“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” – The Postman’s motto
LETTER TO POSTMASTER DEJOY
Today, I sent an official letter to Postmaster Louis DeJoy regarding the proposed changes to mail carrier routines both here at home and across the country. Said changes would only add to the strenuous job that is delivering our mail in rain, snow, or sunshine. These changes would remove mail sorting from our local post offices and create one large sorting facility outside of a postal worker’s typical delivery route. USPS delivery men and women would start their day with a commute to the new facility, taking time out of their workday unnecessarily.
In my letter, which you can read HERE, I urged Postmaster DeJoy to postpone these changes, and re-evaluate their necessity. While these new facilities may be of good use in the future for larger metropolitan areas where routes and post offices are condensed and numerous, folks in rural areas will suffer as yet another vital resource is taken out of their communities. Additionally, these changes pose a challenge unique to rural areas as USPS vehicles are unable to travel on interstate highways, forcing them to take sideroads which will add hours to their daily deliveries.
Some of these postal carriers would thus be required to perhaps commute hundreds of miles each week to the Oshtemo facility to pick up their delivery vehicle and return it before going home. And of course, these slow-moving delivery trucks cannot by design be on the interstates – requiring them to travel through neighborhoods to get to their designated communities. Since I will not be in the US Congress when the decision is ultimately made by the Postmaster General, I have asked the communities impacted to weigh in with letters or formal resolutions of disapproval to the US Post Office. You can read more about the Postmaster’s planHERE.
UPDATE ON ST. JOE HARBOR
Just over a week ago, I met with Harbor Master Michael Moran and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the closed St. Joe Harbor after a three-day storm stirred up enough sand and silt that it caused dangerous shoaling conditions throughout the St. Joe River channel. The channel normally has a depth of 21 feet, and now it rests at a shallow 12 feet, not nearly deep enough for a commercial vessel to pass through. While I was there, I saw more than 30,000 yards or more of sand that would need be relocated and likely used for beach nourishment to get the harbor back open. It is my hope that we get this emergency dredging well under way before winter picks up.
Despite the shoaling, two more boats were able to make it into the harbor last week. It is expected we will all be hearing of official dredging plans by sometime this week.
Believe it or not, there are still scheduled 16 lake carriers to the St. Joe/Benton Harbor port before the end of the year, and last week’s storm may have made things even worse. Each one of these shiploads holds roughly 200 trucks worth of goods. These goods then have to be trucked perhaps farther than 100 miles away. Additionally, current diesel prices are more than $5.25 per gallon (as AAA reports) on trucks that get less than 7 miles per gallon, adding to the cost of any construction project.
Hopefully the Corps of Engineers can bid out the project in the next few days, and Mother Nature can help by allowing the dredging to happen as we think about Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “When the gales of November come early…”
Last Monday, I was featured on MIRS, Michigan’s longest running state public policy podcast, to discuss my time in Congress. We also discussed the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, of which I am a vice-chair. Each Member is allowed one staffer to attend our meetings, and we have never had any information leaked from these meetings. As new and returning Members begin the 118th Congress without me, I urge them to forge new pathways for bipartisanship, which could be done through the House Committee on Rules. I’ve come up with an amendment, which you can find more about in this episode, that would help break much of the partisan gridlock that is sure to occur this upcoming Congress. You can listen to the full episode HERE, but I will note that my segment on the podcast begins at the 33-minute mark.
ON AIR WITH GARY STEVENS AND DAN EVANS
On Tuesday, I joined WHTC hosts Gary Stevens and Dan Evans on the Morning News as well as Talk of the Town. I talked about my great staff, many of whom have been with be for over a decade, and the importance of constituent services. We also discussed redistricting and what my district looked like when I started compared to what it looks like now. You can listen to my segment on their shows HERE and HERE.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Flu season is already upon us. The number of doctor’s visits for respiratory illnesses, like fevers combined with coughs and sore throats, are already above average and more folks are testing positive for influenza than expected at this time of year. And although cases in Michigan may be low in number compared to the rest of the country, many of us will be travelling or hosting folks from out of state for the upcoming holidays. Additionally, many children’s hospitals are already overwhelmed with a rise in cases in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) as cases spiked in October. The bottom line is, get your flu shot. You can read more about the upcoming flu season HERE.
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
We all changed our clocks yesterday and I thought I would remind all of us how this came about. President Jimmy Carter during the energy crisis in the 70’s mandated daylight saving time (DST) all year round before it was changed back to “spring forward, fall back.” In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, I authored a bipartisan amendment that utilized the Naval Observatory’s sun analysis to alter what had been October and April clock changes to reflect more accurately the precise sunlight hours.
The verdict? Mid-October to mid-April. However, as we would have seen this past week, Halloween, the day when more young kids are struck by cars than any other while darting in the neighborhoods for trick or treats, would have had the that last hour of daylight taken away. That is why the date change is the first Sunday in November rather than what sometimes would actually be Halloween day. And, we asked and received a report from Department of Energy confirming that electricity is saved as we don’t use as much lighting during DST due to sleep habits. We also allowed states the ability to deviate should they desire (neither Arizona or Hawaii change their clocks, and Indiana used the provision to put most of northern Indiana with Michigan and not Chicago resulting in less confusion as to airplane schedules and the like). Couple that with fewer auto accidents during DST (most accidents occur at dusk and thus folks can get home after work or school in more daylight) and crime (yes, most crime occurs at night so pushing back by an hour also has an impact). My amendment passed by voice vote and much of the rest of the world changes their clocks now with us. My one regret is that we did not change the time from 2AM Sunday to 2AM Saturday allowing most of us to have a full weekend to adjust rather than just one day.
The bottom line? Most folks who decry the change never liked changing their clocks, which was done for all but the few Carter years, and this way we are able to utilize that extra evening hour for outdoor recreation and events, yard activities, and we get to in fact save energy in the process. Probably the funniest claim was a letter to the editor in an Arkansas newspaper that claimed my DST amendment allowed insects an extra hour of sunlight to eat trees and plants. Of course, bugs don’t wear watches, but it would be fun to have that much command over Mother Nature!