Postal service skewered for its poor performance during a bipartisan hearing in Philadelphia

Kim Strong
York Daily Record

In a congressional hearing in Philadelphia Wednesday, legislators publicly flogged the U.S. Postal Service for its poor performance in Pennsylvania for the last few years, with delayed, missing and stolen mail, staffing shortages, and crime against postal workers.

“We’ve heard horror stories from constituents that the U.S. mail is going unsorted and without enough workers to deliver it,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Lackawanna, Pike, Wayne, during a three-hour field hearing of the Subcommittee on Government Operations that included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA.

Among the concerns were delays in delivery of mail-in ballots during the last presidential election and how those issues will be addressed for the mid-term elections this year.

"Critically important, as we saw in the last election, was the protection of and speedy delivery of mail-in ballots," said U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, Berks.

During today's subcommittee hearing, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean reported widespread complaints by her constituents against the U.S. Postal Service.

According to U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, chairman of the subcommittee, the Postal Service senior staff started making "consequential" changes to mail delivery in 2020 and, as a result, "mail delivery service across the U.S. plummeted." 

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Postmaster General Louis DeJoy takes it on the chin

At the hearing, blame was frequently placed on Louis DeJoy, postmaster general since May 2020. He wasn't present at the meeting, but he has been under fire for his new directives, aimed at knocking down the agency's debts. A General Accountability Office report in 2021 found that the postal service lost $69 billion over the previous 11 fiscal years.

In 2021, more than 50 Democrats called for President Joe Biden to fire DeJoy and the members of the postal agency's governing board because of poor performance in delivery.

One of the controversial decisions DeJoy has made involved sidelining the agency's police officers, some of whom no longer can patrol beyond the post office itself.

Violence has "exploded" in the last two years, said Frank Albergo, national president for the Postal Police Officers Association. In a letter to DeJoy last year, Ivan D. Butts, who also spoke at the hearing, asked for a restoration of patrol and field operations to respond to increasing crime and homicides that endanger the mail and postal workers.

Last year, the Postal Inspection Service responded to more than 7,000 reports of violent crimes against postal employees, including threats, assaults and homicides. One of those homicides was in Pittsburgh. Louis Vignone was shot multiple times in Allegheny County while working his shift as a letter carrier. One of Vignone's neighbors was charged with the homicide.

Kim Strong can be reached at kstrong@gannett.com.