USPS Mail Boxes Removed in Montana: State Officials Want Answers
UPDATE (8/15 9:32 am): NBC Montana is reporting that the removal of USPS mail boxes has been put on hold in Montana. DETAILS HERE.
(Original story below)
Reports started coming from media outlets around the country earlier this week that USPS mail drop-off boxes were being removed in the Portland area. The Oregonian confirmed that four of the iconic blue mail receptacles were removed, and news station KEZI reported that 27 mailboxes have been removed in the Eugene, OR area. In both instances, local postal officials cited a decline in First Class mail as the reason for the removal, adding that they were eliminating duplicate boxes.
A Twitter post from someone named Mark Delaney, who says he lives at the corner of NE 70th St. and Sacramento St in Portland has now been shared over 5,000 times.
Next, came a story today (8/14) from news radio 1010 WINS in New York, stating that mailboxes were being removed in the New York area after a New York Times reporter shared a Tweet of the boxes in the back of a truck. A postal service spokesperson told the radio station,"The US Postal Service does routine maintenance. This is a regular activity that has no customer impact."
In a rare example of bipartisan unity, all of Montana's major elected officials (Senator Steve Daines, Senator John Tester, Representative Greg Gianforte, and Governor Steve Bullock) have released statements, asking for answers after reports that some mailboxes have been removed in locations in Montana.
Senator Steve Daines said in his statement (read here),
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an essential service for Montanans in both urban and rural towns and is relied upon by Montana veterans, the elderly, and rural communities across the state,” Daines wrote. “Recently, I have received concerning reports that collection boxes have been removed in many Montana communities, including in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, and Livingston and the potential that the removals of collection boxes could result in delayed mail delivery and reduced mail options for Montanans. If so, that is unacceptable, and I request additional information about why these boxes have already been removed, any future plans the USPS has for other collection boxes in the state, and if these changes will affect delivery times.
Senator John Tester had similar comments (press release here).
Since ringing the alarm on the removal of collection boxes from communities across Montana, it has become clear that these reports are accurate. These actions set my hair on fire and they have real life implications for folks in rural America and their ability to access critical postal services like paying their bills and voting in upcoming elections. Postmaster General DeJoy must immediately provide Montanans with an explanation for the actions of the USPS, or he can do it under oath before a Senate Committee.
Representative Greg Gianforte reiterated the same issues (press release here).
I am writing to you after reports of reductions in mail collections boxes in several Montana cities. These reports mention Billings, Missoula, Bozeman, and Lewistown. I am concerned at the potential negative impact these cuts will have on mail delivery,” Gianforte wrote in a letter to DeJoy. “I ask that you provide additional data on how removal of collection boxes in Montana will impact delivery times, details about the process and criteria for determining how changes to delivery are being made, and information about other potential changes that alter mail delivery for Montanans.
Governor Bullock also issued a press release (read here), saying,
I am deeply disturbed by reports of the removal of United States Postal Service (USPS) collection boxes in Montana communities and other changes to the operations of the USPS that have caused delays in mail delivery. This is unacceptable and will do great harm to Montanans’ livelihoods,” wrote Governor Bullock. “The services provided by the USPS are critical to the prosperity of Montana’s rural, tribal, and urban communities. Some 41% of rural Montanans do not have access to broadband internet, often relying on the mail for everything from paying their bills and accessing government services to keeping in touch with their family and friends.
In regard to denying a $25 billion dollar stimulus bailout to the USPS, President Trump told Fox Business Network's host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday, “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” according to an article in the Washington Post.
Reason.com reported in a piece from last spring that the USPS has been operating at a loss of billions per year, for at least a decade. There are a multitude of reasons, the primary being employee expenses, including a $100 billion pension deficit. They add that actual mail volume and revenue has remained flat or slightly down (fiscal year 2019).
OPINION: It's easy for many people to say, "So what, I don't really mail anything anyway," but the USPS does provide a valuable service to many Americans and Montanans. To me, it seems like a vital public service that deserves to be funded. Regardless of an election year. Side note, I happened to catch the mailman as he was picking up mail from the boxes at 27th St and Montana Avenue this afternoon. He said those specific boxes were not planned for removal, due to a "high volume of mail" they receive daily.
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