Who would have thought that Mayor Mike would take a page out of our book, and call out the governor to get tough with the Indian cigarette buttleggers? Early last year, when the Senecas were making noise about setting up their own toll booths on the thruway. In a post titled, "Paterson's "Make My Day" Moment," we said: "What a great opportunity for Paterson to demonstrate that he has the capacity to lead-and to forcefully insure the rule of law...As far as the Seneca threat, Paterson should be clearing out enough prison cells to accommodate the entire lot of them."
Picking up on this suggestion, Mayor Mike gave the following advice to the current threats being issued by the same Seneca criminals: "Mayor Bloomberg wants to turn the New York State Thruway into the Wild West. On his weekly radio show yesterday, Bloomberg jokingly advised Gov. Paterson to put up his dukes against cigarette retailers on Indian reservations and start collecting the excise taxes that the mayor believes are due the state. "I said to David Paterson, I said, 'You know, get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there's ever a great video, it's you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, 'Read my lips: The law of the land is this and we're going to enforce the law,' " Hizzoner said."
But why is this considered a joke? It's no laughing matter when an organized gang flouts the law with impunity-and the NY Post understates this fact: "Many believe -- and some courts have held -- that the Indians should have the right to sell tax-free cigarettes only to other Indians, and not to the public at large. The Indians reject that claim."
This is just flat out untrue-and Reporter Sally Goldenberg needed to ring us up for the emmis on this matter-as we pointed out earlier this year: "But, on the issue of regulations, we had a fascinating conversation with former attorney general Oliver Koppell. He told us that the successful defense of the state law in the US Supreme Court that legalizes the right of NY to tax these scofflaws, was based precisely on the state's prerogative to promulgate regulations-regs that were ready to go then and have apparently been gathering dust for 16 years!"
This is established law, and to pretend, as the Seneca do, that it is still a debatable issue, is self serving hooey. And, by the way, if you do have an organized group threatening the state with violence if it does decide to actually enforce the law, than why would it be a joke to meet the threat with force?
The Seneca-along with the rest of the Indian tax evaders-need to be stopped in their tracks before harm is done; and before there are no legitimate tax stampers left in the state. And it has gotten so bad, that the Seneca believe that even federal laws don't apply to them: "In the most recent development in the decades-old war between government officials and merchants on Indian reservations, a federal judge in Buffalo ruled on Thursday against allowing the Senecas to continue mailing cigarettes to customers while they appeal an earlier ruling. The decision came after the state seized thousands of cartons of cigarettes from a delivery truck making stops between Seneca Indian Nation reservations in western New York."
And the governor has been posturing on this key tax collection issue-as the NY Post opines this morning. Despite the mayor's encouragement, Paterson is unlikely to act anytime soon: "We'd sure love to see Sheriff Paterson in a 10-gallon Stetson on the Thruway. More likely, though, he'll be riding off into the sunset before New Yorkers see any of that cig-tax dough."
But cowboy hats off to the mayor-a man who knows a scam when he sees one. Blomberg therefore gets, and deserves, the last word: "Radio-show host John Gambling mentioned the famous incident in which the Senecas burned tires along the Thruway in 1997 to protest the state's collection of taxes from wholesalers who supplied Indian retailers. That sparked a feverish reaction from the mayor. "This is an outrage," he said. "You know, if you and I have to pay taxes, everybody should pay taxes -- and this is just a scam to get around the taxes."