Milwaukeeans Oppose Post Office Closings
Concerns raised about elderly, race
By Ethan Madsen
MILWAUKEE- The people of Milwaukee’s sixth district came out to support their post offices that are threatened by closure or consolidation.
Up to five stations in Milwaukee’s sixth district the two stations being discussed at the meeting were the Teutonia station and the Martin Luther King station.
Paul Nistler, the postmaster of Milwaukee, hosted the community meeting at HeartLove Place on 3229 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to discuss the reasons behind the possible closures or consolidation.
The community meeting was held so that people could come out and ask questions and say why they think the stations shouldn’t close or be consolidated. The room that the meeting took place in was packed with around 100 people from the community that came out during the cold rainy night.
Also at the end of the meeting there was a chance for anyone who wanted to ask a question or voice their opinion on the subject. This was important because everything that people said was written down by Nistler to put into a package that will be used to help ultimately determine whether or not these stations are closed or consolidated.
“It affects the neighbors, it affects his parents and it affects the elderly in the neighborhood,” said Jimmy Johnson a resident of Milwaukee’s sixth district and employee of the Milwaukee community journal.
Also in attendance were Senator Spencer Coggs and the alderwoman of the sixth district, Milele Coggs to support the community. “It is a major blow to this community,” said Alderwoman Coggs in support of her district. Coggs also went on to say, “I’m so happy that you are here to have your voice be heard.”
“There are 30,000 people per station in the inner city, there are only 400 people per station in other parts,” said Senator Coggs when talking about why the inner city stations should not be closed.
One of the concerns of the people at the meeting was that a lot of the people in the community don’t drive so then if these stations are closed a post office would no longer be in walking distance.
There are a lot of senior citizens in district six so not having a post office within walking distance is a big concern for the neighborhood. Also some people rely on the post office to receive medication and for paychecks. “People need the post office,” said Anne Wilson.
This community is trying to regain stability and become stronger and the people feel like if the post offices close it will not help, “It signals giving up on the community,” said Melissa Gowens on the possible closures.
Another main concern of the people at the meeting was how did the stations that are looking at to be closed or consolidated get chosen. Nistler said that the headquarters of the Postal Service looks at the numbers for all of the post offices in an area. It then chooses the offices that make the least amount of money and those are the ones that are chosen to be closed or consolidated.
Also a part of the process to see which stations would be closed was to see how many people purchase a P.O. Box at the office or buy something from the post office. “Some people can’t afford a P.O. Box,” said Alexia Breaston a citizen of the community. “Having a Post office is a blessing,” Breaston went on to say. Not everyone that goes to the post office buys something every time so if you don’t buy something your visit isn’t counted towards the process.
People at the meeting didn’t like that they had to come to defend their post offices, “I’ve lived here for 55 years and have fought for many things, now I have to fight for my mail,” said Jonas Strickland
US postal service economic problems
The stations are being considered for closure or consolidation because the US post office has been having financial problems because the US post office has to pay $5.5 billion to the government in advance for health care and have lost $26 billion in the last 3 years.
“We are not sustainable at this point,” said Nistler on the economic state of the US postal service. With these financial problems up to 3,700 locations could be closed or consolidated across the country.
But Nistler also pointed out that they have not laid any people off yet. All of the people that have quit were close to retirement or were qualified for retirement. Also to try to help the US postal service has asked congress to cut back on the $5.5 billion that they have to pre pay for health care.
One of the considerations that the US postal service is taking is to reduce the number of days they deliver a week from six to five. This would help them save money and could make them not have to shut down as many stores.
Everyone in attendance was also given a comment form that you could fill out with how this will affect you and your community. The comments made on those forms will be added to the package that is used to help determine the fate of these stations.
Nistler said at the end of the meeting that when a decision is made on the stations in question he will come back and hold another community meeting to let the community know what the decision is before it happens and why they made their decision.