Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Editorial: Closing P.O. isn't end of universe

The unnamed Courier editor poo-poohs the reader letters and comments about the proposed loss of service at the Goodwin Street post office on the square. We can reasonably infer that the editor doesn't go there, so he doesn't care. Typically, in his myopia he's glossing over several important considerations.

The square is the beating heart of our vibrant downtown area. Living here for a long time, it's easy to forget how unusual it is to have a historic city center that is healthy and thriving, and how fragile it is if neglected. Our downtown works because it offers a healthy range of business and government functions in a walkable space.

I expect that most residents don't realize that the Goodwin St building is more than a post office. Along with City Hall and the county courthouse, it's the third leg in the government tripod, the historic federal building, including the district court and other functions upstairs. It's also an impressive historic structure, its warm, woody interior embellished with WPA art and the subtle smell of brass.

In the context of other government functions, it just makes sense to look for the post office on the square, and the postal function is the building's biggest draw. It's a place where we can count on meeting friends and acquaintances in passing. Last I heard there was still a substantial waiting list for those quaint PO boxes with the 86301 zip code. Closing the office will reduce foot traffic on the square and for downtown in general. (And let's not forget that people work there who eat lunch.)

Then there's the question of what happens with the building if there's no post office in it. There's little danger that it'll be torn down, I'm sure, but an empty space there is unacceptable, and converting it for other use would destroy much of the building's historic character, also unacceptable.

No, editor, the sky won't fall. But losing the old post office would be bad for downtown business, bad for Prescott's historic district, and bad for the community as a whole. The Courier long since abandoned downtown physically, and it's clear the editors are willing to abandon it generally.

Update, 6:30pm: BearWhizBeer asks whether anyone actually asserted that losing the PO meant the end of the universe. I've gone through the comments on the original story, and found no one predicting either the end of the world, as the editor says, or the end of the universe, as the breathless headline writer gave us.

Column: It's time to stop runaway spending

Here's a second case of turning a longish LTE into a "Column," indicating a new category on the op-ed page. In it retired finance exec Paul Border as Jacob Marley rattles the chains of the old order to scare readers about the progressive agenda of the Obama administration, pushing the 'socialism' button repeatedly and prophecying doom and catastrophe if we actually start taxing him and his rich pals a little more.

It's a load of ectoplasmic hooey, of course, and you've heard it all before. But considering the health-care "compromise" (read: capitulation) that's making headway in the committee of Max Baucus (D - Health Insurance Industry) today, I'm not feeling hopeful that Americans will drop this smelly fear-mongering and stupidity into the toilet, where it belongs.

Pregnancy center moves, educates clients

Jerry Herrmann turns in a pleasant little story about nice people doing nice things for young parents, and manages to keep out any trace of the organization's religionist, anti-choice mission. Follow the links on its cagey website for proof.

I don't mind coverage of outreach by religious organizations per se, they're part of the community. But actively disguising a religious group's agenda is wrong, as this one does with young women seeking help, and it's doubly wrong for the Courier to abet the deception.