Ruth Goldway, chair of the Postal Regulatory Commission, opened today's meeting deep in the bowels of Dallas City Hall thusly: "We're hoping to get as much input as we can, from a wide cross-section" of people who care (or don't) about their Saturday delivery. The commission held its first hearing on this subject in Las Vegas, a place where we could debate the importance of what actual day of the week it is at any given time. Then they went to Sacramento, and now to Dallas.
The question is this:Should the PRC eliminate Saturday delivery of mail, with the exception of express mail and P.O. boxes? This isn't the first time this question has come up: It was raised in 1977 and throughout the 1980s until '83, when a law was passed that requires six- day delivery. This year, the P.O. will deliver 165 billion pieces of mail. Imagine how much more that would be if we couldn't get our pr0n on the internets.
There will be two panels. The first one features Phil Major, editor of the Wise County Messenger, who just opened the discussion with a plea for maintenance of six-day delivery, noting that many people who rely on the Wise County Messenger have little to no -- or generally crappy -- Internet service, so it's important the paper product continues to be delivered on Wednesday and Saturdays, not least because Texans turn into pumpkins when they don't get their Friday-night football scores.
"I believe it is important for the commission to understand that we community newspaper people are deeply involved in our towns .... We are the center for community news. No other medium can serve the role of local news providers as we do." And a pretty good joke, endearing the D.C. panel to him: "We understand D.C. has two favorite football teams, the Redskins and whoever's playing the Cowboys. Saturday mail includes our football scores."
Next, Roy Robinson, publisher of Graham Newspapers who also wants his Saturday delivery: "It is curious that equal attention is not focused on long-term retirement and health coverage costs," as well as facilities and other services. "We respectfully ask the commission to consider all cost-cutting measures," and that "removing Saturday delivery be the last option, not the first."
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Bruce Sherbet, head of Dallas County Elections, is up now, and he is also not too keen on this whole five-day delivery thing: "Voting is one of our most precious rights in this country, and anything that might negatively impact voters needs to be approached carefully." Ballots are sent out on Wednesdays, which means voters get them on Saturday. Monday is too late.
Says Sherbet: "You see the theme. The theme we have here is that we have very short time periods and we have to make sure our voters are not disenfranchised."
Pop quiz: What is the theme?
Suzanne Henderson, the Tarrant County Clerk, is ambivalentish: "The county clerks and recorders could adjust our work flow," however the burden of expedient filing would fall to attorneys, of whom Henderson has this view: "A lot of attorneys are slow to adjust to electronic filing," sticking stuff in the mail last thing Friday, which would create a big ole' fustercluck on Monday mornings for the Clerks of the World. (Sadly, not these clerks.)