First-class frustration


Toledo's mail-processing center on South St. Clair Street has gotten a temporary reprieve from closure, as have five city post offices. The U.S. Postal Service, though, remains mired in red ink. And it is unclear whether Congress has the fortitude to do anything about it.

The Toledo facility is one of 252 mail hubs slated for closure. The Manhattan Boulevard, Point Place, Old West End, East Toledo, and Dorr Street post offices are among 3,700 satellite branches the government also plans to close. At stake are 100,000 jobs nationally -- 400 of them at the local processing center -- and speedy service on all mail delivery.

The postal service, an independent government agency that does not receive tax revenue, said it will take comments about its plan for the mail-processing facility Dec. 29 during a two-hour hearing that begins at 7 p.m. in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

Postal officials appeared ready at first to move forward with $6.5 billion in cuts in January. It now will wait until mid-May to see whether legislation will be passed to help it stave off bankruptcy.

Congress would be wise to do that. While there are additional modes of delivery today -- some more efficient -- not everyone has immediate access to a computer or is savvy enough to text messages, pay bills, or bank online. And private delivery of traditional mail and packages is not always as convenient as the postal service.

These are facts, not sentimental longings for the past. Millions of Americans still depend on traditional U.S. mail. Everything from lifestyles to credit ratings could suffer if there are fewer mail-processing centers and post offices to maintain the level of services that have existed for decades. Slower delivery times can hardly be viewed as progress.

Congress has allowed the situation to deteriorate so much that the Postal Service had to delay a $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury and is expected to lose a record $14.1 billion next year.

It's time for Congress to help end the postal service's six-year downward spiral. A phase-down of mail delivery should come only when the time's ready and a plan's in place, not as a knee-jerk response to a crisis that Congress itself has condoned.