Explaining Southern California's economy

Say goodbye to Arco in Southern California

Mercer 20324

David McNew/Getty Images

An Arco gas station in Pasadena. It won't be around for much longer.

This just in — really! BP has informed operators of its Arco stations in Southern California that it won't be renewing leases with Thrifty Oil, which owns the current Arco sites, according to the OC Register. Arco has been in SoCal for 46 years and currently occupies 257 locations, so this is no small deal. USA Gasoline will take their place.

USA Gasoline is owned by Tesoro, which is more of a refiner that sells its gas at its own locations, along the lines of Valero. BP of course is a vast multinational energy company whose core business is oil extraction.

There's another wrinkle to the story, in this period of steep gas prices in our region. From the OC Register:

The move by BP has set off a firestorm of protest among the 106 Arco franchisees, many of whom own multiple stations and stand to lose their entire investment. About 2,000 Arco workers also will lose their jobs

It also raises questions about what will happen to gasoline prices when Arco, known as the low-price leader, is no longer in the market.

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Visual Aid: The comical student loan default rates of for-profit California colleges

Holly Petraeus, wife of CIA Director and former U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, has intensified the debate about for-profit colleges, their astronomical student-load default rates, and accusations that they're looking to market hard to members of the military. NPR covered the issue this morning with her, and referenced an opinion piece she wrote on the subject for the New York Times.

I've been thinking a lot lately about for-profit educational models, given that the way forward for California's economy clearly lies with a better-educated workforce. But the state's public school system is under a lot of strain. Can private companies, operating charter schools, technical schools, and other types of institutions be a solution? If you look at the ability of many for-profit Southern California colleges to graduate people who can actually pay for their education, the answer is no.

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How to save the U.S. Postal Service: bank the 'unbanked'

In the last week, we've all learned just how dire the outlook is for the U.S. Postal Service. The Postmaster General, Patrick R. Donahoe, has been pleading for federal assistance in helping the USPS overcome not just a problem with meeting an impending $5.5 billion pension payment, but also a looming $10 billion fiscal deficit.

The post office is such a fixture of American life that the story was immediately picked up by pretty much everybody. On the left-hand side of the political spectrum, Tom Hartmann argued that Republicans have always hated the post office and that this latest crisis is a manufactured one to enable mail delivery to be privatized. On the right, GOP Congressman Darrell Issa of California had already introduced legislation in June to implement "sweeping, structural reforms" of the USPS.

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