U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy appeared at the first U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors meeting since President Biden's appointees were seated Friday, and got an earful from at least one of those members. That was in the public meeting, on Thursday they had a private discussion, the contents of which haven't been leaked yet. But I sure hope that this issue came up: "DeJoy maintains financial ties to former company as USPS awards it new $120 million contract."
DeJoy's former company, the contractor XPO Logistics, will get that $120 million over the next five years and DeJoy could realize as much as $23.7 million from the company in the next decade. DeJoy and his family foundation, as well companies he controls, have divested somewhere between $65 million and $156 million in XPO shares, filings and tax documents show. But his family businesses still have ties to XPO in the form of four office buildings in North Carolina that they lease to the company. That's where DeJoy will get those millions from in lease payments.
The arrangement, amazingly, was cleared by ethics officials the Postal Service according to a previously unknown inspector general report requested by lawmakers. He filed all the right paperwork, according to the IG. That doesn't mean there's anything that doesn't stink about this. (DeJoy, however, remains under investigation by the FBI for his political contributions and company activities involving XPO.)
"There's no question he's continuing to profit from a Postal Service contractor," Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Washington Post. "He can comply with these technical legal requirements … but it does create an appearance issue about whether it's in his financial interest to continue to make policy that would benefit contractors like XPO." That includes policies that shift operations at key sorting and distribution facilities in two locations—Atlanta and Washington, D.C.—to XPO. It isn't just raising concerns from good government watchdogs.
Dena Briscoe, president of the American Postal Workers Union branch for Washington and Southern Maryland, is livid on behalf of her members. She said the decision to contract out this work is a "slap in the face" to postal workers. "This is the work that they've been doing for years and years and years," she said, "and you're going to segregate it away from them, put in another building, give it to a company that previously had a [top executive] that is now our postmaster general. A lot of our members are taking offense to that."
There's a lot that DeJoy is doing that has postal workers angry, including his plans to undercut their primary job—delivering the mail on time. That's what has one new Board of Governors appointee very unhappy. Ronald Stroman, himself a former deputy postmaster general, blasted DeJoy's 10-year plan to hike postal costs to the consumer while slowing down deliveries in Friday's public meeting. He said the plan is "strategically ill-conceived, creates dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return, and doesn't meet our responsibility as an essential part of America's critical infrastructure."
Stroman continued, saying "There is no compelling financial reason to make this change. […] The relatively minor savings associated with changing service standards, even if achieved, will have no significant impact on the Postal Service’s financial future." The Postal Regulatory Commission determine that as well, which determined that DeJoy's plans to slow delivery on almost half of all first-class mail won't provide "much improvement, if any" to the agency's finances, nor result in the agency achieving its on-time delivery goals.
Stroman also accused not just DeJoy, but also the previous board members of abandoning customers who are both most loyal to and dependent on the Postal Service—seniors, low-households and small businesses. He also called out significant regional slowdowns forecast for Florida, Texas, Maine, California and central regions of the country.
Former American Postal Workers Union General Counsel Anton Hajjar, another Biden appointee, was less pointed in his criticisms, but said he is also concerned that the savings in DeJoy's plans to end the use of air carriers to move mail and slow down delivery haven't been "quantified" and he has an issue with just how unpopular the proposed service changes are, particularly in light of the Regulatory Commission's push back. "It seems to me that the Postal Service proposal sort of squeaked through the regulatory process," Hajjar said. "I ask why this change needs to be implemented now. Why not wait until management implements the impressively innovative changes the [Deliver for America] plan, and see what can be achieved?"
Ron Bloom, the chair of the board of governors and Trump's only Democratic appointee, is sticking by DeJoy and this plan for who knows what reasons. "We do not and will not always agree," Bloom said, but insists everyone "has the best interest of the Postal Service at heart." He defended DeJoy's 10-year plan, saying it "further embeds the Postal Service as a critical part of this nation's infrastructure, providing reliable and affordable mail and package delivery to 161 million American households six and seven days a week."
With Bloom backing DeJoy, there's not much hope of stopping DeJoy from deploying his changes—or the preferred option of firing him and ridding the agency of his corrupt presence. However, there's still a lawsuit from 21 states, two cities, a county, and the District of Columbia to stop the slow downs. That suit was filed at the end of June.
Published with permission of Daily Kos