Sunday, July 3, 2011

I See Dumb People

Governor Cuomo has announced the complete closing of 6 or 7 prison facilities in New York State. It seems that the prison population has declined from 71,600 in 1999 to 56,000 in 2010. According to the Staten Island Advance this drop in the population has occurred due to changes in how NYS handles non-violent drug crimes. We don't lock em up and throw away the key any more.  Now they have access to early release programs or alternate programs which I assume include treatment.

One of those prisons slated for closing was, until last month, the home of Plaxico Burress. He served close to a two year sentence for shooting himself in the foot in a NYC nightclub. Apparently one doesn't need brains to play football since the incident happened because he tucked a heavy Glock pistol into the waistband of his sweatpants and set out to party in da club. When the gun began to slide down, he tried to grab it and accidentally pulled the trigger. At the time, I remember asking myself what kind of doofus puts a loaded Glock in the waistband of sweatpants WITH THE SAFETY OFF? Methinks he's lucky he only shot his foot.

Now that Oneida Correctional Facility has lost it's resident celebrity, it too is slated for closing. Of course, they could have moved him to Mohawk Correctional, which is directly next door to Oneida Correctional. Or, they could have moved him to Midstate Correctional or Marcy Correctional which are both located next to each other about 3 miles past my house. Oneida and Mohawk are about 6 miles in the other direction from my house.

There are 4 medium security facilities in my backyard, so to speak. We fought long and hard to get them, back in the day. Now, one of them is slated for closure within 60 days. With the announcement happening on the start of the long holiday weekend, not much has been said locally. By Tuesday night I'm going to hear how this will break our local economy. It will probably be in the rag we call a daily newspaper. There will be letters to the editor claiming that we will be bankrupt within X amount of weeks after the closing and people who don't know any better will believe it and add their shouts of dismay to the whole mess.

All these people who will be screaming for the head of Andrew Cuomo, will be the same ones who scream every time the state tries to tax the Oneida Indian Nation on all of it's money making holdings. There's all of those cigarettes being sold for which the state collects only it's share of sales tax. There are all those beds at the Turning Stone hotel for which the state collects no bed tax. Then there's the gasoline they sell at a mere 10 cents a gallon cheaper than any other place which pays 31 to 39 cents a gallon to the state of NY in gas, excise and sales tax. Of course, since the Oneidas are a "sovereign" nation, they pay no land taxes or school taxes.

There is a small group of citizens who live in the areas where the Oneidas have their holdings. They pay some pretty high taxes so that the Oneidas and their Turning Stone Casino and Resort patrons get to arrive safely on roads kept in good condition by NYS taxes. That small group of people are rather vocal about exactly how unfair this is. They've fought state government to change things and, of course, they lost. The Oneidas are the biggest employers in a two county area, we can't have them closing up shop and putting all those people out of work. Which is the threat that we hear every time someone mentions making them pay their fair share. Something in me just doesn't believe that threat. Probably since pretty close to one third of those employees are actually members of the Oneida Nation.

The ignorant screamers who will be demanding that these prisons remain open so that people can be employed don't bother about the reduced population in those prisons. They don't look at the fact that with a diminished population there are a lot of correction officers making big paychecks for doing a whole lot less than they used to. They also don't look at the fact that they demanded and won a property tax cap. Which means that NYS MUST reduce their expenditures in order to stay within the budget. Of course, the screamers seem to think that this can all be accomplished by reducing the number of $300 hair cuts that they believe our legislators have every month. Hey! Our legislators have every right to look as good for the cameras as any other legislator does. After all, to hear the screamers talk, that's all they're good for.


  1. It's a Catch 22 ain't it? You pass a sensible law that reduces prison population at exactly the same time that there are no jobs for the prisoners who are released. We might be better off keeping them in minimum security facilities and working on public service projects. Like the CCC during the depression, oh, sorry, make that the Great Depression. The country is still benefiting from those projects.

  2. Mr. Charleston,

    Carl Paladino, Tea Party candidate that was running against Cuomo had a similar idea. Only he wanted to put welfare recipients in these prisons and have them forced to work by the prison guards. The popular theory is still that welfare recipients are lazy good for nothing bums. Except NY has a Welfare for Work program. Able bodied people don't get a check if they don't work where they're told to. Some of them wanted to work so badly that they actually worked hard enough to get hired at the places they were sent to work in. Amazing ain't it?

    People without a clue get together, raise their voices loudly enough to get something done and then the fallout happens which makes them yell more.

    NYS got gay marriages, a state vegetable and a tax cap. Marriages will increase revenue some, the vegetable doesn't mean a thing. The cap means expenditures HAVE to be cut. And those cuts aren't going to be welcomed at all. We just have to get together and stop those guys from getting those 300 dollar haircuts and everything will turn out hunky dory. Suuuure it will.

  3. Sherry,
    I am regrettably under-informed as to the treatment of Native American tribes in New York State but perhaps it could be said that the Oneidas and others are simply getting their own back and the best way they have found is through the wallets of the citizens of NY State. As to the prison issue, isn't it ironic that it took a state budget implosion to persuade the "tough on crime" folks that there ought to be a better way? The same could be said for the GOP chicken hawks on the national scene. They were all in favor of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq until the bills came due. Now the US shouldn't be galavanting all over the world sticking its military noses in places where there is no economic gain to be made. (Read Libya where the Brits and French appear to have the inside track.)

  4. Mr. O,

    The Oneidas are pulling in billions a year, they employ well over 3000 people in the county. However, employees must take care of their own tax situation. They have to work when they're told to work, and if a Native American wants their job, they're gone.

    We're talking the casino, world class golf course, 2 hotels, an RV park, a conference center and who knows how many Savon Gas stations. They also have their own police force.

    The Nation pays no taxes at all on their million dollar properties while residents in these areas have to fork over more than they should have to if the Nation was paying tax on their lands. They owe over half a billion in back taxes to both Oneida and Madison counties. This is just land tax and doesn't include excise taxes on gas or cigarettes. Their children attend schools in these counties and there is no school tax paid.

    And on another note, the only reason the GOP is fighting over Libya is because of who committed us to fight there. Mitch McConnell is on tape as admitting that.

  5. Sherry,
    Prisons work both ways for an economy - Here in Indiana we needed a new super-max - the state prison was a "max" and it was too costly to bring it up to "supermax" levels. So, several sites were chosen - all in sw Indiana. It came down to two choices - one in northern Vanderburgh County and one in Sullivan County.
    The people in Vanderburgh raised "holy hell" about the danger and Sullivan Co. ended up getting the prison, jobs, and spin off business.
    Double razor-wire fences, motion detectors, and guards with high powered rifles - they hasn't been an escape attempt made at Sullivan.
    As to the Indians: Ever been on a reservation? I have. We are lucky those folks aren't painting their faces and taking our scalps...
    The way our native Americans are living is a national shame.


  6. Sarge,

    This particular tribe of native Americans paved the way for the Wisconsin tribe to come here and start a casino in the Catskills. That tribe pays the necessary taxes. They sat down in good faith and negotiated the amount they needed to pay. The local tribe, not so much.

    The chief and his buddies also turned on those members of the tribe that were not willing to support the casino. I'm not sure what the whole story was, but at least half of the tribe say the current chief stole his position somehow.

    As soon as the casino turned a profit, the chief condemned the homes of his detractors. They were forced to move. As bad as reservation life is, it's not just what we do to them, it's what they do to themselves that is as much of a problem.