NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The Westchester media had fallen all over itself to shill for Westchester County Executive George Latimer but none more than Verizon’s FiOS1News.
As we have been reporting, every media outlet in Westchester that reported on Latimer’s proposed sales tax has falsely reported the increase in the tax rate from 7 3/8% to 8 3/8% to be a 1% increase in sales tax when it is quite clearly a 14% tax increase (when the tax goes up on 7 3/8 that is calculated as 1 / 7 3/8 or 14%).
FiOS1News offers a good example of how local media serves as a propaganda mill for Latimer.
Two weeks ago, the so-called journalists at FiOS1News put together the following report:
Nowhere in the report will the viewer encounter the slightest challenge to Latimer’s narrative that the 14% sales tax increase is a 1% tax increase or that Latimer’s proposal is not universally loved.
Four people appear in the package: Jonathan Gordan of FiOS1News, County Executive George Latimer, a “man on the street” by the name of Paul Ryan, a “local business owner” by the name of Taka Andrews.
Throughout the video package a banner at the bottom of the screen shouts, over and over, “George Latimer Wants 1% Sales Tax Increase For Westchester County in State Budget”.
The news anchor first frames the package as Latimer wants; Latimer’s goal is not to pay for unnecessary, increased spending but rather to “get the County in better financial standing”.The anchor says Jonathan Gordan has “reaction to the proposal” and “how it may impact you”.
There never is any information on how a 14% sales tax will impact anyone. Instead, the 14% tax increase is portrayed as a 1% tax increase.
The “man on the street” dismisses the idea that there is any impact at all while the “the store owner” fails to address it because he is solely concerned with the impact of the internet on his business not the price his customers pay for his merchandise.
The only “impact analysis” Gordon offers comes from none other than George Latimer who offers his “magic lamp” trope but this time the lamp is $80 not $100 and there is no lamp.
“You go to the store you buy something for $80. If you pay a 7% tax on that you pay $80 plus $5.60 in taxes. If you go to the store and but the same $80 product and you but it at an 8% tax you pay $6.40 more that’s a whopping (sarcasm) 80 cents more.”
George leaves out the “3/8ths” because what is a piddly 3/8ths? Well, on a 1% sales tax rate increase, 3/8ths is a tad under 40% of the tax rate in question. 40% is a big number.
In George’s lampless example using the actual rates, at 7 3/8% you don’t pay $80 plus $5.60 in taxes you pay $80 plus $5.90 in taxes or 5.4% more in taxes and at 8 3/8th you don’t pay $80 plus $6.40 in taxes you pay $6.70 in taxes or 4.7% more in taxes.
Latimer sarcastically dismisses the impact of the tax increase as a “whopping” 80 cents. Of course, 1% of $80 is not a lot of money to someone who does not pay their parking tickets or drives an unregistered car or whose family does not pay their property taxes. Everyone can understand why George Latimer is totally indifferent to the impact of a 1% sales tax rate increase. But the average Westchester resident does not buy $80 worth of taxable goods – they have registered cars and trucks, they pay for their own mobile phones out of their own pockets not corporate campaign donations, they pay for their own meals when they are out with their girlfriends and they are not reimbursed for it as a campaign expense.
Nearly 80 percent of American workers (78 percent) say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder. Women are particularly vulnerable: 81 percent of them report living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 75 percent of men.
With 78% of Americans maxed out each month and with Westchester being one of the most expensive places to live in the United States where likely more than 78% are maxed out each month, new spending will be deficit spending, driving more and more residents, deeper into debt. Sales tax is a regressive tax so this entails pushing disproportionately poorer people into debt.
And it is not on $80.
The sales tax paid annually by a person varies widely because it depends on how much each person spends each year on taxable items but if a person making $50,000 a year spends $20,000 a year on taxable items at 7 3/8% they are paying $1,475 a year in sales tax which becomes $1,675 at 8 3/8% so $200 in extra sales a year — not 80 cents. Of course, Westchester residents are already the most heavily taxed Americans so this is compounding an already difficult tax burden.
Gordon then repeats an argument made by Latimer at his February 14th press conference — with a helpful chart. He says “currently Westchester’s sales tax is 7.4% lower than Rockland at 8.4%, Nassau and Suffolk at 8.6%. New York City at 8.6%.”
Gordon then hands it back to Latimer.
“We’re not taxing for no reason at all,”said Latimer. “We intend to use this revenue to keep property taxes down.”
Actually, the revenue will go to cover increases in spending.
Under the still-shouting “Latimer wants 1% sales tax increase” banner, Gordon notes Latimer would not need state lawmakers to vote on an increase in sales tax if Governor Cuomo includes it in his budget.
Then comes the bait and switch.
Jonathan Gordon stands on street in Mamaroneck, and reports as fact that “‘shoppers and business owners’ alike aren’t concerned about the impact on the local economy.
“Consumers in Westchester seem un-phased by the proposal,” says Gordon before cutting to his “man on the street”, a fellow named Paul Ryan who is not actually on the street but standing inside Miller’s Toy Store.
“I don’t think it will make a difference because all the local regions have the same thing,” says Ryan, echoing one of the main arguments made by Latimer and described by Gordon moments before.
Turns out that Paul Ryan did not just happened to wander into Miller’s to buy Beanie Babies, he is an active member of the Westchester County Democratic Party. He appears to be the same Paul Ryan who served on the Mamaroneck Board of Trustees in the 1990’s and ran (and lost) a race for Supervisor against Republican Valerie O’Keeffe in 1999. He is a member of the Village of Mamaroneck Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee, served on the Village of Mamaroneck Coastal Zone Management Commission, was appointed to the Mamaroneck Zoning Study Steering Committee by Democratic Mayor Norm Rosenblum, and was elected to the Mamaroneck Library Board of Trustees in 2018.
Gordon fails (deliberately) to mention he did not stumble across Ryan in Aisle 3 at Miller’s but rather arranged to meet up with a reliable Latimer supporter, a party hack, likely coordinated by Latimer’s staff, who could be counted on to sing from Latimer’s hymnal.
Gordon continues, “And businesses like Millers on Mamaroneck Avenue in Mamaroneck are more concerned about the ways people way people buy goods than a tax increase.”
How do we know this? The guy who allowed Gordon and Ryan to use Millers as set for the deceptive propaganda tells us so. Gordon turns to Taka Andrews, the Owner of Miller’s, who inexplicably does not care one fig about more sales tax increasing prices to his customers.
“I don’t think it would effect retailers,” said Andrews. “There’s larger issues at play with bricks and mortar retailers like the internet.”
We do not know much about Taka Andrews but perhaps our readers do.
Gordon wraps up his little fraud by continuing to parrot Latimer.
“The goal of the increase is to bring Westchester into better fiscal standing. Recently Moody’s downgraded the county’s bond outlook to negative. The state comptroller called the county’s financial condition deteriorating”
Well then, Latimer must be right!
Welcome to the world of Westchester media manipulation, Latimer style.