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Friday, November 28, 2014         

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Let's have public hearings on Saturday mail service


POSTED:

One of the pleasures of paradise -- our exotic location -- can be a pitfall, too. Shipping to Hawaii is expensive for independent carriers like FedEx and UPS, so many retailers rely instead on the U.S. Postal Service for anything bound beyond the contiguous 48 states.

This means Hawaii and Alaska are especially dependent on the postal service -- and why the prospect of losing Saturday delivery has got some people here fretting. While there may not be a way to stave off the reduction in hours, the people most affected by such a change deserve to be heard.

Faced with an estimated deficit of $115 billion in 10 years, the U.S. Postal Service is now contemplating going with a five-day-a-week delivery schedule. Considering that ending Saturday delivery could save $3 billion a year, it's more than reasonable for officials to consider it.

But they should consider it carefully, and having a public hearing in the most distant states, where the effects would be most keenly felt, is more than reasonable.

In April, the Postal Regulatory Commission formally began reviewing the proposal.

The public can weigh in online, at www.prc.gov, clicking the "Contact PRC" link in the upper-right corner. Hawaii residents can do that as well as anyone. However, this is not the most sure way of hearing from people who may bring to light the unforeseen consequences of canceling Saturday deliveries. The commission has already held field hearings in Las Vegas, Sacramento, Dallas, Memphis and Chicago. Its final remote events are tomorrow and Monday in Rapid City, S.D., and Buffalo, N.Y.

Now, and none too soon, the four U.S. senators from Hawaii and Alaska have written to the commission, pleading for additional outreach to their states.

The concerns here and in the 49th state include the "likely degradation of efficient and timely delivery of medication, food, water and other necessities."

The only way to be sure of the worst-case scenario is to visit postal facilities in these locations and hear the experiences of people using them -- not all of them people inclined to use the point-and-click methods favored by government these days.

Folks from the other seven cities represent a fair sampling of mainland residents, but real outreach means reaching all the way out to the geographic margins. Only then can the final decision be fully informed.






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