Thursday, October 07, 2010

Seneca's War Whoop

The Seneca Indians continue to pile on against the tax payers of New York. Capitol Confidential has the story: "Gov. David Paterson’s counsel Peter Kiernan has sent a letter to Seneca Nations President Barry Snyder informing him that the state expects to receive its exclusivity payments for both 2009 and 2010 — $105 million and $109 million, respectively — or the Senecas will risk being in breach of the 2002 Nation-State Gaming Compact. The letter seeks a meeting within 14 days to negotiate a solution."

Maybe if the governor gets down on his knees and begs. The NY Post also weighs in: "Gov. Paterson escalated his war with the Indians yesterday by threatening to close down their three lucrative casinos if they don't meet a 14-day deadline to end a long-running money dispute. Paterson's top lawyer, counsel Peter Kiernan, told the Seneca Nation of Indians to pay more than $200 million it owes for exclusive rights to run gambling in western New York during the past two years. The Senecas' refusal means the state can tear up the 8-year-old Gaming Compact, which legalized gambling in their casinos, Kiernan said."

So, let's get this straight. After stiffing the state for the better part of two decades on the cigarette taxes it owes, the Seneca continue to press their sovereignty luck-and do so in their in your face fashion: "Kiernan's threat yesterday follows an exchange of letters last month in which Snyder argued that the state was the one breaking the 2002 Gaming Compact. Snyder said the state violated the Nation's exclusive rights by allowing slot-machine-like devices called "Moxie Mania" as well as video gambling machines in racinos in Hamburg, Batavia Downs and the Finger Lakes Race Track, all in the region that is off-limits, according to the 2002 agreement."

Adding insult to injury, Snyder tells the gov's posse to come to him-as CC details: "Snyder’s response to the letter suggests that state officials travel out to the Seneca territory to seek resolution. He said the games allowed in the past few years in non-Seneca gaming halls caused the break in revenue sharing. He also questions why the Seneca are paying for a State Police presence in their casinos when the force doesn’t seem to do much."

As his letter states: “The State has also been in violation of the Compact nearly since its adoption in 2002 for excessive and unreasonable State Police charges,” he said. “I have no idea why the State violated our compact, and no idea why it took the governor’s office 9 months to agree to discuss the State’s breach of the compact terms. We certainly look forward to hearing the explanation of why they violated our compact.”

This is what happens when you coddle tax cheats and buttleggers for all these years-they develop a level of breathtaking arrogance. And now, according to City Hall Newspaper, they are planning to use some of their ill-gotten gold to, hold on now, lobby the state: "The Seneca Nation’s decision to ramp up its political operation comes as it attempts to prevent a revenue-hungry state government from collecting taxes on tobacco sales. The Senecas view this as an infringement on their rights as a sovereign nation. Though this is not the first time the Seneca Nation have waded into political waters, the tribe’s willingness to spend up to $1 million on mailers and GOTV operations is a significant departure from past election cycles.

The Seneca are, in our view, the mother of all special interests-and the pity party that they throw for themselves is debunked by the absconded millions they have to spend. But those who they have targeted deserve a taxpayers gold star: "But that will not preclude the nation from targeting incumbents who they view as enemies to their cause of keeping cigarettes sold on reservations tax-free. Currently in their sights are a trio of Senate Democrats—Jeff Klein, Carl Kruger (both seen as safe bets for November) and Craig Johnson—who have been the most vocal in the effort to collect taxes on Indian-sold cigarettes, though it is unclear how the nation will specifically target those Democrats."

This entire situation fits nicely into the defining deviancy down paradigm. Allowed to flout the law for years, the lawbreakers take their game up to the next level; and the NY tax payers bear the burden for years of fecklessness on the part of a slew of elected officials. We have a feeling, though, that Andrew Cuomo will not play patsy for this crew of scofflaws.