Four USPS Board Members, PRC Commissioner Confirmed By Senate

The Senate confirmed Mickey D. Barnett, James H. Bilbray, Katherine C. Tobin and Ellen C. Williams as U.S. Postal Service Governors and Mark Acton was also confirmed as commissioner of the Postal Rate Commission for the rest of a six-year term expiring Oct. 14, 2010.

The vote occurred right before the Senate adjourned for August recess.

Mr. Barnett, a Republican, is a managing partner at Barnett Law Firm, Albuquerque, NM. He was confirmed for a term expiring Dec. 8, 2013. He replaces Robert Rider, who retired from the Board in December. Mr. Barnett is known as a lobbyist and GOP power broker. From 1972 to 1976, he worked as a legislative assistant for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM.

Mr. Bilbray, a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Nevada, served as a lawyer in Las Vegas, in the state Senate. He will be a governor for the remainder of a nine-year term expiring Dec. 8, 2006, and an additional nine-year term expiring Dec. 8, 2015. A Senate confirmation hearing must take place, however, for his term to continue through 2015. Mr. Bilbray took a seat vacated by Connecticut businessman John F. Walsh, who resigned in August with a year to go in his term.

Ms. Tobin, a Democrat from Hartsdale, NY, was confirmed for a term expiring Dec. 8, 2012, replacing David Fineman, who retired in December 2004. She has more than 15 years of market research experience working for Hewlett-Packard Co.; Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advisory organization dedicated to women’s advancement in business; and as a consultant to IBM Corp.

Ms. Williams, a Republican, was confirmed for the seat currently held by John S. Gardner, whose recess appointment was made in January 2006 would be terminated. Ms. Williams has served on the Kentucky Public Service Commission and has as chairman and executive director of the Republican Party of Kentucky. During her tenure as chairman, President Bush picked her to chair the Site Selection Committee for the 2004 Republican Convention.

In March, Bush nominated Barnett and Tobin as Governors. In May, Williams was nominated.

The full USPS board has nine governors appointed by the president with Senate consent, plus the postmaster general and deputy PMG. No more than five of the nine governors may be members of the same party.

Under postal law, six board members constitute the quorum needed to do business, but the board needs four appointed governors to vote on rate or classification adjustments, adjustments to the PRC budget and elections for board chairman and vice chairman. The PMG and deputy PMG count for purposes of a quorum but can’t vote on these issues.

In January, James C. Miller III was re-elected board chairman and Alan C. Kessler vice chairman. Besides PMG John E. Potter and deputy PMG Patrick Donahoe, other board members include Carolyn Lewis Gallagher and Louis J. Giuliano.

The PRC is an independent regulatory agency composed of five commissioners each appointed to a six-year term by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The president designates one commissioner as chairman.

The current commissioners are chairman George A. Omas; vice chairman Dawn Tisdale, Tony Hammond and Ruth Goldway. Acton would fill a spot vacated by Dana B. Covington, whose term expired Oct. 14, 2005.

Mr. Acton had served as special assistant to the chairman for the PRC. Prior to this, he served as staff director for the Counsel’s Office of the Republican National Committee. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville.

Mr. Acton was nominated by Bush in November 2005.

While he had participated in rate cases before, he can now vote on them.

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