Editorial: Save Saturday delivery

Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2013, 6:00 am
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
To: U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos and Bruce Braley
Re: Saturday mail delivery

Last week's announcement that the U.S. Postal Service has decided in a fiercely competitive 24/7 world to provide fewer services to customers requires your immediate attention.

Word from Washington is that legislation will be introduced to preserve six-day mail delivery. We urge you today to pledge your support to that effort.
We are pleased to note that our Q-C lawmakers were among those critical of the surprise announcement by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe promising elimination of Saturday delivery by August.

Rep. Bustos, D-East Moline, you were correct in calling the change "a blow to communities across our region of Illinois."

And Rep. Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, you were dead right in identifying the key problem. "By requiring the postal service to prefund retirement health benefits to the tune of over $50 billion over 10 years, which no other agency or business has to do, Congress is tying their hands" Thank you for co-sponsoring a House resolution in support of the postal service maintaining a six-day delivery service. "I can't think of a less partisan issue than the postal service," he said. "It is past time Congress works to find a solution to this problem."

The challenges facing the post office are very real and many of them -- particularly competition from exploding, instant and cheaper communication delivery systems -- are not of its own making. But they can't be fixed by following a disastrous business model that relies on increasing prices while cutting services it provides by 15 percent. And more than the postal service will be harmed, if Saturday delivery disappears.

For businesses it is a bread-and-butter issue. NNA President Merle Baranczyk said, the decision to "maintain Saturday delivery of packages but abandon delivery of newspapers is an indication the Service is moving further and further away from the universal service the American public expects.

"This unfortunate decision sees packages as profitable but forgets the importance of money in the mail for small businesses and thousands of American communities who depend upon local newspaper delivery on Saturdays."

In fact, everything from catalogs to specialty and hobbyist magazines to news and opinion periodicals also will feel the pinch. And the switch could hurt consumers in surprising ways. Those who pay their bills by mail could see fees for less timely deliveries and those who rent DVDs could see their costs increase. For example, if you subscribe to Netflix, fewer delivery days could result in fewer movies viewed for your money.

We share Mr. Baranczyk's dismay with the failure to deal with that 2006 retiree benefit bookkeeping issue crippling the agency. The fix is hardly a complex one, while the payoff is huge.

So our request to you is twofold: Ban five-day delivery. But also demand that your fellow lawmakers remove the budgetary requirement that is helping to bankrupt the agency while hurting both business and customers.

For many, many Americans, the U.S. mails aren't a luxury, but a necessity. That makes it your duty to protect them.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2014. There are 123 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A large pair of elk, captured in Iowa, were exhibited in Market Square today.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Rock Island Arsenal dam was being constructed under the supervision of Charles Frances, of Lowell, Mass.
1914 — 100 years ago: Mrs. Frank Mixer, of Rock Island, was the winner of the final preliminary for the women's handicap golf cup at Rock Island arsenal links.
1939 — 75 years ago: Sixteen hundred persons — many from war-fearful Europe — arrived in New York aboard the German liner Bremen. For two days on the trip, passengers were cut off from the world with both incoming and outgoing radio messages banned.
1964 — 50 years ago: Police reported five youths have been involved in the theft of about seven cars in recent weeks. Three of the youths were arrested Saturday afternoon, one was in custody as the result of a previous arrest, and the fifth is expected to be arrested today.
1989 — 25 years ago: The Rock Island/Milan School Board is asking the city to tear down Franklin School and allow the school district to pay back the estimated $100,00 cost during 10 years.

(More History)