Entries tagged with “US Postal Service”.

We’ll start with who deserves coal in their stockings come Christmas morning. At the top of my personal list is the Marin Independent Journal, which cheated me out of $32.65 last Oct. 22. Here’s the story in brief.

Lynn and I hand out about three loaves of bread to foxes and raccoons every evening. If we buy cheap white bread for 99 cents a loaf at Safeway, this comes to about $21 per week. If we bought the same amount of bread in West Marin, where bread typically costs about $5 a loaf, the total cost would be about $105 per week (or almost $5,500 per year) — far more than we can afford. Which is why we buy it at Safeway.

On Oct. 22, I was leaving the San Anselmo Safeway with a cart full of bread when an Independent Journal vendor just outside the door stopped me, saying I could get half a year of the paper free of charge if I merely paid for the Sunday editions.

That came to $32.65, so I paid the vendor in cash and got a receipt. He said my IJs would start being delivered to my house in about a week. But none ever arrived, so on Nov. 6, I emailed the IJ’s circulation department to complain and asked that it look into the problem.

When I received no answer to my email, I wrote the IJ again on Nov. 11, saying I was cancelling my subscription and wanted my money back. If the paper didn’t send the money immediately, I warned, I would take the IJ to small claims court. A few days after that email, a woman in circulation called to say I should have been receiving my subscription. Would I like to start it now?

I replied that the whole experience had soured me on the IJ and that I merely wanted my money refunded. She said she’d have a check sent to me. Another three weeks have now passed without my refund, and I’ve started my small claims lawsuit. I’m certainly glad I saved my receipt to show the judge.

My advice? Don’t buy a subscription from an IJ vendor. It may well be a ruse to get your money without providing you with anything but frustration in return.

Who’s been nice

Point Reyes Station celebrated the start of the Christmas season Friday night with luminaria lining the main street and the lighting of the town Christmas tree, which is located between Wells Fargo Bank and the Palace Market at the far end of the street.

Toby’s Feed Barn held Christmas in the Barn, which included a visit from Santa Claus, with whom many young people wanted to be photographed sitting on his lap. Jewelry, crafts, and ethnic clothing for sale made the scene particularly festive.

In the gallery at Toby’s Rich Clarke of Marshall exhibited his photography while his son Kevin of Oakland showed off his paintings, furniture, and wooden sculpture. They each said they’ve been influenced by the other.

Meanwhile at the other end of town, the Dance Palace hosted a crafts fair that filled the church space (seen here) and the auditorium. Along with arts and crafts, jams, soaps, and jewelry were for sale.

In the main auditorium, Point Reyes Station painter Christine DeCamp discusses her colorful art with visitors to the show.

Who’s the naughtiest of all? “The US Postal Service wants to close your North Bay Processing and Distribution mail facility [in Petaluma] and send all of your mail to Oakland to be processed,” the American Postal Workers Union warned last week.

“If your ZIP Code starts with 954 or 949, this affects you. If this happens, all your mail will be delayed by at least one day! This will delay delivery of your checks and bills, your prescriptions, your packages, your movies, your absentee ballots, and everything else you receive in the US mail.

“Under this plan,” the Postal Workers Union adds, “if you want prompt delivery, you will have to pay high Express Mail rates.

“The USPS is required to notify affected customers and hold a meeting for public input. This meeting has already been held. Were you notified?”

The union has urged the public to send its concerns to Theresa Lambino, Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact, San Francisco District, Box 193000, San Francisco, CA 94188-3000.

However, your letters were supposed to be postmarked by this past Saturday. Unfortunately, the mails are already so slow that most people didn’t have time to respond before the deadline. Personally, I’d send a letter anyhow.

If you want to see how we got into this mess, check my Nov. 6 posting.

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.