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US Post Office Spends Millions On Houses

Some actual investigative reporting from CNN:

The Postal Service bought this 8,400-square-foot South Carolina home so an employee could relocate.

Postal Service draws criticism for $1.2 million home buy

March 5, 2009

By Abbie Boudreau, Scott Zamost and Jessi Joseph

LAKE WATEREE, South Carolina (CNN) — At a time when the U.S. Postal Service says it is experiencing a financial crisis, it purchased a $1.2 million home from an employee so he could relocate, a CNN investigation has found.

Postal Service spokesman Greg Frey said the home will be resold, as others have been.

"It’s not like we threw away a million dollars," Frey told CNN. "We are hoping it’s going to go for the appraised value."

But a real estate agent in the area said the home could be a tough sell in a depressed housing market — and the USPS said it lost an average of more than $58,000 on the 500-plus homes its relocation program bought and sold in 2008.

The 8,400-square-foot, six-bedroom home on Lake Wateree, about 30 miles north of Columbia, is likely to be the last million-dollar home purchased by the Postal Service. A $1 million cap on homes eligible for the relocation program took effect in February, Frey said.

But the program has raised eyebrows among critics and is under scrutiny by the USPS inspector-general’s office in the wake of a CNN investigation.

The South Carolina home belonged to Ronald Hopson, the former postmaster in Lexington, South Carolina, and his wife, Evelyn. The property includes five acres, four bathrooms, two half-baths and an indoor swimming pool.

Hopson is now the customer service manager for the USPS branch in Carrollton, Texas

Some U.S. government agencies do the same thing, but with limits on how much they will spend. For example, the Food and Drug Administration limits its relocation assistance to homes under $330,000.

Frey said the average cost of the 1,022 homes purchased through the USPS relocation program in 2007 and 2008 was $257,874. Fifteen of those remain on the market, he said.

Of the 1,022, 14 cost between $1 million and $2.8 million. All of those have been sold, Frey said, but typically at a loss once closing costs, attorneys fees and commissions are paid.

In 2007, after the U.S. housing boom peaked, the USPS lost an average of $50,542 on each deal, he said. In 2008, with the market in full retreat, the average loss climbed to $58,397…

No wonder stamps cost so much, what with the Post Office dabbling in the real estate business.

But is it really so hard to recruit people for the cushy jobs at the post office that you have to buy their houses?

No, it’s just another example of what happens when bureaucrats have too much money and too little accountability.

(Thanks to Canary for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, March 6th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “US Post Office Spends Millions On Houses”

  1. GL0120

    Losing a few grand here and there is no big deal when it’s not your money.

    Maybe putting these execs up in a hotel for a week or so would be a way to save a few dollars?

    Nah, what was I thinking? Save a few dollars? Why, when you can get performance bonuses while losing millions?

    My apologies, I was operating in reality, not the wonderful world our supposed public servants live in.

  2. Colonel1961

    Gee, who knew the post office paid so well…

  3. proreason

    Nice digs for someone presiding over a low-quality, backward, inefficent, overpriced operation in a small community, particularly considering that the heart of the system is the routing centers, not the delivery locations.

    Basically, the guy rubber-stamps what the union bosses tell him to do. The whole national scheme is rules-based, and union-operated. A local Postmaster has virtually no input or control.

    Can you spell political appointee.

    • Steve

      “Nice digs for someone presiding over a low-quality, backward, inefficent, overpriced operation in a small community, particularly considering that the heart of the system is the routing centers, not the delivery locations.”

      I also love it that Mr. Hopson went from being the “postmaster” to being a customer service manager.

    • proreason

      I got a letter a few days ago in a baggie. An animal had taken a big bite out of the letter.

      The local “customer service” representative enclosed a form letter apologizing for any inconvenience it might have caused me.

      (note to self: if I ever again get another check through the mail, request it be mailed in a kevlar envelope.)

    • heykev

      Where can I get job where I’m “presiding over a low-quality, backward, inefficent, overpriced operation in a small community.” I could rubber-stamp what the union bosses tell me to do. Seems like they pay quite well if he can afford a 1.2 million dollar home. It would almost be like my current unemployment situation, only with better hours, a retirement plan and wonderful healthcare benefits. Humm…

  4. jobeth

    “It’s not like we threw away a million dollars,” Frey told CNN. “We are hoping ,it’s going to go for the appraised value.”

    I guess this is the “hope” Obama is talking about. In this depressed housing market does he actually think he is going to get the “appraised value”?

    And why didn’t the original owner sell it himself if its so easy to unload?

    This is from the people who just MUST cut delivery on Saturdays.

    What private company could ever lose business (due to email), hire so many ineffecient people (due to race quotas and affirmative action)
    then solve the problem by HIKING their prices and cutting services? Then they’re shocked when the whole thing continues to spiral south. Sort of backasswards if you ask for common sense.

    Silly me, what am I thinking. This is the US Gov and my tax dollars at work. And of course they will come up with a wonderful heath plan for us all! Of course they will!

  5. U NO HOO

    “Gee, who knew the post office paid so well…”

    I did.

    I worked part time in a post office that didn’t have a flourescent tube on site to replace a burned out tube.

    I quit the next day.

    PS, one of the city carriers, those are the ones in uniform, “joked” about making $80,000 a year, with overtime of course.

  6. canary

    The mailman can make some fine hourly wage, driving and walking up to that porch.

  7. brad

    Fraud Waste Abuse

    Our public “servants” doing the people’s business…..

  8. Cloudberry

    The post office hires seasonal workers who make less than half of what career employees are paid hourly. The seasonal (casual) workers in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex, which includes Ronald Hopson’s branch office in Carrollton, Texas, have been told their $10 an hour pay is being reduced to $9.00 an hour.

    When times get tough, the Postal Service will move around buddies in higher positions for $1.2 million but ask the least of their workers to pay for it. That move would have never happened without Hobson having some good and loyal friends to help him out by giving the OK for his move and relocation. There were more than enough people who wanted and were qualified for his position that lived in or near Carrollton.

    There is nothing that makes Hobson specially qualified for his new position and relocation except for his connections.


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