RALLY & ACTION SATURDAY Nov 1: The Sale of Our Post Offices – A Quick Review

RALLY & ACTION: 10:30 AM SAT, NOV 1 AT THE POST OFFICE

The Sale of Our Post Offices – A Quick Review

• After a moratorium of sorts on the sale of historic Post Offices for almost a year…

o The Bronx Post Office was sold in September, 2014
o The Somerville, MA Post Office was sold in early October
o The Richmond, VA Post Office was put up for sale
o On 10/24/14 the USPS said the Berkeley Post Office is “under contract” to be sold.

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Berkeley Post Office Defense: A Timeline.

July 26, 1775: Post Office founded by Continental Congress.
1914: Downtown Berkeley Post Office built.
1930’s: New Deal artwork commissioned and installed.

2012

  • June: USPS announces services at the Downtown Post Office will be “relocated” and the building ultimately sold.
  • July: First rally to save the Post Office is held on the Post Office steps.
  • Sept 13: Meeting between USPS and City Council. First big crowd in opposition to sale fills Council chamber. USPS rep is booed.
  • Nov 14: Rally on steps of Post Office. Councilperson Max Anderson calls proposed sale “a slap in the face for the people of Berkeley.”
  • Dec: March to Blum Capital and Feinstein’s Office in SF.

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Berkeley Post Office “Under Contract” To Be Sold!

Please read the full report here for complete information as far as we know it to date and references:

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Confirming rumors buzzing around City Hall, the U.S. Postal Service told this newspaper Friday that the historic downtown Berkeley Post Office is “under contract but not yet sold.”

From the Berkeley Daily Planet:

The Berkeley City Council has received a letter from City Attorney Zach Cowan saying that he believes that the Berkeley Post Office might already been sold or at least the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in contract with a potential buyer. Pursuant to previous authorization from the Council, the city of Berkeley has authorized attorney Antonio Rossmann to file a lawsuit, hoping to prevent the sale. 

100 Days of Occupation!

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The sidewalk outside of Staples in Berkeley has been Occupied now for over 100 days. As First They Came For the Homeless, the SF Occupier group that organized the effort posted recently on their Facebook.

Over 100 days and counting. The siege of staples in Berkeley continues. Still no valid complaints about our occupation. We number between 15 and 20 nightly split between 2 groups. The main info table is in the front and the tent city is in the back.

The group would love to have more community support – 100 days is a long time to be sitting in one place! Comraderie, food and soft drink are most welcome! Come by and visit them pretty much any reasonable hour at Shattuck and Durant in downtown Berkeley, just two or three blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART.

The Staples protest and occupation is in support of the nationwide Staples boycott that began in Berkeley some 10 months ago when Berkeley Post Office Defenders first rallied in front of Staples and was adopted by the American Postal Workers Union, spreading it across the country with their Stop Staples campaign. It is there jobs at stake should the Post Office continue to install miniature Post Offices staffed by low-wage, non-union Staples employees within those emporiums.

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14 Months, 1 Occupation, 1 Petition and 1 Ballot Initiative Later, It’s Done: We (And Many Others) Rezoned the Post Office.

One year and two months after the idea was first floated, legislation to rezone Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center, including the US Post Office property at 2000 Allston Way, became law last night.

Why is this of interest to anyone outside of Berkeley? Because the new zoning ordinance is part of a long and bitter national struggle against the selling off of our public commons and the privatization of the Post Office.

Read the entire article, explaining the history and implications of the new ordinance, as posted to Daily Kos.

For background, see those Damned Hippies. They’re Saving the Post Office.

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Yes on Measure R – Which Includes the Zoning Overlay for the Post Office – Comes Out in Full Regalia for Solano Stroll.

Solano Stroll is a yearly street fair in North Berkeley and Albany. Happening close to the election, it attracts political action groups, and this year was no exception.

The ‘Yes on Berkeley Measure R‘ Committee, which includes members from Berkeley Post Office Defenders and Save the Berkeley Post Office, put on quite the show, marching down Solano with a stiltwalker, streamers, umbrellas and green and white signs, passing out flyers supporting Measure R along the way.

Sallie Nelson, BPOD and SBPO veteran, organized the entire march.

JP Massar is riding shotgun in the car in the first picture, Harvey is driving with the ‘Stop Staples’ T-Shirt, and the stiltwalker to the rear. Sharon is in the right front in the 2nd picture, with a ‘Save Our Public Post Office’ sign in the background. There was also a booth, as you can see in last picture below, up Solano at the old Oak Theatre, masterfully put together by Sophie Hahn (not pictured), one of the measure’s proponents.

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Fourteen Months Later – Berkeley City Council Passes the Zoning Overlay Ordinance!

On September 9th, 2014, approximately fourteen months since the idea of a zoning restriction was proposed, The Berkeley City Council passed (by consent, unanimously) the Civic Center Zoning Overlay Ordinance, restricting the Civic Center area, including the Downtown Post Office, to civic uses.

In other words: Ding!

(It’s not quite soup yet; it still needs a second reading at their next meeting)

Also, again by consent, the resolution supporting the boycott of Staples was passed.

Susan Hammer of the APWU spoke in support of that resolution and got a big round of applause.

No one spoke in opposition to either motion.

Thanks go to Greg Jan, who came up with the idea those fourteen months ago; to those who planned and carried out the initial Post Office Occupation, drawing national attention to the fight to Save the Berkeley Post Office, to everyone who gathered petition signatures directed at the Mayor back in January; to those who spoke at City Council meetings and public hearings for almost two years now; and to those who gathered petition signatures for the Green Downtown Initiative (which includes the Zoning Ordinance). Getting that initiative on the ballot ultimately forced the City Council’s hand, at least those on it who had betrayed us in March by burying the ordinance in committee.

The USPS can still sell the Post Office; this just makes it harder for them and less attractive for potential buyers. There is no indication as yet that they will stop being pig-headed about wanting to sell it, as the example of the recent sale of the Bronx Post Office indicates.

The fight will continue until the privatization of our public commons ceases. But we can say – on this day – we won!
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