Opinion: Just so you know…
Nancy Simpson/The Madera Tribune
Newsstands sit at the Madera Post Office, sans The Madera Tribune’s.
A few days ago, I received a phone call from someone at the U. S. Post Office in Madera. This postal employee had been asked by the postmaster to call me and have us remove our newspaper rack from in front of the post office. I was curious as to the reason, and so I asked, “Why?”
He proceeded to explain that newspapers have political content and advertising (duh!), and then he said something about a lawsuit. I wasn’t sure he even knew the answer to my question, but it was clear to me that his boss (the postmaster) had tasked him with the uncomfortable job of calling me to inform me we had to remove the newspaper rack that was the most profitable rack we have in Madera.
Before he ended the conversation, he assured me that the post office would still continue to deliver our papers. (I thought, of course you will. We PAY for that service, and you are getting ready to increase our rates.) I wondered if, somehow, the post office considered that these little racks in front of their building were competition for them.
Last year, The Madera Tribune paid more than $20,000 for the privilege of having the U.S. Postal Service be the exclusive deliverer of our precious product.
Before this week, there were four newspaper racks in front of our Madera post office, all of them were together on top of one pedestal — the San Francisco Chronicle, The Madera Tribune, USA Today, and the Fresno Bee. On Monday, our rack guy, Carlos, removed The Madera Tribune’s rack, the best maintained one of the bunch. Carlos had explained to me that the only part of this set that belongs to us is the Tribune rack itself. The other machines and the pedestal belong to someone else.
After the call I received from the post office, I could stand it no longer. I had to do a little research to find out why we were asked to remove our newspaper vending machine. I couldn’t imagine they had some bone to pick with us. We have never had any problems, other than occasional mis-deliveries of papers. We have a good relationship with the post office, and we have always worked well together.
So, I went to our best source of reputable information, the Internet. I Googled several different requests for information, and could find nothing related to this issue. There were lots of folks unhappy with the post office for various reasons, including increased rates, mis-delivery problems, and, of course, there was that widely publicized thing about the controversial voting methods, but I had a tough time finding anything about the U.S. Postal Service wanting newspaper racks removed from their property.
Then, WHAM! I found it! It was on the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) website. They publish law online for free at https://www.law.cornell.edu. It is a service provided to help all of us understand the law.
The Postal Service regulations are found in Title 39, and our little rack issue is found in Chapter 1, Subchapter D, Part 232 – Conduct on Postal Property, and in Section 232.1 (h)(1) (or you can just Google it by searching “Conduct on postal property” and you will find it without going through all the legalese hoopla).
“Soliciting alms and contributions, campaigning for election to any public office, collecting private debts, soliciting and vending for commercial purposes (including, but not limited to, the vending of newspapers and other publications), displaying or distributing commercial advertising, collecting signatures on petitions… (except as otherwise authorized by Postal Service regulations), are prohibited.”
There, you have it! It looks like the post office has turned a blind eye to these activities for a while, and now that the heat seems to be turned up everywhere, now they have decided they need for us to play by the rules, even if it’s not really good for everyone.
Well, I guess we don’t always have to like the rules, but if it is the law, we must abide by it.
Please don’t look to purchase our single-copy newspapers at the U.S. Postal Service. There are racks in many other places in Madera and Chowchilla. The best way to get the paper, at the best deal is to be a subscriber. For the printed edition, delivered to your mailbox (yes, by the postal service) it is only $59 per year, for two days a week, and that price can also include the digital edition. For the digital only edition, it is only $48 per year, and that includes special sections.
We thank you for your support of The Madera Tribune. We love our community, and we love you.
— My love to all,
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“To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them.”
— Proverbs 28:4