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Postal employees not happy about working in the Tenderloin 

Wednesday, May 21 2008

Life seems so much simpler when you only read press releases. Take the one issued last week by the United States Postal Service. The residents of the Tenderloin wanted their local branch at 101 Hyde to do more than merely housing P.O. boxes and offering general delivery for folks without addresses — and lo, it was done!

"The community asked us to consider upgrading the Civic Center Post Office to a 'full-fledged' retail center, and we listened," district manager Winifred Groux wrote in the release.

Unmentioned was the fact that, earlier this month, Groux told Tenderloin activists she not only wasn't interested in expanding the post office branch — she was also inclined to close the place altogether.

"The postal people said their employees were afraid to be on the site, and they need to pull out," said David Seward, chief financial officer of nearby Hastings College of the Law. "It was a cut-and-run strategy."

Also unmentioned was the fact that Supervisor Chris Daly stormed out of that meeting early, promising to contact the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Two weeks later the USPS put out its release noting that the community asked for a full-service post office — and it listened. But not so fast.

James Wigdel, the postal service's regional spokesman, said that Pelosi's intervention was not a factor. That's odd: Drew Hammill, her Washington spokesman, told SF Weekly last Tuesday about a series of meetings "with the USPS and local officials" — but he wouldn't divulge more.

"There was definitely some strong-arming going on," said Elaine Zamora, director of the Tenderloin Community Benefits District and leader of the neighborhood's post office petition. "If Nancy Pelosi called me, I'd jump, too."

Whatever the case, Zamora is not about to look a gift post office in the drop box. She's happy, Daly is happy, Pelosi is "pleased," and the USPS says it's all smiles as well. The future employees of the Tenderloin post office? They aren't so happy.

"They used to urinate in there, boo-boo in there — and the janitor's got to clean that up!" one former postal worker at 101 Hyde recalled. "I can deal with it. But I'd rather not go back."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that USPS put out its press release a day after Daly stormed of the neighborhood meeting with postal officials.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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