Here are some quotes about the post office from the recent town council meeting. Mostly these are quotes from town government officials, mainly the mayor, but I did include some citizen input. Some of the people who spoke asked very good questions, many expressed their strong desire, and some their need, to have a post office in town, and many spoke well of the former employees of the post office.
Many defended Jean Maher, also, and expressed their belief that she was publicly humiliated and that the town government acted with too much haste.
As one put it, “The people who are here are really here as character witnesses to Jean and that they not only like having the post office, but like our particular post office and the way it has been staffed. So I think that ought to mean something, and I would just ask you, all of you, to think of that.”
But I’m mainly concerned here with capturing the town government’s response to the input they received at the meeting. Hopefully, when I have more time, I can tell more of what the people said.
Joe Murri – citizen
Did you take any action to try to call a meeting by your council to try to address this issue prior to this meeting?
How many of you on the board actually saw the physical event that took place at the Fall festival? (He asked for a show of hands.)
No one raised their hands. No one on the town government witnessed the event. Nor did anyone deny that there was some sort of event, as reported in the Carroll County Times, or that this event led to the firing of Jean Maher.
Jack White (me)
I asked when the next council meeting would be and if they would address the post office specifically at that meeting.
Well, yeah, the council has to consider some ideas on this and I don’t think they have. The Main Street Association has some ideas on this that we haven’t heard yet. I think there’s going to be a visitors center. In what form right now, we don’t have staff, so to sit here and throw things out and say, you know, what are we going to do right now, this isn’t a quick fix solution, this is a solution where we have to decide what direction we’re going to go in.
I’m not opposed to a working session with the public involved and the council can decide that. (The working session will take place 6:00 Monday, the 26th.)
I know the desire is to have the services. It’s really going to be about what is going to be the most practical and budget-conscious way to proceed at this point. So that’s what needs to be figured out.
This is called a contract post office and it’s not really run by the United States Post Office. The employees are employees of the town.
It had to be locked up. There’s no staff to run it, whatever you want to call that.
Are there any circumstances under which the current staff might return?
Not that I’m aware of.
It is a personnel issue. I don’t expect the public to really buy off on that, because we can’t discuss it, we can’t defend the decision, I can’t discuss justification. I realize that the public what they see is a customer facing business and all believe the women have performed an exemplary job over there. I’m not here to question that. So there’s not much I can say. I understand the desire of the public. I am not unaware.
Councilman Ian Shaw
We had no intention of closing. So while they’re supporting maybe their manager, what have you, at the same time they’re really doing a total disservice to the long term viability of that institution and to all of its supporters who count on that service every day. We were hoping to work through that process, you know, to find something. I feel a little bit disappointed about the way that went down, too. You want to support if you can, but you should still keep the thing going. At our most critical time, at the holiday season, I think it may have signed the death warrant for that post office by doing that.
I don’t think anyone’s made secret that some council members, because of budgetary reasons, thought there would be ways we could provide the service without having the town subsidize it. That’s not the same as saying we want to get rid of it. That’s saying we would like to provide the service in another form. I think you have to be fair when you say, “oh, you want to get rid of the post office.” I really don’t think that’s an accurate statement.
For the public to make an assessment of the termination without knowing the details, it just can’t be done. And I don’t expect you to make that kind of assessment and try and understand what happened, because I can’t talk about it. I wish I could and provide some material to you, but I can’t. Judging how it was done or why it was done, you can’t really fairly do that.
I’m wondering if this isn’t a way around closing this post office and taking the money and putting it back in the budget.
That’s sheer speculation, sir. I’ll say, no, but me saying that, I don’t think is going to convince you.
Councilman Leo Keenan
As recently as two months ago, we had tasked the Main Street program to look at ways to make the post office more viable. And we actually met with Jean and some of the other post office members to discuss other options. To rent the upper space more. To find other ways to bring more revenue into the post office. That’s an ongoing process to make the post office more revenue neutral.
Councilman Frank Robert
It’s funded till July first of next year.
Councilman Chris True (responding to a question as to what percentage of the budget the post office represents. Also, this might have been Al Grasley. I have an audio recording.)
I don’t know the percentage, but it runs to around $20,000, $30,000 a year.
Your Facebook response was lacking.
I thought a lot of the comments [on Facebook] were lacking and inappropriate.
But as mayor…
Mayor (speaking over her)
I’m not going to get into that. I appreciate your comment.
Councilman Frank Robert
The post office is funded till July 1, 2013. So there’s no vote to say let’s not fund it for the rest of the year.
Councilwoman Julia Betz
I know it’s been thrown around that this was a budget issue, and yes we’ve been talking about it in past budgets, but we had no idea that those three ladies were going to walk out when Jean was released. So if it were a budget issue, they would still be employed, we’d still be paying them. That’s what people need to understand, unless you think we had hoped that they would walk out. We had no way of knowing that, so I would like to dispel that whole issue.
Articles from other sources:
Sykesville post office closed after manager fired, others resign - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times
Sykesville residents plan to talk about future of post office - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times
Sykesville’s Town Council discusses future of post office - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times
Manager’s dismissal has Sykesville residents worried about fate of post office - Bob Allen, Explore Carroll