USPS plans to close thousands of offices

January 24, 2011 7:33:59 PM PST
The U.S. Postal Service is looking to close thousands of post offices around the country, perhaps several thousands of them to help deal with its mounting debt. The agency wants to shut down the most unprofitable ones, but that's something current law forbids.

Congress set up the postal service in 1775. Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General and the mandate was to provide universal access to all citizens.

These days the postal service says it can't keep up with the cost of moving the mail. And so it's petitioning Congress to change the law that forbids closing post offices simply because those offices are losing money.

"The business climate has completely changed we need a new business model," says U.S. Postal Service spokesman Gus Ruiz.

A spokesman for the postal service says the postal service lost $8.5 billion last year and of the 32,000 post offices around the county, 18,000 -- more than half -- are money losers and some need to go.

"I can't say it's going to be 100. I can't say it's going to be 1,000. I can't say it's going to be 2,000," says Ruiz.

Ruiz won't say which offices are under consideration, but one in Richmond was on a previous hit list. There is another branch about a mile away.

"Is that the main one down the street? There's no parking, it's horrible to find a place to park," says Richmond resident Jill Davis.

"I favor this Post Office. I mean, I'm in and out, I can walk in fact," says Richmond resident Raymond Robbins.

You'll hear the same thing in Point Richmond, a more upscale community on Richmond's southern border.

"Well it's so wonderful for this community because we don't want to go to the city of Richmond, you know, I mean it's sort of crime ridden and so forth and this is like a little village here," says Point Richmond resident Lynette Willis.

Point Richmond's post office was on the same hit list.

"And we had thousands of people in the community sign a petition to oppose it because this is the center of our town," says Point Richmond resident Martin McNair.

McNair owns the buildings that houses the post office, he just signed a new five year lease.

"And took a substantial cut in the rent that I was receiving from the post office in order to assure that this one would stay here," says McNair.

McNair also called his local congressman.

"Congressman Miller put one of his staff people on it and when there were three Post Offices on the list in Richmond this particular Post Office was removed," says McNair.

Which leads to another issue, one of fairness, with Congress deciding how do take political clout out of the equation?

"Well, I don't know if you can...we're a nation of politics," says Ruiz.

And the parts of the nation with the least political clout, generally speaking, are rural areas. Areas where there aren't enough people to make a post office profitable, but where one is a much more significant connection for the community.