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Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 08/10/2011

A sentimental case against closing D.C. post offices


(JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES)

Today, Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras speaks up for the District’s neighborhood post offices: “Post offices aren’t simply depots for purchasing stamps or shipping off packages at Christmas time,” she writes. “They are critical cultural institutions that reflect America’s history and an important aspect of its daily life. There should be a national campaign to preserve them.”

Some background: The U.S. Postal Service is targeting 17 city post offices for closure, among 3,653 locations nationwide facing elimination as it tries to stanch its staggering losses. The USPS is on course to lose more than $8 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Gotta say, I was surprised to hear Barras — a stalwart voice against waste and inefficiency in our local government — make a sentimental argument for maintaining facilities that the federal government considers money pits. The USPS has pledged to maintain service levels by offering services at drug stores, libraries or other neighborhood locations.

I called Barras up this morning to push back a little on her notions, noting her hard-nosed reputation on government spending. She wasn’t having it: “I think post offices play a really important role in communities,” she said. “We have to be really careful how we we streamline.” She added that not everyone has access to computers to send e-mail, and, “If you’re going to close a post office, you can’t close all the post offices in a community. You just can’t do that.”

Great points all. But my perusal of the D.C. closure list shows that more than half are in federal facilities. And Barras writes that the Petworth location is in danger, but it’s not on the USPS list.

Still, Barras’s beloved Kalorama station and the nearby Temple Heights station are in danger, and I feel her pain. But if you’re going to maintain your lean-government bona fides, seems like it should matter if it’s worth it to the taxpayer to keep these facilities open.

Here are the D.C. locations on the chopping block:

• Benning, 3937 1/2 Minnesota Ave. NE, 20019

• Brightwood, 6323 Georgia Ave. NW, 20011

• Cannon, 25 Independence Ave. SE, 20515

• Dept. of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, 20250

• Ford, 441 2nd St. SW, 20515

• Frances Perkins, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, 20210

• Kalorama, 2300 18th St. NW , 20009

• Lamond-Riggs, 6200 North Capitol St. NW, 20011

• Longworth, 15 Independence Ave. SE, 20515

• Rayburn, 50 Independence Ave. SW, 20515

• Southwest, 45 L St. SW, 20024

• State Department, 2201 C St. NW, 20520

• Techworld, 800 K St. NW, 20001

• Temple Heights, 1921 Florida Ave. NW, 20009

• Twentieth Street, 2001 M St. NW, 20036

• U.S. Capitol, Room HT-1, 20515

• Walter Reed Finance, 6800 Georgia Ave. NW, 20012

By  |  11:14 AM ET, 08/10/2011

 
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