Seneca Nation Launches Second Phase of Ad Campaign
Goal is to convince governor to veto tax bill that violates federal treaties
SENECA NATION, CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY, Nov. 10, 2008 – The Seneca Nation of Indians today announced the start of a second, two-week, six-city advertising campaign designed to convince New York Gov. David A. Paterson to veto a controversial bill that attempts to tax wholesalers who sell to stores on the state’s Indian territories.
The Nation’s campaign started Sunday in newspapers in New York City, Albany, Rochester, Dunkirk and Buffalo, and was followed in the Salamanca newspaper today.
Today and Tuesday, several Web sites statewide will begin advertising as well. That will be followed by radio, television and billboard ads in varying combinations in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.
This second phase of advertising this fall takes an economic approach. Given the state’s projected $14 billion deficit and the continuing fiscal stagnation in upstate, the ads ask the governor to leave the Seneca Nation’s $1.1 billion economy alone as one of the few bright spots upstate. With 6,300 employees and a $313 million retail sector, the Seneca Nation is the fourth-largest employer in Western New York. In 2007, it paid $166 million directly to the state and spent more than $90 million with local and statewide vendors. Further, it cannot move itself or the jobs out of state. If it’s left alone to thrive, it will continue to generate more economic benefits in the region and the state, having already grown 188 percent in the last 10 years.
“We appreciate the governor’s willingness to express interest in talking about the issues that separate us, but both sides would be better served with this oppressive bill off the table,” said Seneca Nation Tribal Council President Richard Nephew.
The first phase of the Nation’s ads that ran for two weeks in September appealed to the governor’s sense of principle and asked him to do what’s honorable in the face of efforts by electioneering Albany legislators to appear like they were finding a resourceful way to close the state’s massive budget gap.
The latest ads, also designed and executed by a team at Eric Mower and Associates in Buffalo and Albany, warn that these politicians will damage the upstate economy if they get their way with this bill.
“Our ads argue that the Seneca Nation’s economy is a bright spot in a region that has too few, and may have fewer, the way things are going,” Council President Nephew said. “They also cite our 214-year-old treaty between the Seneca Nation and the United States that gives us economic autonomy.”
The 60-second radio ads will run on WBEN-AM in Buffalo; WHAM-AM and WGVA-AM in Rochester; WGY-AM, WGDJ-AM in Albany and WCBS-AM, WFAN-AM, and WINS-AM in New York City. The Nation will also purchase sponsorships of Public Broadcasting Corp. news broadcasts on stations in Buffalo and Albany.
Web ads start soon on the Daily Politics blog on www.nydailynews.com, on the Capital Confidential blog on www.timesunion.com, on www.buffalonews.com and on www.amsterdamnews.com.
Full-page newspaper ads ran Sunday in The New York Times, the Albany Times-Union, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Dunkirk Observer and The Buffalo News. One ran today in the Salamanca Press. One other ad will also run mid-week in the Times-Union.
Thirty-second television ads will start the week of Nov. 17 on news and early morning broadcasts, including cable prime time and sports on WIVB, WGRZ, WKBW, WNLO, and WNYO in Buffalo, and WNYT, WRGB, WTEN, WXXA and Time Warner in Albany. Television ads will also appear on Capital News 9’s “Capital Tonight” in Albany.
New in this phase are two billboards that will carry the message of the Nation’s economic success to Albany’s leaders. One billboard near Exit 23 of the New York State Thruway will be posted for two weeks starting Nov. 17. Also starting Nov. 17 and lasting until Nov. 21 will be a similar message on a mobile billboard that will be moved around downtown Albany.
“We fully expect that Gov. Paterson will see the wisdom and long-term gain of following the leadership and diplomatic precedents of his predecessors and choose the legal course,” Council President Nephew said.
The state Senate, in a rush of political expediency August 8, passed an Assembly bill that attempts to tax Indian retail operations at their wholesale level. The key aspect of this that the Seneca Nation vehemently opposes is that such a bill ignores the Nation's sovereignty rights. The Seneca Nation is not exempt from taxes, or collecting state taxes; it is immune by federal treaty, which the U.S. Constitution calls “the Supreme Law of the Land.”
If the Nation were a corporation, its 6,311 employees would exceed those of M&T Bank, HSBC Bank, or the Catholic Health system, making it the fourth-largest employer in Western New York. Those employees pay federal income taxes and all of them except enrolled Senecas pay state taxes.
This tax bill threatens a thriving economy in ways that will hurt, not help, the state and its budget.
Under this law, the state would face higher costs associated with unemployment, less investment and spending in the upstate economy and political discontent among supporters in the Buffalo-Niagara region – where a Zogby poll released in September showed 80 percent feel the Nation and its policies lead to jobs, development and economic growth.
This bill would force closure of many or most Indian retailers across the state and if hundreds lose their jobs, they will no longer pay state taxes.
“This law threatens our right to commerce, could result in job losses for more than 1,000 families on the Seneca Nation alone and cuts into the revenue the Nation has for investment and expansion,” Council President Nephew said. “The ripple effects of such a regressive legislative effort are clear. If Albany politicians keep trying to tax us, we’ll have fewer dollars to invest in regional economic development.”