Friday, November 27, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Santa's Mail

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Here I was all ready to leap into one of the great disputes of our age. Guaranteed to rally the cry of protest nationwide, the lead the fight for a great American value. Right up there with Truth, Justice and the American Way. Then the Post Office apparently rolled over and gave up. Even before I could work up a really good rant. Sigh. It's so hard being a talking head these days. Oh by the way, if you have any young people in the family who still believe in a certain right jolly old elf in the present delivery business now would be a good time to either get them out of earshot or turn down the radio for about two minutes.

OK, ready now?

Yes, the great Santa mail dispute apparently has died even before it got started. If you hadn't heard the U.S. Postal Service had announced it was discontinuing the annual mail to Santa routine. Since 1954 folks in the village of North Pole Alaska have been opening and responding to letters addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole. The program is a big deal in a small town where Christmas is a pretty big deal. The staff of volunteers numbers just over a dozen and they respond in the personas of Santa's helpers or elves. The Postal Service had run into a problem with a similar program in Maryland that ended up with a registered sex offender answering the children's mail. So they put in place new regulations to put an end to the practice. The new rules proposed would have created a massive amount of work for postal employees who would have had to redact (that's government talk for "black out") the children's names and remove the return address leaving only a computer code connected to each one.

Needless to say there were quite a few people who got cranky. The word of the moment, courtesy of Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski is that USPS has changed its mind. To be honest I'm amazed the Postal Service waded into this one at all. It has lose-lose written all over it. I have plenty of sympathy for the postal workers (hey, one of my best friends was a postal worker. Really, no joke, one of my best friends is a retired postal worker) and the Service has been struggling with deficits just like everyone else. But trying to balance the budget by taking out Santa's mail delivery? You just had to know that one would be "Returned to Sender".

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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