Editorial: New York City finds a new foe in tribes
"Mayor Michael Bloomberg, long a foe of smoking, has taken his opposition to a new territory — the American Indian shops on Long Island that sell cigarettes to non-Indians. By filing a series of federal lawsuits, the mayor is trying to force Gov. David Paterson to collect sales taxes on those cigarettes.

It’s not a welcome subject in New York politics. Former Gov. George Pataki tried collecting cigarette and gas taxes from Indian shops 11 years ago, but he backed away soon after protesters, burning automobile tires, closed Interstate 81 for more than 90 minutes.

States and cities cannot impose taxes on American Indians who buy cigarettes for personal use on sovereign Indian land. But non-Indians are not entitled to a similar break. Mr. Bloomberg has filed suit accusing some cigarette shops on Indian land of selling cigarettes in bulk to bootleggers who then resell them off tribal land. That is illegal in New York State; Mr. Bloomberg is trying to compel Mr. Paterson to enforce the law.

The mayor is right to insist on getting his share of cigarette tax revenues, but it’s not clear if he has come up with a workable way to do it. Governor Paterson is trying a far less aggressive way of getting Indian tribes to collect taxes on behalf of the state, which they have long resisted doing. He has decided to follow the lead of such states as California, New Mexico and Washington that have created state offices and advisory councils to deal specifically with American Indian issues."

Get the Story:
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Bloomberg (The New York Times 10/10)

Mayor Bloomberg Relevant Documents:
Press Release | Video

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