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Monday, Apr 28, 2008

* CTA riders may be squeezed for more cash

CTA President Ron Huberman can’t rule out higher fares next year, given the high cost of fuel and the expense of the free rides for seniors program.

“Fuel costs are exploding,” Huberman said. He also noted that the free rides program, which began March 17, looks like it will be a “pretty expensive venture.”

I don’t know whether Huberman is just trying to shift blame on the free rides for seniors program, but Blagojevich is a handy punching bag these days so it’s easy to blame him for just about everything.

* Higher energy prices mean a lot of people owe a ton of money for their heating bills

Hundreds of thousands of utility customers are at risk of disconnections as the sagging economy drives up the number of past-due home heating bills and the amounts owed, utility companies in cold-weather states say.

Xcel Energy says 17%-19% of its 1.1 million Minnesota customers and its 280,000 Wisconsin customers are in arrears. That’s about the same as a year ago, but balances owed are up 10% in Minnesota and up 20% in Wisconsin, says Pat Boland, Xcel’s credit policy manager.

* Meanwhile, one of the dominant players in the state’s payday loan industry has found a loophole to get around a state law that capped interest rates…

When a law governing payday loans took effect more than two years ago, Illinois officials ballyhooed the millions of dollars saved and the burdens lifted for cash-strapped borrowers.

But consumer advocates say a major player in the loan industry has used a loophole in the law to shift customers to loans with no caps on interest rates, allowing them to charge an average 279 percent annual interest on loans to mostly female, minority and low-income borrowers.

* And you gotta wonder if big layoffs are coming at Wrigley

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Cos., in a move it said will provide “enhanced prospects for growth,” confirmed this morning that it has agreed to be acquired by privately held candy-industry giant Mars Inc. for $80 a share, or $23 billion.

The Chicago chewing-gum company said its board has already approved the all-cash offer, although the transaction will still require clearance from regulators and Wrigley stockholders.

I also wonder how this might impact the attempts by Tribune Co. to pressure Wrigley to buy naming rights at Wrigely Field.


*** Adding *** Rhodes has a funny line today

Which joke will get more play, Mars Field or Snickers Stadium?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - jaundiced eye - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:22 am:

    They’ve already scaled back their Chicago manufacturing presence (plant closings) so I would doubt any cuts would impact the local economy or labor statistics, etc. And remember, the Cubs were owned by the family, not the company. I can’t see the corporation paying for naming rights when public sentiment seems to favor the “Wrigley Field” brand name — and you’ve got the Mayor, Big Jim and the 2016 Olympic committee pushing for this highly marketable, identifiable landmark remaining untouched in terms of its name and public appearance.

  2. - Levois - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    I like the idea of Mars Field or perhaps Milky Way Park or Snickers Stadium.

  3. - zatoichi - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:54 am:

    What pressure can the Tribune possibly provide to get this to happen? Zell buys Mars? $23B can help you to ignore all types of pressure. If the company is already closing plants, it looks like “it was a great run and now it is time to exit stage right” mentality is already in place. The whole naming rights issue looks like something Mars would simply avoid.

  4. - Captain America - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    Snickers seems like the odds-on favorite given the 100 years of Clubs futility.

  5. - Captain America - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    CTA Fare hikes seem to be necessary and appropriate - don’t want the system to require another bail-out for at least 10 years. I’m personally in favor of small annual incremental increases.

  6. - Crimefighter - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:41 pm:

    Cubs fans in droves would throw a fit if Wrigley Field was renamed to anything else. They’d have to build an entirely new stadium to change the name of the park the Cubs play in.

  7. - Anon Again - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:45 pm:

    There were layoffs at Wrigley last fall

  8. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:48 pm:

    Not just mars but Buffet is in on the deal too… so….

    Snickers Buffet stadium…. All you can eat

    But the better name, considering the team… Skittles Stadium

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 1:59 pm:

    $4 gas. $6 corn. They’re shaking the world.

    In our own little corner, we might want to rethink our ethanol subsidies and make some sober plans about what a 21st Century transportation system should be.

  10. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 2:30 pm:


    $4 gas means all that deep oil under North Dakota and Montana in the Bakken Formation is worth something now. I won’t mention the oil shale reserves in Colorado and Utah, which, if it can be successfully extracted, are more plentiful than Saudi Arabia’s. $6 corn means a little less pressure on farmers to sell to developers n northeastern IL, and more money into once-struggling rural farm communities, and the pocketbooks of families that farm in their surrounding areas, that have been losing population for decades.

    These also have some negative consequences as you bring out, and I agree we need to think of and implement better, more sustainable energy sources for the long haul.

  11. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 2:55 pm:

    Its time to dig holes in Alaska.

  12. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 8:10 pm:

    And/or to start thinking about Brazil, which will probably lead to a whole heck of trouble.

  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 8:13 pm:

    Without taking a position on the seniors’ free ride, it’s hard to say whether the cost analysis is fair without the knowing the numbers of free rides involved (i.e., how many more buses run because of the program).

  14. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 8:21 pm:

    I don’t know who owns PayDay, but that could be appropriate, too. Those employed affording the tickets on regular days with two freebie days mid and end of month so that the unemployed masses can come watch the gladiator fights and get their frustrations out.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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