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Published on December 31, 1969 3:01AM

Last changed on September 9, 2013 6:49AM

Where were you during the fight?

While browsing the Internet, I just came across the Capital Press' June 28 item, "Post office woes spread," wherein your newspaper bemoans the recent degradation in mail processing and customer delivery service as exhibited by the U.S. Postal Service, both locally and regionally. I couldn't agree more.

However, although we agree on the obvious fact that the "service" has largely left the Postal Service, I'm left to wonder where were the Capital Press, its publishers and distributors, and host of advertisers when this wholesale degradation of postal services and delivery began its downward spiral? Why weren't Capital Press and its publishers and reporters at the various public meetings, informational pickets and other affairs raising a hue and cry with the rest of us way back when we were making serious efforts to retain mail processing at the Salem Processing and Distribution Facility on 25th Street?

At what point did Capital Press, the Statesman-Journal, the State of Oregon, and God knows how many local businesses and retailers come to the stark reality that when the Salem P&DF closed down that the impact on local postal customer services, mail collections and next day delivery was going to be seriously impacted? And let us not forget the innumerable not-for-profits, churches, and charities that rely heavily on their respective "timely" publications and periodicals!

Where were you all when this fight really needed to be fought?

And now you dare complain about the further deterioration in service and degradation in delivery standards? Shame on you. You being a member of the Fourth Estate and you let this vital issue slip right under your radar and are now seemingly baffled how an institution older than the U.S. Constitution is in its death throes.

And now your solution is to send your subscribers to the Internet and email versions? That dog ain't likely to hunt. I, for one, don't peruse my newspaper on the Internet and from what I gather most others don't either. As of Oct. 1 The Oregonian will cease publishing seven days a week, at which time I will cancel my subscription. Any news I need at that juncture I can gather via the TV or elsewhere. I'm sure the Statesman-Journal and Register-Guard will follow suit and like many of my cohorts, I refuse to subscribe to a watered-down paper version of a newspaper just so I don't have to pay for an online version.

So, even though I read the Capital Press from time to time, I see no reason for my wife and I to "hover" over the computer just so we can read the weekly Press. But I digress.

The U.S. Postal Service has many administrative failings, which have led to its demise and current fiscal difficulties. And there is no dispute that technology has played a significant role in the way people communicate in the 21st Century, which has impacted mail volumes radically. You news people know that only too well. But as vital to our democracy as the Fourth Estate, the Postal Service was created entirely for and subordinate to the need for free and open communication between our nation's people. The symbiotic relationship between news media, religious circulars, political materials, advertisements and private mails and open post roads and a postal service to ensure their timely and private delivery is imbued in our Constitution.

What happens when both institutions are compromised? What then happens to our balances to free speech and business intercourse and the democratic process? Do we then rely upon privateers to secure our basic freedoms?

We've let our institutions rot and decay -- we the American people. And no less at fault are those publications like the Capital Press and other media, who buried their collective heads in the sand and watched the Postal Service expire. In point of fact, they may even have unwittingly aided and abetted the self-destruction of the most trusted American government agency. And when it's totally, finally terminal? What then?

"If you squat on yer spurs, don't whine when ya rip yer britches!"

Bob Patterson

Past President

Local 604 American

Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

Salem, Ore.


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