By Pat Sherman
Two letter-writing events organized by the Save Our La Jolla Post Office Task Force generated more than 100 letters to Congressman Darrell Issa (R-49th), urging him to sign onto or support the bipartisan Community Post Office Relocation Act (H.R 6238). The bill was authored by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-53rd) and co-signed by Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-50th) and Bob Filner (D-51st). It offers a vehicle for communities to purchase their post office buildings to save them from closure or relocation.
Task force chair Leslie Davis said many people stopping by the Wall Street post office during the second event on Aug. 17 learned about their effort and crafted impromptu letters to Issa. Others, who had learned about the event beforehand via e-mail or in the La Jolla Light, dropped off completed letters.
Davis said the task force is working to get a meeting with Issa, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has legislative jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
”We believe Issa’s going to be in California in August, so we’re going to try and get a meeting with him here,” Davis said. “He’s the one that can allow (the bill) to (move ahead) for discussion in committee, or stop it at the door. He’s critical. He is the gatekeeper of our bill.”
Addressing those in attendance Aug. 17, Congressman Filner, who is running for mayor, suggested that the task force and other sympathetic community members hand-deliver the letters.
“The last thing anybody wants to do is be embarrassed,” said Filner, noting that Congress is on recess and Issa would likely be at his office in Vista.
“He’s home until Sept. 10 — and if he meets with you, fine,” Filner said. “If he doesn’t, deliver the letters personally, with cameras there. They gotta feel pressure. If they’re just going to receive letters, it won’t work. ... I know what influences the legislature.”
Postal employees view Issa’s own Postal Reform Act — a drastic cost-cutting measure — as a threat to their livelihoods and the future of the USPS.
“The postal workers inside have been very depressed about all this and I keep telling them, ‘We’re fighting for you,’” said Janie Emerson, who said her letter discussed how Davis’s bill could be a “win-win” for the community, USPS and taxpayers.
District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who was at the Aug. 17 event, said she discussed the post office issue with Issa during a San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce event in April. Lightner told the Light Issa can “still have his cost-cutting, but we can still have our post office.
“That’s the whole idea,” she said. “(Those goals) do not conflict ... if we can manage to sublease the post office at a rate that they would have to pay elsewhere in The Village (anyway).” USPS has proposed selling the beloved Wall Street post office building and moving services to a smaller space elsewhere in The Village.
Filner said he believes the most persuasive argument for Issa reaching across the isle to support Susan Davis’s bill is to show that “It cost more money to move the post office than to deal with it here.”