#b#Dine for the Shore#/b#

With our fellow New Jerseyans, we watched with pride as Governor Chris Christie cut a ribbon to reopen New Jersey’s beaches. We are indeed Stronger than the Storm, in part thanks to our organization, World Wings International, which did much to help us during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The need is still great and we would like you to know about a fun, easy way to raise money to help New Jersey rebuild. Join friends across the country on National Dine Out Day this Wednesday, June 19 (www.nationaldineoutday.com).

All over the United States, restaurants are joining to benefit New Jersey’s efforts to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Just come in to your favorite participating restaurant on June 19, enjoy lunch or dinner, and a percentage of your bill will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

Dining legends like Emeril Lagasses’ Nola and restaurant chains such as Panera and Friendlys are participating. Other area restaurants participating include Mediterra, Teresa’s, Eno Terra, Tiger’s Tale, and the Ryland Inn.

Anne Sweeney

Sweeney, a public relations consultant based in Monmouth Junction, is president of the Princeton/Philadelphia chapter of World Wings International Inc. She wrote about her experiences as a flight attendant in the May 15 issue of U.S. 1.

#b#Store Lease Ends, Merchant Asks Why#/b#

Nearly 16 years ago my family and I purchased a retail liquor store at 174 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. Princeton Wine and Liquor impressed us with its quaint 19th century interior look and its warm cozy feel. The store had been named Princeton Wine and Liquor since 1975, some of the older residents of the Princeton area may remember its former name: The Cellar. Almost all will remember “that liquor store with the white lights in the window.”

For 16 years we serviced Princeton and the surrounding area. We loved our store and more importantly our customers who would stop by and make a purchase on their way to their favorite local BYOB restaurant. Yes, the hours were long and the economy rocky at times but we endured. We were happy and proud to have a business to call our own.

Unfortunately our little slice of the American dream will soon be coming to an end. The First Church of Christ Scientist, our landlord, has decided not to renew our lease. When we pressed for an answer as to why their reply was — and I quote — “we felt that it is not in our best interest having a liquor store as a tenant since we are a church.”

Their best interest? What about me and my family’s best interest? Just because we sell a product that they don’t believe in as the excuse not to renew our lease is nothing short of discrimination.

Needless to say we are devastated. With just a one-year extension left on our lease we tried to find a suitable location to move our business. With the restrictions as to where a liquor store can set up shop because of distance between other stores, schools, and churches there was no place suitable for us to relocate. Our plan “B” was trying to sell the license by itself. Potential buyers encountered the same obstacles we did with the restrictions of placing the license. So now not only do I have to close my doors but I am holding a valuable liquor license that I can not seem to sell.

At a time when Governor Christie is trying to promote small business, create jobs, and improve New Jersey’s economy I now have to shut my doors. My son, Bob, who has run and managed the business for 16 years is now out of a job as are myself and my other employees. It would be a different situation if our landlord had come to us with a lease renewal and tripled my rent. Instead they do not want me in their building because of the product I sell. Princeton Wine and Liquor — another Princeton icon that is soon to be just a memory.

Rose Marie Belmont

Owner, Princeton Wine and Liquor

#b#Employers Need Background Checks/b#

Legislation that would block employers from asking whether an applicant is a felon until after they have made an offer is an unnecessary intrusion and potentially jeopardizes businesses, their customers, and their workers

This legislation would prevent small business owners from asking the same question that we want government agencies, school districts, security companies, financial institutions, and even little leagues to ask on their employment applications.

It completely discounts criminal history as an indication of moral character, which is absurd, and it complicates the hiring process for small business owners who know better than politicians and lawyers how to evaluate prospective employees.

The bill would prohibit employers from conducting a criminal background check on job applicants until after they have made an offer. It also prevents employers from using criminal history as a factor in personnel decisions before and even after they have hired a new worker.

For the same reason it makes sense to ask about work history, it makes sense to ask about criminal history. It’s one way to know more about the character of the person whom you are going to trust with your business, your property, your inventory, your financial information, your keys, your combinations, your passwords and, most importantly, everyone’s safety for whom you are responsible.”

Another big danger for small employers is that it virtually guarantees more lawsuits. If you’re considering two candidates with similar qualifications and you reject the one with the felony record, that becomes the basis of a lawsuit regardless of whether it was actually the reason for your decision.

Government should stop trying to referee every human relationship and let small business owners use their best judgment when it comes to hiring employees. Hiring and training new employees is a costly and time consuming proposition and if doesn’t work out there are significant risks. It’s easy for politicians and activists who have nothing to lose to dictate from the sidelines.

We should leave this decision to business owners. It’s already harder for small businesses to survive in New Jersey than it is in most other states. This legislation would create another disincentive for small businesses to hire anyone.

Laurie Ehlbeck

State Director, National Federation of Independent Business

www.nfib.com.

The New Jersey Senate is now holding hearings on the Opportunity to Compete Act, which would “ban the box” that job applicants are often asked to check if they have prior convictions or arrests.

The bill, introduced by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson), and M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), requires employers to solicit an applicant’s criminal history only after the employer deems the applicant preliminarily qualified and extends a conditional offer of employment.

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