Monday, May 17, 2010

Paterson Obstructs

We're not the biggest fans of the public employees, but you got to say one thing about our government workers, they have sent the right message to the governor over his cockamamie plan to furlough them in order to reduce the state's deficit-as the Voice's Wayne Barret makes abundantly clear: "The only way the state can alter a binding deal is to negotiate a new one, and get the unions to agree to furloughs or a wage freeze. And the only way to get them to agree to that is to threaten them with worse -- namely, the layoffs of thousands of their members. That's what happened in the early 90s, when the Dinkins administration, suffering through a recession, convinced DC 37 to accept furloughs. But David Paterson can't threaten layoffs with any credibility because he executed a deal with the unions last June guaranteeing job security in exchange for their support of a new pension tier. It was as foolish, and self-serving, a deal as a governor has ever entered into with state labor."

And we loved the, "Furlough Paterson," signs-our feelings exactly. Which brings us to an issue that we have been fighting for the past decade-Indian buttlegging. Not only is Paterson issuing illegal furlough orders as a substitute for sound budgeting, he is totally dragging his feet on the Indian cigarette tax collection. The NY Post nails this malfeasance: "Looks like the Indian tribes facilitating New York's massive criminal butt legging enterprises owe Gov. Pater son another big wet kiss. To wit: His abject (though unsurprising) failure to enforce state laws requiring taxes on reservation smokes has now swamped nearly everyone else's attempts to bring the smuggling under control, too. The state's top court on Tuesday threw out a criminal case brought by Cayuga and Seneca county authorities against two Indian-owned upstate convenience stores for selling untaxed cigarettes -- ruling that the state's unwillingness to issue enforcement regulations means the stores have no obligation to pay."

And our view on this is that until he gets off his butt-leg, there should be no deficit reduction deal. No social service should be cut until the revenue that is out there to be collected actually is. We have talked at length to Senator Kruger on this, and he agrees-and has said he will make this a bottom line issue in the stalled budget negotiations. And the governor's foot dragging means that the Indians can get the courts to prevent the enforcement actions that are based on the strong federal statutes that was recently passed.

The Post captures this-and highlights NYC's frustration with the situation: "Elsewhere, New York City had won some halting success against smugglers on the Poospatuck reservation on Long Island who were flooding Gotham with their product and enriching criminal gangs -- but that, too, has largely unraveled thanks to state inaction. Armed with a federal anti-trafficking statute, the city won injunctions last year against the biggest retailers on the reservation, where buttlegging volume topped 50 million packs last year. Problem is, the feds can only get involved where the state prohibits the trade -- and, per the Court of Appeals ruling, the lack of proper state enforcement could effectively mean that New York doesn't ban it. In any case, city lawyers admit they haven't sought further relief against the new Poospatuck shops that have sprung up to replace the old -- apparently because of the legal uncertainty."

Paterson claims he wants to enforce the law, but simple can't walk the walk-as the Post points out: "Paterson, of course, says he wants to enforce the law (though how could he not say so, with hundreds of millions of lost state tax dollars on the line?). And, sure enough, a new enforcement scheme he dreamed up last year is currently under "review" at the Tax Department. Too little, too late.

It appears that it will take the senate Dems to draw the proverbial line in the sand. Let's hope so, tens of thousands of NY retailers are waiting-not to mention millions of the state's poor tax payers.