CM Fimbres and Cherrybell featured in Tucson Weekly

Going Postal

Did a study of the impact of closing Tucson mail processing center get lost in the mail?

As the U.S. Postal Service moved forward with plans to shut down the mail-processing center in Tucson and consolidate all Arizona operations in Maricopa County, the federal agency was supposed to do a study to determine the impact on local mail delivery and determine if the plan would save money.

But a recent federal Office of Inspector General report shows Post Office officials didn't bother with the required study.

The OIG report notes that the "Postal Service has not analyzed the impact of planned service standard changes" in 91 of 95 areas where they are making changes—including Tucson.

City Councilman Richard Fimbres, who has led efforts to reverse the plan to shut down Tucson's Cherrybell facility, said he was stunned to learn that after months of being told the study had been done, postal officials had dropped the ball.

"I couldn't believe it didn't get done," said Fimbres. "They're not even sure it will save money."

But the negative impacts on Tucson are clear, said Fimbres: The loss of 300 direct jobs, slower mail delivery, problems for seniors, veterans and others who receive their medication in the mail, delays in the timely delivery of mail-in ballots at election time, and even a potential economic development hit.

As Fimbres said, when businesses look at Southern Arizona, they weigh a lot of pros and cons—and not having a mail-sorting center could be a major strike against the region.

"They may not even consider Southern Arizona," Fimbres said.

U.S. Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Raul Grijalva, whose districts include Southern Arizona, joined with the other Democrats in Arizona's delegation to write a letter urging Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to reconsider his plan to shut down the Tucson processing center.

"Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the country with a diverse population that lives in urban, rural and tribal communities," they wrote. "We have a large elderly and military veteran population that depends on the timely delivery of mail services for Medicare, Social Security checks and vital medications. Additionally, our business community relies greatly on USPS to deliver time-sensitive materials and depends on the bulk mailing discounts that will be in jeopardy under the proposed plan."

"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel," airs every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KGUN-9. This week's scheduled guests include National Republican Committeeman Bruce Ash and Arizona Education Network President Ann-Eve Pedersen.