Sen. Tina Smith calls on postmaster general to fix USPS mismanagement

Sen. Tina Smith calls on postmaster general to fix USPS mismanagement

Sen. Tina Smith calls on postmaster general to fix USPS mismanagement

U.S. Postal Service delays and staffing shortages — Sen. Tina Smith isn’t mincing words about what she calls the agency’s “terrible level of service.”

“People all over the state rely on the post office — it’s a necessity, not a luxury,” she said. “And why is that level of service happening? It was because of major mismanagement at the district and national level.”  

Smith is zeroing in on the Bemidji Post Office.

On Wednesday, she fired off a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy noting that during the busy holiday season, carriers were working 12 hours a day, and that an audit by the Office of Inspector General listed nearly 80,000 pieces of delayed mail.

By January, the report says the Bemidji Post Office was understaffed by 15 carriers.

“The Inspector General’s report shows that they didn’t have the vehicles, they didn’t have the scanners and they didn’t have the people to do the work people expected them to do,” Smith said.

But the senator isn’t the first to raise concerns.

“There were times when I wouldn’t get mail for two to three days and nothing,” Denis Patrich, from Lakeville, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in January. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Many spoke of missing cards and delivery delays — which were worse over the winter months.

An audit found tens of thousands of pieces of delayed mail in Eagan, Apple Valley and New Brighton.

“Service levels in Minnesota have been among the worst ten regions in the country, all of last year,” Representative Angie Craig said in a January interview.

This latest audit has several recommendations for the Bemidji Post Office — including developing strategies to fill open carrier positions and providing mail processing training for district managers.

We reached out to multiple postal officials for comment, but did not hear back.

Meanwhile, Smith notes she’s expecting a new statewide report within weeks.

She says she’s now worried about what may happen during the next holiday season and wants DeJoy to act now.

“When the packages start to really flow again, (carriers) need to be prepared, and they need to be supported,” Smith said. “And it’s going to be harder to recruit people in these post offices if they know going in, they’re not going to have the equipment and the staffing to do a good job.”