Monday, May 01, 2006

New York Company States American Indians Supporting Intentional Terrorists

American Chronicle
Monday, May 1, 2006

New York Company States American Indians Supporting Intentional Terrorists

Mike Graham
April 25, 2006

Once again corporate America shows the world it has no limits in degrading or trashing the American Indian community. Gristedes, a New York based Supermarket chain headed by John Catsimatidis, has filed a federal lawsuit against two Long Island Indian nations over their smoke shop sales. This lawsuit was filed against the Shinnecock and Unkechaug Indian nations to include senior tribal officials.

John Catsimatidis is Chairman, President and CEO of the Red Apple Group including Gristedes Foods. He is also Chairman and CEO of United Refining Company.

Gristedes' suit described the Indian nation's smoke shops as black market suppliers "through their knowing and intentional complicity," funding gangs, organized crime and international terrorists such as Hezbollah. Gristedes to date has not offered or produced any proof of a connection between the two Indian nation's support of Hezbollah or any other international terrorist groups.

The American Indian community has had enough of corporate America's anti-Indian rheteric being blasted all over the world in newspapers and TV stations. American Indians helped the first Europeans coming to their home land win their war of independence that brought about the America we all know today. American Indians have fought in every American war from it's beginning, America's government is set up on the principles of Indian nation's government. Federalism, separation of government powers and freedom of speech came from the first American Indian nations.

American Indians are putting their lives on the line today in America's fight against foreign terrorism. Many have lost their lives in this war. John Catsimatidis has disgraced himself and his company; even an apology on his knees would never undo his despicable, callous, misguided intentions toward American Indians. Homeland security and the U.S. Justice Department should be required to look into and investigate Gristedes' law suit.

Gristedes' lawsuit stems over an "Un-American" law passed by New York state government requiring Indian nations in the state to charge a special $1.50 tax per pack to non-Indian customers buying cigarettes at their smoke shops. Gristedes claims they lost more than $20 million in sales to the Indian nations' "two smoke shops".

Namdor, Inc.owns Gristedes' supermarket chain of over fifty New York City based retail stores, one of them located on Long Island.

You do the math - two Long Island Indian smoke shops against more than 50 New York City based supermarket chain stores. Gristedes say's they're just trying to level the playing field, they're not anti-Indian.

Gristedes' owner John Catsimatidis may be feeling the heat. Gristedes, over the passed few years, has taken a big financial hit in lawsuits itself. Workman's comp suits, poor and unsafe working conditions, one worker lost an arm. deliverymen at Gristedes filed a class action federal suit for back pay. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer stepped in on the issue. He brought about a $3.2 million settlement with Gristedes' Foods, Inc. plus a maximum of $650,000 for private attorneys' fees and costs. The deliverymen worked sixty hours a week for around $70. Now they earn a minimum of $6.00 per hour and receive benefits.

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) filed suit against Gristedes parent company, Namdor, Inc. for failing to pay more than $50,000 in fines owed to the City for repeat violations. This action was taken because of almost 200 unresolved violations - overcharging customers, fraudulent expiration dates on perishable items, sales tax not properly charged. The state DCA office protects consumers in the marketplace.

State Governor George Pataki and the state taxation and finance department are not enforcing the cigarette tax law against the state's Indian nations. They know or should know if they do, it would not stand up in a federal court when the two Indian nations each file a lawsuit to block it. The state government would be wasting a lot of tax dollars in court trying to make the Indian nations charge the state tax to non-Indian customers. New York state representatives were pandering to anti-Indian groups when they passed the ridiculous law trying to dictate to Indian nation governments .

Gristedes spokesmen, Gerald McKelvey and Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for the New York Neighborhood Retail Alliance and Gristedes, will have their hands full when this issue backfires in their face. A poll published recently showed a majority of New Yorkers supported the Indians on this issue. Anti-Indian groups like "One Nation United" supported by the Oklahoma Grocers Association and "Citizens Equal Rights Alliance" have again overstepped their bounds. Thanks to some New York state representatives, in the end it will be left up to state tax payers to pay for these groups' actions.

Shinnecock Indian Nation

Unkechaug Indian Nation smoke shop & trading post

Mike Graham, member Oklahoma Cherokee Nation
Founder United Native America

Mike Graham is a member of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation. Founded United Native America in 1993 to form a national group to take action on American Indian issues. The groups main issue is to bring about a federal national holiday for Native Americans. Graham has been a guest speaker on national and international radio talk shows to include television programs. He has traveled across the country discussing issues with Indian nation leaders.
author's email
author's web site
view author's other articles



Supermarket sues tribes over untaxed smokes

March 21, 2006

A New York City supermarket chain filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court yesterday claiming that two Long Island Indian nations and senior tribal officials have been illegally selling untaxed cigarettes to non-Indians, helping to create a thriving black market.Gristedes said in its lawsuit that it lost more than $20 million because smoke shops on the Unkechaug and Shinnecock reservations sold untaxed cigarettes at reduced prices, undercutting sales of non-Indian businesses in the metropolitan area. The suit described the smoke shops as black market suppliers "through their knowing and intentional complicity," funding gangs, organized crime and international terrorists such as Hezbollah."

The disparity is huge, it's enormous, $3 a pack and counting," said Gerald McKelvey, a Gristedes spokesman. "It [the lawsuit] is nothing more than trying to attain some equity here, level the playing field. It is not anti-Indian.

"The state places a $1.50 tax on every pack of 20 cigarettes in addition to taxes imposed by local municipalities, the suit notes. New York City has a $1.50 tax on a pack.

Cigarette sales to American Indian customers are exempt from taxes, but state law requires taxes to be collected on sales to non-Indian customers -- a law the tribes view as encroaching on their sovereignty.Richard Lipsky, who represents the New York City-based Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said these state regulations have been unenforced.

"The state has passed the law and the refusal of the governor to enforce the law does not mean you can operate without impunity like the tribes have been doing," Lipsky said.

But defendants Harry Wallace, Unkechaug chief and smoke shop owner, and Lance Gumbs, a former Shinnecock chairman and smoke shop owner, see the suit as a campaign aimed at "demonizing" two small communities.

Since December, the Suffolk County district attorney's office has cracked down on cigarette sales on reservations to non-Indian customers. A new law dictating how the state was to collect taxes from reservation sales to non-Indians was supposed to go into effect March 1.But the state commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance has delayed imposing the policy.

Wallace and Gumbs called the claims unfounded and politically motivated and said the suit disregarded the rights of their tribes, which are recognized by the state. Both objected to accusations that the shops fund terrorism and organized crime."It seems to be the rule of the day," Wallace said. "You want someone to get upset at someone, say they support terrorist activity. But all we are engaged in is the normal, lawful course of doing business."

But William Wachtel, the Gristedes lawyer, said he doubts a significant portion of the benefits from reservation cigarette sails are benefitting tribal members.

"Let them open their books and if we're wrong, we'll be surprised but we will publicly apologize," Wachtel said.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.
-Posted by Grey Wolf-6 to CB9M Chair's Blog at 3/21/2006 02:00:00 PM

No comments: