(Venice, CA/4-21-12) After encountering spirited opposition from the Venice Stakeholders Association (and other Venice groups) to the Postal Service’s plan to shutter the Venice Main Post Office (VMPO) and sell it to a private owner without any meaningful historic protections, Postal Service attorney Maria Infanger has shut VSA out of the historic consultation process entirely.
On March 12, VSA forwarded a 7-page letter containing detailed written comments on the effect of the sale on the VMPO and the historic Works Progress Administration mural in its lobby. Following an initial conference call with VSA, Ms. Infanger promised a follow-up call at which the specific comments were to be discussed. A few days later, she abruptly canceled the call, claiming VSA had been “hostile” during the call and had misrepresented the Postal Service’s position to its members. She insisted that VSA grovel to her by providing “reasonable written comments and solutions that present some compromises” – or else VSA would be locked out of the process entirely.
The Postal Service had never replied to VSA's letter or indicated that it was willing to accept any legal language that would protect the Post Office's foyer and mural, require public access Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, or allow a third party to bring suit to enforce the preservation covenant if a new owner moved to demolish the building, alter the foyer or failed to preserve the mural.
When Ms. Infanger was asked if she had seen photos of the mural during the March 12th call, there was no reply. Asked in the same call the purpose of perserving the mural if the new owner was not required to provide access so the public could see it, Ms. Infanger and her colleagues were silent.
The Postal Service’s strategy is clearly to silence any strenuous objections to the plan so that they can achieve their objective to sell the Venice Post Office to the highest bidder, with no protections, preservation be damned.
Ms. Infanger’s punitive and adversarial approach is unbecoming of a government official whose job it is to serve the public.