There Auto Be a Law
I read with high moral indignation, considerable irritation and an extremely jaundiced eye Tony Perez-Giese's "Take It for a Ride," in the February 5 issue, about the need for regulation in the car business. I was one of "them" for three months in 1995, and I got to see the car business from the inside out. It was not a pretty sight!

Working for two car dealerships on West Colfax, I sold a car a day after my first half-month in the business, making almost $3,000. But then little by little, my eyes were opened. Auto sales is a business that not only needs regulation, it needs "overregulation"--and almost all from the consumer's standpoint. Almost everyone gets taken when he or she buys or sells a car at a dealer or uses a dealer in any other capacity--and the ironic thing is that 90 percent of you never even realize it. Nearly everyone has had a bitter experience with a dealer but keeps going back.

Dealers are making colossal fortunes off the public's naivete. Why has John Elway associated himself with this business if he has integrity (pardon me for attacking a god), and what makes you think H. Wayne Huizenga will be better? (John, would you care to respond to this letter?) The salesmen I knew included more con men, substance abusers and ne'er-do-wells (most often all three) than in all the other businesses I've ever encountered put together.

Do you want to buy or sell a car? I'd suggest you fix your car up and sell it yourself, or buy a car from a private owner that you've had thoroughly checked. Dealers make most of their money off of used cars, starting with the ridiculously low price they pay for yours. If you must use a dealer, never buy from one that doesn't put the price on his used cars. If you must buy a new car, buy one wholesale and thoroughly check out the automaker, dealer and salesman's rep so that you can be sure the warranty and service will be good. Even then, you may need a lawyer. Why not buy a late model from a private owner, thereby letting him absorb the "instant depreciation" a car experiences the moment it is driven off the lot? (You probably should buy a service contract for every car you own if you can find a reputable shop.)

But until Colorado very tightly regulates its car business so that the consumer is thoroughly protected, I'd stay away from it. Why go looking for a snake to bite you?

Gene W. Edwards

Tony Perez-Giese's story on regulation of the car business in Colorado was a reasonably accurate account of the current state of affairs. He did, however, misunderstand the problem with late delivery of titles. The problem is created not by industry, but by state law, which requires that a title be present before license plates are issued. This often places the burden on the least culpable party in the chain of events--namely, the good-faith purchaser, who is required to make sometimes several trips to county offices to obtain a temporary permit while the late title is catching up. The problem is not only caused by dealers, but also by government agencies and financial institutions. And the consumer bears the brunt of it.

A better way would be to de-link the title requirement from the ability of the consumer to obtain plates. Many who are vested in the current, archaic process will object for a myriad of non-compelling reasons. We must examine what is the state's interest in license plates. I submit it is to collect revenue and identify operators/owners of cars--and not to be a collection agency for banks!

While the banking lobby may shudder at the thought, it is time we stop inconveniencing the innocent consumer under the guise of "law." Fortunately, the state legislature's Transportation Legislation Review Committee intends to review the whole titles process next summer. The Dealer Board, charged with effectively regulating the often competing interests of the $7 billion motor vehicle industry, has done an increasingly better job. Our regulatory scheme is the envy of other states. If the statutory changes we've recommended are enacted, our ability to better respond to the public's needs will be greatly improved.

Jim Clark
Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board

Bowlen For Dollars
I enjoyed Patricia Calhoun's February 5 column, "The Million Fan March," regarding Pat Bowlen's desire for a new stadium and public officials' efforts to let Bowlen pick taxpayers' pockets.

I've followed the legislature for fourteen years. I've read the football stadium bill, SB 171, which would amend a law passed in 1996 as follows:

1) Douglas Bruce's Amendment 1 mandates voter approval of new taxes or tax increases. Amendment 1 also restricts when taxes can be voted on. Most taxes must be voted on in November, although Amendment 1 allows some cities and special districts May tax elections. SB 171 tries to comply with Amendment 1 by stating that every May in even-numbered years, the appointed members of the football-stadium board must submit to a retention election, just as judges currently do. However, Douglas Bruce has stated that May tax elections apply only to elected boards, not appointed boards.

2) SB 171 removes all limits on the amount of taxpayer financing, including requiring the Broncos to pay for any cost overruns. Instead, the bill states that whatever the cost of the stadium, the Broncos pay 25 percent. Taxpayers pay the rest. There is no ceiling on the final taxpayer expense.

3) SB 171 states that the Broncos must agree to cover the cost of the stadium election.

Also interesting is what SB 171 doesn't do.
1) SB 171 leaves intact all procedures in current law that the stadium board must complete before an election can be held, such as site selection, stadium design selection, determining stadium cost, and signing a lease with the Broncos.

2) SB 171 leaves intact current provisions that the issue must be petitioned onto the ballot. That is, petitions have to be circulated and signatures gathered to put the stadium tax on the ballot.

The Broncos get half a loaf: They get an unrestricted amount of taxpayer financing for 75 percent of the cost of a new stadium, but they are not assured of a May 1998 election. (Timelines for petition approval and circulation are already running.)

Regardless of how readers feel about taxpayers paying for a new stadium, they should become involved. State legislators pay attention to the calls and letters of citizens. They can lose elections if they don't.

Peter Gross

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