It is good when public officials apologize for failures. It is good when they finally acknowledge the depth and the complexity of the problems they face. So, good for the postal service for the extremely overdue responses to the unending problems of late and non-existent mail delivery in south Oak Park and environs.
It took a U.S. congressman, Danny Davis, to call a public meeting a week ago Monday that forced a mid-level postal bureaucrat to come and take his lumps from a rightly frustrated group of customers. District Manager Peter Allen came and he mainly offered straight talk. Yes, the harsh winter has exacerbated delivery problems, he said. But the problem is of much longer-standing and its root is in the financial decline of the U.S. Postal Service.
Carriers are retiring and not being replaced. Replacement workers are being hired to fill some of the gap at low-ball wages. Like every public entity the post office has serious pension funding ills that are being amplified by excessive demands placed on it by Congress. And, of course, there is a lot less of the lucrative first class mail to be delivered than in the past.
So, it was good that Mr. Allen faced the public. But we are not optimistic that either delivery or communication will improve.