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So I’ve been reading a lot lately about the pain of independent gas stations and how they’re struggling with falling fuel prices.  It seems they haven’t been buying gas often enough to mark down their prices as quickly as their chain competitors.

Funny, but I don’t recall independent gas stations raising their prices more slowly than their chain counterparts. In fact, I remember them following rising prices lockstep.

Seems to me, if independents were buying gas as often then as they are now (i.e,, not as often as their bigger rivals) they would have been stuck with lower-priced gas. Thus, they could have raised their prices more slowly and undercut the competition, albeit at the expense of higher profits.

If you recall that happening, let me know. I could be wrong, as most mom-and-pop gas stations in York County, PA are gone — I can think of only two).

It’s easy to work up sympathy, but the effort shouldn’t cloud logic. If they were smart, independent-station owners have some extra cash left over from the days of skyrocketing prices (credit-card fees notwithstanding).

Or, like Wall Street titans, they thought “up” was the only direction prices could go.

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This is exactly the sort of thing suburban visitors need to see when they step out of their car in a downtown area struggling to return to life:

This particular ad — spotted May 10 — came from downtown York, catty-corner from the Central Market. I had to laugh. Fear of crime, justified or not, seems to be one of the biggest obstacles to bringing people into the city. What better way to erase people’s fears than to remind them that people they see on the street could be carrying both guns AND drugs?

I love going into the city, but I don’t like explaining pictures of three-foot tall guns to my children.

On another note, I think York County commissioner and anti-crime crusader Steve Chronister could take a few notes from this article about fighting urban violence. It might work better than ads.

The conventional wisdom suggests John McCain is the winner of the continuing fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But is all this downtime really such a good thing? Sure McCain’ll be able to raise tons of money, but if money voted, Mitt Romney would be the GOP nominee and Obama would have swept Clinton offstage a long time ago.

We hear a lot about Obama’s seeming inability to connect with the white working class. I wonder if McCain will have the same problem. I don’t think his primary victories really healed the rift over immigration and other issues between him and more conservative Republicans. Those disagreements have been lost in the media’s focus on the Obama-Clinton fight, but they’re likely to return, especially if a conservative third party mounts a challenge.

The numbers from yesterday’s primary bear out the potential for an independent candidate to make inroads among disaffected Republicans (and perhaps among Democrats disaffected by whomever they ultimately choose).

I suspected Ron Paul, though fighting a hopeless cause, would do pretty well in PA.  Alas, my prediction that he could win fell flat. But he did pull down nearly 16 percent of the vote statewide. Paul did even better in York and Adams counties, winning nearly 19 percent and 18 percent of the vote, respectively. With Mike Huckabee also in the mix, McCain didn’t reach 70 percent in either county. Huckabee — who isn’t even pretending to run — came in third, with 11.6 percent in York and 12.9 percent in Adams

McCain got about 73 percent in Franklin County, but Huckabee got nearly 16 percent. Paul came in third with 11.2 percent.

In short, more than one in four Republican voters in PA cast a ballot for someone other than McCain. Maybe they’ll close ranks in November and they were all just exercising their right to disagree. But if general-election unity is so in doubt for Democrats, why doesn’t the same question hang over Republicans? The answer may be different, but it’s still worth asking.

The results are in and it looks like search results were a relatively accurate predictor of the winners of primaries in Adams County.

Will Tallman, who led Mike Rishel most of the way, came out on top with a voting edge of 3,363 to 2,766. He will face a Democrat, Neil Clifford, in the general election to replace retiring state Rep. Steve Nickol in the 193rd district.

Rich Alloway emerged victorious in the four-way GOP race to replace retiring state Sen. Terry Punt. Jim Taylor came in second, despite lagging behind everyone in search results. But — and I should have noted this earlier even though the numbers seemed too small to mention — Taylor had the most people (three) click through here to his campaign web site. Cathy Cresswell, the third-place finisher, had two click-throughs.

At any rate, here are the final results for the 33rd Senate district: Rich Alloway: 9,266; Jim Taylor: 8,933; Cathy Cresswell: 7,728; Bob Curley: 1,379. Alloway dominated in Franklin County while Cresswell rocked Adams. See county-by-county results here.

Curley, of course, switched parties and ran as a Democratic write-in candidate. The Adams County courthouse lists 2,390 write-in votes by Democrats in the 33rd but doesn’t give any names. There were 3,393 Democratic write-in votes in Franklin County, but again no names are attached. York County Democrats added another 357 votes for a total of 6,137. Were they all for Curley? I guess we’ll know eventually.