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Saturday mail delivery topic of public hearing today

Postal delivery hearing 
Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, swears in the first panel during today's hearing. (Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News)

DOWNTOWN BUFFALO -- The public hearing on the proposal to end mail delivery on Saturdays has begun in City Hall.

The hearing is being run by the Postal Regulatory Commission, and includes three panels of witnesses giving sworn testimony.

4:04 p.m.: Kathleen Burns, district manager for the Postal Service in Buffalo, testified about the financial difficulties faced by the office here:

Kathleen Burns, Postal Service district manager in Buffalo

3:40 p.m.: Here's Netflix's Bill McComb testifying today before the Postal Regulatory Commission:

3:34 p.m.: J.B. Brown, manager of corporate products for Buffalo-based Rich Products was one of the witnesses who testified at today's public hearing.

Listen to his full statement before the commission:

J.B. Brown, of Buffalo's Rich Products

2 p.m.: Commissioners are questioning the first panel of witnesses; a good deal of the questions have been asked of Netflix's McComb.

Commissioner Mark Acton asked him about the the company's future, and whether the company is trying to drive the streaming of movies rather than renting the physical DVDs.

Both DVD rentals and streaming are growing segments of the business, McComb said, adding, "it's about giving the customer what they want..."

1:35 p.m.: Before McComb testified, Neil Sexton of Northern Safety Co. in Utica, also said his company supports the change, as long as it's part of the long-term cost savings plan for the Postal Service.

His company uses the U.S. mail for business-to-business communication, so it has more options than companies that are business-to-consumer, Sexton acknowledged.

1:31 p.m.: A change to five days of mail delivery would have a "relatively small" impact on the customers of Netflix, a company official has testified before the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Customers would likely change their rental habits, planning their DVD selections differently if Saturday mail service ended, Bill McComb, vice president of postal operations said.

The company does not oppose the elimination of Saturday mail, as long as it is part of plan to make sure the Postal Service remains viable overall, he said.

1:24 p.m.: Bill McComb, vice president of postal operations for Netflix, has just begun giving testimony.

The company sends two million DVDs per day from 50 mail centers, McComb said.

9:13 a.m.: A public hearing on the proposal to end mail delivery on Saturdays will be held at 1 p.m. in Buffalo City Hall.

Here's Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck's report from earlier this month about today's session.

The hearing is run by the Postal Regulatory Commission

In terms of the format, there will be three panels of witnesses who will testify and answer questions from the commission, said spokeswoman Ann Fisher. Here's the witness list for today's hearing. It includes an official from Netflix, business people from across the state, as well as Postal Service employees.

Once the three panels of witnesses are done, the session will be opened to comment from members of the public in attendance. Each person will have two to three minutes to speak, Fisher said.

Of the seven hearings held across the country, the session in Buffalo is the last and the biggest, in terms of the number of witnesses, she said.

The commission plans to issue an advisory opinion in October on whether Saturday delivery should be ended. The ultimate decision lies with Congress.

Here's a story from April in which the local postal union said 300 jobs will be lost in Western New York if the Postal Service enacts five-day delivery.

Robert J. McClennan, president of the Buffalo and Western New York division of the National Association of Letter Carriers, submitted this letter to The Buffalo News in March.

--Aaron Besecker

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