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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
OCTANE OBSTACLES, NEW LEGISLATURE COMING
Laws and regulations are complex things. And if you’re anything like me, dealing with them can be both complicated and utterly frustrating. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands, hire a lawyer, and let them figure it all out – which is a whole ‘nother kind of frustration.
Recently, however, I’ve become especially upset with the situation surrounding a few octane ‘cheats’ who have been mired in legal troubles. As we have reported a few times over the last two months, the state Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) has made it a priority to spot check gasoline retail locations and test the octane rating of their fuel. If a retailer is caught selling gasoline at a lower octane than what is marked on their dispenser, they are cited with a violation and face stiff fines
You can read more about this in two past editions of the Road Warrior, by clicking HERE and HERE
I will always stand up for the professionals at OWM and applaud the job they do. We’ve forged a great working relationship with them and have worked well together over the last five years. In fact, I even bragged weeks ago that none of the initial violators were NJGCA members (though, sadly, this is no longer true).
Yet, imagine how frustrated I am when two outfits that I ABSOLUTELY KNOW are not guilty of cheating get slapped with a violation. That’s exactly the situation several reputable retailers now find themselves in --- and it has me very worried.
You see, when I (or any normal person) think of someone having done something wrong - and being worthy of a steep fine or harsh repercussions – I look first to intent. Did the owner or business set out to do wrong? Where they trying to harm the public? Did they purposefully commit fraud to pull the rug out from under their consumers?
But that’s not how judges and lawyers think -- and this isn’t how all laws are interpreted or enforced. Case in point is the situation with these two octane ‘cheats’ who I know are innocent.
Remember that there are only two ways we foresee an octane reading can be off: Either 1). The retailer intentionally dumped regular in a premium tank and tried to pawn off regular as higher-octane fuel, or 2). The retailer is experiencing a mechanical issue they aren’t aware of that tainted the results. Such a situation could be a blender valve unknowingly pumping regular fuel into the premium tank as it blends both fuels when a customer purchases mid-grade gasoline.
However, another alternative possibility is that something is off at the rack, a refiner is actually cheating the retailer, or some other outside (and unforeseen) issue.
Regardless, the point is that the retailer didn’t have intent to throw the wool over anyone’s eyes; it was bad luck or some unknown (and uncontrollable) issue that created a problem and led to the violation.
Sounds plausible, right? I thought so too – except that’s not how this law works. The regulations don’t talk about intent, purpose, or fraud; they only focus on if there was a violation or wasn’t there. In our case, they don’t care if the retailer or distributor knew about the lower octane fuel or if they purposefully tried to pass one grade off as another. Rather, they only care if product was sold with a lower octane rating than it was labeled as.
What worries me – and should worry you – is that these two small business owners can absolutely PROVE through forensic record keeping that everything was on the up n’ up, and that all documentation was in order. So what gives?
I don’t know!! Something isn’t right and none of this adds up. We need your help to figure this all out.
If you – or any fellow retailer that you know of – has received such a violation, I need to speak with you! I’ve spoken to a number of you already, but I KNOW there are more out there. It’s my goal to put together as much evidence as possible to see if we can trace this back to any one refinery or operation out there. If the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, then we’re going to ask the state to take action against one or more refiners.
Why should you do this? The reasons are obvious, but consider the logistics: You obviously cannot test every load of gasoline that is delivered to you. It is physically impossible and economically prohibitive to test all those samples. From a practical point of view, once test results are received from an independent lab, it’s already too late do anything about any possible negative results since you can’t merely store that load of fuel in your storage tanks while waiting for test results.
No, this goes beyond sharing information; it’s about catching the bad apples out there that are hurting the industry and honest retailers like YOU! You know that some dishonest retailers are comingling fuel to cheat customers and boost their profits. You also know that it’s entirely plausible that someone else in the product-line is doing the same thing to innocent retailers. Don’t let it happen!
I encourage you to continue turning in anyone who you suspect of cheating the public and your business. If it looks like something is off, call me with your suspicions. Bad apples have to be taken out of the basket or they will ruin it for all of us!
We’re about to say goodbye to some faces in Trenton and welcome some new folks to the State House. That’s because at noon next Tuesday, the new 215th Legislature will be sworn into office. Soon thereafter, the Governor will give his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature the same day.
What does this mean? A few things actually.
First, it means that two bills we’ve taken an interest in – namely the Rebate Bill and Signage Bill – have only a few days to make it to the Governor’s desk and be signed into law.
Secondly, it also means that as of Tuesday afternoon next week, everything starts over again in the Legislature. That means all the bills that were not passed and signed into law must either be abandoned or reintroduced. Some familiar – and harmful – examples are the Lottery Bill and Below Cost Selling to name a few.
We’ll have our hands full in the next session, but you should be aware that we’re starting from scratch come next week. We’ll update you with more information as new and important bills are (re)introduced for consideration.
Thanks for listening - See you next week!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
Study: To improve fuel economy, vehicles need to be lighter
A new study conducted by MIT suggests that the best to improve fuel economy and meet tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets by 2025 is to reduce overall vehicle weight and complexity. The study cites how both engine power and vehicle weight have increased over the last 30 years, thereby negating advancements in engine efficiency and performance. As a solution to this problem, researchers recommend lighter engine components, variable-speed transmissions, and overall smaller vehicle sizes to reduce fuel consumption. Click above to read the entire article for full details.
Towing companies fined under Predatory Towing Prevention Act
The state is cracking down on towing companies that allegedly employ predatory towing practices. The latest example of this comes as two companies are collectively fined over $90,000 for violating the Predatory Towing Prevention Act. Click above to read the full article.
Natural gas powered cars, trucks expected to grow as locations increase
With America’s supplies of natural gas at an all time high thanks to newly tapped shale discoveries, developers plan to increase the number of retail locations that sell liquid natural gas (LNG) to consumers. Currently, LNG has been predominately used in commercial applications, such as trucks and buses. However, officials believe that a wider market exists for retail motorists if natural gas is available at more locations. Click above to read the full article.
NJGCA in the News: Risalvato defends retailers from wage allegations
Executive Director Sal Risalvato recently spoke to the Courier Post regarding allegations that some gasoline retailers were improperly compensating employees, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In a published opinion piece, the Courier Post cited antiquated and complex regulations as overburdening small business owners. Click above to read the full piece.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES IN OUR “NEWS AROUND THE STATE” ARCHIVE
-ALL CLASSES WILL BE HELD AT NJGCA HEADQUARTERS-
66 Morris Avenue - Springfield, NJ 07081 (Union County)
PLEASE NOTE: FUTURE DATES WILL BE ADDED UPON REQUEST AND ACCORDING TO DEMAND. CONTACT DEBBIE at 973-376-0066 or DEBBIE@NJGCA.ORG TO LET HER KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TAKING A SPECIFIC CLASS. THIS WILL ALLOW US TO GAUGE YOUR NEEDS AND KEEP TRACK OF THOSE WISHING TO PARTICIPATE!!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
TMP Energy Solutions
Another Way to Save on Your Energy Bills
We have had a number of NJGCA members successfully reduce their rate per kWh signing up through our energy saving program. We know it’s difficult to collect 12 months worth of previous electric bills to get an “accurate” analysis when comparing a variable rate to a fixed rate, but we now have another option available.
This new solution is a power purchase option; the other program is still in full force and has saved members thousands of dollars. If you sign up for the power purchase option, you will be grouped with other NJGCA members until the minimum KW demand is acquired. By pooling the member’s usage together, you will be able to take advantage, as large energy users do, and receive a lower kWh rate.
Each member will receive their own contract. Each member is responsible to sign and return the agreement the day it is received in order to secure the price for their group.
Please do your due diligence, so when you receive the proposal and the agreement you will be able to make an intelligent decision.
If by chance, you still want us to assess you bills, to give you a price to compare, we will require12 months of your most recent utility bills.
There are no bills required, but we would still like to have one bill per meter on file to check account #’s, meter #’s service addresses and other pertinent information incase there is a problem.
The term of the agreement is for 12 months. During this term period, you will have price protection against any energy price increases along with a low fixed kWh rate.
If you are interested in becoming part of this power purchase option, please contact Phil Apruzzi at the NJGCA.
Remember when you sign up your energy through the NJGCA Energy Program, TMP makes a considerable donation to the NJGCA Scholarship Fund through their proceeds. This has no affect on your rate, and costs you nothing out of pocket.
We hope to help hundreds of NJGCA members reduce their utility costs by participating in this and our other cost reduction programs. Our purpose, in the endeavor, is to help NJGCA members lower their energy costs while supporting the NJGCA Scholarship Fund.
Contact Phil Apruzzi at 973-376-0066 or email Phil at email@example.com. Mention that you are interested in saving money on your energy bills. NJGCA & TMP Energy Solutions will handle all the rest.
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
DEFENDING OUR MEMBERS.
PROTECTING YOUR INTERESTS.
ANSWER THE CALL & CONTRIBUTE TODAY!!
Promoting our agenda in Trenton is of utmost importance to NJGCA and our members.
To truly understand the importance of supporting our allies, consider our successes in Trenton:
However, in order to truly affect the debate, we must ensure our friends in the Legislature are re-elected. It is for this reason that your Association has established the NJGCA PAC.
For too long, the weight of funding our Political Action Committee, the arm of the Association responsible for political donations, has rested upon a few. This is not only unfair to those few members who have shouldered this burden, but means we are not utilizing our full strength to affect the debate in Trenton.
We defeated BELOW COST SELLING
We made history in getting FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL signed into law!
We have built large support for RIGHT TO REPAIR and got it passed out of the Assembly
We defended your small business against the false accusations of Attorney General Anne Milgram
We gained wide support to move New Jersey to an all PIF Inspection System and close the CIF lanes
...and MUCH MORE!!
In each instance, we achieved these goals with the help of our friends in the Legislature!
If every member contributes just $100.00 we will be able to provide the help necessary to ensure victory for our allies.
PLEASE SEND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO:
66 Morris Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081
Please make your donation payable to NJGCA PAC
I understand that times are tough for all NJGCA members, but this is just as important as any battle we have fought in the past.
We have made great progress in Trenton. I hope that you will answer the call.
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