With a record of 17 wins and six losses, the Ridgway Lady Demons girls basketball season ended in Durango on Saturday after a 47 to 42 loss against Paonia in the 2A Region 3 Championship match. Photo by Bill Tiedje Read more...
|Todd: Postal Service deliver a blow||| Print ||
The U.S. Postal Service has approved a plan to give a sweetheart rate to national direct-mailer Valassis on postage rates to deliver what is commonly known as “junk mail.”
Amazingly, the USPS made this decision at the strong objection of an entire industry: the newspaper industry.
At risk to America’s embattled, ink-stained Fourth Estate are the inserts it carries, mostly in its Sunday newspapers but also in weekday direct mail programs mailed by daily newspapers.
Valassis approached the USPS and offered “an innovative approach to expand the use of Standard Mail,” according to the Postal Regulatory Commission in its decision to drop rates for Valassis and Valassis only.
Valassis now can court “new” freestanding inserts at a rate so low that newspapers cannot compete. And where will they find these “new” inserts? They’re sitting right there in your Sunday edition of the Denver Post, the Montrose Daily Press, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and hundreds of other corporate and privately owned newspapers around the country.
While this plan is projected to net the Postal Service approximately $15 million annually, it nowhere near puts a dent in the $8 billion annual losses USPS is projected to suffer.
Rep. Scott Tipton, with the support of 11 of his House colleagues, has sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa requesting a hearing on the Valassis negotiated agreement.
In the letter, members write:
“Many small advertisers are already operating on thin margins as a result of the most recent economic downturn and the emergence of digital news and advertising. We are concerned that this new NSA will cause significant harm to small advertisers and further erode the financial stability of the print industry.
As the Postal Service is facing billion dollar annual deficits and has defaulted on payments for retiree health benefits, now is not the time for a monopolistic deal that could actually result in less revenue for the USPS.”
Newspapers pump $50 million annually into the Postal Service. Yet, under this new contract, individual newspapers will have to lower the rates they charge current advertisers to match the reduced delivery rate Valassis will now be able to offer. As a result, newspapers estimate $1 billion in annual ad revenue losses. It doesn’t take a leap of logic to understand that this one move, designed solely to benefit Valassis and give USPS a false revenue stream, will end up costing the newspaper industry hundreds and hundreds of jobs.
Newspapers do not collectively set and negotiate rates for these inserts. Each corporation and company negotiates with each advertiser independently. So, for the Postal Service to call it a monopoly is a far reach.
Instead, the Postal Service, in rendering its decision to try to make the playing field level, has decided just to shift dollars from current customers and move them to one individual customer.
How will weakening hundreds of customers for the benefit of one customer make business sense? Especially when there may not be much net overall gain in the end?
The USPS said that others, including newspapers, can compete under these new rules, so it’s open to all. However, the wording is such that newspapers, even other direct mail firms, do not qualify for the restrictive terms set forth in the contract.
According to a PBS report in 2011, the postmaster general, Patrick Donahue, warned that the 200-year-old institution was on the brink of collapse. Mail volume was down 22 percent over the past five years and was expected to continue to wane due to stiff competition from carriers such as FedEx and UPS.
With employee health care costs in the billions of dollars, and little to no movement being made on Donahue’s proposals to stop Saturday mail delivery, to lay off 120,000 workers (one-fifth of its workforce) or close a proposed 3,700 local post offices, the Postal Service has instead decided to go hit the reset button on hundreds of its existing customers.
According to the PBS report, pre-funding retiree benefits has cost the Postal Service $21 billion over the past three years alone. What amounts to “shifting” of revenues to the tune of $15 million is not even a band-aid.
Congress has to approve the changes proposed by Donahue. The question then becomes: Save the Postal Service, or save constituents?
If this is the way the Postal Service wants to answer to its financial woes, then it’s headed down the wrong route. Some recent programs have been successful for the Postal Service, such as its flat rate box shipping and Every Door Direct Mail programs.
This decision, however, is just off base. Perhaps this is the move of a government-run entity that can make smoke-and-mirror moves without having to address the real issue. There’s no hurry to fix $8 billion in annual losses when the taxpayers will foot the bill.
In the House members’ letter, they summarized this contract:
“Small businesses create on average 7 out of every 10 new jobs and employ more than half of all Americans. In our current economy, the Postal Service should not be taking steps that could lead to further job losses and negative implications for small advertisers.”
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Final: Ridgway girls lose 47-42 to Paonia after a valiant 4th quarter comeback attempt.
Update: 45-42, Crozier hits 2 from the line.
Update: 52 seconds, 45-40 Paonia
Update: 2:19 remaining, Paonia on top 43-34
Update: Paonia up 43-32 in 4th Qtr.
Update: Paonia up 25-21 at half.
Update: Paonia up 21-19 in 2nd Qtr.
Update: Tied 13-13 end of 1st Qtr.
Update: Teams trade leads early - Ridgway up 9-8.
Update: Ridgway girls are up 6-0 early in Durango.
Follow all the action of the Ridgway girls basketball team vs. Paonia right now on Twitter, @ocplaindealer
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