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Keep our mail and jobs in Queens

By Bob Harris

Last year the USPS wanted to close the bulk mail processing center in Whitestone to save money. They planned to take all the mail to a processing center in Brooklyn, then bring it back to Queens, but everyone complained, so they shelved the plan. In typical autocratic manner the plan is back.

Postal workers demonstrated outside the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone with local legislators supporting them. The plan seems to call for sudden cuts on Dec. 5. Queens’ mail would take two days to be delivered instead of one day due to the loss of workers and the inconvenience of going from Queens to Brooklyn, then back to Queens. Is it worth the wear and tear on trucks, the gasoline use and pollution and the inconvenience and unhappiness for workers transferred far from their homes? Will this really be a saving?

Actually, the Postal Service makes money because of the rise of e-commerce and the need of package delivery although first class mail has decreased due to the use of e-mail messages. The USPS is no longer taxpayer funded yet in 2006 Congress passed a law calling on USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. This is causing a deficit. It seems that major companies only have to pre-fund for 10 years. Why is the USPS being penalized? A number of members of Congress now want to study the issue and pass legislation to solve the problem, but this plan to close facilities has still been proposed.

If this bulk processing facility in Whitestone is closed, this would cause a problem for the civic associations, tenant associations, co-ops, and small non-profit organizations of Queens. Many of these organizations bring their newsletters and fliers to Whitestone to be mailed at bulk rate. Going to Brooklyn would be an added burden.

Interestingly, when I brought my own civics’ 1,300 newsletters to Whitestone to be mailed last week, one of the workers told me that they may not close this bulk facility but make small bulk mailers go to Brooklyn or lose their bulk mail rights. The extra cost of traveling to Brooklyn to mail bulk mail would be as bad as mailing the newsletters in Queens at the first class postal rate. Civic associations are volunteer organizations and don’t have the money for all this run-a-round. Some of the volunteers do have regular jobs.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The Department of Education has decided to close Achievement, Reporting and Innovation System, which is supposed to track and distribute student scores and other data. It was started in 2007 by former Chancellor Joel Klein whose company Amplify obtained a contract in 2012 to maintain the system. It seems that parents and staff are just not using ARIS.

The DOE spent $95 million on the system. These systems are an example of “big brother” watching over everything, but they never got it to perform properly. Klein and his friends are the same people who denigrate the public schools and the teachers and want “accountability” yet they can’t seem to get the things they do to function properly. If there was just oversight for the charter schools, then we could see how good they really are!

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The MTA wants to again raise transit fares. Why? Ridership is up. If the MTA could only stop those fare beaters, then they would have enough money to improve the system without raising fares.

On a Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. on the E train to Queens I encountered several panhandlers who have us as a captive audience between express stops. One young man asked for money for charity, then proceeded to use every foul word you could think of. When people asked him to be quiet he challenged them to fight. They want us to pay more money for this?

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