A rational individual would be at the ball park rooting for our San Angelo Colts in a clutch game, but when exactly did I claim to be rational? That I leave to the readers' evaluation.
Item 14 on City Council Agenda this Tuesday is ..."consideration of an Ordinance requiring customers to pre-pay for gasoline/diesel fuel purchases". Before we get specific, let me make plain my position lest I be seen as biased: no, No, and if that is unclear, Hell No!
Drive-off theft has become an issue as gas prices rise. Asst. Chief Hollway on KLST's "Top of the Morning" show left me with the sense an actual Ordinance was about to be proposed, but this item Tuesday is "discussion", not an action item. My opinion, this is a business decision, to be made by the business owning the gasoline.
Let's say such an Ordinance has been passed. The driver wanting to fill up would have to go inside, wait on line, leave a deposit; then go out, pump an unspecified amount, go back in, wait on line and get change from the deposit. Not exactly "in and out in two minutes", as a predominant local chain advertizes.
Hypothetical: the store clerk looks out and sees his wife at the pump, turns it on without she comes in with cash. Does he get the ticket, the store, his wife, or all three? There being no actual Ordinance on the table, let me guess; none of the above. The Ordinance would primarily allow a retailer to require "pre-pay", post a notice on the pump, and blame it on the City Council instead of their own decision.
Now this is a real problem. With gas at $4 a gallon, we are seeing an increase in drive-offs. Frankly, if I owned a business selling gas, I would be tempted to go pre-pay. Otra vez, if my businesss were mainly local and familiar, I might want to advertize my convenience against a more general retailer requiring the pre-pay two-step. A more suspicious mind than mine might suspect that a major retailer wanted to go "pre-pay" without appearing unfriendly by forcing all outlets to abide by that level of distrust.
Asst. Chief Holloway mentioned 300 drive-offs without specifying the time frame. If indeed some retailers are using the SAPD as a "collection agent" for drive-offs, perhaps that problem could be addressed by the same means as alarm calls. Set a reasonable number, if the outlet exceeds that number, it gets charged a fee for running down the thief. The Dept. has not been aggressive on false alarms, last I heard they were collecting about 20%, but I know my local watering hole redid it's system after being cited.
To my mind, this bit of policy is similar to the smoking Ordinance idea. Unlike most cities, San Angelo does not have a private business smoking rule, we leave it to the judgement of the business owner (What a Concept). Over 90% of businesses prohibit smoking, as do all gov't offices by Ordinance. Beer-joints and tobacco shops still get to cater to their largely smoking clientele, but the non-smoking majority is able to avoid the evil nicotine by choice.
I've had people accuse me of abandoning the Republican Party, others think I am a "loose cannon on deck", where I really am is until a convincing case can be made otherwise, gov't should LEAVE US ALONE!
Stay tuned for Gas Wars: Part ll.