June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:36 PM
"Let post offices retain characterIt is a sad change in policy that forces our rural postmasters to restrict people from turning the post office lobbies into art galleries.The U.S. Postal Service is trying to make post offices more uniform by controlling the appearance of each lobby by limiting displays to pre-ordained spaces. That will preclude the old South Whidbey tradition of splattering the Langley, Freeland and Clinton post offices with examples of children's art. At times, during children's art month in May, for example, the post offices looked more like the hallways in the primary and elementary schools. But nobody complained -- in fact, people loved the children's art. It sure beats the drab official colors of the U.S. Postal Service.The new postal policy will also limit the space in which non-profit groups can collect grocery receipts and solicit donations for a variety of worthwhile projects. Some of these endeavors have already been forced out, while others will be confined to tiny spaces.This move by the U.S. Postal Service is just another step toward the homogenization of America, which destroys the individuality of entire communities in the name of efficiency and corporate identity. One McDonald's is the same as the next, and now the same can be said for the local McPost Office.Postal officials in Seattle who helped make this decision won't return calls to the local newspaper, but they should realize that in rural communities post offices play the unique role of being the center of the community. It's where people meet, chat, exchange news, and look at death notices on the windows and children's art and community posters on the walls. To take this individuality away in the name of efficiency is a terrible decision.For years our local postmasters in Freeland, Clinton and Langley have done an excellent job in making their own decisions on what to allow in their lobbies. They don't need or want some higher up telling them how to run things. After all, the locals get the heat for bad decisions made by far-away bureaucrats.For what it's worth, people who value our post offices and communities should protest this change. Each post office has officially approved customer satisfaction forms in the lobby. Fill one out, and tell them what they can do with their McPost Office idea.Failed levy, bond make it a sad dayFriday was a sad day in South Whidbey history as both the school district levy and parks district bond failed as the Feb. 29 election was certified as official. Supporters of each spent a tense two weeks as levy backers watched a tenuous election night lead slowly slip away as absentee ballots were counted, and bond supporters watched as absentees failed to overcome a narrow election night deficit.The parks bond failure is the easier to try to explain. Supporters had only 45 days from the time the commissioners decided to put the proposal on the ballot to sell it to the public. That they came close suggests that the could well succeed on the next try in April. It will also help that the commissioners reduced the amount of the next bond attempt when it became apparent that the first effort would fail. By election day April 25, hopefully, even more voters will realized the importance of acquiring more ballfields for the youth of today and tomorrow. Only 110 more yes votes would have given the bond proposal the 60 percent support needed to pass.The school district suffered its first maintenance and operation levy defeat in many years, but it was hardly an overwhelming rejection. Only 24 more yes votes were needed for the levy to pass.So why did it fail? It wasn't due to lack of effort by the citizen's bond committee -- volunteers did an excellent job publicizing the election and getting out the vote. Perhaps we can blame the presidential primary election also held Feb. 29, which may have attracted people who don't normally vote in school elections. Maybe some of them decided a no vote would protect their pocketbooks, without fully understanding the issues involved. The levy isn't for unnecessary educational expenses -- levy funds simply keep things running normally.The school board has no choice but to present another levy to voters on April 25. It will still take a lot of hard work to sell, but we suspect that without the distraction of the presidential primary, South Whidbey voters will once again show their support for schools -- and for parks."