Post offices in Niobe and Dayton, which are set to be closed by the Postal Service, could be retained if Congress provides the agency what amounts to an $11 billion bailout.
But the reprieve will be only temporary unless the Postal Service finds ways to balance its bottom line.
The Senate approved an $11 billion infusion of cash last week, by a 62-37 vote. The legislation, sponsored by our own Sen. Charles Schumer, also bans the Post Service for now from making changes such as five day delivery and a switch to "neighborhood group-boxes" instead of door-to-door delivery.
Says Schumer, "Hundreds of thousands of upstate seniors and businesses rely on rural post offices and door-to-door delivery in every corner of the state. We need to make major reforms to the Postal Service to protect the vital service it provides, but saving the post office while shutting down key post offices and moving delivery further from people's homes makes no sense at all.
''This legislation would put a two-year moratorium on closures, and ensure that the post office keeps delivering mail right to the mailbox or doorstep. We need to save where we can, but cutting out incredibly important post offices defeats the point when it comes to saving the postal service,'' he said.
If approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Barack Obama, the measure will postpone closings of about 3,700 post offices and 252 mail sorting facilities. But, as we all understand, providing the $11 billion will merely delay cutbacks that are inevitable unless the Postal Service finds and implements basic reforms.
At present, Postal Service officials seem to have no long-range plan to modernize the agency beyond reducing services. By that we mean the Postal Service continues to operate under a 20th-century model, with little recognition of how to deal with competition from electronic message delivery and efficient private-sector package shippers.
Until and unless that riddle is solved, the Postal Service will continue to hemorrhage money - and actions such as post office closings will remain on the table.