Paul Carlin could deal with snow, rain and the gloom of night, but the U.S. Postal Service finally succeeded in staying him from his appointed rounds. After only twelve months as Postmaster General, the 16-year postal careerist, age 54, was fired last week by the Postal Service Board of Governors. His replacement as the 66th successor to Benjamin Franklin: Albert Casey, 65, a tough manager who retired as chairman and chief executive of American Airlines last year.
Carlin's tenure, one of the briefest in history, was abbreviated by a need for more forceful management. Said Board Chairman John McKean: "The governors did lose confidence in Mr. Carlin. We think we can do better." Helped by increases in all postal rates, including a boost in first-class stamps from 20¢ to 22¢ last February, the service ran a $479 million surplus in the final quarter of 1985 and was carrying more mail than ever, 140 billion pieces to 73.8 million businesses and households last year. Carlin, though, was seen as cut from the old post-office mold and too protective of the organization's bureaucracy. The governors want to move faster toward new cost-cutting technology that could make the U.S. mail more competitive with private services such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service.
Casey's term, however, will probably be even briefer than Carlin's. He plans to serve only six to nine months, while the governors find a permanent replacement. After experience in railroads, publishing and airlines, Casey said, "I want to dip my toe in every pool. I hope to do the job and move on."
Another departing Washington official is Agriculture Secretary John Block, who announced that he would leave office in mid-February. One of just four of Ronald Reagan's original Cabinet appointees still on the job, Block, 50, is a likable West Pointer and Illinois hog farmer who had the misfortune of serving during the worst years for U.S. farming since the Depression. Farm exports dropped nearly 30% and land values eroded, bringing down debt-laden farmers and their creditors. Block leaves with a victory: the 1985 farm bill. While extending the farm subsidies the Administration wanted to cut, the new law nevertheless gives the Agriculture Secretary authority to lower price supports of major crops, making U.S. products more competitive on the world market. Block's possible successor: Richard Lyng, Reagan's California agriculture director in the late 1960s.