Service declined to attend.
Since the Postal Service did not attend the public meetings, I have enclosed a summary of the comments that were expressed during these forums, and I ask that you read their concerns and provide me with a response. Specifically, my constituents are concerned that the consolidation of Postal Service facilities will lower mail service standards and harm voters, seniors, families, and the local economy.
The comments I received cover a wide range of potential impacts. They are worried, for example, that they and other citizens who are voting increasingly by absentee ballot could be disenfranchised due to delayed mail delivery. I heard from a mother imploring the USPS not to close the Eureka facility for fear that she would not receive her son’s needed medications in time. We also heard from local businesses that depend on reliable, timely delivery in order to stay in business.
The situation has been made worse by the mixed messages provided to me and my staff, and to the local media and public. The Postal Service has publicly stated that operations may be moved from Petaluma to San Francisco—as opposed to the original proposal of Oakland—yet when my office has followed up for additional information and data about the impacts of such a change, the Postal Service have only provided data about the earlier plan. Additionally, it has come to my attention that the USPS declined to meet with local leaders from my district stating that the decision is final and there is nothing more to discuss, when just the month prior I was personally assured that the process was ongoing and no final decision had been made.
Throughout this process, the Postal Service continues to claim significant savings from these proposed changes, yet there has been little verifying data provided. In fact, on September 28, 2012, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued an advisory opinion on the financial savings and soundness of the Postal Service’s mail consolidation plan. The Commission’s analysis calculated savings from consolidation to be as low as $46 million nationally, compared to the $2.1 billion in savings that USPS claimed, and the analysis also cited concerns about USPS’s methodology and analysis of savings and impact on service standards.
I have my own doubts about the projected savings, and ask that the Postal Service provide me with a detailed analysis of both the financial feasibility of moving mail processing from the North Bay facility to San Francisco, as well as data proving your assertion that my constituents will not see a reduction in service standards from this consolidation. I am also asking the USPS to provide updated analysis of moving Eureka operation to Medford, OR or any other locations you are considering.
As I have stated before, I understand and support the Postal Service’s attempts to reexamine its business model and find new ways to maximize efficiency, improve service, and reduce costs. The USPS has not provided me and my constituents with adequate information to show that the proposed consolidation of 82 mail processing facilities across the country will meet these goals.
I therefore ask the Postal Service to:
- Suspend this misguided proposal to consolidate mail processing facilities on California’s North Coast.
- Provide my office with detailed data and analysis of the consolidation proposal for both the North Bay P&DC and the Eureka CSMPC showing the financial costs and impact on service standards, and including updated analyses for moving operations to Oakland and Medford as well as information on the new San Francisco proposal.
- Read the attached public comment concerns and provide me with a response.
- Meet with impacted local stakeholders to explain your new proposal and work with them to find a solution that meets both the Postal Service’s needs and those of the local community. This should include meeting with local businesses, the affected counties’ registrars of voters, local elected officials, and the general public.
I strongly urge you to retain mail service standards for the north coast of California, and look forward to hearing your response to my inquiry.
Member of Congress
David Stowe, District Manager
San Francisco District, United States Postal Service