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Fuelish and questionable pricing practices ...

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Fuelish prices
   Driving home Wednesday evening I saw a long pole reach up to install new numbers on the gasoline price sign at one of the local gas stations -- $1.839 per gallon. What happened to the $1.57 price we complained about a few weeks ago?
   I thought gas stations raised prices before holidays not after. For years we've all wondered why gasoline prices are so much higher in central Oregon than they are in the Willamette Valley and in the Portland area. Currently the spread is as much as 40 cents with the Portland prices ranging from $1.43 to $1.669.
   I've always been told the reason for the fuel price differential is because the gas must be hauled over the Cascade Mountains to central Oregon, so naturally they have to charge more.
   Let's see. A typical tanker holds about 11,000 gallons. At 40 cents a gallon that means it cost about $4,400 or about $29 a mile to get the fuel to our side of the mountain. It sounds a little high to me.
   Nationally fuel prices have an even greater price range with gas selling for as little as $1.18 in New Jersey and as high as $2.29 in San Rafel, Calif.
   I'm an avid supporter of free enterprise and have a strong aversion to government interference in business, but the variance in gas prices doesn't quite compute with me. Perhaps its time again for the government to look at major inequities like these that require rural areas like ours to pay so much more.
   Just for the record here are the latest gasoline prices at the Prineville and Powell Butte gas stations as of 9 a.m. Thursday, September 06, 2001:
   Town Pump $1.739
   Leathers Texaco $1.759
   Prineville Exxon $1.839
   Chevron $1.839
   Main Station $1.799
   Cross Street Station (Exxon) $1.839
   Country Store (Powell Butte) $1.799
   In a spot check of other central Oregon gas prices we found the same range as the Prineville stations.
   In related matter we've also heard that some gas stations are now setting the pumps to shut off when the transaction reaches $49 whether your vehicle is full or not. There are lots of trucks with fuel tanks of at least 30 gallons, or RVs, some with 100 gallon tanks. At current prices that buys about 27 gallons. So much for topping off your tank ... the only way you can get a full tank is to do a second or third transaction to finish filling your empty tank. What)s going on there?
   A case of age discrimination?
   Earlier this week we ran a news story on the young man who, having pled guilty to a sex abuse charge, will be allowed to finish his senior year at Crook County High School. In the same issue a story about the two young men who had been arrested on charges they had vandalized the WWII memorial tree in Ochoco Creek Park. Both of these stories elicited comment from our readers.
   The point one person made however calls for clarification. Remember the old saying, "do the crime, do the time"? Abiding by a number of legal documents, ranging from the Bill of Rights to Oregon state law, publishing the names of those accused of crimes is allowed. No place, in any document, does it say that juveniles shall be saved the embarrassment of having their names in the newspaper.
   One rationale is that publishing the names and addresses of offenders, or those charged with offending, is part of their Constitutional rights -- the right to a fair and open arrest and trial by their peers. With their names listed in the paper there is no fear of any secret arrests.
   The young men involved in these two stories are under the age of 18; the boy who is a registered sex offender and wants to attend CCHS is 17 years old. The two charged with crimes against a defenseless tree are 16 and 17. It has long been the practice of the Central Oregonian not to print the names of juveniles under the age of 17 in the weekly law enforcement report. That is a decision of the newspaper, in agreement with the police department. It is not done to follow any law. Do the crime, do the time - and get your name in the newspaper. It is not the practice of the police to take mug shots of juveniles, but rest assured if it was, we would have published the photographs of these young men along with their names and addresses.
   It is said that peer pressure plays a strong role in a young person's life. Parents and relatives may call to warn us of legal action for publishing names of juveniles accused of a crime, but it won't do any good. Printing the names may help bring down the wrath of their peers and cause a rethinking of their futures.
   Meanwhile the rest of us know who to watch out for. Nothing in this life is free ... the price of breaking the law, or a tree, is having your name in the paper.