Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny.

You have come to fight as free men -- and free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? ... They'll never take our freedom!!!

Protesters Flood Local Tea Parties
St. Lawrence News
Written by Benjamin J. Baker
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 15:38

GOUVERNEUR/CANTON - “Stop the pork!” “Wake up!” “Give me liberty, not debt!” “Congress, you work for us!” “Born free, taxed to death!” Even past the chorus of car horns, conversation, cheering and the deep bellows of tractor trailer rigs you could hear voices rising from signs held high by citizens of St. Lawrence County in Gouverneur and Canton today. The first modern Tea Party's in Northern New York were held along the parks bordering Route 11 in both villages today. Families, students, children and adults came out strong, supported by honk-happy commuters, some of whom pulled over and joined the throng. These Tea Party's, modeled after the nature of the revolutionary Boston Tea Party of 1775, are, at first glance, in protest of current Government spending, including, but not limited to, items such as big bailouts, taxation without representation, economic booster projects and the pork barrel legislation that accompanies these situations. When you look a little deeper you start to find more than just a general malaise concerning the spending, but concerns about the effectiveness of actions taken against those that are considered responsible, in their part, for contributing to the current economic climate. Whether you attended in Gouverneur or in Canton, opinions were similar and the people were hungering to be heard.

Click here to read the rest...

Happy Tax Day & Hacketts/Scozzafava Go Down in Burning Flames!!!

Folks, we wish we could blame this one on taxes but we just can't do it. Unfortunately all fingers point to an all too familiar face in the North Country. Hacketts/Seaway Valley/Wisebuys folks were delinquent to several creditors on large sums of $$$. This is one for the history books.

In other news, the nationwide tea party scheduled for today went off with great success according to all accounts both local and national.

Hacketts facing bankruptcy

Several creditors of Hacketts department stores have moved to force the company into involuntary bankruptcy.

Six creditors filed an involuntary petition Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Utica, seeking the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Patrick Hackett Hardware Co., Ogdensburg. The creditors claim they are owed a combined $1.6 million.

The creditors' action seeks to have the company's assets liquidated, with distribution of the proceeds going to the creditors.

Hacketts operates nine stores in the north country. A 10th store in Pulaski closed March 28 and the company announced April 7 that it plans to close its Watertown store at 144 Eastern Blvd. by the first week of June. That store is having a going-out-of-business sale.

According to court documents, the creditors forcing the bankruptcy are:

— Columbia Sportswear USA, Portland, Ore., which claims

it is owed $500,707.

— Woolrich Inc., Woolrich, Pa., which claims $260,289.

— The North Face — VF Outdoor Inc., Appleton, Wis., which claims $657,307.

— Skechers USA Inc., Manhattan Beach, Calif., which claims $27,000.

— K-2 Sports, Seattle, Wash., which claims $36,200.

— Deckers Outdoor Corp., Goleta, Calif., which claims $74,477.

Jay R. Indyke, New York City, an attorney representing the creditors in the action, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Thomas W. Scozzafava, chief executive officer of Seaway Valley Capital Corp., Gouverneur, which purchased Hacketts in November 2007, failed to return several calls seeking comment.

In March, Hacketts's then-CEO, Norman Garrelts, told the Times that Wells Fargo Bank was requiring the company to repay a $5 million line of credit secured in January 2008. He said at the time that Hacketts had paid back $3 million over the previous two months, significantly reducing the company's cash flow. He declined comment Tuesday as he is no longer serving as CEO.

Hacketts is one of the nation's oldest retailers, with roots dating back to 1830. It was acquired in 2007 by Seaway Valley, a venture capital and leveraged buyout investment company run by Mr. Scozzafava.

Mr. Scozzafava, along with his sister, Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava, and Joseph G. LaChausse, had previously formed WiseBuys Stores Inc. to provide stores to serve communities left without access to basic goods when the Ames chain closed all of its stores.

In October 2007, Seaway Valley acquired all of the capital stock of WiseBuys and a month later it acquired all of the capital stock of Hacketts. All WiseBuys stores subsequently were converted to Hacketts stores.

On Dec. 18, Seaway Valley transferred ownership of Patrick Hackett Hardware Co. to The Americas Learning Centers Inc., Boca Raton, Fla. As part of the transaction, Mr. Scozzafava was appointed CEO and chairman of the board of the company, which was renamed Hacketts Stores Inc. On Dec. 22, Mr. Scozzafava announced that Hacketts Stores would be publicly traded as a stand-alone entity. The company's stock symbol became HCKE.

Seaway Valley also owns Alteri Bakery, Sackets Harbor Brewing Co., Sackets Harbor Brew Pub, Good Fello's Brick Oven Pizza and Wine Bar and 1812 Station House, all of which it acquired when it merged with North Country Hospitality Inc. in June.

As part of the merger, Christopher M. Swartz, who was president and CEO of North Country Hospitality, became vice president and chief operating officer of Seaway Valley. He resigned the positions April 3.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New York is the Tax Capital of the World...

Just in time for Tax Day...

New York state's new name should be the "tax state." Scores of articles both local and national have been laser-focused on New York's growing propensity to tax ANYTHING. Democrats, with no one to blame but themselves, are continuing to dig a hole in the state with a looming budget deficit and the largest tax burden in the nation. See the Wall Street Journal piece out today on this incredible 1000 lb. gorilla. Folks may also be interested in the New York Daily Post piece out titled, "New York State Democrats Cheer as the Rest of Us Grumble."

Here is a short list the Daily News put together:

A 500% hike in the surcharge on utilities, an average of $100 a year.
A $90 increase in the cost of health insurance.
A $1.20-a-month "public safety" tax on cell phones.
Another "public safety" surcharge: $10 a year on car insurance policies.
A 75-cent increase in the fee for a learner's driving permit.
A 24% hike in car registration fees.
A 4% increase in the tax on car service fares.
A 9% increase in the cigar tax.
A 58% increase in the wine tax.
A 27% increase in the beer tax.

The Wall Street Journal
The Tax Capital of the World
States are raising taxes despite the 'stimulus'; New York is No. 1.

Like the old competition to have the world's tallest building, New York can't resist having the nation's highest taxes. So after California raised its top income tax rate to 10.55% last month, Albany's politicians leapt into action to reclaim high-tax honors. Maybe C-Span can make this tax competition a new reality TV series; Carla Bruni, the first lady of France, could host.

They can invite politicians from the at least 10 other states that are also considering major tax hikes, including Oregon, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona and New Jersey. One explicit argument for the $787 billion "stimulus" bill was to help states avoid these tax increases that even Keynesians understand are contractionary. Instead, the state politicians are pocketing the federal cash to maintain spending, and raising taxes anyway. Just another spend-and-tax bait and switch.

In New York, Assembly Speaker (and de facto Governor) Sheldon Silver and other Democrats will impose a two percentage point "millionaire tax" on New Yorkers who earn more than $200,000 a year ($300,000 for couples). This will lift the top state tax rate to 8.97% and the New York City rate to 12.62%. Since capital gains and dividends are taxed as ordinary income, New York will impose the nation's highest taxes on investment income -- at a time when Wall Street is in jeopardy of losing its status as the world's financial capital.

But who and where are all these millionaires to pluck? More than any other state, New York has been hurt by the financial meltdown, and its $132 billion budget is now $17.7 billion in deficit. The days of high-roller Wall Street bonuses that finance 20% of the New York budget are long gone. The richest 1% of New Yorkers already pay almost 40% of the income tax, and the top 0.5% pay 30%.

Mr. Silver thinks he can squeeze more from these folks without any economic harm, arguing that recent income tax hikes didn't hurt New Jersey. (Yes, the pols in New York actually hold up New Jersey, whose economy and budget are also in shambles, as their role model.) The tax hike lobby in Albany points to a paper by Princeton researchers reporting that the number of "half-millionaires," those with incomes above $500,000, increased by 60% from 2003-2006 after New Jersey taxes rose (the top rate is now 8.98%). But this was a boom time for the national economy, especially in the financial industry where many New Jerseyites work, or at least used to work.

The better comparison is how New Jersey compared to the rest of the nation. According to the study's own data, over the same period the U.S. saw an increase of 76% in half-millionaire households. E.J. McMahon, a budget expert at the Manhattan Institute, calculates that New Jersey lost more than 4,000 high-income taxpayers after the tax increase.

Mr. Silver says of the coming tax hikes: "We've done it before. There hasn't been a catastrophe." Oh, really? According to Census Bureau data, over the past decade 1.97 million New Yorkers left the state for greener pastures -- the biggest exodus of any state. New York City has lost more than 75,000 jobs since last August, and many industrial areas upstate are as rundown as Detroit. The American Legislative Exchange Council recently said New York had the worst economic outlook of all 50 states, including Michigan. And that analysis was done before these $4 billion in new taxes. How does Mr. Silver define "catastrophe"?

Oh, and it isn't just high earners who get smacked. The new budget raises another $2 billion or so on top of the $4 billion in income taxes with some 100 new taxes, fees, fines, surcharges and penalties to be paid by all New York residents. There are new charges for cell phone usage, fishing permits, health insurance (the "sick tax"), electric bills, and on bottled water, cigars, beer and wine. A New York Post analysis found that a typical family of four with an income below $100,000 would pay more than $800 a year in higher taxes and fees.

This is advertised as a plan of "shared sacrifice," but the group that is most responsible for New York's budget woes, the all-powerful public employee unions, somehow walk out of this with a 3% pay increase. The state is receiving an estimated $10 billion in federal stimulus money, and Democrats are spending every cent while raising the state budget by 9%. Then they insist with a straight face that taxes are the only way to close the budget deficit.

And so Albany is about to make a gigantic gamble on New York's economic future. The gamble is that the state with the highest cost of doing business can raise taxes on everyone who lives, works, breathes, eats or drinks in the state and not pay a heavy price for it. If they're wrong, New York will enhance its reputation as the Empire in Decline State.