Postmaster to play nice?


By Erin Schultz

Peggy Lee Dzenkowski says she just wants Linda Boken, longtime postmaster at the East Marion post office, to be a little nicer.

So, for a few days a week the past couple of weeks, Ms. Dzenkowski has been sitting at a card table draped with pink signs, collecting petition signatures in front of the post office.

"We the postal patrons of East Marion are petitioning the U.S. Postal Service for the replacement of the East Marion postmistress," reads one of the signs. "We feel her actions have not put forth good community relations. Therefore, we ask for her removal."

As of this past Friday, Ms. Dzenkowski said she had over 100 signatures on the petition. Ms. Boken, postmaster since 1994, declined to comment about the situation.

One local resident who requested anonymity said she signed the petition because Ms. Boken "isn't nice."

Ms. Dzenkowski said she's trying to get Ms. Boken removed, not fired.

"I don't care where they put her," she said.

Ms. Dzenkowski, 55, has lived in East Marion for 32 years. She says she's leading the effort to get signatures for the petition because of a persistent personality conflict between herself and Ms. Boken. She also said that too much mail is returned to senders for "insufficient address" when "stickers can be placed on mail to be corrected," especially in a tiny community of 770, she said.

In addition to collecting signatures, Ms. Dzenkowski is encouraging those who are unhappy with the postal service to write letters to the United States Postal Service and to Consumer Affairs.

"Voices are going to be heard as a community," Ms. Dzenkowski said. "This isn't New York City or a city in California where she doesn't know people."

Tom Gaynor, the Long Island representative of the United States Post Office, said that most complaints about personnel are handled by people calling 1-800-ASK-USPS or by filing a complaint on www.usps.com. He said he's never seen a petition of this scope during his 25 years with the post office.

"Basically, the customer would bring it to the attention of the district office," he said. "And [the district office] would investigate the situation."

He said removals of postal workers usually result from actions of a criminal nature, though if other duties of the job are not being fulfilled, disciplinary actions may take place.

But to some who've been with the post office for years, like C. McKinless of Ringwood, N.J., removal should be a last resort. He wrote a letter to the online publication the Gilroy Dispatch in reaction to the removal of a letter carrier three years ago.

"Removal is a serious action and follows a person for many years," he wrote. "Having been a carrier for 38 years, I have seen cases where the discipline does not fit the infraction. Discipline is supposed to be remedial and not terminal."

Ms. Dzenkowski said that with a few days of sitting outside of the post office under her belt, she's heard from other postal patrons that Ms. Boken has been "being nice" -- the result she's been hoping for.

"I'm getting my point across," Ms. Dzenkowski said, adding that she'll sit at her card table as long as it takes to collect enough signatures (she's hoping for 200).

"I'm not going to sit out here in the rain," she said. "And I'm not sitting out here for my own cause.... A better attitude will improve our postal service."

eschultz@timesreview.com