USPS governors get troubling financial news, praise new PMG; California all-mail election angers Trump
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
Two days after selecting a new postmaster general, the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors got renewed warnings of continued financial gloom but voiced high hopes for the incoming new leader of the financially troubled federal agency.
The May 8 telephone meeting reinforced predictions that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic had caused mail volume to plummet sharply. As retiring Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan put it, “Our business will suffer potentially direct consequences for the remainder of the year.”
Joseph Corbett, chief financial officer of the USPS, repeated the agency’s latest warnings to Congress, saying, “Our ability to continue to serve the nation will require substantial funding from the federal government or other sources.”
The agency’s financial results for the first half of the current fiscal year, which were announced at the meeting, did not show the full impact of the COVID-19 virus, officials said.
Thanks to massive mailings for the federal census, revenues for first-class mail actually increased by $89 million in the second quarter ended March 31, the agency said. Overall first-class mailings dropped by 29 million pieces compared to the same quarter last year.
Marketing mail showed a sharper drop, falling by $94 million or 2.5 percent, on a volume decline of 604 million pieces, or 3.4 percent.
Parcels increased by 7.1 percent in the quarter, a volume that isn’t likely to be sustained, officials said.
Declines are likely to increase in the second half of the year as the full impact of the virus is felt, they said.
Overall revenues for the quarter, at $17.8 billion, were slightly higher than the $17.5 billion for the same period of 2019.
For the first half of the fiscal year, revenues were $37.2 billion, about the same as the previous year.
The losses were $4.5 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2020, almost double the $2.1 billion loss for the same period in 2019.
For the first half of the year, the Postal Service lost $5.3 billion compared to $3.6 billion in the first half of 2019.
What lies ahead for incoming Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who takes office June 15, is a rocky second half of the year.
The agency disclosed in a financial filing that DeJoy, a North Carolina business executive and major Republican Party fundraiser, will be paid $303,960 a year.
Governor John M. Barger, a member of the board of governors who headed a committee that oversaw the search for Brennan’s replacement, voiced concern over what he called “surprisingly inaccurate” news accounts of DeJoy’s selection.
Barger said news media failed to note DeJoy’s role in transforming a small transportation company into a national logistics firm and his role as a major supplier of logistics services to the USPS.
DeJoy is “a man of integrity and service” who is well qualified to lead the agency, Barger said.
The four members of the board of governors, who participated in the meeting, also voiced high praise for Brennan. She had announced her planned retirement in October 2019 but remained in office to give the board more time to select her successor.
All-mail election in California
President Donald Trump was furious May 9 after learning that California is becoming the first state to make the November elections an all-mail event.
The president, who has been angry over balloting by mail, was upset at California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision.
The governor said his decision was caused by “concern and anxiety” over the prospect of people lining up at the polls during a pandemic.
Trump was also upset over a voting booth being opened in a Democratic area of California.
“They are trying to steal another election,” he said in a tweet. “It’s all rigged out there.”
“These votes must not count. SCAM!” Trump said.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have generally supported the president’s attack on conducting elections by mail, although Republicans in some regions support the practice. Trump himself voted by mail in a recent Florida primary.
The Postal Service has supported efforts to conduct elections by mail. The views of incoming postmaster general DeJoy are not known.
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