Cheers and jeers from around the news:

• Cheers for the oil man. Don Blanchard, of Blanchard’s Oil in Turner, who relieved his clients of burdensome contracts, which were consummated at a time when petroleum prices peaked. His goodwill will cost him $40,000.

Blanchard says he’s just paying it forward – he’s no longer paying premium for his supply, so he felt obligated to do the same for his customers. It’s garnered him some good public relations and customer support, that’s for sure, while probably rankling his competitors for setting such a precedent.

Too bad. More companies should do the same with customers paying inflated prices for oil. Yes, they were the terms at the time. But times and prices have changed so radically that it almost behooves oil dealers to do something like this, lest they run some customers dry.

If a small-by-comparison operator like Blanchard can offer customer relief, the larger ones – some of whom are even being sued by customers over their contracts – should also be able to act. If losing profits is a concern, maybe some unused LIHEAP funds could cover the gap.

• Jeers to the recession, which is touching Mother Nature. Shark attacks declined in 2008, in part, some scientists theorize, because of the economy. Maybe they need a bailout package, too; after all, their toothy land-based brethren on Wall Street are fattening nicely.

• Cheers to a sales tax holiday, now that the stimulus package is en route. For years, this blatant consumer gimmick has been supported by business, but fought by lawmakers as an exercise in fiscal irresponsibility. With billions coming, though, that latter argument should fade.

Yes, a holiday would reduce state revenues. But in large part, this holiday would only forgo revenue the state wouldn’t otherwise collect, by providing incentive for Mainers to shop, especially for bigger-ticket items that carry heavier levies.

Wouldn’t Maine’s car dealers benefit from something like this? How about its home building businesses? Hey, isn’t Maine’s local and state tax revenue disproportionately dependent on these sectors? Shouldn’t we use stimulus funds to actually stimulate the economy?

Wouldn’t a sales tax holiday do that? Well, we think so.

How about you, Augusta?

• Finally, cheers to Paul Schipper and Chet Bulger, two rough-and-tough Maine men who reached the pinnacles of their respective sports, the ski slopes and the football gridiron. Both died recently, leaving legacies of ironman grit – Schipper, who skied daily for 24 years, and Bulger, who won an NFL championship in a leather helmet with the 1947 Chicago Cardinals.

They will be missed, but their stories will undoubtedly live on.


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