Last week, the drive-through mail boxes outside the United States Postal Service office on Patterson Avenue in Goleta were removed without any notice given to the city or the public.
By Monday, they were placed back in their original location and Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, spoke about the matter in front of the post office on Tuesday.
“As one of our oldest and most reliable institutions, the Postal Service touches the lives of millions of Americans, every single day… The mailboxes have now been replaced and the United States Postal Service has indicated that they will no longer be removing mailboxes for 90 days,” Rep. Carbajal said.
He added that Tuesday morning, he received notice from the postmaster general saying that he is suspending proposed service changes until after the presidential election on Nov. 3.
“I will continue to inquire with regional post officials to get to the full picture about operational changes to the Postal Service (which) have impacted our communities,” Rep. Carbajal said.
Andy Caldwell, who is running against Rep. Carbajal for his congressional seat, called out Rep. Carbajal, calling his postal protest a “scam.”
“The USPS box on Patterson was removed because it was damaged, and has already been replaced,” Mr. Caldwell said in a press release.
“Salud could have verified this with one phone call, but instead he’s performing at a protest over a non-existent issue. It is just fluff — dangerous fluff.”
He added that he would debate Rep. Carbajal on any day.
“If he wants to debate about the Postal Service, we can do that. But instead of creating some fake controversy, let’s debate how to fix the USPS. Some communities haven’t gotten mail in three weeks, and the USPS is running $10 billion in the red. Let’s debate that,” Mr. Caldwell said.
Rep. Carbajal was informed that the mailboxes were removed because people were opening the slot and reaching in and destroying some of the mail. As a result, the new mailboxes in place have fixed that issue.
“They put in certain new engineered boxes that doesn’t allow for people to be able to pull things out,” Rep. Carbajal said.
“The regretful thing is that you can’t drop off mail 24/7 unless you get out of your car and drop it off on the other end, so it does provide some limitations.”
He was concerned, however, with the fact that no one in the city of Goleta, nor his own office, was informed about the removal of the mailboxes before it happened.
“A lapse in communications is certainly of great concern,” Rep. Carbajal said.
He noted that there was no specific person who made this decision, adding that it was the local postmaster working with his higher ups.
“We are happy and relieved that the box has been replaced. And we appreciate the cooperation of the congressman’s office, and the responsiveness of the local post office,” Goleta Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards said.
“The removal of a collection box was more than just a minor inconvenience. For some, including seniors with physical challenges or those supervising a child in the vehicle, this meant the inability to send their mail.
“Access to a mailbox is a necessity and should not be considered as convenience or a luxury.”
The USPS has been in the center of controversy in recent weeks over its role in the upcoming election.
“It is undeniable that the United States Postal Service provides a crucial service to our community and our nation. It is also true that President Trump and his administration have attacked the postal service at every run. Hasty changes to the Postal Service could have dire consequences,” Rep. Carbajal said.
In his statement, Mr. Caldwell said that there are more important issues than the postal service, and said Rep. Carbajal’s actions are disingenuous.
“Our communities are facing serious issues — COVID pandemic, skyrocketing debt, an ongoing homeless and housing crisis, violent protests, releasing violent criminals in our neighborhoods, shutdowns of businesses and schools, and attempts to defund public safety. Instead of debating these serious issues, Salud is staging performances,” Mr. Caldwell said.
“Salud is afraid to defend his record because he can’t — he votes with Nancy Pelosi 100%. So if he wants to send Nancy to debate me in his place, that will be fine, too.”
Mr. Caldwell, the founder of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business, is a columnist for the News-Press.
Rep. Carbajal said he will be traveling back to Washington, D.C. this week to vote on the Delivering for America Act, which would prohibit the postal service from implementing any changes to operations or levels of service it had in place on Jan. 1.
Rep. Carbajal also voted in support of the Heroes Act back in May, which allocated $25 billion in emergency appropriations to the postal service to address the revenue shortfalls associated with COVID-19 and to support postal workers who have served on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“As the November election draws near, it is vital that Americans feel confident that their election mail will be received and delivered in a timely fashion,” Rep. Carbajal said.
“I will continue working to ensure the postal service has the resources it needs to continue providing for our community and I have one message for the Trump administration, ‘Don’t mess with the United States Postal Service.’”