Originally created 07/06/97

Price hike: a lot of gall



U.S. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon and the Postal Service Board of Governors have a lot of nerve.

They want the basic first-class stamp price upped a penny to 33 cents. (Never mind that they just raised it to 32 cents on Jan. 1, 1995.)

"This is just enough to safeguard universal mail service for the United States," Board of Governors Chairman Tirso Del Junco piously says.

Safeguard? What a joke!

Listen to the lament of just one weekly newspaper editor friend who must deal with the Postal Service. In an "open letter" to his congressman, Blackshear, Ga., Times editor Robert Williams writes that getting delivery to former residents who have moved away to other parts of the U.S. "is becoming darn near impossible." Williams continues:

"With the most `recent improvements,' the Postal Service initiated, out-of-town delivery has gone from an acceptable three to four days in many instances to a totally unacceptable three to four weeks -- if at all.

"One mid-level manager said he started to alert a regional manager in Memphis, Tennessee, of serious problems in the Jacksonville, Florida, postal center (aka, The Great Black Hole). The Memphis manager placed one phone call to someone in Jacksonville, was soothingly assured there were `no problems in Jacksonville' at all, and quickly called back to tell the first guy he must be mistaken. End of effort to solve problems."

So excuse us for saying that all the rate increases in recent years haven't seemed to make service more efficient.

As for Runyon, if he thinks more money will solve postal problems, he can donate some of his slick stock earnings back to the Postal Service.

Did you know that he recently decided to put soft drink machines in 40,000 post offices? However, he didn't bother taking bids from competing drink companies for the huge contract. He simply handed Coca-Cola the deal.

At the same time, it's reported that Runyon owns $350,000 worth of Coke stock. Does he have anything to gain from such a sweetheart deal? The Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste notes, "For every dollar the stock goes up, that's $350,000 for him."

That's not bad.

As we say, the least Runyon could do would be to give back a sliver of his stock gains to cover this penny price hike that's supposedly so badly needed to "safeguard" service by all those Coke-guzzling employees.