This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 16, 2002 9:41 PM. The previous post in this blog was Now maybe everyone will be happy. The next post in this blog is This just in from Mayor Vera Katz. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, August 16, 2002

Long live the Pioneer Post Office

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Sen. Gordon Smith and Rep. Earl Blumenauer have turned against the plan to boot the Post Office out of the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland as part of a renovation. There's something fishy about this -- the plan has been around for a few years, and only now, as they run for re-election, are these two lawmakers extolling the Post Office's virtues. In fact, just last November, they were bragging about being the big leaders behind re-doing the courthouse. Did I hear somebody say "focus group results"? Regardless, it is gratifying that the post-9/11 steamroller for turning yet another federal landmark into a walled enclave is getting some second thoughts.

As Gordon-and-Earl-Come-Lately are now pointing out, there has been a Post Office in the floor plan of this, the oldest building in the city, ever since its erection in the 1870s. Common folk have been walking up its beautiful stone steps with their everyday business for generations. If the Ninth Circuit judges can't live with the threat that this poses, then maybe they, not the citizenry, should be the ones to move. Surely the General Services Administration (Uncle Sam as Landlord) can find another, less precious building suitable for conversion into a bomb-proof concrete bunker if the judiciary really needs it. And at least for the moment, one doubts that it does. The Ninth Circuit judges currently walk to and from their nearby parking garages with hardly a soul noticing or recognizing them. Moreover, let's face it, if someone really wanted to take out one of the appeals judges, there are plenty of opportunities to do so away from their place of work.

Sure, security at the courthouse can be enhanced. But such improvements are not totally incompatible with the historic mail station in the building. The Pioneer can and should be left with its beautiful little postal windows intact, and tenanted, if necessary, with public offices that are in less danger of being attacked.

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