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Letters to the editor

Applause for American Dream
This is welcome news to anyone who was concerned that we would miss this golden opportunity to showcase all the unique features of the Meadowlands and the Liberty region of the George Washington Bridge to the Statue of Liberty (“Triple Five: Starting with Super Bowl, American Dream will be ‘major tourism destination,'”, May 3).

Congratulations to all who worked to ensure that this project can be successful artistically, financially and as a tourism-boosting draw in time for the Super Bowl in 2014.

Doug Brown, chairman/CEO
Paradigm Associates LLC

Tapping oil reserves not the answer
As the price of gasoline continues to rise, many politicians and commentators are calling for President Barack Obama to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to lower national gasoline prices. Their rationale, they believe, is that tapping SPR will lower gasoline prices and stabilize energy markets.
Opening SPR would be a foolish move for a number of reasons.

As its name implies, SPR is a strategic asset that was intended to be used only in limited situations, primarily to alleviate a significant disruption in the national oil supply. This means it was to be used for a legitimate emergency situation, like in wartime, natural disasters, or even an OPEC nation taking advantage of our dependence on foreign oil, and cutting off our supply.

Market conditions today do not reflect an emergency situation. Rather, industry statistics over the last six months illustrate that supplies of crude oil have remained stable despite the unrest in the Middle East. Furthermore, demand for crude oil has been flat and is trending toward a decline.

I sympathize with frustrated motorists, as gasoline prices rise. The gasoline retailers who make up our membership are also suffering as their profit margins shrink under the onslaught of sky-high pump prices and back-breaking credit card processing fees. Although I want to help the public and my members, tapping SPR isn’t the answer. Doing so would have a negligible effect on the market and amount to nothing more than a “feel good” attempt to persuade the public that “something is being done.”

Imagine that we did not have the SPR to rely on, and our foreign supply is really shut off? Gas prices could easily hit $7 a gallon, and even $10. Why would the president risk such a horror?

Sal Risalvato, executive director
New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association

Fraud act must be amended
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act does not always achieve its intended purpose. It does not always promote truth in the marketplace, it does not always compensate a wronged consumer for his loss, it does not always punish the wrongdoer and it does not always attract attorneys to accept CFA cases.
Because of language presently used in the CFA, judges and arbitrators are often constrained to apply it in a manner that fails to accomplish the CFA’s explicit objectives.

New Jersey lawmakers must amend the statute to take into account decades of unfair judicial decisions that show what amendments are clearly required to avoid unjust results.
All too often, people and companies who are hurt by the CFA are those working hard to please their customers and make a living for themselves, their employees and families. Many people securing awards are not the defrauded consumer the CFA was supposed to protect.

Part of the problem is that it is all too easy to violate the statute and its regulations without knowing you’ve done anything wrong.
Examples can be found where business owners try to use a contract containing all the required terms under the CFA and the Contractors’ Registration Act, but find customers not interested in signing such long agreements, preferring to simply work on a handshake. The contractor agrees, as he does not want to chase his clients away with all the required legal language. Although he has good intentions, he would also be in violation of the CFA and related consumer protection laws.

The Legislature should, at a minimum, amend the statute to prevent attorneys’ fees and additional money from being awarded absent a specific set of circumstances; increase certain preliminary requirements; prevent certain types of conduct from being improperly characterized as a CFA violation; and allow attorneys’ fees to also be assessed against the consumer if he files an improper CFA claim.

James A. Kozachek, partner
Bisgaier Hoff, LLC

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