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GM dealer arbitration statement retracted by GOP leader

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GM dealer arbitration statement retracted by GOP leader

Neil Roland

Automotive News -- June 16, 2010 - 1:24 pm ET

John Boehner R-Ohio

WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader John Boehner retracted a statement that a rejected General Motors dealership in Ohio prevailed in arbitration while sticking to his affirmation that the store would be reinstated.

Rep. Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a statement Monday that omitted the opening sentence of his earlier release that said he had been told by GM that Rose Chevrolet “has prevailed in arbitration with GM.”

However, the latest statement continued to maintain that GM told the House’s top Republican that Rose Chevrolet of Hamilton, Ohio, will “remain in business.”

Boehner’s new statement did little to clear up the dealership’s confusion.

The owner of Rose Chevrolet, Ed Larkin, said he hasn’t heard yet from GM or the arbitrator about the resolution of his case.

“If GM wants us to be part of the network, that’s what we want,” said Larkin, 39, whose family has owned the dealership since 1984. “But going back to last June, there have been some very peculiar, very strange things happening.”

Since the dealer arbitrations began in April, rarely has a congressman -- let alone a party leader -- gotten involved in an individual case. Instead, the arbitrators have been left to make their decisions, and GM and Chrysler Group have been allowed to pursue settlements or reinstatements as they saw fit.

Boehner stepped in last week after a courtesy call from GM in an attempt to have the dealership informed of what seemed to be favorable news as soon as possible. Instead, the dealership’s fate remains unclear.

Waiting for the decision

Larkin said he’s still working on some post-hearing briefs to be filed with the arbitrator and doesn’t expect to receive the arbitrator’s decision until the first half of July.

Boehner’s district includes Hamilton, near Cincinnati. He had written GM a year ago urging Rose Chevrolet’s reinstatement after the dealership was notified that it would be terminated in October 2010.

Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz today dodged e-mailed questions asking whether Boehner had misunderstood what GM told him before issuing his earlier statement.

“After the original version of the release was issued, it became apparent that one of the sentences it contained might have been based on incomplete or inaccurate information,” Fritz said.

Fritz said earlier this week that “a high-ranking GM official” told Boehner that Rose Chevrolet had prevailed at an arbitration hearing held last week. Boehner wanted GM to explain why the company hadn’t yet informed the dealer, the lawmaker’s spokesman said at the time.

Settlement offer?

Fritz today also declined to say whether GM was preparing a settlement offer to Rose Chevrolet that would involve reinstatement.

After Boehner’s first statement on the matter on June 11, GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney declined to say whether the dealership had been reinstated and wondered who at the company might have spoken with Boehner.

The GM spokeswoman again declined to comment today on what would become of Rose Chevrolet.

“Out of respect for the confidentiality of our discussions with our dealers, we aren’t commenting on individual cases,” she said.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100616/RETAIL07/100619888/1400#ixzz0r3MtlCfv

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