By Greta Cobar
The sale of our post office has been suspended pending the outcome of the appeals filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Although initially David Williams, Vice President of Network Operations for US Post Office (USPS) in Washington D.C., stated that “there is no right to further administrative or judicial review” of USPS’s decision to sell the Venice post office, John Henning, Attorney at Law, successfully filed an appeal on behalf of Venice Stakeholders Association. Several others involved with the Coalition to Save the Post Office jumped on the wagon and filed additional successful appeals, which are now pending before the PRC.
Meanwhile a major law firm, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has agreed to take on the case pro bono. I am so happy to report that social activism, community involvement and small-town power are alive and well in Venice!
The neighbors came out with signs, public announcement speakers, lots to say and cake to share, but most importantly with a strong individual unwillingness to yield to the powers that be. Two very successful rallies were held, well attended by tens of Venetians, Bill Rosendahl and post office police officers.
Official letters opposing the sale were sent to the PRC by Janice Hahn, Bill Rosendahl and Linda Lucks in addition to the appeals filed by our community members. Amanda Seward, who was instrumental in saving Lincoln Place, has been volunteering her attorney services and has been a leading figure in the Coalition to Save the Post Office. Spearheaded by the Beachhead back in April, the Coalition is now stronger than ever, comprising Venetians from all walks of life and representing the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), the Venice Stakeholders Association, the Beachhead, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Venice Town Council, SPARC and the Venice Arts Council. If you are part of an organization that would like to join this extremely significant and promising fight, please contact the Beachhead.
Postage stamps illustrating the Edward Biberman mural housed inside the post office are now being printed thanks to Suzanne Zada, Executive Director of the Biberman Art Estate, who suggested that we use the post office itself to spread our message of preservation and public access to the historical building and the priceless mural. These post-office-approved, original and collectable stamps will add spark and interest to any Holiday card. Please contact the Beachhead if you are interested in buying these stamps and sending out cards and letters with the message “Save the Venice Post Office.”
Jeff Kaufman, director of the movie Brush with Life (which features the mural inside our post office and is about the artist who painted the mural, Edward Biberman) also attended Coalition meetings and donated several copies of the excellent film to our efforts. You can get your own DVD copy by donating $100 to the Coalition.
The effort to collect petition signatures is continuing and intensifying, just like all other aspects of this fight. If you did not sign the petition yet, you can do so on Fridays in front of the Post Office, at the VNC table at Friday’s Farmer’s Market, or online at change.org (search Venice Post Office). Well-attended public meetings of the Coalition are still taking place weekly as well. If you would like to tend the next one, please contact the Beachhead.
The five-member committee that makes up the PRC includes our long-time Venice resident and former mayor of Santa Monica Ruth Goldway. Although she stated her support towards our efforts to save our post office and made the effort to meet with the Coalition, she is forced to abstain from voting on this decision because of the very fact that she is a Venice resident.
Probably one of the least Republican communities in the country, Venice might have the fate of its post office in the hands of three Republicans, once again thanks to our Democratic President. When a Republican recently retired from the PRC and Obama had the chance to appoint a Democrat, he went ahead in true patriotic spirit and appointed a Republican, continuing his rivals’ party control of the PRC.
According to Bill Mitchell, long-time Venice resident, this is just another example of us being represented by individuals who do not represent us at all. If we had pure democracy, and Venetians were able to vote on the fate of their post office, there would be no problem at all.
Another thing to remember is that the post office crisis they are trying to sell us is nothing but a manufactured crisis behind a Republican-led effort to privatize everything, minimize government involvement and help for those less fortunate. The USPS is the only entity in the US that is required to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree benefits, all while the Office of the Inspector General determined that the USPS overpaid $75 billion into its pension fund. The US Treasury is demanding $5.5 billion per year for the health benefits of people who have not even been born yet, but refuses to return any of the $75 billion it owes the USPS. And that is the state of our current financial and banking situation in a nutshell.
Bottom line is, Venetians are not the ones to brainwash, step over and lie to; we are not the ones to succumb when faced with a challenge, but will rise to the occasion and intensify the fight instead. We have a strong tradition to live up to and still a great reputation to make for ourselves!
A video of the Nov. 5 rally to Save the Venice Post Office is on YouTube.com at http://bit.ly/rUnWxk