"Not everybody wants to work for the IRS right now." -- Commissioner Charles Rossotti at Senate hearings on IRS abusesEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top
GAS STATIONS: NEXT, THEY'LL BE OFFERING GREEN STAMPS
IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, AS anyone can tell you, drivers didn't pay for road maps. Well, the good old days are back, at least at Exxon USA. The oil giant is reviving the practice as part of its Driver-Friendly campaign, a two-year program to upgrade 8,500 Exxon gas stations.
"Our research on driver behavior shows that they like life in the car, but they hate life on the road," says Jim Carter, marketing vice-president. Driver-Friendly already has begun in Texas. Among the highlights: rest rooms with diaper-changing tables, music at the service islands, a larger and better choice of food, and a 39 cents cup of Joe. And, yes, free maps.
Oil companies have seen the benefit of more user-friendly gas stations ever since Arco began accepting ATM cards at its gas pump islands in the early 1980s. And giving drivers that warm and fuzzy feeling away from the pumps also has become increasingly important. Shell, for instance, sells tchotchkes with its famous logo from a store in Houston's upscale Galleria. Analysts say that Exxon, with its Driver-Friendly program, is now definitely upping the ante in the gas station wars. Just don't hold your breath for 29 cents-a-gallon gas.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top
VINO SI, VIAGRA NO
DON'T COUNT HENRY WENDT, SmithKline Beecham's former chief executive, among the hordes smitten with Viagra, Pfizer's phenomenally successful "love drug." Now that Wendt, 64, has retired from the daily grind of the pharmaceutical business, he's quick to inject a dose of skepticism into the industry's appetite for more quality-of-life drugs such as Pfizer's impotence pill.
Only 12 years ago, he says, SmithKline's ulcer fighter, Tagamet, became the first $1 billion-a-year drug. It was a medicine that remedied a potentially life-threatening condition. Drugmakers should be chiefly "in the business of producing products for serious conditions," he says. Moreover, he thinks that Viagra could be bad for business in the long run: Strong demand for the $10 pill could reawaken demands for government price controls.
Wendt retired from SmithKline in 1994 after 39 years. These days, his interests in chemistry mainly concern fermentation: He and his wife, Holly, run a winery, Quivira Vineyards, in Northern California. Wendt sells about 20,000 cases of Quivira wines annually. The wines retail for $11 to $18 a bottle--a few bucks more than a dose of Viagra.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top
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DID THE FEDS NUDGE OUT A LABOR BOSS?
DID THE LEADER OF ONE OF the country's most successful unions agree to step down when a federal monitor ended its oversight of the union's affairs? That's what union insiders are saying about Edward Hanley, longtime head of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union.
HERE has been one of the AFL-CIO's star performers, organizing thousands of workers in recent years at Las Vegas casinos. But HERE was also one of four unions, including the Teamsters, linked to the mob by a 1985 federal report. The Justice Dept. claimed that Hanley gained the top job in 1973 with help from Chicago crime figures. However, Justice has never found evidence of wrongdoing on Hanley's part since the allegations were made 20 years ago. Nor has a federal monitor appointed in 1995 to supervise HERE.
That oversight ended in March. Union officials now expect Hanley to announce his retirement, perhaps as early as HERE's May 18 executive board meeting. A spokes-man denies all mob allegations and any deal to end the monitorship. Hanley's likely successor? John Wilhelm, his No.2, who added 30,000 members in Las Vegas.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top