The U.S. Postal Service may be embarking on another ill-advised scheme–this one involving the delivery of groceries to people’s front doors.
This follows abortive ideas to begin selling beer and wine in 2011 and another earlier this year to begin shipping harder liquor.
According to the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/25/mail-and-milk-struggling-postal-service-wants-to-deliver-groceries/ this is just another attempt to help the USPS combat its persistent deficits and perhaps strengthen its already booming package delivery services.
The postal service is currently awaiting a ruling from the Postal Regulatory Commission http://www.prc.gov/Docs/90/90393/Notice%20Customized%20Delivery%20MT.Public.pdf to begin testing this concept.
The USPS says it expects to make $10 million over the first two years of this test. That naturally depends on how many companies participate, according to the PRC filing.
I suppose you’ve gotta give the USPS credit for trying to expand its business and this venture may actually work out for it. But it’s quite possible the postal service may well run into resistance from major commercial interests.
Also one wonders if the USPS still wants to deliver the mail and keep its historically high public trust levels and not just look for ways to raise money and reduce services in the process.
One of the postal service’s less popular cost-cutting moves over the past few years has been the closing of post offices in major cities and selling (or attempting to sell) post offices to private developers.
One flashpoint in this struggle is in Berkeley, CA. The USPS has been threatening to sue that locality after its City Council rezoned part of its downtown area to thwart USPS plans to sell off its main post office there. The postal service has been trying to do this for the past two years in face of stiff public protests, according to berkleyside.com http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/09/30/with-berkeley-set-to-change-civic-center-zoning-us-postal-service-ponders-lawsuit/.
On the other side stands real estate behemoth CBRE http://www.cbre.com/EN/Pages/Home.aspx to which the USPS has assigned the task of selling off its facilities. CBRE chairman Richard Blum is the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Not that there’s any appearance of conflicts of interest.
This victory in Berkeley seems an exception as the USPS has successfully sold off post office buildings in Bronx, NY, Venice, CA and other locations, according to the Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/01/1333603/-Those-Damned-Hippies-They-Rezoned-the-Post-Office?detail=email.
Still, you’ve gotta keep resisting and building awareness of this issue. Otherwise we’ll see the Postal Service sold out from under us.