Epic Fail (as normal) for U.S. Danger/Response evaluation

Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 11:15 pm
The United States Postal Service abruptly shut down public participation in all the Operation Santa programs " in New York and other major cities across the country " at 1 p.m. Wednesday, without offering post offices or letter-seeking citizens any understanding of why.

A Postal Service official in Washington, after an initial, limited acknowledgment of a “privacy breach,” said that at one of the programs, not New York’s, a man whom a letter carrier recognized as a registered sex offender had “adopted” a letter. When postal officials confronted the man, the official said, he said he was sincerely trying to do a good deed, but postal inspectors nonetheless retrieved the letter and notified the family of the child.

The Postal Service, indicating that the closing down of all of Operation Santa might be temporary, said that it felt it was wise to take the precaution.


as if we needed any more evidence that America is more than a little touched with paranoia about sex offenders.
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Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 11:53 pm
I take it that child molesters are supposed to be stupid....as in they would make contact by going down to the post office, showing ID, filling out and signing a form, then finding a letter that sounds like it came from a kid they would be interested in. That is a lot of work, plus their name and address is all handy when the police come a calling. I supposed they could get a fake id but then the work is even more overbearing. I don't think this is going to appeal to a child molester. But hey, let's close down the whole program on the microscopic chance that it might, right?
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2008 08:44 pm
the insanity continues
Lisa Lorusso and her four granddaughters gathered around the Christmas gifts they had packed inside a box at a long table in the sprawling post office at Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street in Manhattan.

Skip to next paragraph
Postal Service Tells Gift-Givers Not to Help Santa (December 19, 2008) “Snowsuit?” Ms. Lorusso called out. Check, responded the 11-year-old twins.

“Pink snow boots?” she asked. Check, answered the 8-year-old and the 9-year-old.

“Underwear, toys and pink pajamas?” Ms. Lorusso asked as she dug through the box. Check, check and check.

They closed the box and taped it shut. Then, Ms. Lorusso whipped out a pen and wrote “From Santa and the elves with love.”

As the girls traded smiles, a postal worker pushed a metal cart toward the family and called out: “Don’t forget the recipient control number and ZIP Code.”

Ms. Lorusso and the four girls were learning that fulfilling the wishes of needy children who penned letters to the fun fat fellow through the United States Postal Service’s Operation Santa Claus was not as simple as it used to be.

The Postal Service abruptly shut down the national program last week because of a privacy breach and reopened it Saturday in New York with a few policy changes that made the process a bit more complicated and for some a little less warm and fuzzy.

For nearly 100 years, people would pick out letters at a post office and send gifts directly to children using the address listed on the letters.

But the program was shut down after postal workers recognized a registered sex offender as one of the people taking a letter at a facility outside of New York. The man told postal officials that he meant no harm, but officials notified the family of the child, and the program was stopped.

Operation Santa resumed with a few tweaks, including the redaction of last names and addresses with heavy black ink. And instead of sending gifts directly to children, secret Santas must take wrapped presents to the post office and provide the recipient control number that corresponds with their letter. The post office will then deliver the gifts.

At the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue, Ms. Lorusso scanned the copy of the redacted letter to Santa she was given when she had walked into the post office a couple hours earlier. She searched the child’s letter line by squiggly line, through and around blacked-out sections that looked more like a classified F.B.I. document than the wish list of a 7-year-old girl and her 2-year-old sister. But finally she found what she needed.

“It bothers me a little bit,” Ms. Lorusso, 61, said of the new restrictions. “We would have liked to stay in touch with the girls or write them a letter.” Though the process was a little more cumbersome than they had expected, nothing could shake the feeling of their good deed, the family said. Ms. Lorusso said they had driven in from Saddle Brook, N.J., and had been the first in line. The girls hope to make Operation Santa a family tradition.

George B. Flood, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said about 3,000 letters a day were adopted by people wishing to provide, with some people taking as many as 10 letters.

The Farley Post Office has about 15 workers redacting and copying letters. “Obviously the operation has become a little more labor intensive,” Mr. Flood said. “But it’s a labor of love.”

Andrea Stella, 22, sat at a small table where Operation Santa Claus was in high gear. With tears in her eyes she read through a little boy’s Christmas wish list. She sniffled a bit and smiled as she flipped through the pages.

“I’ve been angry the past few Christmases because my parents have not been able afford to get me anything,” she read aloud. Another boy just asked Santa for twin sheets. Others wanted clothes, a home for their family or something warm to wear. Others asked for happiness in families whose parents had been laid off or evicted.

Letter by letter, page by page, Ms. Stella read more of the same.

“Am I upset with the changes?” she asked. “Are you kidding? It’s still very real.” Ms. Stella said that she was surprised that the policy changes had not been made earlier.

“In today’s day you can’t be too safe,” said Mike Catsam, 24, Ms. Stella’s boyfriend.

Across the room, Dawn Schober and Deborah Waring, who both live in Amityville, on Long Island, sat close together reading through letters. They had participated in the program together for about 12 years.

But the newly instituted anonymity of the program has dampened their spirits a bit.

“Yes, you got to protect the kids, but unfortunately it doesn’t take a whole lot for somebody that wants to do something wrong,” Ms. Waring said. “They don’t have to do this to go find kids.”

“This is our fun. This was always our Christmas,” Ms. Schober said. “But this is a little frustrating.”

Nonetheless, Ms. Schober and Ms. Waring said they would do what they do every Christmas: send their gift boxes stuffed with Christmas candy and goodies.


this is now costing the post office more money, making it more likely that they will drop the program completely, and less fullfilling for the givers. This program will not last much longer i think.
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Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 06:53 pm
You wouldn't be a registered sex offender, would you?
Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 07:20 pm
of course not, though I have argued that the sex offender registries are offensive. What pisses me off is that we go nuts over small risks to our kids but major risks like not providing good schools and daycare and supporting the families in which the kids are raised we can't manage to address. This to me is like giving kids a wad of cash to spend to ease our guilt over not being home to see them all week, for not knowing anything about their lives. We go nuts over sex offenders because it makes us feel better about ourselves , not because there is a serious risk that needs our attention. We overcompensate for our lack of caring for our kids by getting going ape **** about protecting our kids from assault.

The majority of our kids are sexually assaulted by family members, friends of the family, and people the parents have entrusted their kids to. It is very rare for the assault to come from a stranger. You would never know that by how people act about protecting their kids from assault.

while I understand that the post office has liability to worry about thus might need to take action that otherwise does not make sense in order to protect themselves from being rung up in the courts, this event is more of the American insanity re sex.
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Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 09:39 pm
Well, I actually agree that people focus too much on the registered sex offenders. I've had this discussion with my wife, and other parents, that you need to be vigilant of everyone, not just those that have been caught and successfully prosecuted.
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 01:04 pm
considering that sexual abusers get caught on average after their third victim, I see your point. However living in fear, and teaching fear, is a poor response. Much better to teach our kids boundaries and then to keep the relationship and communication strong so that if there is a dangerous person in our kids lives we are likely to know about it in time to make a difference. Plus, abusers are weak thus they look almost exclusively for easy victims. If our kids are strong and healthy (well taught and cared for) they will almost always be passed up by the abusers.
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