Waiting for days to get prescription drugs. Trips to the post office to find an empty box where your business-critical supplies should be. After hearing these and other rural Alaskans’ frustrations about FedEx delivery problems that occur when FedEx hands packages over to the United States Postal Service in Anchorage for the final miles of delivery, Senator Lisa Murkowski’s efforts led FedEx CEO to reconsider its protocols. Read More
HOOPER BAY, Alaska — In the soggy, unforgiving tundra on the shores of the Bering Sea, Royala Bell defrosts a rack of beef ribs for dinner in a kitchen that doubles as a bedroom for six of her seven children.
A dead owl lies on the floor, ready for her husband, Carlton, to defeather it for a headdress. Fish dry on a line out back, for the larder in winter. On a small counter are some of the groceries the Bells consume from the Lower 48: Sailor Boy Pilot Bread, potatoes, Kool-Aid, Aunt Jemima pancake mix and a can of Coca-Cola.
The U.S. Postal Service paid to ship the items on a turboprop bush plane to this small settlement of Yupik Indians on Alaska’s western edge. The Bells brought them home on the back of their all-terrain vehicle from Hooper Bay’s only grocery store. The 12-pack of Coke alone cost the Postal Service $21 to get here.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Delegation today vigorously defended Alaska’s bypass mail system against proposed changes that would leave Alaskans with higher costs and less reliable delivery during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. U.S. Senator Mark Begich and Representative Don Young testified before the committee and Senator Lisa Murkowski submitted testimony as part of the delegation’s joint efforts to protect bypass mail. During the provocatively titled hearing, “Alaska Bypass Mail Delivery: A Broken System” the Alaska Delegation sent a strong message to the committee: It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. Read More
They say even a stopped clock is correct twice a day, so it was probably inevitable that Darrell Issa would get at least something right in his otherwise devastating postal “reform” bill. Issa’s bill is the first to take on the so-called “bypass mail” subsidy enjoyed by the state of Alaska. The subsidy provides cheap air transport of commodities to remote parts of the state. It’s part of the legacy of the late longtime Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. While Alaskans defend the subsidy as vital to the poorer residents of the state, it’s never been clear why Alaska, one of the wealthiest states in the Union (#4 last year, ahead of places like Massachusetts and California), needs to have USPS customers in the rest of the country foot the bill for this perk. The Issa bill doesn’t eliminate the subsidy- it just requires the State of Alaska to reimburse the USPS for the added costs. Alaska Public Radio reported on the provision:
Alaska’s bypass mail subsidy is being targeted by a California lawmaker looking to trim costs and generate more revenue for the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa the chairman of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform is a primary sponsor of legislation called the Postal Reform Act of 2011. Within the legislation, section 408 would require the state of Alaska to reimburse the Postal Service for the cost of bypass mail. Congressman Issa was not available for comment today but Alaska district Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson says the subsidy costs USPS at least $70 million a year.
“That’s the amount that we lose basically on it. It undoubtedly costs us more than that, I know the representative was citing a number of about a hundred million dollars and that may be close to the total cost that it is to the postal service,” Swanson said.