Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell is apparently listening to challenger Rickey Cole’s speeches. For several weeks now, Cole has been mentioning the fact that the fuel pumps at Hubbard’s truck stop at the intersection of highways 27 and 18 in Utica had not been inspected by Spell’s office since April of 2005. This weekend, Cole noticed that each of the pumps at the station was sporting not just the usual one but three shiny new yellow inspection stickers boldly bearing “Lester Spell, Jr. D.V.M.” in prominent letters.
On his way from Ovett to Utica yesterday, Cole stopped in Collins and in Ferguson (just north of Monticello) and photographed inspection stickers at stations in those towns. The pump in Collins was last inspected in May of 2006 (see attached photo number 1). The pump in Ferguson hasn’t had a visit from Spell’s crack team of inspectors since February of 2003 (see attached photo number 2).

Whomever Spell sent to Utica to inspect the pumps at the truck stop must not have had enough time to work the whole town. The pumps at the Pit Stop on Highway 18 in Utica haven’t been inspected since April of 2005 (see photo number three). Perhaps most disconcerting, the fuel pumps at the recently reopened convenience store at Highway 27 and Cayuga Street in Utica have not been inspected since April of 2005, even though that store just reopened a few months ago after having been closed for more than a year (see photo number four).

On his campaign website, Spell claims that he will “continue strong enforcement of consumer protection laws that insure safe foods and correct pricing in grocery stores and make sure customers get what they pay for at the gas pumps.”

Cole responded “Fuel pump accuracy and fuel quality hit Mississippi consumers in the pocketbook every day. Gasoline is just too high for any inaccuracy to be tolerated. Consumers can see for themselves that there are pumps around the state that Spell has not inspected for years. Once again, we have seen that Spell’s true performance in office falls far short of his self-promoting rhetoric. His credibility gap is so wide you could drive every cull cow in Mississippi through it sideways.”

Rickey Cole Campaign Release
(No, I couldn’t make this up)