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The Daily Tar HeelMonday, January 22, 19905
State legislators investigate increase in oil prices
By GLENN O'NEAL
;., N.C. Attorney General Lacy Thorn
burg has requested an investigation of
major oil companies in response to
price increases in motor fuel and heat
ing oil that have affected the trucking
industry and homeowners who heat
their homes with propane gas.
. Between Christmas and the week of
Jan. 11, conventional gasoline prices
rose four to five cents per gallon, while
diesel fuel prices went up 23 percent in
North and South Carolina, an increase
of 25 cents, said Quentin Anderson,
public relations director for the Ameri
can Automobile Association.
The cold weather in the last week of
December created a heavy demand for
heating oil, which is closely related to
diesel, said Anderson. A greater amount
of oil intended for the production of
diesel was diverted into the production
of heating oil, which resulted in higher
prices for diesel.
Bill Tucker, investigator for the at
torney general's office, said in a tele
phone interview Wednesday that he
believes some of the price increase is
justified because of the cold weather,
but he questions whether the entite
increase is necessary.
Earlier this year, the attorney gen
eral called on N.C. congressional dele
gates to investigate the increases, said
Tucker. The attorney general also has
asked the U.S. Justice Department to
launch an investigation into the matter,
Several N.C. congressmen have
publicly called for an investigation of
the petroleum industry. Tucker said.
The congressmen have questioned why
the oil companies have increased their
prices the same amount at the same
time, he said.
There is no direct evidence of collu
sion or price fixing on the pait of the oil
Proposal offers solution to
overcrowded prison problem
By KYLE YORK SPENCER
N.C. Sen. Bob Shaw, R-Guilford,
suggested last week building inexpen
sive barracks like those used to house
prisoners of war to ease problems with
North Carolina's overcrowded prisons
The proposal, made to the Joint
Legislative Governmental Operations
Commission, was met with support
from other members of the General
Assembly who are concerned about the
"revolving door" that prematurely re
leases prisoners to allow room for in
coming ones, Shaw said.
"We can only accept someone new if
someone else goes out," said Bill Pos
ten, deputy public information officer
for the N.C. Department of Correc
tions. "We are continually in this situation,"
In order to prevent a takeover by the
federal government, the General As
sembly voluntarily placed a cap on the
state's prison population. Because of
this 18,000 inmate limit, the N.C. Pa
role Commission must release approxi
mately 2,000 inmates a month, said
Louis Colombo, chairman of the panel.
Last Thursday, the state exceeded its
cap for the ninth time. The result is that
sentences will be shortened, and in some
cases dangerous criminals housed in
the 84 state prisons will be let out onto
the streets, Posten said.
"For a ten-year sentence, a prisoner
who keeps his nose clean with good
time and gain time can be out in 1 2 to 1 5
months," Shaw said.
"We are putting people on the street
that the general public probably
wouldn't want there," he said.
Because the state has been involved
in a number of lawsuits involving pris
oners, it is extremely important that
new facilities meet standards set by the
federal court system, said Rep. Anne
Barnes, D-Orange, a member of the
House prisons committee.
These requirements include 50
square feet of space per inmate, ade
quate ventilation, medical care, and
humane conditions, Bames said.
The state is currently involved in the
costly project of eliminating triple
bunking in many of its prisons due to a
lawsuit which labeled them unconsti
tutional, she said. This has cost the state
$150 million in recent years.
Shaw said the barracks could be built
cost efficiently in approximately one
year, would avoid expensive construc
tion and materials, and would meet
federal court demands.
The wooden barracks, which would
not be as secure as other piisons, are
intended for white collar criminals,
drunk driver, drug criminals, and
nonviolent offenders, Shaw said.
In support of Shaw's plan. Sen.
Richard Conder, D-Richmond, argued
that he would rather see prisoners slip
out the back door in these minimum
security prisons than turn convicted
muiderers loose from maximum secu
rity prisons because of a lack of cell
While the state's leaders have been
concentrating on the overcrowding
issue, some activists do not see it as a
"There are more urgent things than
that," said Joe Dipierro, co-director of
the Piisons Rights Project at UNC.
"At best it would be a drop in the
bucket of the total prison problem," he
companies, but North Carolina does
not have access to company records
because oil is not produced in the state,
Tucker also added that the price
increases in propane gas have placed a
tremendous burden on the residents of
North Carolina, particularly retired
people and others on fixed incomes.
Wayne Riddle, traffic manager for
the N.C. Trucking Association Inc.,
said the increase in diesel fuel has had
a devastating effect on trucking opera
tions, but that some of the carriers are
presently getting relief.
I lowever, some trucking carriers will
not be able to continue because of the
price increases. Tucker said.
Anderson said two recent oil spills
off the coasts of New England and
Africa and a fire in an oil refinery in
Baton Rouge, La., have added to the
necessity of the increases. The unusu
ally cold weather has also resulted in a
21 percent decrease in the output of
refineries, he said.
Anderson also attributed the rising
fuel prices to increases in crude oil
prices at the end of the year. The Soviet
Union exported 25 percent less crude
oil to European countries, and this re
sulted in those countries bidding up
prices in an effort to make up the differ
ence. The oil sold to Euiopean coun
tries was originally intended for the
U.S., he said.
Mike Kimmitt, spokesman for Mobil
Oil Corp., said the price increases were
the result of a sharp and unexpected rise
in demand for oil and gas in a short time
frame that put a strain on supply. The
mechanisms for distributing oil could
not anticipate the cold weather, the
coldest in 60 years, he said.
Kimmitt also added that fuel prices
could be stabilized if additional fuel
supplies, such as natural gas from off
the N.C. coast, are discovered.
Educators oppose Channel One
By JENNIFER BLACKWELL
Much controversy surrounds the
decision by some N.C. high schools
to enter into a contractual agreement
involving the daily use of Whittier
Communication's new 12-minute
news program in return for some tele
vision equipment and a satellite dish.
Under the contract, high schools
will be required daily to show Chan
nel One, a 10 minute news and infor
mation program including four 30
second commercials, to a negotiated
number of students, said David Jar
rard, a spokesman for Whittier Com
munications. The contract will also
enable the schools to receive a class
room and educators channel, color
televisions for almost every class
room, VCRs and a satellite dish. The
system will be set up so that all sets
can be turned on at once, or just two or
three, depending on need. This will
also enable the schools to receive
local and national cable services,
which is "a very important aspect,"
The contract is funded by the ad
vertisers on the Channel One news
program, he said. All of the ads will
have to meet certain standards.
Eighty-nine N.C. schools have al
ready agreed to sign-up for Channel
One, which Whittier offered to local
schools nationwide beginning in Sep
tember. However, several top adminis
trators have said that they do not want
local schools to sign the contract.
Bob Etheridge, state superintendent
of schools, said he was "personally
opposed" to the use of Channel One.
He said he objects to the requirement of
schoolwide viewing on a daily basis
and the use of commercials. "It sends
the wrong message to our students both
educationally and ethically."
Several members on the Board of
Education share his opinion, including
Howard Haworth, chairman of the panel
leading an investigation on the use of
Gov. Jim Martin upheld the
chairman's opinion, saying he did not
feel the program was appropriate in
schools, said David Prather, assistant
press secretary for the governor. He
said that he objected to the lack of con
trol by local administrators over the
program's content, and that it would
cut too much into class time, Prather
Etheridge said he planned to investi
gate the facts about Channel One and
would recommend action at the next
Board of Education meeting on Jan. 3 1
and Feb. 1. He has asked the attorney
general's office to help determine
how much authority the state board
has over local school systems.
Kay Williams, a spokeswoman for
the Department of Public Instruc
tion, said Etheridge was also con
cerned about the opinions of local
schools and school boards. He plans
to incorporate their opinions about
Channel One into his recommenda
tion to the board, she added.
Eddie Spees, the director of the
Office of Education in the attorney
general's office, said he plans to dis
cuss the legalities of the board's de
cisions at the meeting this week.
Jarrard said that there are two lev
els of debate concerning the contract.
Gallup polls used by Whittier showed
that 79 percent of adults polled in
North Carolina were interested in
using the program in their children's
schools. Teachers and administrators
have also shown a "terrific accep
tance of Channel One," he said.
Most states are leaving the deci
sion to the local schools, he said.
Jarrard did not view the advertise
ments as being a problem. Students
are exposed to it at all other times, on
TV, in magazines, newspapers and
clothes, he said.
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Free Tanning Accelerator to first
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