Considering that U.S. Postal Service revenue has been on a steady decline for several years, you'd think one of America's largest federal agencies would try to recoup as much as possible when entering into real estate transactions. Not so, argues award-winning investigative journalist (and Bohemian contributor) Peter Byrne. In his new e-book, Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap, the Petaluma-based reporter uncovers the sordid results of the USPS's 2011 decision to award an exclusive contract to CBRE, a commercial real estate firm headed by Richard Blum, husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Motivated in part by the U.S. government's astounding demand that the Postal Service pre-pay $55 billion in employee benefits over the next 10 years to cover the next 75 years of benefits, the agency has resorted to selling off offices, warehouses, parking lots and vacant land worth millions of dollars. But CBRE is selling some of these properties at "bargain basement" prices, writes Byrne, and sometimes to its own clients and business partners, including Goldman Sachs. (The 52 properties sold have a collective assessed value of $232 million, asserts Byrne, and yet CBRE sold them for $79 million less than what they were worth.)
With information backed by expense reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, county records, deeds of sale, property tax databases and assessment data, Byrne has constructed a comprehensive look at the financial shenanigans going on behind the mail curtain. Byrne has gone after Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum for conflicts of interest in the past, but this is the first time he's thrown the (e)book at them. Going Postal is available for $2.99 exclusively at Amazon.com. —Leilani Clark