Saturday, January 7, 2012
One Year Ends and A New One Begins, But Somethings Never Change
January 2012 issue of Buffalo Spree Magazine
I want to start the New Year by apologizing for not writing and posting more. Those of you who follow me on Facebook, either on my personal page (John M. Kane) or my group page ('Let's Talk Native...with John Kane") know that I have been pumping some stuff out but not much here. On a personal note, I lost my son-in-law to cancer on December 18th. He meant a lot to me and as many of you know, I have written here of his 3 year battle.
On broader Native issues the year closed with a flurry of local activity. The arrest of Roger Jock for grand larceny for his role in reclaiming Mohawk land and the filing for bankruptcy protection by Sugar Montour, of Seneca Cigarettes fame, after the US courts ordered him to pay $53 million to the USDA to help tobacco farmers compete in the free market, were two big stories that no news media even attempts to get right. On the national level, Obama invited 565 "Indian leaders" to come to Washington to shake his hand, a few of which were allowed to come to the White House to see the Presidential Christmas tree while the the US Supreme Court was denying the Jicarilla Apaches access to documents to explain how the federal government in their "trust" capacity mismanaged their $300 million trust fund (Sotomayor's Lone Dissent). The court ruled that the US government doesn't need to follow normal trust law and could claim lawyer/client privilege when mismanaging the assets of Indians. The court acknowledges that the feds do not have the sole interest of Native people in mind when managing their affair; the competing National interest affords the feds the right to privacy in that conflict of interest.
The New Year starts with a bang as the feds issued bills to all the Native tobacco retailers and wholesalers in an attempt to assess a "floor tax" for any cigarettes sitting on shelves when the Federal Excise Tax was increased two years ago. The logic is that the increase must be paid for any product purchased in advance of the increase that had not yet been retailed. Stupid? Yes! Attempted before? Yes! Ever successfully? No! The feds have established their own precedent by failing to ever pursue this folly in the past. Of course it is impossible for anyone to accurately determine how much product was sitting on a shelf when the clock struck midnight that relatively long ago day. This is especially true when every smoker who purchases cigarettes from the US market was scrambling to "buy up" in advance of the overnight $6 per carton increase.
New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo also made "Native News" in his State of the State address. There he proclaimed the State's intention to pursue casino gaming as one of his solutions for state deficit reduction. He failed to mention the exclusivity the state sold to the Senecas for 25% of the gross from slot machines at Seneca casinos, that the state is in clear violation of. And so much so that over $400 million sits in escrow that the state will never legitimately see as a result of their breach.
Look for follow ups from the news of last year that are still very much in play this year as well as those issue already on the rise and, of course the many issues that will always continue in our battle to defend Native autonomy. 2012 will undoubtedly be an eventful year. As more Native people become invested in their futures through education and just simple interest and international scrutiny is turned up, these issues will come to a head at an ever more tumultuous time. Continue to tune into WWKB 1520AM on Sunday nights from 9 till 10 for "Let's Talk Native ...with John Kane" for a weekly conversation on news and views. Also check out the January issue of Buffalo Spree Magazine for a profile on my show and my mission.