RELEASE: Gottheimer Demands Transparency and Action from USPS Leadership Regarding Lafayette Post Office

Implores USPS to reestablish a post office in Lafayette after five years of delays. Thanks hardworking postal service carriers and handlers

May 29, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer calling on USPS to reestablish its post office in Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE, NJ — Yesterday, May 28, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) called on United States Postal Service leadership to uphold its pledge to reestablish a post office in Lafayette, New Jersey, five years after they suspended operations. Since USPS’s 2019 decision to close the post office, Congressman Gottheimer and his team have corresponded with the Postal Service, advocating for a full restoration of service. USPS has repeatedly miscommunicated and delayed plans for the post office, hurting the people of Lafayette who rely on the postal service to pay their bills, access their medication, and connect with friends and loved ones.

Video of Gottheimer’s announcement can be found here.

“After years of persistent delays, miscommunications, and blatant non-response from leadership at the United States Postal Service, Lafayette, New Jersey is still without a post office. It’s disgraceful that the United States Postal Service has completely blown off this community, and we’re here to state loud and clear that we’ve had enough,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Let me be clear: I’m incredibly proud of the postal workers who handle and deliver our mail, rain or shine. They work incredibly hard and do yeoman’s work. It’s clear that the rot at USPS is at the top with leaders who are either incapable or unwilling to serve the public.”

MOVED UP: USPS’s lack of leadership for Lafayette is indicative of broader problems facing the postal service in New Jersey. New data from the Office of the Inspector General shows that service in New Jersey has gotten even worse over the past year. More than ten percent of mail is late. Change of address fraud, where criminals can go to a local branch or to USPS’s website and change individuals’ addresses without ever being asked for ID, jumped by 167 percent between 2020 and 2021. Branches like Teaneck face continued reports of theft — with little intervention from USPS’s national leaders. During the event, Gottheimer called for transparency, responsiveness, and effective leadership from USPS to address these significant issues.

Timeline of Postal Issues in Lafayette 

  • July 2019: USPS announced that it would suspend operations at Lafayette Post Office due to “…concerns for the aging condition” of the facility. Gottheimer sent a letter to Postmaster General Brennan explaining his concerns about the lack of communication regarding this decision, both internally within USPS and externally between USPS and community stakeholders. 
  • April 2022: USPS announces a new location for the Lafayette Post Office after three years of delays.
  • April 2023: USPS confirms its intent to build on the agreed upon site in Lafayette by funding architectural plans and sending a lease to the proprietor.
  • November 2023: Gottheimer’s office requests an update on the site after seven months of delays.
  • December 2023: In response to an email from Gottheimer’s office, USPS blamed the delay on a funding modification and claimed it would take 120 days to finalize the funding process.
  • April 2024: USPS repeatedly missed deadlines and correspondence from Gottheimer’s office before finally confirming the site was “not viable.” 
  • May 2024: USPS leaders at the federal level met with Congressman Gottheimer’s staff and had not seen documents confirming the Lafayette Post Office plan, provided by USPS’s local leadership.
  • May 2024: USPS Government Relations declined a follow-up meeting with Congressman Gottheimer, claiming they had nothing new to share.

During the event, Gottheimer announced plans to to work directly with the House Appropriations Committee to allocate specific funding for Lafayette to receive a new post office. He will also offer an amendment to make sure that we hold USPS accountable for its continued disregard of people in Northwestern New Jersey and overall failure to combat fraud and provide timely service to Americans across the country.

Gottheimer was joined by Lafayette Mayor Alan Henderson and Deputy Mayor Kevin O’Leary.

Below: Gottheimer with Lafayette Mayor Alan Henderson and Deputy Mayor Kevin O’Leary.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Good afternoon. After years of persistent delays, miscommunications, and blatant non-response from the United States Postal Service, Lafayette, New Jersey is still without a post office. It’s disgraceful that the United States Postal Service has completely blown off this community, and we’re here to state loud and clear that we’ve had enough.  

In July 2019, almost exactly five years ago, the United States Postal Service, or USPS, announced that they would suspend operations at the Lafayette Post Office because of “concerns for the aging condition” of the facility. The more than 2,000 people who live in Lafayette, and the thousands of people who live in surrounding towns who relied on this post office, had absolutely no say in this decision. Overnight, people who used Lafayette Post Office to send their mail, get their bills and packages, access their medication, and connect with their friends and loved ones lost their closest lifeline. 

The nearest post offices are more than two miles away in Augusta, four miles away in Newton, and five miles away in Sparta. For those without a car, the elderly, and many residents, losing this post office wasn’t a minor inconvenience, it was a major blow. 

When this decision was made, I immediately wrote to then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan, expressing my concerns with this complete blindside. In those early interactions with USPS, it became clear to me that the right hand simply doesn’t know what the left hand is doing at the U.S. Postal Service. Local USPS officials have different information from USPS’s national government affairs team. Postal officials — both for New Jersey and nationally — are completely unreachable. They are MIA. And this is after they keep jamming us with higher prices and slower services.  

For three more years, we heard nothing, until USPS announced a new location for its Lafayette Post Office in April 2022. It took an entire year before USPS sent a letter to the town administrator, confirming that they’d build the post office on the new site. Then, they went even further, signing a lease with the property owner and spending taxpayer dollars on architectural plans. Things went quiet for another seven months, so my staff requested an update on the timeline. Finally, on Friday, December 8, 2023, we learned that USPS had delayed its construction because of a funding modification, and we’d have to wait another four months. 

As you can probably guess at this point, four months came and went. And surprise, surprise, USPS found yet another reason to delay and deflect. After personally sending a letter to USPS asking why these delays persisted, their Government Relations team let me know that the selected location was not “viable.” We called and we emailed several more times, but still could not receive an answer as to why the site was not viable.  

After months of waiting, my staff finally had the chance to meet USPS staff in person a few weeks ago. It was immediately clear that parts of this agency are completely dysfunctional. USPS national claimed that they’d never seen pieces of correspondence and documents from its local office. It seems like local and national leaders are operating on completely different wavelengths, and no one is helping the people of Lafayette who have waited five years at this point for a functioning post office. 

I requested another meeting last week with USPS leadership face-to-face, so we could iron out this misunderstanding, only to be told that USPS had nothing more to share. What a slap in the face to the thousands of residents here. USPS is an independent entity, but it gets nearly $50 million a year from Congress for its Postal Service Fund. Yet, they can’t seem to find the time to meet with me or local elected officials? If they won’t answer to the constituents they’re meant to serve or the lawmakers who fund them, who exactly is USPS working for? 

Let me be clear: I’m incredibly proud of the postal workers who handle and deliver our mail, rain or shine. They work incredibly hard and do yeoman’s work. It’s clear that the rot at USPS is at the top with leaders who are either incapable or unwilling to serve the public. USPS has a universal service obligation. That includes Lafayette, New Jersey and every other town in America, no matter how small or how hard to reach it may be. We demand transparency, responsiveness, and effective leadership. USPS is failing on all three counts. 

Before coming here today, I called USPS. In that call and today’s event, I’m offering a simple message to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the rest of its leadership: step up or step aside. It’s time to make good on your promises to the people of Lafayette and improve service here and across Jersey. On top of the complete lack of leadership in Lafayette, new data from the Office of the Inspector General shows that service has gotten even worse over the past year. More than ten percent of mail is late. 

Not to mention, change of address fraud, where criminals can go to a local branch or to USPS’s website and change your address without ever being asked for ID, jumped by 167 percent between 2020 and 2021. We’ve seen this happen again and again in North Jersey branches like Teaneck with little decisive action from USPS. All of this is unacceptable, and yet, given my interactions with USPS, not at all surprising.  

To the USPS, I want to see an achievable timeline for restoring service here in Lafayette. If USPS drops the ball yet again, I will leverage every tool in my toolkit to conduct oversight and hold them accountable. 

In fact, I plan to work directly with my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to allocate specific funding so that Lafayette receives the resources it deserves for a new post office. I will also offer an amendment to make sure that we hold USPS accountable for its continued disregard of people in Northwestern New Jersey and overall failure to combat fraud and provide timely service to Americans across the country.

In America, there are actually three inevitable things: death, taxes, and using the postal service. Making our postal system work isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue — it’s something that we can all get behind. 

I’m confident, that here, in the greatest country in the world, if we use our voices to demand better of the USPS, our best days will be ahead of us.  

Thank you, may God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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