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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

City Council rejects ‘Do Not Mail’ concept

Post Office employees are fighting back against a proposal to allow people to "opt out" from receiving bulk mail.

On Monday, the Spokane City Council rejected a non-binding resolution asking the state Legislature to create a registry that would allow people to decline bulk mail.

Spokane Postmaster Karen Fairlee and several postal workers testified against the idea, as did a few owners of local print shops.

"The business of mail impacts this community," Fairlee said. "Do Not Mail is not as simple as it sounds."

Locally, one-time City Council candidate Donna McKereghan has led the charge for the concept. In March, she asked county leaders to endorse the idea. Supporters say that junk mail generates significant waste and that little of it is recycled, especially in Spokane, which does not offer bulk mail recycling at the curb as part of regular trash service. (The city does offer curbside mixed paper recycling, including for bulk mail, for an extra fee.)

McKereghan told the council Monday that Do Not Mail is about consumer choice.

"That's what capitalism is all about," she said.

Letter carriers argued that the idea would hurt the already struggling postal service as well as businesses that depend on mail marketing.

"We're talking about a lot of jobs, not just postal service, but also in the private sector," said Martin Mueller, branch president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Amber Waldref.

"I just hate to see that our postal service is attached to a model that surveys show that customers are not satisfied with," Waldref said.

But the council solidly rejected the idea in a 1-6 vote. Only Waldref voted for it.

Waldref, who used bulk mail to advertise her candidacy for City Council last year, said in a brief interview that she would be OK if political campaign advertising had to comply with a Do-Not-Mail registry.

Councilman Steve Corker argued that bulk mail is especially important to older folks who haven't adopted to technology and don't use the Internet.

He added that bulk mail supports many jobs and is used by small businesses to generate customers.

"The reason I can't support this proposal right now is because I'm one of those people over 40," Corker said, adding: "I don't think this is the time to send this message because of our economy."

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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