po sign

One of several signs at the Sierra Vista Post Office directing patrons to take their trash home with them.

SIERRA VISTA — The trash cans were removed from the lobby of the Sierra Vista post office last week with the postmaster citing the “controversial election” as the reason behind her decision.

A handful of signs announcing the removal of the trash bins were observed taped to the counters in the lobby at the federal facility on East Fry Boulevard last week. The signs also instructed customers to take their refuse home and that the containers would be back on Nov. 5.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” the sign in block letters said. “Until this controversial election is over we ask that you take your waste home and dispose of it. Trash cans will be replaced on Nov. 5.”

The sign created by Sierra Vista postmaster Janet M. Moriarty captured the attention of the community, including at least one Sierra Vista council member who posted a photo of it on her Facebook page.

However, a handful of the signs were hastily removed by Moriarty after the Herald/Review approached her at the post office and asked why she had removed the trash cans, how that was related to the upcoming election on Nov. 3 and why she called it a “controversial election.”

“Those were my words,” Moriarty said as she stood behind the counter inside the main post office last week. “I did that because we have to send all of our trash to the plant and I did not want to have to do that every afternoon.”

When asked for clarification, Moriarty appeared to become annoyed and said, “You know what? Forget it. I’m just going to take the signs down right now.”

Moriarty quickly walked into the lobby area where four signs were taped to the counters and she yanked them from their spots. She said she had been told that no political materials could be in the trash and that’s why refuse had to be sent to “the plant in Tucson or Phoenix.”

“The post office is being accused of all sorts of things right now and I didn’t want to have to send the trash every afternoon,” Moriarty said.

When told that a few other post offices in the county were not following the trash procedure, Moriarty replied, “I don’t care what they do.”

But a spokesman for the service was clearly concerned when the Herald/Review asked whether Moriarty’s sign was representative of the U.S. Postal Service.

“That is not an approved USPS sign,” said spokesman Rod Spurgeon last week. “We sincerely apologize for it and assure you we are looking into this situation to ensure it does not happen again in the future.”

Spurgeon also said he was unfamiliar with the trash policy that Moriarty mentioned.

“Materials intended for recycling, such as those inside blue recycling bins, are sent to the plant for proper recycling. We don’t send trash to the plant for disposal,” Spurgeon said in an email.

In another email Monday, Spurgeon provided an update regarding the trash cans and the signs at the Sierra Vista post office.

“The sign was posted in error. It has been removed and trash cans returned to the lobby,” he said.