Governor Branstad has sent the U.S. Postmaster General a letter, asking him to put a temporary hold on the plan to close hundreds of post offices and processing centers across the country.
“I think they should put a moratorium in place and develop a thoughtful, systematic strategy in place to deal with their budget problems,” Branstad said in early August during a statehouse news conference, a message Branstad restated in a letter sent to the U.S. Postmaster General.
According to Branstad, nearly 18 percent of the Iowa’s post offices would be closed under the current plan. Nationwide, about 11 percent of post offices are to be closed and Branstad contends that shows Iowa is taking a “disproportionate” hit that will put rural Iowans at an “economic disadvantage.” Branstad hints the Postal Service may be playing favorites.
“Iowa and West Virginia seem to be the hardest hit states in this,” Branstad said August 1 during a news conference in his statehouse office. “Delaware? Zero. A senator from Delaware has introduced a bill supported by the Postal Service. I wonder it there’s any politics in this. I don’t know, but it’s kind of an interesting situation.”
Branstad is offering a list of alternatives, like reducing service hours and having postmasters serve multiple locations.
“I guess postmasters are paid a lot more than other employees in the postal system,” Branstad said. “…Why does every little town have to have a postmaster? Can’t you just have somebody in charge who doesn’t have the title of postmaster?”
The post office plan would close 178 offices in Iowa, as well as the processing center in Sioux City. “Our state seems to be particularly hard-hit and targeted,” Branstad said. “As governor of this state, I believe I have a responsibility and an obligation to go to bat for those communities and for maintaining that services — not to say that some post offices can’t or won’t be closed, but there should be a thoughtful and systematic approach to this.”
Branstad, along with the mayor of the small town of Lohrville who has been leading the effort to lobby against the closures in Iowa, co-authored one letter. Branstad and the governor of Illinois wrote another. The two governors are asking to meet personally with the Postmaster General. Branstad’s also suggesting a new, national commission be created to “reconsider closure recommendations.”
According to Branstad, rural Iowans are “rightly upset” because Postal officials have been “vague” and unwilling to reveal the criteria used to determine which post offices are targeted for the closure.