Right according to schedule, Senator Carl Kruger went over to the Second floor at the Capitol in order to present his demand note to the governor on the Indian cigarette tax avoidance. As Daily Politics reports, Kruger drew a line in the sand: "We have to ask everybody to share both the benefits and the burdens of being a New Yorker," said Kruger at a press conference following his staged letter delivery. Part of being a New Yorker is paying taxes that are assessed upon you," the senator continued. Today is the day that we draw the line in the sand, and I say that we should collect before we cut. We should collect the taxes due before we cut the services. While we negotiate we should be collecting. Anything short of that is denying the rule of law."
As would be expected, the governor's office shot back with the following: "The Observer's Jimmy Vielkind read Kruger a statement from a Budget Division spokesman who challenged the senator's numbers, calling them "preposterous," and adding: "If people smoked that much there would be a big black cloud over the state blocking out the sun."
Which, of course, is patently silly, since the numbers in question are extrapolated from the actual number of taxed cartons sold in the state in 2002; when apparently there was an indisputable cloud over the state that has suddenly, and miraculously, dissipated. But Kruger's response was spot on: "Kruger retorted that his estimates are based on information from "industry sources" and "the revenue agents themselves." He accused the Paterson administration of creating a black cloud of its own by refusing to share revenue details with the Finance Committee."
All of this could be resolved in a NY minute if the State Department of Taxation and Finance released the numbers that only they have. Anything short of full disclosure only serves to make the executive look rather foolish; not to say mendacious about the real reason for its reluctance to enforce the law-fear of Indian violence.
And Kruger went right after the governor on this issue: "Asked if he was concerned about possible violence, Kruger replied rather blithely that when the Post's Fred Dicker has to pay his property tax, "he doesn't have a State Trooper at his door." Kruger said Dicker "grudgingly" or "gleefully" writes the check and drops it in the mail - Dicker helpfully added "painfully" to that list. "The rule of law says that the taxes are due," Kruger said. "It’s the same law that applies to every property owner in the State of New York, and they grudgingly pay their tax without fear of violence. So, all I can say is that collect the tax and those that choose to break the law should suffer the consequences of their actions."
We have a governor who gets approval from barely 1/5th of all New Yorkers, demonstrating once again why the public lacks confidence in his leadership abilities-his inability to act with forthrightness and courage. When it comes to the Indians and their refusal to obey the law, David Paterson is simply hiding under his desk.