Passing gas again

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Because they can.

That’s the mantra recited from the cold capitalists who operate without a conscience when determining gasoline prices in Cherokee.

And that may be all it ever will be, as Cherokee is considered on an island when it comes to supply and demand and competition among gasoline retailers.

Tough luck, Cherokee. Play our game or go down the road and fill ‘er up somewhere else - most probably at one of our other gas stations. We can’t lose.

Of late, there’s been at least a 20-cent or more per gallon disparity in gas prices in Cherokee versus other area towns.

For at least 50 years, fuel prices in Cherokee have averaged higher than every other town around.

And for just as many years area residents have complained, pleaded, sent letters, and cajoled gas station employees (not their fault), management (perhaps) and ownership (definitely) to get their gas prices competitive - not lower than! - but simply competitive with surrounding towns.

No dice.

Words such as collusion, conspiracy, and greed have been bandied about on our streets and in our stores for many years. And nothing is ever done, no explanations offered, no relief in sight for local motorists.

Cherokeans have simply tired of this gouging of a “captive audience” and don’t think twice before heading to area towns to fill up, dine, and shop.

Tough luck, Cherokee merchants.

Through the years and to no avail the local newspaper has written editorials asking why gas prices are always higher in Cherokee. And it’s written news stories detailing the difference in gas prices here and elsewhere.

Again, nada.

Cherokee, located at the intersections of U.S. Highway 59 that runs north-south from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, and Iowa Highway 3, which runs east-west border to border, has just four gas stations owned by three corporations - Casey’s, Hy-Vee, and Sparky’s. The stations are all located on U.S. Highway 59, three on the north side, one on the south. And we’re their captive audience.

Our City leaders finally put the pedal to the metal a few months ago and considered passing a resolution seeking answers to the persistent pump abuse in Cherokee. After we reported that and wrote a scathing editorial about gasoline price gouging here, gas prices dropped for a few days, the city backed off, and the higher prices immediately returned.

Take that, cry babies!

Hopefully, the city may be back after it following City Administrator Sam Kooiker’s recent weekly update which read, “After a brief respite over the holidays, the average difference in gas price between Cherokee and Aurelia is again 20 cents a gallon. Mayor (Craig) Schmidt has been making some calls on this. The difference between here and Sioux City (and Storm Lake) is even greater. We are the intersection of two major highways, with four gas stations, and the high disparity just doesn’t make sense. The City does have options, although it is preferable that this be worked out through feedback from customers and local media.”

And from the cold, unresponsive capitalists who own the local gas outlets.

We urge our “good” neighbors Casey’s, Hy-Vee, and Sparky’s to come clean and stop “hosing” us with their escalated fuel prices only because they can.

(By Paul Struck - Editor)