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Published in:

Niagara Gazette (03/22) Politics & Tonawanda News (03/27)


We should cancel Seneca preferences now

"Equality with Seneca" is our motto

By Frank Parlato Jr.

22 March, 2006

They’re going great guns. Astonished, the locals ask, “How do they do it, these Seneca gods?”

“Without taxes,” — that’s the answer.

The casino and their complex, and the infrastructure leading to it, were paid for, directly or indirectly, by tax-paying Americans — while Seneca pays none. With 50 acres, and the ability to open any business, the casino is merely the tip of the iceberg.

“The casino?” dumbfounded, the locals ask. “I thought that was all they got.”

It displaced a convention center where out-of-town people convened, then went to hotels and restaurants. It became a foreign casino, but tourists hardly come. The gamblers — by Seneca design — are mainly middle and low-income locals. Ironic: The Convention Center made money for locals from out of town people; the Foreign Casino (which displaced it) made money for out of town people (Seneca and Albany) from locals.

Here’s their formula: Win from a large number of petty gamblers, $50 to 100 at a clip; it’s called “the grind.” More lucrative and easier than attracting the big-time ‘gold-tooth’ gamblers — as are believed to be flocking to Las Vegas, the “grind” attracts the tinsel puff version: Shabbily dressed, unglamorously inelegant, grotesquely unlearned, often unshaved, sometimes unwashed, always sans suit and tie — these, who know nothing of the laws of probability. You can scan the whole place and not find anyone smiling, 4 million a year — on average $85 poorer.

A gold-tooth player loses a million and smiles. A bumpkin loses $50 and blames the gods, and curses his girlfriend. But that’s who they got at Seneca Niagara: Mr. Shabby. Nine times out of 10, he’s local born and bred.

In three years, $900 million of local’s monies lost, the ice skating rink, the convention center, seven restaurants, six taverns — closed. Two hotels foreclosed. Population dropped. Crime rising. Bankruptcy rising. Locals are pouring their entertainment money into slots, not spending it at cinemas or sporting events, local taverns or restaurants. Sometimes, if they spend too much — it comes out of groceries or rent.

However, Seneca, like Oliver Twist, wanted more: It opened a buffet, a pub, a “high-end” steak house, an Italian restaurant, an Asian restaurant, a glamour spa, a conference center, a bistro, a coffee shop, a nightclub, a 26-story, 604-room hotel, and gift shops galore.

While Americans pay sales tax, income tax and property tax, Seneca pays nothing while selling sweat shirts, baseball caps, T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, golf wear, costume jewelry, plush toys, jewelry, blankets, sculptures, TVs, high-end electronics, DVDs, golf clubs, cameras, diamonds and more.

If people drive miles to rural reservations to save a few dollars on cigarettes and gasoline, imagine how far they’ll drive when Seneca has as many stores as the Galleria Mall. A smoke shop, a gas station, a car dealership next? On a $20,000 car, $1,600 saved in sales tax.

How will the Galleria mall compete when they pay $3 million a year in property taxes and upwards of $20 million in sales tax? Or the Sheraton Millennium — which accommodates overnight Galleria shoppers — and pays another $2 million. But Seneca has its own hotel, so if tourists come, they can stay at the Seneca hotel bed-tax free.

“How did we let them take over the town?”

“Albany,” is the answer.

“But can we fight back?” The locals ask. “We haven’t the pluck.”

We could burn tires and blockade roads. We could charge tolls into Seneca, or sue Albany on the faultiness of a compact that left locals on an insurmountably uneven playing field. If opposition were vigorous, Seneca might opt to pay taxes on their retail operations in order to keep the monopoly on their million-per-day casino.

But the stumbling block is not the law: It’s the politically-correct apologists who claim we owe Seneca because they’re “our” victims.

Bewildered, Americans ask, “Why does a person, because of his race — and tribe — have an advantage over other Americans?”

The politically-correct answer is “because of what Columbus and Custer did. And how the white man savaged the Indian.”

The apologists secretly smile for Seneca. They publish erudite tomes on reparations. Sometimes, the liberal press joins in with the pejorative assumption that anyone who doesn’t agree is a bigot. The apologists, referring to people long-dead with similar skin hues, say “’we’ savaged the red man.”

Was it my ancestors? Wait — they were in Italy at the time.

Logically, the whole argument falls to pieces — unless, of course, they’re referring to reincarnation.

"We people in Niagara Falls really cheated the Indians in 1794,” I can imagine a person saying, perhaps remembering his past life. “It's about time we did something to make it up to them."

But, as one politically-incorrect American said, “I can’t work up enough guilt, since I wasn’t around in 1794.”

The whole argument that someone living in the 21st century owes someone else for what someone did to someone else in the 18th century is logically a fraud.

For those strong enough to understand it: It’s time to demand “equality with Seneca” now!

Frank R. Parlato Jr. is a Niagara Falls businessman.



Copyright © Frank Parlato Jr.