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The Postmaster General speaks out

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! The way Postmaster General John E. Potter sees it, he has less than six months to convince Congress and the nation of the urgent need to retool the U.S. Postal Service for the 21st century.

By fall, the Postal Service won't have enough money to make payroll, Potter predicts. But big customers, regulators, lawmakers and organized labor still have to be won over.

In his first extended interview with a major news organization in his nine-year tenure, Potter reminds The Federal Eye in Monday's Post that: "We're losing money, we're running out of cash. Ideally, what you'd like to do in the Postal Service is have access to about $5 [billion] to $6 billion in cash . . . and that's basically two payrolls. That's not a lot of breathing room."

Highlights from The Eye's Potter profile:

Potter knows he's asking Congress to tackle "a very difficult issue in a very tough year," and he conceded that lawmakers will probably adopt small changes over time instead of the massive overhaul he wants all at once. ...
Potter expects that unions will make concessions during negotiations this year, but William Burrus, president of the American Postal Workers Union, warned otherwise.
"I'm not going to make any concessions," Burrus said. "He's trying to deny services to the American public through the service reductions. All of this is designed to accelerate significant savings and become a delivery arm of major mailers."
Another skeptic is the Postal Regulatory Commission's chairman, Ruth Y. Goldway. Her panel doesn't plan to issue its nonbinding opinion until at least October, complicating Potter's preferred timeline. Goldway is not shy about voicing her fears that Potter is chipping away at the Postal Service's unique place in American society.
"His plan to move post offices into Wal-Mart is not my idea of an adequate replacement," she said. "He hasn't put a penny into modernizing, renovating or creating new and attractive post offices."

Read the full profile and leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Obama Administration Disaster Response: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will visit Nashville and Memphis on Monday to tour flood damage and meet with local officials. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited the region on Saturday. "Any attempt to compare the flood of 2010 to Katrina is flawed on many levels," The Tennessean's editorial board wrote on Sunday. "Forecasters and emergency officials knew the hurricane was coming; Tennessee's flood was unexpected. President Bush's attention was diverted by a vacation; Obama's by a terrorist bomb plot and a vast oil spill." Meanwhile -- the federal response to the Gulf Coast oil spill continues. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has dispatched the directors of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to the region -- just two of more than 380 Interior Department officials deployed to deal with the disaster. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said Sunday that the situation there may soon get significantly worse.

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama makes the personal touch part of his Afghan diplomacy, but tensions between Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal will be the focus of their Washington visit. Attorney General Eric Holder makes his Sunday morning talk show debut while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets the "60 Minutes" treatment. Former Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel dies. A conversation with State Department Counsel Cheryl D. Mills. The White House issues an ethics waiver for White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

New national service grads face dim job market: The government's rapidly expanding role in national service will reach a turning point this month as thousands of AmeriCorps members added with stimulus funds start to enter the workforce, and struggling non-profits try to replace them.

3 million overseas and military voters will be able to cast ballots on Internet this fall: The move comes as state and federal election officials are trying to find faster ways to handle the ballots of these voters, which often go uncounted in elections because of distance and unreliable mail service.

Gates: Cuts in Pentagon bureaucracy needed to help maintain military force: Under his plan, billions taken from the Pentagon's vast administrative bureaucracy would be used to pay for weapons modernization programs and the overall fighting force in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mortgage insurer turns to lenders to police brokers: The changes will put more of the onus on lenders to make sure there is no fraud or faulty underwriting in the loans they fund, and less on the agency.

White House sees no cyber attack on Wall Street: Regulators and market officials are scouring millions of trades to understand what caused last week's volatility.

Will nickel-free nickels make a dime's worth of difference?: It costs the federal government up to nine cents to mint a nickel and almost two cents to make a penny. So, in addition to overhauling Big Finance, President Barack Obama wants to tinker with America's small change.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 9, 2010; 6:06 PM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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The Postal Worker's Union should be the first public employee's union to undergo a massive adjustment in wages and benefits. Mr. Burris of the Union doesn't want to make concessions? Congress should make the concessions for him. The Postal Worker's Union has bankrupted the Post Office, our Post Office. The employees cost too much in wages and benefits to allow the Post Office to continue to operate. Either the Union bows to concessions or it should be dissolved.

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 10, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

If I have to give up Saturday delivery. I would like to suggest a money saving idea for the Post Office.
Monday I get junk mail. Tuesday I get some real mail. Wednesday the junk mail again, this time ads from the local newspaper. So many ads it is hard to gather the real mail from the mess in the box. Thursday again we get some real mail. Friday a little junk mail and maybe some real mail. Saturday is junk mail again.
My suggestion is that, because most days we get junk mail, place large recycle trash cans near every set of mailboxes. The Post Office can collect the junk mail for recycling.

Posted by: meamby | May 10, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey bobbo2,
On May 3rd, 1933 Hitler took over the unions and murdered the union reps. The next day everyone worked for the Nazi Government. The Nazi Government told you where, when and how much you made. If you complained your union rep were the ss. So let’s not go there Adolf. The problem is mismanagement by the management. They have a union as well. Management’s union president stated as well that eliminating a day of service is a bad idea. It’s time to cut the fat from the top down to save the Postal Service. Fire the privatizing Potter and don’t replace him and his 47 VP’s. Let the Postal Rate Commission run the show. At least the PRC is listening to WE THE PEOPLE.

Posted by: firepotter | May 12, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

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