Extra Staffer Hired for South Berkeley Post Office By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday January 17, 2006

Sometimes, apparently, government can act quickly. 

Less than a week after a Daily Planet story appeared concerning long lines and inadequate staffing at the Adeline Street Post Office in Berkeley, a post office spokesperson called to say that the problem has been solved. 

“We have made adjustments to the situation at the South Berkeley Post Office,” Berkeley U.S. Postal Service Customer Service Coordinator Mercer W. Jones said in a telephone message. “We have assigned another employee to cover lunches and breaks as well as for some additional time. Hopefully you’ll have a more pleasant experience if you go there again.” 

In its initial article, the Daily Planet had reported waiting a half hour in line to see the single clerk assigned to the Adeline Street Post Office. The article also reported the service window closed three times a day during the single clerk’s half hour lunch break and two 15-minute additional breaks. 

A check of the post office on Friday afternoon following Jones’ call showed a second employee covering the service window while the first clerk took her afternoon break. While there had consistently been about a dozen customers waiting in line during the Planet’s first visit, only three customers were there when the Planet made the follow-up visit after the new employee was assigned. 

South Berkeley business owner Jesse Palmer, who had initiated a petition campaign late last year to ask the post office to increase staffing at the Adeline Street station, said he was cautiously optimistic about the changes. 

“It’s fantastic that the post office appears to have responded, and I’m hopeful that things will improve,” Palmer said. 

He added, however, that “there were two issues involved in our complaint. One of them was about the window closing down during breaks. The second one was about the long lines.” 

Palmer said that the second complaint—the long lines—could only be addressed if the new employee is present at the Adeline Street facility all day and works the window simultaneously with the original employee during crowded periods. Saying that he had not yet heard from Berkeley Post Office officials directly, Palmer said, “It’s still too early to tell if this will be a permanent improvement.”