Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Monday, March 14, 2005


I enjoyed Saturday's Rome Sentinel when it headlined "Halbritter Plan Preposterous." However, it seems I made a mistake and it was actually "Halbritter: Plan 'preposterous'." Halbritter rejects a proposal by Governor Pataki to settle various in-state and out-of-state land claims by granting casino gaming rights in the Catskills while collecting taxes from non-Indians purchasing goods on Indian land.

For him, this would be a bad deal. The Oneida Nation (the one in New York, not Wisconsin) was given a plot of land in Verona to build a casino, gas stations and various business enterprises. These establishments pay no property, sales, or corporate tax to the local communities or the state of New York. And the kicker is that Halbritter is still suing New York for a chunk of land in the center of the state.

Pataki's measure is a last ditch attempt to hit Halbritter where he lives: his wallet. A string of casinos in the Catskills forming a little Atlantic City will be a much more tempting destination than the massive casion/hotel complex located in the middle of a tiny villiage just off the Thruway. More casinos mean more competition and less profits. This may also be one of the few ways to break the kind of cozy ties between Turning Stone and local government, like Assemblywoman Destito family's semi-legal sales of alcohol to the technically dry casino.

This issue has been a thorny one for some time in the tri-county area. The casino brings many higher paying jobs to local residents. At the same time, it leeches money from the community that could be better spent on items that would bring in sales tax revenue. I am also very concerned about the wild west environmnet of no rules on reservation land and the continuing process of assimilating more property that instantly becomes non-taxable. The truth is that Halbritter is not preposterous. He's downright frightning.


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