Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cherrybell Post Office Processing Center Facts (By Matthew Laos)

Facts about Cherrybell Post Office and Processing Center (From Matthew Laos)

The Tucson Metro Region’s population is approximately 33rd in the Nation and 2nd largest in the State; therefore the Cherrybell facility simply does not warrant being on the list due to its population size and geographic location. 

Cherrybell serves not only Tucson but Southern Arizona, covering a vast area and a population of close to 1.5 million people. It is the 15th largest processing center in the U.S. Postal Service system of more than 480, and it should be closed over ones in Wisconsin or Iowa? Closing a facility that serves more than 1.5 million in Tucson and the entire Southern Arizona area does not make any practical sense. Arizona has more population than Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana, South Carolina, but should have fewer processing centers. 

There are only 2 processing centers in Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson; so to close Cherrybell means all Southern Arizona mail must be driven up to Phoenix for processing adding a 2-3 day delay for Tucson and up to 3-5 days rurally.

The County estimated minimum losses are up to 400 jobs, $30 million in economic activity, and a $4.8 million loss in Federal, State, and Local tax revenues. This will only be magnified Statewide.

Any supposed costs savings that will be eaten up by increased delivery costs of trucking mail from Southern Arizona up to Phoenix.

Cherrybell processes over 3.2 million pieces of mail daily which contradicts any argument that it is not cost effective for USPS to operate. The idea that Phoenix can absorb capacity lacks reality as Tucson often takes on Phoenix overflow especially during critical periods of Holiday mail and Elections.

During a meeting with postal officials, Mike Varney who leads the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce posed the question about how the postal officials reached a conclusion that the 33rd largest city in the nation in the 15th largest state with a growing population, should have less processing facilities than the state of Wisconsin, with a declining population, for which under their proposal, would have five. The postal
officials could not answer this question.

This irrational closing means every business and non-profit loses bulk mail discounts and Tucson itself loses overnite mail delivery leaving the entire Southern Arizona region at a substantial economic disadvantage for retaining business and promoting new one.

Delivery service delays will dramatically affect Tucson Veterans, Seniors and disabled populations who rely on their needed prescriptions by mail and it will be worse for those living in Marana, Sahuarita, Nogales, Sierra Vista and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Arizona has a higher proportions of these groups then other States due to its climate and services for those populations. This action will degrade those services.

In Dec 2011, the USPS totally discounted the turnout of a beyond capacity crowd of over 700 Tucsonans at the Convention Center who came to express their anger to include local officials and business leaders. There were 1200 written comments and later a petition online with 1600 names and promises of more forums from USPS which never occurred.

Cherrybell directly impacts the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, Raytheon, Davis-Monthan, Ft. Huachuca, as well as, National Guard and Reserve Units, Homeland Security’s Border Patrol and Customs, Southern Arizona Veterans Administration, and other critical agencies from Federal, State, Counties and Cities. The loss of the Tucson postmark or misdirection of critical mail could be serious issue for these institutions and agencies.

The only argument a USPS representative provided to the AZ Daily Star for Cherrybell’s closure was that Phoenix has enough capacity supposedly to handle the closing and not vice versa. The USPS did no real study to suggest Phoenix is cost efficient for the entire State and can actually do the job required.

Arizona is more reliant on Vote by Mail for local elections then most states and it is considered a cost efficient and it has become highly popular form of doing elections by all political parties. No study has been done on this matter.

Prior Congressional bills affecting Cherrybell (Tucson P&DC) closure include H.R. 2309 Rep Issa, and S 1789 Sen Lieberman. The Senate version offers a comprehensive BRAC like closing process which would clearly demonstrate that Tucson should not be on the closure list if properly evaluated with objective criteria.