2007-04-27 / Community

Controversy Over Postmaster's Return Heats Up

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

George Buonocore in a 2003 file photo.
George Buonocore in a 2003 file photo. In the wake of allegations of incompetence and the arrest of one of his top lieutenants, Far Rockaway Postmaster George Buonocore has become the center of a controversy over whether he will once again come back from his special assignment to run the local post office.

Pat McGovern, a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Queens told The Wave two weeks ago that Buonocore, who has not been seen in Far Rockaway for more than a month, "still holds the position of Far Rockaway Postmaster. He owns the job."

McGovern added that Buonocore has been assigned to a "developmental detail to broaden his horizons and make him a better postmaster." She said that he would "probably" return to his former position as postmaster, but declined to provide a timeline for his return.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, who says that his office has fielded numerous complaints from his constituents over service in the post office, said that he was glad that Buonocore was gone and that he hoped it was for good.

"At long last, the cries of the community have been heard," Meeks said at the time. "It is clear that Buonocore is incompetent and that the job is beyond him."

Then, Meeks heard the comments made by McGovern.

On April 23, Meeks fired off a letter to John E. Potter, the United States Postmaster General, a letter obtained by The Wave.

"The complaints [about Buonocore and postal service in Far Rockaway] are most often about the consistent late delivery of mail, lost mail and packages, terrible customer service and the rude manner in which the employees and managers deal with their customers," Meeks writes. "As a result of these enormous complaints, your regional leadership elected to remove local postmaster George Buonocore and employ an entirely new team. The community and I let out a collective sigh of relief upon hearing of this decision, with the knowledge that our complaints had finally been heard."

Meeks said that when he learned of McGovern's statement about the probable return of Buonocore to the job in published reports, he was angered.

"The residents of Rockaway deserve better. They have tolerated Mr. Buonocore for far too long," he continued. "I am calling on your office to ensure that he does not return to his position in Far Rockaway. Mr. Buonocore's professional demeanor has been frosty at best and often rude towards my constituents and my office."

Meeks said that he was setting up a community advisory committee to oversee the operations of the local post office.

"We need better postal service in Rockaway," he concluded, adding that Buonocore has already shown that he was not the person for that job.

Neither Buonocore nor McGovern could be reached for comment on this story.

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