YPSILANTI, Mich. – The U.S. Postal Service backed out of a town hall meeting to discuss ongoing mail delivery issues in Ypsilanti, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell said.
Dingell said Wednesday that officials from USPS would join her at a meeting on Thursday, but that's no longer the case.
Residents have complained about mail not being delivered on time, mail being delivered to the wrong address, long lines at the post office, late delivery of bills, medicine sitting in trucks and dozens of other issues, Dingell said.
"We need to get some answers because what is happening is unacceptable," Dingell said.
USPS told Dingell it is concerned about violating the Hatch Act, which ensures civil servants do not engage in political activity while on the job. In response, Dingell has offered to stay away from the meeting so USPS officials could attend without worrying about the Hatch Act.
"The implications of the decision by the USPS not to attend the town hall sets a dangerous precedent of unaccountability to the Congress," Dingell said in a statement.
Dingell said if USPS officials don't attend the meeting, she will document every case of poor service delays, lost mail, long lines and late delivery and hand deliver them directly to the Postmaster General and continue to release the complaints to the media.
"We will continue to pursue all options to hold them accountable and ensure service is remedied," Dingell said.
Here's the full statement from Dingell:
"Late last night, we were informed by leadership of the U.S. Postal Service that they would not be participating in tonight’s town hall in Ypsilanti. This town hall meeting was planned in conjunction with USPS step by step in response to hundreds of complaints my office has received over several years from this community about poor mail service. Last night, USPS claimed that the Hatch Act, which ensures civil servants do not engage in political activity while on the job, prevented them from participating in this meeting. It is upsetting that the first time my office heard of this concern was the day before the event and not in the weeks before when we were planning it together.
"USPS is accountable to the U.S. Congress and the American people. This town hall, which they agreed to weeks ago, was being held in my official capacity as a member of Congress to address the huge number of complaints we have received over the course of the last year. Complaints include mail not being delivered on time, mail being delivered to the wrong address, long lines at the post office, late delivery of bills, medicine sitting in trucks, and dozens of other issues that my office has documented in letters to the Postmaster General.
"Since the problems with mail service are so serious and severe and because the people of Ypsilanti are desperate for answers from the Post Office, I have made the offer not to attend tonight’s meeting so the Post Office could still attend. Local officials will still be there to answer questions from the community. If the Post Office’s concern is that my presence could violate the Hatch Act, which I strongly disagree with and contest, then they should have no objection to attending the meeting tonight without me. We will see what their response is, and tonight’s meeting is still on.
"The implications of the decision by the USPS not to attend the town hall sets a dangerous precedent of unaccountability to the Congress. Congress has a Constitutional responsibility to oversee all Executive Branch agencies, including the USPS, and ensuring constituents get answers from federal agencies is an essential part of our job. If they do not attend tonight, we will document every single case of poor service delays, lost mail, long lines, and late delivery and hand deliver them directly to the Postmaster General and continue to release the complaints to the media. We will continue to pursue all options to hold them accountable and ensure service is remedied.
"It is critical that Ypsilanti residents get the answers they deserve from USPS. I hope that they show up tonight and have the courage to face tough questions about their recent performance."
Ypsilanti residents fed up with mail delivery problems
Residents in Ypsilanti said they're fed up with the Postal Service because of inconsistent delivery practices.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who represents them, has stepped in on the issue. Many residents said they went to the mailbox on Presidents Day looking for a check or important document, only to realize they would have to wait another day.
Ypsilanti residents said they struggle with this type of issue every day.
Attorney Bill Babut, of Ypsilanti, said his law firm often goes without mail delivery. He said he sometimes has to go to the post office to pick up the mail and, last year, that nearly cost a client a home.
"We had a client almost lose her home to foreclosure because we did not receive a document," Babut said. "We had to close the office down and go and testify in federal court. We didn't get the document."
It's one of hundreds of similar stories, in which residents said they aren't getting their mail, or delivery comes late at night.
Dingell got calls about the problem and said she wants something to change fast.
"I worry about seniors waiting for their medicine and it's sitting in trucks," Dingell said.