AUBURN GRESHAM RESIDENTS COMPLAIN OF… SNAIL MAIL
Rush takes aim at postal service as constituents say they haven’t been getting letters, packages for weeks
Lashann Walker spent more than an hour Tuesday morning picking up her mail at her local post office in Auburn Gresham.
She had to. It hadn’t been delivered to her home for three weeks.
“I’ve been expecting a lot of mail that just hasn’t come in yet,” Walker said outside the Auburn Park branch post office, 8345 S. Ashland Ave.
The post office “didn’t inform me that they were running behind and if they did, I would’ve been here a long time ago,” Walker added. “Even now when I picked up my mail they still didn’t tell me when I will get some more mail. Like, will I have to come back up here every day?”
It’s not exactly clear what is causing home delivery delays in the South Side neighborhood; Walker was among half a dozen residents interviewed by the Sun-Times who told similar stories.
The problems have gotten the attention of the local congressman, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who said his office has been bombarded with complaints.
“A two-week mail delay might not seem like a big deal to Chicago’s USPS leadership, but such a delay in vital services can mean delayed medications for our sick and elderly, or the delayed payment of bills accompanied by undeserved late fees,” Rush said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Despite USPS’s attempts to blame the current pandemic for their own incompetence, delayed deliveries are a recurrent problem ... specifically as it relates to the South Side.”
Postal Service spokesman Tim Norman said mail was being delivered in Auburn Gresham Tuesday; told of residents’ complaints, he recommended calling the Postal Service’s consumer affairs hotline at (312) 983-8403.
“The Chicago District has a dedicated workforce that services nearly 1.3 million delivery points daily,” Norman said. “We gladly work to address any specific issue reported from the community.”
Walker said postal workers told her delivery delays might be the result of the coronavirus forcing postal workers to call in sick, but “we were getting our mail every day — and sometimes early — all through the pandemic, so that’s why I don’t understand why it is happening now.”
Norman didn’t say whether the Auburn Park branch was affected by employees missing work due to the pandemic, though the agency is “flexing our available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing coronavirus.”
Monday was the first day in two weeks that Anquita Ward, 35, received mail at home. Ward went to the post office anyway, because she was still waiting on a package that should’ve been delivered already.
Workers inside Tuesday morning told her “they are short-staffed and they have mail that has been bagged up since [July 9] and when they get to it, they’ll let us know,” Ward said.
“They won’t even go back there and pull people’s packages and they also told us there is medicine that is in there that hasn’t been delivered.”
Ward said there’s been tension between postal workers and customers. As Ward was speaking with the Sun-Times, one of those workers stepped in to say a few words.
“No it’s not mail. These people are waiting for f---ing packages that they can’t go to the store and get,” the postal worker said. “So if you can’t buy your cheap-ass sh-- at the store, wait for us to bring it to your house.”
The postal worker didn’t give her name but said carriers have gotten “robbed and jumped” recently and the Auburn Park Branch was short two-thirds of its staff. Most concerning, she said, was the number of people ignoring social distancing and refusing to wear masks.
“When I get COVID, that’s one more employee down, when I give it to them ladies up there that’s three more employees down,” the postal worker said before storming back into the building.
Ward understood the postal worker’s concerns about COVID-19, but wasn’t happy with how workers described the packages people are waiting on.
“Whether a person’s mail is cheap or not, it’s still theirs . ... I just don’t like how they are talking to people,” Ward said. “This is what we always deal with” at this branch.
Rush said similar issues two years ago led to a series of meetings with Postal Service. “Promises were made, but none of them were kept,” Rush said, so he’s “finished with listening to USPS’s excuses.”
A 41-year-old felon with a history of driving offenses told authorities he was high on PCP when he was speeding and slammed into an elderly woman’s car in Archer Heights, immediately killing her, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Luis Alverado was traveling south on Cicero Avenue on a suspended license when he allegedly went through a red light at Archer Avenue at 76 mph around 4:45 p.m. Sunday.
Once in the intersection, Alverado’s black Chevrolet Malibu slammed into 76-year-old Patricia Wickers’ Honda Prelude with such force that her car “split almost completely in half,” prosecutors said.
Wickers, of Gage Park, was thrown across the intersection. She died at the scene.
Alverado’s car continued to crash into several other vehicles before coming to a stop, prosecutors said. He then got out of his Malibu and stood on the sidewalk.
Several witnesses identified him as the driver in the deadly crash, leading to his arrest, prosecutors said.
Alverado later admitted to smoking PCP, running through a red light and not having a valid driver’s license, prosecutors said. He was taken to a hospital for a blood draw, but results were still pending Tuesday. Alverado is facing a reckless homicide charge for Wickers’ death.
Judge John F. Lyke Jr. called the allegations against Alverado “totally horrendous” and ordered Alverado held on $250,000 bail.
Alverado’s license has been suspended since 2016, prosecutors said. He has also been arrested nine times for driving without a valid license or driving while his license was suspended, court records show. Alverado also has convictions for armed robbery, drug possession, gang loitering and assaulting a police officer.
An assistant public defender told Lyke that Alverado is a single father of four children in their late teens or early 20s and cares for his elderly parents. He is currently unemployed because of an injury, but he last worked at a Home Depot for two years, the assistant public defender said.
Lashann Walker stands outside the Auburn Park Post Office on Tuesday in Auburn Gresham. She was retrieving her mail and said no mail has been delivered to her home for three weeks.
Anquita Ward says she hasn’t received mail at home for two weeks and was at the Auburn Park Post Office on Tuesday trying to retrieve a package.