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News Briefs, part 2

Postal Service Reconsiders New Fee

The Washington Post

For an agency that has trouble delivering the mail on time, it seemed like the perfect solution: Businesses that wanted to get their mail early could stop by their local post office and get it for themselves.

But, in the midst of the Postal Service's current delivery crisis, agency officials decided to drop the service and said that after Oct. 2. businesses would have to pay for the privilege of not having their mail delivered.

When a St. Louis business executive complained about the proposed fee - approximately $400 a year - during a breakfast sponsored by the Postal Service, Einar V. Dyhrkopp, a member of the agency's Board of Governors, was stunned. "It just doesn't make good sense," he said Thursday. Dyhrkopp demanded that agency official find out "what the hell is going on."

Postal officials insisted that the idea is eminently fair - that it costs extra money for the postal workers to pull mail from a letter carrier's route and hand it to someone in a post office. There may be some savings by lightening the carrier's load and not having to stop at a particular location, said Hank Cleffi, the agency's manager of mailing standards, but "the carrier is delivering on either side of that address anyway."

Besides, postal officials noted that the agency long has charged postal box holders for a service that allows them to get clerks to hand them their mail several times each day.

Even so, postal officials Thursday began to retreat from the idea, announcing the Postal Service would continue the free "firm holdout service" until at least Sept. 15, 1995. Cleffi said that would give the agency more time to study the proposal. Officials could not say for certain Thursday how many businesses use the free service, but one spokesman estimated the number is probably in the "the thousands, probably five figures."

Case of Troubled 11-Year-Old Closes in Violence

The Washington Post

Robert Sandifer's brief life is spelled out in the files of social workers and police officers here.

At 22 months he was carried into a local hospital with scratches and bruises inflicted by an adult. By the time he was 3 he was a ward of the court. At 9 he was arrested for armed robbery, the first of at least eight felony arrests.

Earlier this week he was identified by eyewitnesses as the gunman in the slaying of his 14-year-old neighbor, Shavon Dean, an innocent bystander in an apparently gang-related shooting spree. For three days he was the target of an intense police search.

Tuesday night they closed the final file on Robert Sandifer at the Cook County Morgue - dead at age 11 by two execution-style bullets to the back of his head. His body - not quite 5 feet, not quite 70 pounds - was found face down under a railway viaduct close to his home on the city's far South Side.

Police suggested the same teenage gang members who had used Robert as their hit man apparently decided he was too hot to hide and knew too much to be allowed to be taken into custody.