The New York Times reports in a front-page piece today titled “Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price” that the Postal Service “acknowledges that in recent years the sale of post office buildings has accelerated, and in 2011 it hired CBRE, a commercial real estate services firm, to handle the transactions.
“‘Our biggest concern is the way they’re going about it isn’t transparent,’ said Chris Morris, a senior field officer for the National Trust and project manager for post office buildings. ‘A lot of us are very confused about the process.’”
GRAY BRECHIN, [email]
Brechin is founder and project scholar of the Living New Deal Project. He said today: “While the New York Times article is the first substantial piece in the major media on the accelerating fire sale of America’s historic post offices and their art, it fails to mention a possible conflict of interest. While it mentions the giant real estate firm CBRE in passing, it doesn’t note a crucial fact that perhaps explains why the process is not transparent: the head of CBRE is private equity billionaire Richard C. Blum, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband. These buildings sit on prime downtown lots in every American city. They represent a potential bonanza for any private interest that can obtain the right to sell them.
“The controversy is not just about preserving architectural and artistic treasures. The New Deal represented an unprecedented expansion of public service to the American people. These often ennobling spaces represent the federal government at its most efficient and honest as well as places of civic engagement in even rural towns. Their privatization represents a devastating but little-noticed theft from the public domain akin to the selling of our national parks.” See: “Degraded Postal Service Part of a ‘Manufactured’ Crisis and a “Daylight Heist” of New Deal Art.”
JEFF MUSTO, [email]
Musto is researcher and spokesperson for the Center for Study of Responsive Law, founded by Ralph Nader. Nader recently wrote in response to the Post Office’s announcement about closing on Saturdays: “The USPS’s financial crisis has primarily been caused by a congressional mandate, coming from the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, that the USPS prefund the next 75 years of retiree health benefits in just a decade, by 2016. This is something that is not required of any other federal government agency or private corporation. Not to mention that there is no actuarial justification for such an accelerated schedule to prefund this future obligation. PAEA effectively forces the USPS to prefund retiree health benefits for some of its future employees who haven’t even been born yet!”See: “Postal Service Crisis Brought on by Bizarre Law.”