Newswire : Trump Administration ramps up efforts to dismantle post office

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Truck hauling away mailboxes in Oregon and U. S. Mail truck delivering mail

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to dismantle the United States Postal Service or revamp the agency in a way that has angered Democrats and others who said it’s a tactic to prevent mail-in voting for the upcoming election.
The CARES Act passed in April authorized the postal service to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department for operating expenses if it’s determines that, due to the COVID-19 emergency, the post office would not fund operating expenses without borrowing money.
“They have withheld that money. They have broken the law,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass told BlackPressUSA during a livestream interview last month. Other Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), also told BlackPressUSA that the president is trying to dismantle the postal service.

Trump has steadfastly opposed funding the postal service. Despite recently voting with his wife by mail in a Florida primary election, the president said he’s against mail-in voting.
“Trump is not stupid. He knows if there is a decent-sized turnout in this election, he loses,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote on Twitter. “He and his friends believe they can suppress the vote by destroying the post office. We aren’t going to allow that to happen.”
Several postal workers have reported the removal of sorting machines at postal facilities and the removal of sidewalk mailboxes. Postal officials reported that in the last week, the agency had removed letter collection boxes in at least four states: New York, Oregon, Montana, and Indiana.
Postal workers in at least three states – West Virginia, Florida, and Missouri – have received notification that retail operating hours also face reduction.
Removing mailboxes had become a practice along marathon and parade routes since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, however, the latest removals are believed intentional and strategically coordinated to impact the election.
In response to the removal of mailboxes and a slowdown in the delivery of mail, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) sent a letter to the Postmaster General on Aug. 7. New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), Louisiana Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin (R), Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) joined in signing the letter.
“State and local election officials are busy planning for the November general election, and many expect an increase in the use of absentee and mail ballots, along with other election-related mailings,” the state officials wrote.
“We view the [United States Postal Service] as a vital partner in administering a safe, successful election and would like to learn more about any planned changes around USPS service due to COVID-19, preparations for increased election-related mail, USPS staffing levels and processing times, and other pertinent issues.”
The postal service has sent letters to warn 46 states that it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots cast for the November election would arrive in time to be counted. Some states, like Maryland and Virginia, received a “heightened warning” that the postal service could not meet state-mandated deadlines.
In response, a large group of protesters staged a “noise demonstration” on Saturday, Aug. 15, outside of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s home in Washington, D.C. The demonstration was organized by the direct-action group “Shut Down D.C.”
The organization said they believe DeJoy is “dismantling” the U.S. Postal Service in favor of President Donald Trump’s re-election. They said his actions contribute to voter suppression.
“DeJoy has fired or reassigned much of the existing USPS leadership and ordered the removal of mail sorting machines that are fundamental to the functioning of the postal service. Meanwhile, mail delivery is slowing down under other decisions made by DeJoy, such as eliminating overtime for postal workers,” the organization wrote in a statement.
This week, the U.S. Inspector General opened an investigation into DeJoy’s policy changes at the post office.
According to some lawmakers, those changes are reportedly taking a toll on military veterans who are experiencing much longer wait times to receive mail-order prescription drugs.
Slowdowns at the post office have reportedly also resulted in seniors receiving their medications late and other important mail like social security checks.
It has also angered those who work for the agency. Postal workers throughout the country have reported low morale, and many have cited the actions of Dejoy, who was appointed by Trump. On Friday, Aug. 14, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), a union that boasts nearly 300,000 active and retired postal workers, endorsed Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.
The U.S. Postmaster General announced Tuesday that he is suspending some recent operational changes until after the presidential election. “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” U.S. Postal Service head Louis DeJoy said of the changes, which included removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes.
Additionally, he promised, USPS retail hours will not change, processing facilities will not be closed and overtime for postal workers will be approved as needed.
“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” DeJoy said. “Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards.”
The promise expands on one DeJoy made earlier this week to stop removing mailboxes for the next 90 days.

Newswire: U.S. Postal Service to review stamp honoring Supremes Florence Ballard

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Original Supremes, with Florence Ballard

Supremes legend Mary Wilson is on a crusade that she hopes will end with the United States Postal Service commemorating her late bandmate and close friend Florence Ballard on a Forever Stamp.
“I get so emotional when I speak about Flo,” said Wilson, who received a 2020 NNPA Lifetime Achievement Award during the Black Press of America’s recently completed virtual convention.
“I’ve been working hard to get that recognition for her because she deserves it.”
Wilson noted that the U.S. Postal Service has done a brilliant job of issuing commemorative postage stamps about iconic pop culture heroes who have helped shape the world.
In the past, there have been U.S. Postage Stamps to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of several music business legends, including Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughn, Patsy Cline, Jimi Hendryx, Marvin Gaye, and Janis Joplin.
Wilson’s quest to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp to celebrate Ballard, a founding star of The Supremes, has gained momentum.
“We have received a proposal from the public, and it will be reviewed at our next Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee meeting,” Roy Betts, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, told BlackPressUSA.
The U.S. Postal Service and the members of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) have set specific criteria used in determining the eligibility of subjects for commemoration on all U.S. stamps and stationery, Betts added.
Among them are that stamps and stationery would primarily feature American or American-related subjects. The Postal Service will honor extraordinary and enduring contributions to American society, history, culture, or environment.
U.S. stamp programs are planned and developed two to three years in advance and, consideration would occur if suggestions are submitted three or more years in advance of the proposed stamp.
In 2018, the Postal Service began considering proposals for deceased individuals three years following their death.
Officials noted that the stamp program commemorates positive contributions to American life, history, culture, and environment.
Born in Detroit in 1943, Ballard was the eighth of Jesse and Lurlee Ballard’s thirteen children.
Almost from the start, music played an essential part in her life, according to her biography.
Her father was her first teacher, and a young Ballard displayed a keen interest in his music. Jesse Ballard would play particular songs and teach his daughter to sing them.
Those early lessons made a deep impression, and legend has it that Florence Ballard was soon out-singing her father.Ballard’s musical gift was hard to go unnoticed. As she grew older, she found an outlet for her singing in school music classes and choirs.
While in her early teens, Ballard’s career was set in motion.
Two of her neighbors, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, sang in a group called the Primes (later to become the Temptations). They introduced her to manager Milton Jenkins, who was so impressed with the 14-year-old’s voice that he asked her to perform as a soloist along with the Primes. After Ballard appeared with the group for a few engagements, Jenkins knew he had found an outstanding talent, her biography read.
Since groups were popular in the late 1950s, Jenkins suggested that Ballard form a sister group to the Primes. Immediately she asked her friend, Mary Wilson, to be a member of the group. Betty McGlown and Mary’s friend, Diana Ross, were also recruited. After gaining their parent’s permission, the four teenagers, in the spring of 1959, became officially known as the Primettes. They began rehearsals with Ballard as the lead singer.
McGlown departed just before the group found fame at Motown with the name, The Supremes. Ballard died in 1976 at the age of 31. “The memories are so vivid,” Wilson said. “Florence Ballard was such a wonderful person. It’s my sincere hope that we can get the Postal Service to honor her now.”