As every Carmelite knows, some of Bill Bates' cartoons have graced the walls of the Carmel post office for decades, save for a brief period of time in 2006. On Thursday the Herald printed this explanation for the hiatus:
"Bates' cartoons were taken down from the post office when an art gallery complained it should have the right to hang its artwork there."I don't know where the reporter got that information, because that's not what happened. To my knowledge no commercial business in Carmel ever claimed the right to display its merchandise at the public post office.
What really happened was that a US Postal Service "retail standardization team" visited the post office and set plans in place to update the decor of the place to conform to postal service standards. The Bates cartoons were determined to be non-conforming decorations and were removed.
And that's not all. The standardization team also decreed that the old style brass mail boxes with combination locks were to be replaced with modern stainless steel (or was it aluminum?) boxes with keyed locks.
Both of these changes prompted an angry uproar from the townsfolk who liked their old fashioned post office just fine and wanted to preserve its historic character. And how dare they remove Bates' cartoons! To Carmelites, these changes were a huge insult to community traditions.
After city hall got involved the USPS brass backed down. Many of the cartoons went back up on the walls, and the old mailboxes were spared.
That's what really happened. A local reporter or editor with some institutional knowledge, or a competent rookie who knew how to verify information, should have known that. Fortunately, we have the Carmel Pine Cone to tell the true story this week.