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New York Politics

We are taking a break from my extended book review to discuss the political situation in New York. It’s pretty messed up and deserves noting.

First off we have the governor, David Patterson, who although has been pretty decent so far is deciding that taxing everything is going to be the best way to make up the budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. Like all states in the current economy New York is feeling the pinch. Taxes are the usual method in which states make revenue. However, Patterson’s idea is to tax cigarette sales on Indian reservations.

Every so often some state official in New York gets it in his head that this would be a good idea. It would generate revenue, but it’s illegal. Back in 1997 New York tried this causing the citizens of the Seneca Nation to shut down a portion of the thruway in protest. What Patterson and all other state officials fail to realize is that according to federal treaty, the Reservations are sovereign territory who only abide under state law by their leave. To illustrate why this attempt is wrong it would be like New York trying to tax Pennsylvania. Only a change in Federal law can allow this tax, currently it is ILLEGAL.

I used to joke with people in Ohio that New York was the tax state. Driving into New York along the interstate highway system the first thing you are greeted with is a toll. It’s as if the sign should read, “Welcome to New York, the Empire State, now give us some money.”

Another one of the genius plans to generate revenue is to deregulate the liquor controls and allow grocery stores to sell wine. While this would make my wine buying slightly more convenient (as there is a liquor store near both grocers I go to) I fail to see the logic in this move. Since the sale of wine is taxed already, all that is being done is to allow more places to sell wine. Under normal circumstances opening up the controls to allow a greater berth of retailers to sell a product would generate more income with wine it’s different. Wine isn’t an impulse buy. I can’t remember one time in Ohio when I was shopping where I thought to myself, ‘oh wine, I’ll just grab this bottle.’ Wine is usually purchased by people who are making the trip to buy wine. The impulse buyers aren’t going to add any notable money to the tax till.

Thirdly, Governor Patterson has the duty to appoint someone to fill a vacant senate seat left by Hillary Clinton when she takes over as Secretary of State. This amounts to an unelected governor appointing an unelected Senator. Couldn’t we just have a special election in this state?

The front runner for Senate: Caroline Kennedy with Andrew Cuomo in second place. Kennedy, daughter of former president John F. Kennedy, is a Manhatten lawyer, author of two books on Constitutional history, and has worked with Harvard law. She has never held an elected office, nor does she have much experience in politics. It is solely on the basis of who her father and uncle were that this is being debated. At least she has lived in New York more than her predecessor can say.

Of course the same could be said for Andrew Cuomo who shares a last name with a former governor of New York. At least Andrew has some experience in politics being the current state attorney general. We desperately need a special election here.

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