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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

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Lincoln gas prices          Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

I feel a need to "set the public record straight," in response to the Saturday, March 25, 2006, publication of The Courier.

The Courier has chosen a policy of listing the local gas prices on their editorial page, and as they have stated when announcing the policy, "Let the facts speak for themselves."

Well, why is it that in a town with only 10 gas stations that can be visited by anyone in less than 15 minutes, they can't "get the facts" accurate?

Per The Courier:

Gas prices Friday in Lincoln:


Lowest price in Illinois: Troy


"The facts" are that on Friday and for as long as the Lincoln gas prices have been $2.419, one station on North Kickapoo has been posting a price of $2.399. Per The Courier's information, this matches the lowest price in Illinois. Now why wouldn't The Courier report that piece of information? Here we have a gas station matching the lowest price in the entire state, and they didn't deem it worth a mention. If the local operators are pricing above anyone else in the entire state, they deem it newsworthy. Their very omission of this information was an editorial distortion of the data. Perhaps The Courier owes this business an apology for their inept reporting in not noting this?

I would like to refer the readers to a link to a document prepared by Oil Price Information Services, which is one of the most highly respected purveyors of petroleum information in the country. They prepared a report on the average retail margins for the best and the worst markets in the entire country for Jan. 1, 2006-March 13, 2006.

The information they provide will challenge everything you have ever thought you knew about the retail marketing of gasoline. Your local newspaper chooses to write editorial after editorial castigating the evils of the local gas station operators and doesn't even make the slightest effort to obtain any facts to educate the readers or to provide information to you.

Visit http://www.opisnet.com/retail/
to see the best and worst market tournament charts according to retail data in this year's OPIS Brand Power Ranking Report, a special section of OPIS' "Pandemonium at the Pump" report.

[to top of second column in this letter]

OPIS lists the 24 worst retail markets in the entire country. You will be surprised to know that of the worst 24 retail markets in the entire country, five are right here in central Illinois. Peoria-Pekin, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Springfield (five central Illinois markets that all affect Lincoln, and you will note on the survey date in question, on average, Lincoln was lower than all but one) are specifically listed among the 24 worst retail margin markets. Of the eight worst markets, the average retail margin was less than 1 cent per gallon. Now before you get the wrong impression, you need to understand that "margin" is the difference between cost (defined as gasoline product plus taxes) and selling price. This is NOT to be mistaken for PROFIT, which is a dirty word for many in the media. The operators must deduct all operating expenses from the "margin." The truth is that gasoline has turned into a "loss leader" for retailers.

Soooo... to The Courier, let's stop casting the local gas station operators as villains and understand they are caught up in the scrambled world of commodities trading, big oil consolidations, fat refining margins and just trying to operate their business as best they can in a super-competitive environment, which in this day and age is becoming very difficult to do, just like many, many other businesses.

I appreciate the Lincoln Daily News for providing the opportunity to provide readers "the facts."

In my opinion the local news sources have the responsibility to professionally report the facts and respect local business people who support this community.


Saturday's The Courier had 16 pages for 50 cents, or .03125 cents per page. The Peoria Journal Star had 60 pages for $1, or .01667 cents per page. The Courier was 187 percent higher then the Peoria Journal Star. "The facts" would appear to indicate price gouging, but who am I to judge.

I need to inform readers of an old newspaper adage that "news is only news when it is news." As it relates to this letter, I am sure you all know that retail prices make frequent changes up and down, so any observations and comments about current retail prices are only valid for the time when they were observed and not the time you may read an article.

Thanks for reading and considering alternatives to what you may think you already know.

Name withheld by request

(Posted March 29, 2006)

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