Missoulian: Closures will kill, not save, USPS: Meetings to collect public comment appear to have been farce

Just last week the U.S. Postal Service held a hearing in Missoula to discuss its proposal to shut down 252 mail processing centers – that’s more than half its mail processing facilities nationwide – including its two centers in Missoula and Kalispell. Meanwhile, the Postal Service will continue to hear public comment on the mail processing facilities in Missoula and Kalispell through mid-December.

So why has the Postal Service already announced its intention to “move forward” with a plan that assumes the closures will take place? Was the move to collect public comments just a farce? Unfortunately, it appears so.

Now, not only is the Postal Service’s plan to save roughly $3 billion a year by drastically reducing its mail processing capacity a poor one, the way it is proceeding with these plans is poor as well. Public comment is not just a technical exercise; it is an important tool government agencies must use in order to make sure their operations reflect the will and best interests of the people they serve.

If the Postal Service insists on ignoring the feedback it is still purportedly gathering, it will only make itself less relevant to its customers – and therefore less useful.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said as much in a letter he sent to the Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday.

“By presupposing the closure of processing facilities the Postal Service is violating its legal obligation to fully consider public input before closing these mail centers,” Tester wrote, adding, “The clear implication of (Monday’s) statement is that the Postal Service intended all along to close these facilities, regardless of public opinion. Given that public comment about these closures has been overwhelmingly negative, this type of interference with the public comment period is inappropriate and unacceptable.”

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