Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor for the Week of October 16 – 22,2008

Early Closing at Merrifield P.O. Upsets Many


I am President of the Northern Virginia Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO. My local represents the clerks, maintenance and motor vehicle employees within the Northern Virginia area (excluding Woodbridge). I am writing this letter in response to the recent change in the operating hours at over 50 post offices, stations and branches starting October 4.

The most dramatic was at the Merrifield Post Office. The Merrifield Post Office has been open from 8 a.m. to midnight (Monday – Friday) for over 30 years. The new hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Monday – Friday). This change will surely affect our customers who have praised the late night hours and our Post Office’s operations. There are many professions that need documents postmarked by the end of the day such as attorneys and accountants. By being open until midnight they were able to work longer into the night. Many customers come to the Merrifield Post Office late at night because of their work schedules.

This largely unadvertised change will cause problems for many of our customers. Gerry Connolly, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was outraged that this new plan was not brought to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors attention. He submitted a motion at the recent Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting to send a letter of protest to Mike Furey, of the Postal Service, and our congressional representatives. This motion passed unanimously. There are changes in the other Post Offices that include closing during lunch, reduced hours of operations, or closing on Saturday. None of the changes were discussed with me as the bargaining representative except in generic terms.

Douglas E. Sapp, President

Northern Virginia Area Local American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

Deregulation at Core of Current Economic Crisis


During the presidential debates, Sen. Barack Obama stated that both political parties deserve some blame for the current economic crisis. Too much federal deregulation seems to be one of the main causes of our present problems. The political attitude regarding regulation in the U.S. has swung from one extreme to the other in the past 75 years. I think the ideal is somewhere in the middle.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted regulations on banks and the stock market in order to revive the economy and protect investors. The business community howled. In more recent years, deregulation became popular.

My first memory of deregulation goes back to the Carter administration and the airline industry. Then Ronald Reagan came along, and he use to say “Government isn’t the solution to our problems; it is the problem.”

Naturally, business does not want extensive regulation. However, we have recently witnessed the excesses of deregulation. Stockholders and the public’s interests necessitate some rules allowing for more transparency and oversight.

In order to make home ownership more available to low income Americans, Congressman Barney Frank (D – Mass), who is chairman of the House Banking Committee, introduced legislation, which passed Congress, loosening regulations on mortgages and credit. Although our elected officials ‘ intentions were noble, the consequences are catastrophic. This, combined with outright fraud on the part of some lenders, have contributed to the current worldwide financial crisis.

Congress needs to pass new rules based on recent lessons learned from past mistakes to ensure these errors will not be repeated.

Francis Mahoney


Stolen Campaign Signs Enrage Kids & Parents


One of the many benefits of being an American is the right to vote. Not only do we get the right to chose our President and other representatives, but we can also discuss our support or displeasure of any of the candidates, at any time. This is what makes our freedom so rich. This is what makes this country such a great place to live.

As a father of two elementary aged children, I have been trying to engage them in discourse and the emotion of elections. We talk a lot about why I support the candidates I do. I explain why I don’t support other candidates. This is an important step in helping children understand the importance of their civic engagement.

This election season for the last 18 months has been especially fun. There was disagreement in our house during the primary whether Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton should be the Democratic Party nominee. Listening to children discuss their opinions was not only wonderful and funny, it sounded a lot like some adults I know.

Finally, a few months ago, we all agreed that Barack Obama would be the candidate we would all support. The children got Obama buttons, bumper stickers and signs. They were all charged up. Then, a few weeks ago, our Obama sign was torn to pieces in our front yard. No clues, no explanation, just someone who didn’t want Obama.

Fast forward to October 10, it happened again. This time, two Obama-Biden signs were stolen from our yard. No clues, no explanation. My children are very angry and so am I. Here I am trying my best to teach my children about being politically engaged and some coward runs around town stealing signs. It turns out, in talking to neighbors, that Obama signs are being stolen throughout Falls Church and McLean.

So, hey there big coward, hear my words: You are not only an opponent of freedom of speech, but you are demonstrating to two children what an ignorant coward does to demonstrate their “love of country.”

S.D. Klein

McLean, VA