In May, 2020, former POTUS Donald Trump had Louis Dejoy, a Republican fundraiser and businessman, appointed as Postmaster General of the U.S. Post Office. Besides being a controversial choice in-and-of-itself, and leading to a 2-year long (and counting) robust public displeasure with Dejoy’s decisions that reduced equipment, post offices , workers, and more recently, delivery times, Mr. Dejoy remains at the helm of the Post Office under the Biden administration. The principal question is why? A little background may help explain.
Since its official establishment back in 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general of the U.S., the postal service has been recognized as the most permanent, reliable, and venerable family member of the American government and as an authentic representative of real Americana. As part of its life blood, the U.S. Post Office Service was created with the legal obligation, ”to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform prices and quality.”
The U.S. Postal Service was specifically authorized in the U.S. Constitution, and was designated as a unique and permanent part of the U.S. government through the 1792 passage of the Postal Service Act (the year the U.S. government actually started, although scheduled for 1789).
Two centuries later, situational political wrangling and a nationwide strike by postal workers led to the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which eliminated the Post Office’s position as a Cabinet-level entity, and made the U.S. Postal Service an independent federal government agency or corporation answerable to a presidentially-appointed Board of Governors and the Postmaster General connected to that Board.
Though for much of its lifespan the U.S. Post Office did enjoy independent funding from designated tax subsidies and other monies, Congress has steadily reduced that kind of financial largess since the 1980’s, and the Post Office, subsequently, has continually been in financial distress for the last two decades. The U.S. Postal Service, no matter who was in charge, has continually operated at a major financial loss.
As part of a June 2018 governmental reorganization plan, the Trump administration proposed turning USPS into “a private postal operator” which could save costs through measures like delivering mail fewer days per week, or delivering to central locations instead of door to door. Serving customers better was never considered in the reorganization talks. The bipartisan opposition to Trump’s ideas was thunderous.
In spite of that response, through his appointment of six of the nine members of the Postal Board, Trump in May 2020, appointed a loyalist businessman—Louis DeJoy— as the new Postmaster General. It did not matter to Trump that DeJoy became the first postmaster in the 20th century who had no prior experience within the United States Postal Service.
Joe Biden, as the new POTUS, has had no success unseating DeJoy, in spite of the decisions DeJoy has made that have infuriated the public. Based on the current law, only a majority of the Postal Board can fire the Postmaster General, and Biden has only been able to appoint three of the nine members of that body. Board members have 7-year terms and there aren’t three of the remaining board members whose time is up. The only other way for Mr. Biden to get rid of DeJoy is to dismiss the entire Board of Directors for cause, not just for political convenience.
Will the majority of U.S. citizens get satisfaction soon with the dismissal of DeJoy? There is a new 10-year reorganization plan just approved by DeJoy and the Board. Mr. Biden adamantly does not agree with that plan, while the board majority does. Mr. Biden, with congressional backing, may very soon dismiss the entirety of the current board because of this fundamental disagreement.
We can only watch, hope and write to our congress persons. DeJoy should be sent home. His service for the Post Office is not in the best interests of the majority of the American public.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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