News-Journal from Mansfield, Ohio · Page 57Click to view larger version
June 9, 1974

News-Journal from Mansfield, Ohio · Page 57

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News-Journal i
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Mansfield, Ohio
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Sunday, June 9, 1974
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Page 57
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Sunday, .lime !». Monsfkld. O.. News Joumc. Postal Service Deliberately Slows First-Class Mail r,y RONALD KUSSLER The Washington Post WASHINGTON -- T h e new U.S. Postal Service has deliberately slowed delivery of lirst - class mail and overcharged i'irst - class mail users by an apparent $1 billion a year while undercharging commercial mail users, a Washington Post investigation has found- Delivery of first class mail -- the class used by ·most Americans for letters - - has been slowed by a Postal Service policy of putting aside mail arriving from out of town during the night for sorting during the day. The policy, which delays mail by a full day, was put into effect largely to avoid p a y i n g extra salary for night work. But the total cost of extra night salary is about one per cent of the postal budget, and the new policy has saved only a fraction of this cost. While the Postal Service saves night salary by allowing sacks of first - class mail to pile up in post offices throughout the country, it continues to pay the extra salary for s o r t i n g non - priority mail carrying less p o s t a g e than first class letters. This includes theoretically slow - moving fourth - class parcel post and commercially oriented "junk" mail and second- class newspapers and magazines. J\eeplt Secret "Through the diligence of a great number of dedicated men and women, we are well on the road to making the Postal Service an organization of which every American can be proud." ,b/n7y --Elmer T. Klasscn Postmaster General A transcript of a high - JevcJ meeting of postal officials m 1969, when the new policy for first - class mail . was begun, shows a decision was made to no longer strive for overnight mail delivery, and to keep this a secret from Congress and the public. The transcript shows that Frank J. Nunlist, then an assistant postmaster general, told regional postal officials: "Now "if we announce that A\B are going to do this (low- e r overnight standards) there are 700,000 guys (postal workers) that are going to run to their congressmen and say, 'You can't have a postal corporation:' these guys are not going to serve the American people." "So," Nunlist continued, "we have got to be a little tight about this, and you can't even say to your em- ploies in the post office, 'Don't promise prompt service.' We have got to play this game pretty carefully." While the Postal Service has slowed first - class delivery, the agency also has overcharged this class of m a i l a n d undercharged those classes generally used by special commercial interests, six postal cost studies, including two by the Postal Service, show. One h f u d y , by the U.S. P o s t a 1 Hate Commission s l n l f , shows an overcharge 1o lirst - class m a i l users in f i s c a l 1972 of about $1 billion, or two cents per letter. (The figure does not include Die overall postal deficit, for which no particular class of mail pays.) The study shows undercharges to third - class, so called j u n k mail, second class newspapers and'mag- azines and fourth - class parcel post. The Postal Service is required by law to avoid la- v.o r i n g or discriminating against nny mail user, and to charge rates t h a t ' c o v e r nil c o s t s reasonably a s signed to each class of mail. time, the price for first class service has risen 66 per cent, or about double the national increases due to inilation. -- A $1 billion .parcel- sorting network being built by the Postal Service to try to stop loss of business to its private - industry competitor, United Parcel Service (UPS), promises to offer slower service than UPS. The Postal Service has acknowledged internally that a chief reason for the success of UPS is a package damage rate one fifth that of the Postal Service. But sorting equipment in the new parcel network will, in the course of processing parcels, drop them one foot, compared with what UPS says is no drop during its processing. -- A mechanized letter sorting system said by the Postal Service to produce savings of billions of dollars has been found by the GAO to be more costly than the existing old - fashioned system. The Postal Service's internal auditors have reported confidentially that the new system sorts letters at a slower rate than the system used by Benjamin Franklin, the first postmaster general, who placed letters one by one in pigeon holes. -- The Postal Service has spent more than $140 million on contract cost overruns since the assertedly cost conscious policies of the new agency were established in 1969. 4-Montfi Probe These and other findings resulted from a four - month Washington Post investigation of the Postal Service. The investigation included visits to five of the six largest post offices in the country ; i n t e r v i e w s with hundreds of present and former postal officials, technical experts, mail users, and p o s t a l oversight officials, a n d e x a m i n a t i o n o f hundreds of internal Postal S e r v i c e memos, reports, studies, and letters, as well as congressional and rate hearings, government audit reports, and private consultants' reports. What emerges is a portrait of how one of the large s t government agencies works -- or doesn't work -for the tax and postage paying citizens it is supposed to serve. Asked for a comment on the Post's i hidings. Postmaster General Elmer T- Klassen said he would defer to comments made by his deputies on specific matters, because he is not la- miliar with all the details of postal operations. E.Y. Dorsey, senior assistant postmaster general for operations, a c k n o w 1- edged that first - class mail arriving from distant points at night is not sorted until daytime. He disputed, however, that this delayed mail. Arthur Eden, director of rates and classiiication, denied that first - class mail users are overcharged He said rates are set in accordance with law and cited a Columbia University professor who agrees with the agency's method of determ- ing costs of various classes of mail. Asked to cite improvements since the Postal Service was created, Klassen said in a letter it has ''improved the speed and reliability of service." He said productivity has increased, field managers have been made accountable for service and costs and postmasters are no longer selected because ot their political connections. No Competition "In short," Klassen said in the letter, "We've come a long way. We have made some mistakes, but they are far outnumbered by the things we have done right. Through the diligence of a great number of dedicated men and women, we are well on the road to making the Postal Service an organ- i z a t i o n of which every American can be proud." To most Americans, the Postal Service is the only branch of federal government that touches them di- rectly each day. The mailman walking h i s i o u l e o n a tree - l i n e d residential street, as depicted by Norman Rockwell on covers of the old Saturday Evening Post, has become u symbol of America. Although the Postal Service is a big business, it has never had the same incentives to achieve efficiency that a business has. If its service was slow and customers complained, t h e r e was no reason to think they would turn to a competitor. Congress historically had prohibited private companies from competing with the Postal Service for first class mail delivery. If the postal agency wasted money, its employes did not fear losing their jobs in a bankruptcy proceeding. Congress would always bail the agency out with more subsidies. Public dissatisfaction with this method of doing business reached a head on 1966, when the Chicago post office became so glutted with mail that it closed down. L a w r e n c e F . O'Brien, t h e n postmaster general, proposed that a presidential commission study retorm of the old Post Office Department. In 1968 the panel, headed by former American' Telephone Telegraph Co. C h a i r m a n Frederick _R. Kappel. recommended reinstitution of the department' as an independent branch of government. The idea, the commission's report said \\as that the agency could use modern business methods to move the mail ii it were insulated from politics and given independent control over its funds. Such meth- ods would save at least 20 per cent of the agency's costs, the commission estimated. The agency that evolved from this recommendation is a new branch of government with certain special privileges. Unlike other gov- e r n m e n t departments, it does have control of its own funds and may raise additional money b s e l l i n g bonds to the public. It is prohibited from making appointments based on political considerations. Solvent by '84 Finally, it is required to b e c o m e financially self sufficient -- free of subsidy from Congress -- in 1984. The agency does not report to the President. In- stoad; it is run by a board of governors \\liose members are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. Although Congress enacted the Kappel Commission proposals into law in 1970, and the new agency chose to change its name in 1971. most of the new policies followed today by the Postal Service did not require legislation and \\ere implemented in 1970 by Winston M. Bount, President Nixon'-, appointee a s postmaster general. But five years later a key finding of the Kappel Commission remains true. ' ' T h e commission has found a pattern of public concern over the quality of mail service. Delayed letters, erroneous deliveries, damaged parcles, and most magazines and newspaper; are everyday experiences." Ueix Thaddeus J. Dulski (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Post Office Committee, wrote to Postmaster General Klassen last December: ''No one expected the transition from the Post Office Department to the U. S. Postal Service to be easy, but on the other hand, neither did anyone expect it to be'catastrophic." ' For first - class mail, the Postal Service has established a standard for local delivery that represents an e r o s i o n ol service when compared with the standard of the old Post Office Department. Old Way Faster The old standard promised o v e r n i g h t delivery within a state. The new one promises it only within local delivery areas, only if letters are mailed belore 5 p. m. and only for !)5 pet- cent of the mail. For o u t - o f - town mail, the Postal Service standard allows as many as three days for delivery. In part because of this generous time span, the agency was able to claim that an historic supena requesting President Nixon's appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom arrived only a day late -- although it took si: days to make the trip Irom Los Angeles to the p.C- Superior Court m Washington. The Postal Service did not count two of the days because they were holidays. The Postal Service claims the extra three cents for an air - mail stamp buys the fastest possible service to any point. Special, white topped, air - mail collection boxes bear stickers promising overnight service even in local delivery areas. But the Origin - Deslina- (PJease Turn to Page 2-F) SUNSHINE'S HURRY, HURRY, HURRY To Our "BIG TENT SALE" See Today's News Journal Pages 8 and 9C For Big Savings Under Our Big Top! GOODYEAR SERVICE STORES OHIO'S MOST FRIENDLY RETAIL STORES Men's SLACK SALE Extra special value -Stylish plaids with cuff bottoms ·-- Famous brand -- Sizes 29 to 38. OUR REG. LOW 7.99 4 66 Price Effective Thru Wednesday June 12th, 1974 Men's KNIT SHIRTS Classic four-button placket-collar style. Short sleeve -- Solid colors in cotton blends and polyester blends. S-M-L-XL OUR REG. LOW 3.59 Ladies' PANT SUITS Fantastic buy. Double knit polyester in sleeveless and short sleeve styles. Sizes 8 to 18. The Postal Service denies it overcharges, and it cites as evidence a seventh study it has performed, which shows that third - class junk m a i l pays for itself. This study has been rejected, as f a i l i n g to show t r u e postal costs, by both t h e chief ad- m i n i s t r a t i v e law judge of the separate U.S. Postal K n l r Commission, w h i c h sets postal rates, and by the General Accounting Office, the audit arm of Congress. The Washington Post investigation has also found t h a t . " -- Since t h e new policies of the Postal Service were established in 1969. first class mail has been slonOd 11 per cent to 23 per cent, according to the agencx's n u n nunl - ^unplmt; M.. D u n n ? aboul t h e SERVICE VALUE ON AIR CONDITIONING TUNE-UP. · Clean condenser and radiator fins · Clean evaporator diain tube * Check for proper cooling and total system operation · Adjust drive belt tension · Check flexible hoses for bnrtleness · Check the entiie system for leaks and wear with our all new Ultia-Sonic tester. WITH THIS COUPON Includes all parts and materials (For a limited time only) WE1DNER PONTiAC 1411 Park Ave. West, Mansfield, Ohio CALL 529-5555 FOR APPOINTMENT BRING THIS COUPON FOR ThiiS SERVICE OUR REG. LOW 11.97 TO 13.97 Gillette · RIGHT GUARD America's largest selling deodorant. A two second spray gives 24 hour protection. Dries on c o n t a c t and f e e l s c l e a n a n d r e f r e s h i n g . Large size 13 oz. OUR REG. LOW 1.74 $ 1 19 Old Spice AFTER SHAVE Bnsk as on o c e a n b r e e z e . C o o l s -s t i m u l a t e s -- r e f r e s h e s ~ m o k e s you f e e l w i d e a v-. a k e a f t e r e a c h s h a v e . OUR REG. LOW 1.39 99 .i.. .. ri lOllfTBOW CLEANER LYSOL TOILET BOWL CLEANER The liquid disinfectant that gets the bowl clean and odor- free. 1 pt. squeeze bottle. OUR REG. LOW 54c WINDEX 20 oz. REFILL America's favorite cleaner f o r . windows, n o w w i t h ' Ammonia-D for exlra sparkling glass. OUR REG. LOW 53c We Rastrve The Right To Limit Quantities White Bros. B l a c k , reel and blue pocket pens with ver- s a t i l e w i l t i n g nylon tips. RETAIL 69c CO5CO Set Hardy Northern grown stock with roots balled and burlapped for ready growth. Choose Hetzi Juniper, Fortune! Sarcoxie, Andorra Juniper or Blue Andorra Juniper. OUR REG. 1 LOW 1 5.196,49 Sturdy \lccl construe- btuk finked cnnmpl finish in iisigo or grrcn OUR REG. LOW 5.19 99 NEWSPAPER! NE WSPAPER