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Postal Service to shut Tucson mail sorting center

Tucson's mail processing center at the city's Cherrybell post office will be closed, the U.S. Postal Service said Thursday.

No timeline was announced for the move to close the center, which sorts mail for all of Southern Arizona. Operations will be transferred to Phoenix, said a USPS official.

The closure is opposed by many local politicians, who point to increased service times, more than 300 lost jobs and a negative impact on voting by mail.

"This closure is unfair," said U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva.

"This plan will economically devastate the good people who work at the center and the wider Southern Arizona community. There has apparently been no consideration of the fact that local and regional economic losses will offset any savings the closure might produce," he said in a Thursday news release.

"Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable," USPS COO Megan Brennan said in a news release.

"The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure," she said.

Mail delivery times will increase by several days if the sorting center is closed, said City Councilman Richard Fimbres.

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"Costs to mail packages, letters or otherwise would rise. Social Security checks and other similar financial measures would be delayed. Prescriptions would be delayed. Government costs to mail their various items would increase," he said in a news release Thursday.

Fimbres urged those opposed to the closure to sign an online petition addressed to the Postal Service.

Mail-in balloting "would be severely affected," he said:

The Pima County Recorder has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice on this proposal, since it would disenfranchise the voting population, especially those using vote-by-mail, which is prevalent in Arizona. The Phoenix postmaster has admitted that the Phoenix Processing Center cannot handle all the vote-by-mail for the state and city elections.

Grijalva signed a letter earlier this month, along with 110 other congressmen, calling for a moratorium on postal center closures pending a review of the methodology USPS is using to determine which branches to close. 

City Councilwoman Regina Romeo said she "vehemently objects" to the move, calling it "ill-considered."

"Tucson is a city of nearly 500,000 residents, and part of a greater metropolitan area of nearly one million, with Southern Arizona residents in communities spanning hundreds of miles across the state being severely affected by these dramatic service cuts," she said.

"A metropolitan area of our size and scope deserves the services appropriate for a community of our population, and the removal of the Cherrybell distribution station would demonstrate an absolute disservice to the taxpayers in our region," Romero said in a press release.

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3 comments on this story

Feb 25, 2012, 12:40 am
-0 +1

at the December meeting they actually did seem to make a viable argument for saving in fuel costs.  It had something to do with mail being transported from Denver to Tucson, now it will just go to Phoenix.  So between Tucson and Phoenix there obviously won’t be any fuel savings, but in a bigger picture there might be.
more of the money-saving tactics involves cutting service.  here’s the slide show they used: http://about.usps.com/streamlining-operations/public-meeting-presentation-tucson-12-28-11.pdf
this will be terrible for many local businesses, like printers, who rely on the bulk discounts that come with a local sorting center.  non-profits too.
i’ll be damned if my mail is going to be postmarked PHOENIX
it will probably take an act of congress to stop this.

p.s. the optical readers we use for voting are prone to tampering so it doesn’t matter much if ballots are mailed or not.

Feb 24, 2012, 9:13 am
-0 +2

You bring up a viable point; shutting down our sorting center and consolidating it with another will no doubt bring more cost than benefit…Saving money?  What about this will save money?  Not to mention the 300 or so employees who are about to be disenfranchised.  If there is truly just not enough money to keep our mail sorting center up and running, where will the money come from the hire, train, and pay the new employees who will have to sort Tucson-area mail? And with fuel prices on the up and up, is it really going to be effective or affordable to consolidate?  @Bret Linden

Feb 23, 2012, 4:40 pm
-0 +1

I am feeling half-sick, half-confused. Grijalva, Fimbres, and Romero are all making sense on an issue…I’m starting to entertain the notion that this article may be a work of fiction because any of those three RARELY do the right thing, especially where the greater good of the Tucson community is involved.

Concerning the mail-in balloting, I have no pity. For every person who has a legitimate need for mail-in balloting, there are probably 10 using it out of sheer laziness. All it does is open us up for voter fraud…much of which keeps the three aforementioned people in office.

But, about this issue….USPS keeps trying to sell to me that this will save them money. I’m just not seeing it. Mail needs to be sorted, the same amount of mail will take the same amount of man-hours to sort, so in that respect it really doesn’t matter where it’s done, here or in Phoenix. Take away the Tucson jobs, move the mail to Phoenix, and you’ll just have to hire more people in Phoenix to handle the additional workload. Hiring and training new people costs money. And, increased distance means increased fuel costs, and more man-hours to drive the trucks longer distances. So, again, I am just not getting where the savings come in.

Grijalva signed a letter earlier this month, along with 110 other congressmen, calling for a moratorium on postal center closures pending a review of the methodology USPS is using to determine which branches to close.

For the first time since he’s taken office, I actually want to see something Grijalva is calling for come to fruition. I would be very interested to read the review of the USPS’s logic in determining this is actually a money-saving move.

Regular readers of my comments will know I was saying during the short-notice forum held right after Christmas to discuss this issue that the USPS was just going to do whatever it wanted to do, and the public meeting was just for show. And, while I appreciate Fimbres’ call for signing an online petition…none of the decision-makers at the USPS are even going to look at it, let alone care about what it says. From the start they were just going to do whatever it is they wanted to do. They really don’t have to answer to anyone. That pretty much gives them impunity.

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