September 19, 2011

CARDIN, MIKULSKI CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY, PUBLIC INPUT AS POSTAL SERVICE AGAIN CONSIDERS CLOSING EASTON AREA MAIL PROCESSING CENTER

Senators stress importance of additional public hearings, transparency as consolidation study moves forward

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) in a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe called for transparency and increased public input as the United States Postal Service (USPS) again begins to study the possibility of consolidating of the Easton Area Mail Processing Center (AMP) with the mail processing facility in Baltimore, Maryland. 

“As the USPS once again looks at the possibility of consolidating Easton’s mail processing operation with Baltimore, I want to make sure that the residents and business owners on the Eastern Shore have  input and that their voices are heard as the process moves forward,” said Senator Cardin. “The Eastern Shore has a unique geography that needs to be taken into consideration concerning any USPS feasibility study on consolidation.  My primary concern is to make sure that Eastern Shore residents and businesses continue to have efficient postal delivery.”

“The people of the Eastern Shore have the right to know, and they have the right to be heard,” Senator Mikulski said. “People have a right to know the data being used to make decisions that would affect their lives and livelihoods. People have a right to be heard at public meetings. Yesterday, we learned that the Postal Service will study whether to consolidate Easton’s mail processing operation with Baltimore’s. Before the Postal Service makes a decision, they have to hear from the people of the Eastern Shore.”

Last summer, Postmaster General Donahoe’s predecessor, John Potter, agreed to delay the final decision on the Easton AMP consolidation study until 2011. The agreement came in response to a July 15, 2010 letter to Postmaster General Potter signed by Senators Mikulski and Cardin, as well as former Rep. Frank Kratovil, which shared the delegation’s concerns about the lack of public input in the process the USPS used to determine Easton AMP’s closure. At that time, the Postmaster General agreed that the public would be allowed to have more input into the process, including additional public hearings, should consolidation continue to be pursued as an option by Mr. Donahoe’s administration.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:  

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:

            We are writing regarding an issue that is of critical concern to many of our constituents on the Eastern Shore of Maryland:  the renewed consolidation study for the Easton Area Mail Processing and Distribution (AMP) Facility, which will determine whether the services now performed at that facility will be transferred to Baltimore.  We are requesting that you insure adequate opportunity for public input by scheduling at least four public hearings in the geographic and population centers for the area, including Easton, Chestertown, Ocean City and Salisbury.  We also request that you provide information on the facts and figures which will be utilized in making the decision to insure that the process is open and transparent.

            Last year at this time, we wrote to your predecessor, Mr. John Potter, expressing our concerns about the scheduling of only one public hearing and a failure to provide answers to legitimate questions regarding the data being utilized in making a decision to consolidate.  Upon review, Mr. Potter agreed that a decision on the future of the Easton AMP should be delayed until new management personnel in Baltimore and USPS headquarters could approach this matter with a fresh perspective.

            We now understand that the U.S. Postal Service intends to initiate the consolidation study process for the Easton AMP once again.   While we appreciate the fiscal challenges facing the Postal Service, mail delivery and access to postal services is of vital interest to local residents and businesses. Particularly in areas like Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the mail is often used as the primary means to deliver life-saving medications to seniors, daily newspapers and important business documents to small businesses, and even shipments of live animals to farmers in the region.  Any decision which will potentially change delivery times, costs and access to services should only be made after careful consideration of all factors, including impacts to residents and customers, and only utilizing a process that is open and transparent so that citizens, as well as their elected representatives, understand fully the need for such changes. 

One year ago, and again today, we ask that you seriously consider the concerns of residents and customers as part of this study, and reach out to the various communities across the Eastern Shore by holding public hearings in the four unique geographic regions and population centers of Easton, Salisbury, Chestertown and Ocean City.   Last time, despite repeated requests from the Maryland Congressional Delegation, the Eastern Shore Business Community, local elected officials, U.S. Postal Service employees and eastern shore residents, your agency agreed to only one public meeting because “that’s all the AMP process requires”.  The process was flawed then and allowing for only one public hearing at this time would be flawed procedure now. 

 

            Citizens not only have a right to be heard on this issue, but they have a right to know the facts that will impact a decision to alter their vital mail delivery services.  We call upon you today to improve transparency and public input into the AMP consolidation study process by: 1) providing information to the public regarding the facts and figures that will be utilized in making any decision to close the Easton AMP facility; and 2) scheduling at least 4 public hearings in the geographic centers on the Eastern Shore to allow for full and effective input from the residents and businesses who will be impacted by this decision.

           

We look forward to your direct reply.

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