“Berkeley’s Main Post Office building belongs to the people.”

Dear Berkeley Mayor and City Council,

We of Berkeley Post Office Defense (BPOD) are grateful to the City of Berkeley and its pro bono legal representative attorney Tony Rossmann, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for suing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over USPS’ ongoing attempt to sell Berkeley’s Main Post Office building and relocate its services against the will of the community.  We are grateful, too, to Save the Berkeley Post Office and the National Post Office Collaborate for helping to set the suit in motion and for organizing the public meeting February 19, 2015 that shared information about it with the community.

At that meeting, Mr. Rossmann stated that the City’s position is that the sale of the Post Office should be stopped, a position we share entirely.  He also stated, however, that if necessary, the City might be open to negotiating an alternative whereby the building would be sold and space leased back to USPS for provision of some postal services.  We are writing to make it clear that we consider this latter alternative unacceptable.

We understand that this sale-and-leaseback-for-services option could avert some of the most grievous local damage the proposed sale and relocation threaten, in terms of residents’ access to postal services and to our Post Office’s public art, as well as to the overall form and function of our downtown.   And we understand that these may seem like the aspects of this issue most directly within the City government’s purview.  However, the City of Berkeley has never shied away from advocating on behalf of its residents indirectly as well, as when it has condemned federal policies in regard to nuclear energy and oil shipments, and those which divert resources needed here to violence abroad.

The present issue requires similar advocacy:  the City is fully aware that USPS’ efforts to sell historic downtown Post Offices and to privatize our postal services are corrupt, fraudulent, ideologically driven and illegitimate; and it has, to its immense credit, hitherto stalwartly opposed them.  USPS’ truculent refusal over two years now to take up the City’s offer of help to find tenants who could use underused parts of the building and so help pay for its upkeep has betrayed USPS’ dishonesty in this matter, and cannot be allowed to produce an argument that a sale must be conceded in order to avoid an unsound and underused building in our City’s center.

Berkeley’s Main Post Office building and historic Post Offices around the country were paid for by the people, belong to the people, and are not for sale. The people need the public postal services they have historically provided as well as new ones they could provide, such as internet access and public banking.  That is the position of the courageous physical defense of our Post Office and the opposition to Staples’ provision of postal services, sustained for the better part of a year now by First They Came for the Homeless with the support of Berkeley Post Office Defense and others in the community.  And it is the position we expect the City of Berkeley to continue to insist on.

With gratitude for your continued support and effort on this issue,

Yours truly,

Berkeley Post Office Defense.

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