Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why is Gas so expensive in Chicago?

Courtesy of

By Ben Rooney, staff reporterApril 27, 2011: 8:23 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Chicago is not your kind of town when you pull into a local gas station.
Drivers in Chicago pay more for gas than they do in any other major metropolis in the continental United States. Analysts say that's due largely to a perfect storm of federal, state and local taxes.

The average price for a gallon of gas in Chicago was $4.32 a gallon on Tuesday, according to data from price tracker That's more than what drivers pay in sprawling Los Angeles, where gas averaged $4.22 a gallon, and crowded New York City, where it's $4.20 a gallon.

Indeed, the only major U.S. city with higher prices is Honolulu, where gas must be imported from the mainland or from refiners on other Hawaiian islands. The average price in America's 57th largest city was $4.44 a gallon.

Gas prices have soared this year, driven higher across America as global oil prices spike on worries about political instability in the Middle East and lost supply from war-torn Libya.

Nationwide, gas prices average about $3.87 a gallon, up 26% from $3.07 at the beginning of the year, according to motorist group AAA.

But prices in Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, are being inflated by a litany of taxes that add an estimated 60 cents per gallon to the retail price, according to Dave Sykuta, director of the Illinois Petroleum Council, an industry group.

"Even when prices are lower, Chicago is always in the top three," he said. "And that's because of the taxes."

Just as in the other 49 states, drivers in Illinois are subject to a federal excise tax of 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline.

In addition, most states have an excise tax on gasoline, which ranges from a low of 4 cents a gallon in Florida, to as much as 35 cents in California. In Illinois, the excise gas tax is 19 cents a gallon.

Illinois is one of a few states where sales tax also applies to purchases of gasoline. That means there's an additional 6.5% tacked on to the price per gallon.

On the local level, analysts say Chicago may be the only major city that imposes a flat tax, 5 cents a gallon, on the sale of vehicle fuel to a retailer doing business in the city. That's on top of a 6-cent-per-gallon tax levied by Cook County.

Lastly, as most states do, Illinois slaps a small tax on gas stored underground to help pay for the environmental impact.

"Add it all up at today's prices, and the privilege of living in Chicago costs you 50 to 60 cents a gallon," said Sykuta.

Illinois officials say taxes are not solely to blame for the recent run-up in the price of gas in Chicago.

Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue, said the state fuel tax hasn't changed in decades, while the gas tax charged by Cook County actually dropped last year.
"The high price of gas can be attributed to a lot of things, but not taxes that haven't changed in 20 years," she said. "It's a nice excuse, but it's just not true."

Hofer said gas prices in Illinois have been pushed higher recently due to broken pipelines in the state and in neighboring Michigan. In general, she added, gas prices are higher in Illinois because crude oil must be shipped overland to reach the state, as opposed to California and New York, where oil imports come by sea.

"The price of gas is extremely volatile and very little of the cost is taxes," she said.

Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, said there are also some seasonal factors at play.

He said refiners located in the Great Lakes region have been shut down recently as they prepare to make the cleaner blends of gas that the state requires during the summer months.

That has squeezed refining margins and put upward pressure on gas prices across the Midwest.
But in Chicago, said Kloza, "it's mostly the taxes."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Lynn Hauldren, 89, the advertising copywriter who became the inspiration for the Empire Carpet Man in the 1970’s and helped launch their signature jingle into national recognition, died Tuesday, April 26, according to an Empire spokesperson.

Mr. Hauldren rose to became a decades-long advertising icon, as the person who wrote the catchy jingle that accompanies the company's famous phone number, and often delivered it with style: “Five-eight-eight, two-three-hundred ... Empire.”

“Lynn was truly passionate about the Empire brand,” said Steve Silvers, chief executive officer for Empire.

“He has made an indelible mark on advertising history with his creativity and warmth. Lynn will always have a special place in the hearts of many. Our thoughts are with his family during this time.”

The company’s owner during the time requested that Mr. Hauldren serve as the on-air talent for the spots after unsuccessfully auditioning several other people for the role. This decision launched him into pop culture stardom. Mr. Hauldren went on to serve as the inspiration for today’s Empire Today brand. He helped to launch the signature jingle into advertsing history as one of the nation’s most popular jingles.

In a 1997 interview with the Tribune, Mr. Hauldren commented on how the commercials transformed him into a celebrity.

"People are good-natured," he told the Tribune, "but once in a while they'll grab at you and say, 'Here's that carpet dude!' or 'Hey! Aren't you somebody?' I always hope folks understand I'm not a celebrity. I'm just a TV pitchman, a glorified salesman."

Mr. Hauldren was a decorated World War II veteran who continued to lend his voiceover talent to Empire’s commercials until his passing.

In addition, he was known as a key singer in the barbershop quartet arena, recording several albums with the quartet, Chordiac Arrest, and a vocal ensemble called Chicago Natural Gas.

“Lynn was just a joy all the time,” said Tom Felgen, who along with Hauldren sang the popular jingle. ”He was a neat and special guy who was really wrapped up in music and words. He had a very natural way of writing things. When we were singing together, it was total fun all the time.”

Tribune staff writer Kevin Pang contributed to this story.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce Anniversary Party at Quest Network Services

The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce is celebrating two yearsRogers Park Chamber of Commerce of representing local businesses and service organizations in Rogers Park. Everyone is invited to attend at Quest Network Services on Saturday, April 30th, 2011.

The event will begin with a meet and greet, introductions and networking at 5pm. Followed by guest speakers, presentations and group photos by a professional photographer. Business owners will have an opportunity to learn more about and join the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce during the event as well.

Guest speakers for the celebration will include members and business service organizations. Membership certificates will be presented to chamber members and tastings will be provided by several local restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce has a diverse mix of businesses and service organizations that range from restaurants to business services, a fitness center, a wine shop, a custom letterpress print shop and more. It is in every businesses best interest to join the chamber and unify our efforts to improve your business and stimulate an orderly economic growth, enriching our community of Rogers Park. - Bill Morton, Chamber President

Location: Quest Network Services 7301 N. Sheridan Road Chicago, IL. 60626

Date/Time: Saturday, April 30th, 2011 / 5pm - 10pm

Invites/Pricing: Everyone who is interested in increasing their business should attend. Anyone interested in improving Rogers Park should attend. Invite your friends and neighbors. There is no charge for this event.

Please bring: Business cards, Promotional materials and warm greetings for your neighbors.

Note: If you are considering joining the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, please review the rate card. Rate cards will also be available at this event.