By Greta Cobar
Talk of a possible sale of our historic Venice Post Office started in March 2011 and was followed by an unprecedented community unity in our efforts to keep it a public institution. Rallies, petitions, media attention and dozens of articles published in the Beachhead did not eventually stop the sale.
Movie producer Joel Silver bought the building in September 2012 and postal services were moved to the hole-in-the-wall annex that continues to operate as a post office.
In our efforts to save the Work Projects Administration building from going into private ownership, several Venice citizens petitioned the Postal Regulatory Committee (PRC) for review concerning the sale. The PRC’s response was that it lacks jurisdiction.
A lawsuit was filed in District Court in Washington D.C. in March 2012 by Elaine Mittleman challenging the PRC’s assertion of their lack of jurisdiction over post office sales. Created to monitor the actions of the United States Postal Service (USPS), the PRC was meant to be an advocate for the public and to ensure public’s access to postal services.
Mittleman appealed the decision to move postal services in Venice to the annex, arguing that closure of our historic post office would severely reduce or temporarily eliminate the availability of postal services to the community. The PRC dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
However, on August 29 2014 Mittleman filed a petition for rehearing in the D.C. Circuit Court, asking the PRC to file a response.
“It does not mean that the petition will be granted, but at least the Court wants to know what the PRC has to say in response,” Mittleman stated in an email message.
Edward Biberman’s Story of Venice mural that had adorned the wall of our historical post office was leased by the USPS to Silver for fifty years at no cost. The community has been struggling to get the USPS to lease the mural to a public institution, such as the Venice library, where the public would have access to it.
The so-called post office crisis is a manufactured crisis created to destroy a unionized government institution that delivers to all in favor of the private shipping companies that charge more and deliver to less.