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Board Dominated by Corporate Execs, Lawyers, Lobbyist

Corporatizing the Post Office

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

The United States Postal Service Board of Governors is dominated by corporate executives, lawyers, and lobbyists. And according to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, that’s a key reason why the Postal Service is in trouble.

“Historically, ever since it was transformed from a cabinet level department to a government corporation, it’s been controlled by corporate executives, lawyers or lobbyists,” Nader said. “And that’s the case today. That explains the desire to keep the Postal service under restrictions that reduce its revenues and limit its expansion into other areas of service that would generate more revenue and more fully utilize the post offices. This strategy has benefitted UPS and Federal Express.”

Five out of the nine members of the board are currently corporate executives, lawyers or lobbyists. There are currently two vacancies.

Louis Giuliano, the chairman or the board, is currently a senior advisor to The Carlyle Group and is a former president and CEO of ITT and former execute at Allied Signal.

Thurgood Marshall Jr is a corporate lawyer at Bingham McCutchen in Washington, D.C.

James Bilbray is a corporate lawyer at Kaempfer Crowell in Las Vegas, Nevada.

James Miller III is a corporate lawyer at Husch Blackwell.

And Ellen Williams is a corporate lobbyist at Capital Network.

“For three decades we have been proposing a postal residential users action group with hundreds of thousands of dues paying members responding to delivery of invitation cards by postal carriers three times a year at over 100 million residences,” Nader said. “All postmasters and their boards of governors turned this voluntarily joined self-funded idea down. They don’t want the residential users to be organized with a seat at the table.”

Nader says that the current crisis at the Postal Service is “manufactured.”

“The deep hole of debt that is currently facing the U.S. Postal Service is entirely due to the burdensome prepayments for future retiree health care benefits imposed by Congress in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006,” Nader wrote last week in a letter to Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-California.)

“By June 2011, the USPS saw a total net deficit of $19.5 billion … [this] deficit almost exactly matches the $20.95 billion the USPS made in prepayments to the fund for future retiree health care benefits by June 2011. If the prepayments required under PAEA were never enacted into law, the USPS would not have a net deficiency of nearly $20 billion, but instead be in the black by at least $1.5 billion.”

Nader said that in terms of retirees’ health benefits, the Postal Service is required to do things that “no other government or private corporation is required to do and is an incredibly unreasonable burden.”

Nader wrote the forward to the book Preserving the People’s Post Office by Chris Shaw.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.