Monday, August 23, 2010

Indians Smoking Dope, Not Peace Pipe

The Seneca have decided to sue the state in order to prevent the enforcement of the tax laws against their criminal enterprises. As Capitol Confidential reported last week: "The Seneca Indian Nation sued the Paterson administration in U.S. District Court in Buffalo Tuesday to block enforcement of a plan to gain tax collections on sales of cigarettes at Native American stores. Papers were filed around 5 p.m. naming the Gov. David Paterson, Acting Tax Commissioner Jamie Woodward and State Police. The Seneca tribal government said in a statement that a complaint was filed in the Western District of New York challenging as substantively infirm (1) the amendments to New York State Tax Law sections 471 and 471-e that were enacted on June 21, 2010; and (2) the emergency regulations promulgated by the Department of Taxation and Finance in an effort to implement those statutory provisions. The tax collection is supposed to commence Sept. 1."

To us, as more legitimate enterprises fold up because of the criminal tax evasion of these tribes, this should be treated as a state of war-and every candidate for governor and attorney general should be grilled on where they stand on this bold questioning of the legitimate authority of the state. But you got to give these tax evaders points for chutzpah.

As CC reports: "In the meantime, the tribal government, which is supported by other tribes, is appealing to Paterson and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to hold off on implementing the collection program while the case is in the court. Court papers say the Seneca have a tribal tax stamp already and that the “well-regulated tobacco economy” supports 18 Seneca-licensed stamping agents and 140 licensed cigarette retailers and about 3,000 Indian and non-Indian employees." (emphasis added)

There's obviously something stronger than tobacco in what these folks are smoking. And it's certainly not a peace pipe. As the Times Union reports: "Following what was billed as a historic gathering of elected and traditional chiefs of the Native American nations of upstate New York, the Iroquois Confederacy issued a unified message opposing the Paterson administration's planned implementation of a tax policy requiring state collections on cigarettes sold by Indian stores." So much for the Indian version of what it means to be well-regulated.

And they're still up to their old tricks of trying to deny the legality of the 1994 Supreme Court decision that empowers the State of New York to enforce its own tax laws: "About 100 chiefs, tribal council representatives and officials from all of the entrepreneurial and traditional -- or "longhouse" -- factions met at a Rochester Institute for Technology conference center much of Wednesday to plan the statement and the next course of opposition. Their message blasts the "foreign nation" of New York from trying to erode sovereignty of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca people."

The, "foreign nation of New York," you know, the one that provides these Indians with schools, roads, hospitals and welfare benefits-underscoring that, when it suits them, and when they are on the receiving end of state funds, they can be good citizens of this foreign enclave. In our view, the governor and the legislature should start right away in cutting off all "foreign aid" to these insurrectionists. And, by the way, if they really are sovereign, why can't New York charge them for selling goods to its citizens? The rhetorical knife cuts both ways.

And all of the talk of sovereignty is then simply hooey: "The statement that came out of the session said the six-nation confederacy agreed to "reaffirm the ancient unity of the Haudenosaunee" with the common goal of defending treaty-protected sovereign rights to the free use and enjoyment of what they referred to as "our" land. The statement said that, based on treaties dating hundreds of years, foreign governments cannot intrude or interfere in the commerce on the Indian territories. The leaders said the "latest attempt" to damage sovereignty involves the attempts to collect taxes on cigarette products."

But, as always, there is the implicit threat of violence: "Seneca Council Chairman Richard Nephew said the tax policy is misguided and threatens Indian economies. "They're trying to use the Indian nations of New York as scapegoats to get out of their decades of fiscal mismanagement," he said of state politicians. "As leaders our job is to try every means as necessary to keep the peace at home. Our people are angry."

It's about time that someone called the bluff here-and enforced a law that, in the absence of enforcement has cost tax payers billions of dollars; while destroying the small store owners who have always been, while being forced to play the role of patsies, the legitimate retailers and wholesalers of cigarettes.