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An open letter to Rep. Chris Gibson from The River Reporter staff

September 25, 2013

Dear Representative Gibson,

We are writing because of the harm our business and other businesses in Sullivan County are suffering from the consolidation of the U.S. Postal Service’s sorting center in Newburgh, NY into the Albany sorting center.

Our weekly newspaper, The River Reporter, is not reaching our subscribers on time because this bulk mail, previously sorted in Newburgh, now must go to Albany to be sorted. To explain: once printed, the paper still goes to Newburgh, where it is checked for accurate postage; then the papers sit all day until the evening truck to Albany. Thus a whole day is lost before sorting begins.

Two weeks ago not one of our New York State subscribers received his/her newspaper on time, and the papers were not just one day late, but two or more days late. Our subscribers, who were accustomed to receiving their newspapers on Thursday, were forced to wait until Saturday delivery, and they complained loudly.

Last week, we worked with USPS to bypass Albany by delivering some sacks of newspapers ourselves to a dozen local post offices. Sadly, we do not have the resources to deliver to all local post offices, and so about half of our NYS subscribers again received their newspapers late.

The USPS calls this “consolidation,” but really that’s a euphemism; for our purposes the Mid-Hudson sorting facility is being closed, and our mail—mailed in Sullivan County and destined for Sullivan County—has to make the long round-trip to Albany.

This delay is a terrible situation for a newspaper, where old news is not what people pay for. It is terrible for any small business that fights to maintain a slim profit margin, yet must rely on an increasingly unreliable delivery system to get its product to its customers. We worry that this situation will cost us precious business that our company needs to survive and for us to earn our livelihoods.

We know that some in Congress may want to kill off the post office as a dinosaur that’s struggling to compete in a digital world, a world in which those who can afford it will turn to private companies for postal services. This is not an option for most small businesses and not an option for residential postal customers. We need the post office. We have no other alternatives.

Finally, hauling Sullivan County mail to Albany and then hauling it back again is not only inefficient and wastes delivery time, but is also a waste of gasoline. In a world that needs to work toward sustainability and reducing energy waste, this policy is folly.