Baldermann stance no balderdash
SouthtownStar editorial April 27, 2012 10:14PM
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:23AM
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann got gobs of good publicity this week with his call for village residents to boycott gas stations in town for what he claimed was continual price gouging.
And it seems, at least temporarily, that this pump-price populist achieved his goal of pressuring station owners in the village to drop their prices.
As of Friday evening, little, if any, gas gouging was in sight in New Lenox — where stations were charging about $4 per gallon, comparable to stations in nearby towns such as Frankfort, Mokena and Tinley Park.
How long that lasts remains to be seen (pump prices, as we know all too well, can change quickly and dramatically), but Baldermann credited residents for what he saw as responding to his boycott call and urged them to keep the pressure on.
We tend to think the media coverage was a bigger factor for the station owners than residents’ response.
We’re sure that most New Lenox folks, before the mayor’s move, didn’t feel forced to buy gas in town and probably looked elsewhere to save money.
This was a no-lose political stand if there ever was one — seizing upon the public’s anger at rising gas prices and skepticism about how they go up so much faster, sometimes 15 to 20 cents per gallon overnight, than they come down.
But we applaud Baldermann for raising the issue and publicly questioning why there’s often so much variation in price among stations that are near each other and use the same supplier.
More mayors should follow his lead.
We realize there are several market forces — ranging from taxes to labor, refinery and transportation costs — that determine the pump price, but why does a Shell station in Orland Park charge 7 to 10 cents more per gallon than a Shell several blocks away in Orland Hills?
We haven’t heard a defensible reason for that, likely because there isn’t one.