Entries tagged with “Kathy Runnion”.


She’ll be missed. Thursday was the last day of February, which also meant it was Kathy Runnion’s last day working in the Point Reyes Station Post Office. With the Postal Service eliminating employees, closing post offices, and stopping Saturday deliveries to save money, Kathy accepted an early retirement offer.

Kathy on Thursday said her goodbyes while serving refreshments in the post office’s lobby. One of the reasons for doing so was to assure postal customers she was in good spirits and hadn’t “gone postal,” she joked. With her are Oscar Gamez from Toby’s Feed Barn (at left) and David Briggs from The Point Reyes Light (at center).

Kathy, who lives in Inverness Park, worked 24 years for the Postal Service — 14 years as a clerk in the Point Reyes Station Post Office, four in the Bolinas Post Office, and one in the Inverness Post Office plus five years as a rural carrier in Glen Ellen.

It’s not that Kathy had been angling for early retirement. Seated at a Toby’s Feed Barn table near the post office, Kathy (at right) in November 2011 distributed American Postal Workers Union literature. The flyers urged the public to back a congressional measure, House Bill 1351, so that the Postal Service would be saved rather than savaged.

“The problem,” the APWU explained, “is that a bill passed in 2006 is pushing the Postal Service into bankruptcy. The law imposes a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years — to ‘pre-fund’ healthcare benefits for future retirees… The $20 billion in postal losses you heard about doesn’t stem from the mail but rather from [the] congressional mandate.”

Unfortunately, Congress as usual wasn’t up to protecting the public interest once politics got involved.

Another lost cause. Kathy (right) in May 2008 joined other West Marin residents in trying to dissuade the Vedanta Society from letting the Point Reyes National Seashore use Vedanta property as a staging area for slaughtering a herd of fallow deer. Estol T. Carte (center), the Vedanta Society’s president, listened to the polite group of demonstrators but promised nothing and delivered just that.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, then-Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, then-Lt. Governor John Garamendi, famed zoologist Jane Goodall, and the senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, John Grandy, PhD, were likewise on record as opposing the impending slaughter, but the Park Service was out for blood.

Nearly all the fallow and axis deer in the park were gone within months despite recent assurances from the National Seashore that the killing would be carried out over 11 years, which would allow time to take another look at whether to get rid of all the exotic deer. It was one more frustrating flip-flop by the Park Service, which in 1974 had insisted the deer belonged in the National Seashore because they were “an important source of visitor enjoyment.”

Kathy feeding denizens of a Planned Feralhood enclosed shelter at a Nicasio barn.

Retiring from the Postal Service will not take Kathy out of the public eye, however. For 12 years she has headed Planned Feralhood, an organization that traps and spays or neuters feral cats.

More than 700 of them have been adopted for pets. Some of those which could not be domesticated were let loose but with feeding sites established so they don’t have to fight over scraps of food and garbage. Others are being cared for in Planned Feralhood shelters.

Planned Feralhood recently became a non-profit corporation after operating for years under the fiscal umbrella of other nonprofits. Donations can be sent to Box 502, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956.

Two gray foxes basking in the sun as seen from a rear window of the Point Reyes Station Post Office. The foxes are on the roof of a shed that’s part of Toby’s Feed Barn and adjoins the Building Supply Center’s lumberyard.

In December 2009, I was at home one morning when I got a call from Kathy at the post office. I’d probably like to get a photo of a pair of foxes sleeping just outside a post office window, she said. I grabbed my camera and rushed into town, managing to get there in time to record the scene.

Two days before she retired, I received a similar message from her: “I’ve got a downtown wildlife story for you that needs investigation.” Naturally, I asked what was up. Kathy said she had seen some kind of hawk — although not a red-tailed or a red-shouldered hawk — walking on the cement floor  just inside the Feed Barn next door.

People were at the coffee bar in the entranceway, but they didn’t seem to worry the hawk, which was surprising because hawks tend to avoid humans. Kathy added that all the small birds that used to nest among the rafters of the Feed Barn had disappeared.

I asked Feed Barn owner Chris Giacomini about this, and he confirmed the birds had disappeared, but he didn’t know about the hawk. It seems a hawk had discovered good hunting at Highway 1 and Second Street. All the pigeons that used to perch on top of the Grandi Building also disappeared for awhile, Kathy told me, but a few have returned.

With Kathy’s retirement from the post office, Point Reyes Station is losing not only a first-rate postal clerk but also a first-rate observer of the wildlife to be found in the town’s commercial strip.

The American Postal Workers Union is urging the public to back a congressional measure, House Bill 1351, so that the Postal Service will be saved rather than gutted with mail service drastically reduced.

On Sunday, an APWU member in front of Toby’s Feed Barn handed out union fliers and collected signatures in support of the proposed legislation.

“The Postal Service is critical to our economy — delivering mail, medicine, and packages on time and for a good price,” the union notes. “Yet plans are underway to close thousands of post offices, eliminate Saturday delivery, close mail processing facilities, cut services, and lay off 120,000 employees.”

What a great idea! Throw 120,000 people out of work in the middle of a recession! Sort of like lightening the ship by tossing the crew overboard.

“The problem,” the APWU says, “is that a bill passed in 2006 is pushing the Postal Service into bankruptcy. The law imposes a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years — to ‘pre-fund’ healthcare benefits for future retirees… The $20 billion in postal losses you heard about doesn’t stem from the mail but rather from [the] congressional mandate.

“This congressional mandate costs the USPS more than $5 billion a year, and it is the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis. Meanwhile the USPS has overpaid billions of dollars into federal pension accounts.”

On Sunday, Point Reyes Station postal clerk Kathy Runnion sat beside the town post office gathering signatures on petitions that ask Congress to change the 2006 law. Kathy has spent the last 22 years working for the Postal Service.

“Legislation pending in the House of Representatives would prevent a collapse of the USPS — without drastic cuts in service, without massive layoffs, and without terminating collective bargaining rights for postal employees,” APWU says.

“H.R. 1351, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would allow the Postal Service to apply the billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet the Postal Service’s financial obligations.

“How much will this cost you as a taxpayer?” the union asks. “Not a single cent. That’s because the Postal Service doesn’t run on tax dollars. It’s funded solely by the sale of stamps and postage.

“Approximately 200 members of the House of Representative have signed on as co-sponsers for H.R. 1351 — both Democrats and Republicans,” says APWU, “but more support is needed.”

The union notes that “the postal service hasn’t used a dime of taxpayer money in 30 years… Customer satisfaction and on-time deliveries are at record levels, labor productivity has doubled, and for six years running the American people have named postal employees the most-trusted federal workers.”

More details can be found at SaveAmericasPostalService.

Of course, the Postal Service sometimes delivers surprises. In last week’s mail I received an offer for a free cremation. Perhaps I should rush right out and get one before the offer expires.