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, Signal T R I B U N E March is Women’s History Month (see p. 8) Serving BixBy KnollS, California HeigHtS, loS CerritoS, Wrigley and tHe City of Signal Hill Vol. 33 No. 39 Your Weekly Community Newspaper March 2, 2012 Long Beach to possibly lose mail-processing facility as Postal Service announces cost-cutting measures CJ Dablo Staff Writer The U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to close the Long Beach mail-processing center and other facilities nationwide as part of their cost-cutting measures unless Congress chooses to enact legislation that will address the agency’s financial problems. The Long Beach facility located at 2300 Redondo Ave. is one of three processing centers in Los Angeles County that are targeted for possible closure. Richard Maher, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, explained that the agency will review each of the three centers individually and announce the dates of closure when the Postal Service feels they can accomplish the consolidation. If the proposal moves forward and all three processing cen- ters close, only two facilities– one in Los Angeles and the other in Santa Clarita– will handle the processing for the entire county, according to Maher. There is a window, however, for Congress to enact legislation to address the Postal Service’s business woes. “Nothing is set in stone at this time,” Maher said in an interview Monday. He explained that the U.S. Postal Service agreed in December that they would not close post offices or mail-processing facilities until May 15 and that agreement gives Congress an opportunity to propose comprehensive legislation to address what the agency calls a financial crisis. He noted the drop in the demand for first-class mail. The public has increasingly turned to the Internet to handle much of its communication, relying on email and choosing to pay bills and file taxes online, and the Postal Service’s annual volume for first-class mail has dropped about 25 percent since 2006, according to Maher. He emphasized that the agency’s operations are not funded by tax dollars. In addition to the drop in mail volume, Maher also stressed one major financial obligation that affects the Postal Service’s bottom line. “The Postal Service has asked Congress to provide a more flexible business model for us and to address some of the mandates that were established in past laws,” Maher said. “Most [notable] is the requirement to pre-pay future retiree health benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion every year, which has been driving our losses in the past couple of years. And this is an obligation that no government agency or business Local carpenters union protesting against Temple Israel over labor wages CJ Dablo/Signal Tribune The Postal Service has announced that they may close the processing center at the post office facilities located at 2300 Redondo Ave. in the United States is burdened with.” The possible closure of Long Beach’s mail-processing facility doesn’t mean the end of service to retail customers at the facility at Redondo Matt Sun/Signal Tribune Stephanie Raygoza Staff Writer Standing behind a white banner that stretches across the sidewalk corner with its bold red print as it greets passersby, carpenter Jay Littlejohn says that sometimes he’ll get people waving back with five fingers and other times he’ll get those that wave back with just one. He smiles either way and stands his ground. “We’re here to stay until this gets settled,” he says. Littlejohn and two other men have been protesting for the past three weeks as part of a labor dispute between the Temple Israel-Long Beach and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ local chapter. The banner located by the entrance of the Alpert Jewish Community Center (AJCC) reads “Temple Israel Long Beach Rips Off the Community” and has come to represent an accusation of the temple’s contribution to the erosion of area wage standards for carpenter craft workers. As described in detail within each distributed flier, the temple has hired the Hale Corporation as its general contractor for its renovation project. The Hale Corporation has in turn hired CS Drywall to install and finish the drywall on the project. The problem primarily lies with the Hale Corporation’s choice for its subcontractor. CS Drywall has had a history of problems paying workers the area wage standard, according to see PROTEST page 14 see POST OFFICE page 15 WRD suing Signal Hill and two other cities for $5.2 million in water bills Nick Diamantides Staff Writer From left, union supporter Jacob Saas, carpenter’s apprentice Bert Mondino and carpenter John Littlejohn protesting last Saturday as part of a labor dispute between the Temple-Israel and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters union Avenue. According to Maher, the movement of the processing center wouldn’t impact any of the other serv- A recent lawsuit filed by the Water Replenishment District (WRD) against Signal Hill, Downey and Cerritos demonstrates the fact that each party in a legal dispute can be convinced that it is on the side of truth and justice. A Feb. 16 WRD press release contains the following statement: “After accruing month after month of unpaid invoices, 10 consecutive months, WRD today filed suit against [the three cities] to pay their respective outstanding water bill totaling nearly $5.3 million.” The press release also explains that WRD is asking the court to either order the cities to pay their water bills or order them to stop pumping groundwater and obtain their water from other sources. Patty Quilizapa, attorney representing the three cities, insists that they are justified in not paying the bills because WRD has not complied with a previous court order and has violated the provisions of California Proposition 218. She notes that the three cities, as well as Bellflower and Pico Rivera, had taken WRD to court in 2010 over what the cities claimed was WRD’s illegal method of determining how much cities had to pay the agency for the groundwater they pumped. (Quilizapa works for the Irvine-based Aleshire and Wynder law firm. Dave Aleshire, one of the firm’s senior partners, is Signal Hill’s city attorney.) “Under Proposition 218, (a voterapproved California Constitutional Amendment passed in 1996) you can only charge any taxpayer their proportional costs,” Quilizapa said. “We allege that WRD has never followed 218, and that has resulted in the cities overpaying on their replenishment assessment.” Quilizapa explained that the five cities that sued WRD in 2010 feel that the WRD bills are not justified because they are located in WRD’s Central Basin and it does not cost the agency as much to replenish and maintain the groundwater in its Central Basin as much as it costs to do the same things in the agency’s West Coast Basin. “The uniform replenishment assessment applied to the West Coast Basin and the Central Basin pumpers alike actually resulted in the Central Basin pumpers subsidizing the West Coast Basin pumpers,” she said. “But under Proposition 218, WRD may not do that.” WRD charges a replenishment assessment (RA) to all entities that pump groundwater in the 420-squaremile region that is in the agency’s jurisdiction. The agency uses the see WRD page 14


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