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Mail delays continue to dog Detroit area, Peters report finds

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Timely mail delivery has improved since a slowdown in midsummer, but the Detroit area has experienced increasing delays since September, according to a new report by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

The Bloomfield Township Democrat's analysis cites Postal Service data showing that 71% of mail in the Detroit District was delivered on time during the first week in October — the worst rate for any district in the country — and the fourth consecutive week that on-time delivery declined in the Detroit area. 

Before cost-cutting changes were made at the Postal Service over the summer, mail in the Detroit District was delivered on time nearly 85% on average, according to the findings by Peters, the top Democrat on the panel that oversees the Postal Service.  

Protesters rally in August in support of the United States Postal Service outside Royal Oak's main Post office after cost-cutting measures were taken.

Peters found delivery in the rest of Michigan has been more stable recently with on-time service declining 0.5 percentage points in the first week of October to 86% of first-class mail delivered within the Postal Service's one-day to five-day standard. 

The report acknowledged delivery improvements nationwide since the controversial new policies in July that caused an uproar, prompting lawsuits and congressional hearings, including one before Peters' panel, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had said he would suspend some of the operational changes until after the November election, but on-time delivery has since fluctuated, according to the report. 

In 62 of the 67 postal districts, on-time service remained below the level it was at before the changes were instituted, falling from an average 91% before the July changes to 86% on-time delivery during the first week of October — the most recent data available. That translates to delays of one to three days for first-class mail. 

“Michiganders are counting on the Postal Service to deliver their mail on time, and this decline in service across the state is completely unacceptable,” Peters said in a statement. 

Peters released a Tuesday letter to DeJoy: "I am writing again to raise concern and demand you take all necessary actions to reverse mounting mail delivery delays," he wrote, noting the potential impact on millions of mail-in ballots for the upcoming election.

The Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the Postal Service on Capitol Hill, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Washington.

Peters is running for reelection on Nov. 3 against Farmington Hills businessman and Republican John James. 

In addition to Detroit, on-time mail delivery was below 80% in five other districts covering the areas of Washington, D.C. (74%), Baltimore (75%), Mississippi (78%), Philadelphia (79%) and Alabama (79%). 

In September, an earlier report by Peters on the mail slowdown found on-time delivery in the Detroit area had fallen to 66% after DeJoy's July changes. 

Peters has sponsored legislation that would bar the agency from implementing operational changes effecting delivery standards until after the coronavirus pandemic.

mburke@detroitnews.com