Monday, May 9, 2011

Political flyer in the mailbox. Is it illegal?

Tuesday is the last day for early voting in Terrell. Terrell voters are 
being asked to vote either for or against Proposition 1, or Ordinance No. 
2457. I don't understand all parts of this ordinance, and there is so much 
misinformation out there it's hard to tell what's fact or fiction. From 
what I can tell, it's supposed to be about rental properties staying in 
code. I am buying owner-financed and still don't know how it relates to me. 
I really don't want to get involved in all of it, but....

Monday morning as I left my house, I had a flyer at the foot of my front 
door and one INSIDE my mailbox. I may be reading postal regulations from a 
few years ago, but I think it's illegal to place anything in or on a mailbox 
that does not have US Postage on it. This is a two page flyer that, from 
what I can tell, is made to look like it came from the city.

Page 1 is titled "Items on the May 14, 2011 Ballot" Below the title it's 
made to look like someone hand-wrote 'Vote Yes!'.

There are words on the page like "we" and "our". The second sentence says, 
"it is an extension of our current apartment inspection program." Farther 
down the page it says, "we want to prevent buildings from declining to the 
point they have to be condemned." It makes it sound like this is a 
city-endorsed flyer.

Statistics are cited on page 1, but the source is never named or attributed.

Page 2 is titled " City Of Terrell Crime-Free Life/Safety Inspection 
Checklist". It's a checklist of some of the requirements for 
something.....not sure what something is. Is it Ordinance 2457? Part of 
2457? Is there a place where I can read the entire prop? I could probably 
find it, but what about someone who isn't online everyday?

#4 on the list: Windows-There can not be any broken or damaged windows. I  wonder how Saturday's post fits in with this?

Bottom line, I don't know how I am going to vote yet, and I don't know who 
placed the flyer in my mailbox. There are no tags showing who put it there 
or who paid for it. I have tomorrow off and plan on talking to someone 
about the flyer.  Saturday is the official election day. 

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it's still illegal, a Federal crime, to put a flyer in a mailbox.

This is how I found it this morning.

page 1
page 2


brian stout said...

i think one big brother didn't check with the other bigger brother before violating that big federal law!

Lynette said...

Jim, you're so right. I am curious what you will find out tomorrow! Found this by Googling these words, federal law only postage mail in mailboxes.

United States Postal Service
April 26, 2011 Media Contact: Lewis Alambar
(325) 738-2102
Mailbox access restricted to postage paid U.S. Mail
Free Event Helps Local Businesses Reach Out To Potential New Customers
ABILENE, TX – The U.S. Postal Service would like to warn people that only authorized U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox. By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail.

Recently, there have been reports of people placing non-mail items that did not bear U.S. postage in local mailboxes. The U.S. Postal Service recognizes customers may place non-mail items into mailboxes as a convenient way of “dropping something off,” but those items may cause a smaller mailbox to become full. When a mailbox is full, Postal Service regulations say the letter carrier cannot place mail in the box.

Additionally, the Postal Service has received complaints of commercial business cards and flyers without paid postage being placed in mailboxes. Though many may be unaware, it is important to know that this type of activity is illegal by federal law. It may seem to be an easy way to advertise, but only U.S. Mail delivered by authorized personnel may be placed in mailboxes.

“We know many customers might not object to having a particular item placed in their mailbox from time to time, but the reasons for restricting use of mailboxes is really two-fold,” said Postmaster Lewis Alambar. “First, if there is not enough room in a mailbox due to unauthorized items, the Postal Service can’t deliver the customer’s mail. Secondly, the Postal Service wants to ensure the integrity of our customer’s mailbox. That’s why only Postal Service personnel are authorized to place mail in or remove mail from mailboxes. In fact, U.S. Postal Inspectors advise customers to report people going mailbox to mailbox who are not postal employees. It could be someone completely unaware of the statute placing advertisements, but it could also be someone trying to steal mail.”

"We recognize that, from time to time, the statute and the Postal regulations may cause conflict with some customers," the Postmaster continued. "When all factors are brought to their attention, however, we hope that the great majority of the public would agree that restricting mailboxes to U.S. Mail not only ensures customers receive their mail, but it also increases the security of the service."

The Postmaster noted an exception to the general rule: newspapers can be placed in mailboxes only on Sunday; a non-delivery day for the Postal Service. He additionally noted that a newspaper receptacle can be mounted on rural or curbside mailbox post or support.

SRQ said...

I would contact the City of Terrell and determine if the City
placed that flyer in your mailbox. I doubt it. It's probably the work of a neighborhood activist grouop. More importantly, I would like to know how many rental properties are considered to be in substandard condition and how many renters have been injured as a result of those conditions. I would think it must be very high to warrant the consideration of such an ordinance. Sounds like the safety of renters is a charade, and there's another intent behind this ballot issue. So, I'd vote NO on that proposed ordinance if I were a registered Terrell voter. (In my humble opinion)

Anonymous said...

The number of rental properties is going up in Terrell (and encroaching on nicer neighborhoods) so homeowners are trying to find ways to keep their property values up

Unfortunately the folks pushing this ordinance decided to try to fix this through city hall buddies instead of actually engaging the landlords and renters in their neighborhoods

There are a lot of run-down homes in Terrell, but the PRO's have not made a very good case that the ordinance will be effective in solving that problem.

The ANTI's have done a much better job showing that some parts of the ordinance are iffy

The FOR's never recovered from the initial defeat at city council, and did nothing to address problem parts of the ordinance

While it is fun to watch, I hope the animosity and name-calling will go away after Saturday and people will find a way to really raise standards by engaging each other

Xander Lawson said...

I don't really see anything wrong with receiving political flyers in the mail, especially around election time. Still, I have to say that it sometimes gets annoying when you receive a huge number of flyers.

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