New York Pole Tax Proposed

Felix Ortiz, a Brooklyn Democrat assemblyman introduced a bill on March 11th, that would require patrons of any NY State strip club, to pay and extra $10 cover charge, oops I mean “tax”, every time they enter the club or topless joint. Felix claims the new tax could raise as much as $500 million for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution.

So it’s a NY style government shake down???

For one, I’ve found these type of taxes very unreasonable for several reasons. The Gov has no transparency so there’s really nothing public that can be used to track this tax back to the very programs he’s proposing. I see this as yet another “tax” generated by the NY state assemble and primarily pushed by Gov. Paterson, to minimize the state’s $14 billion budget deficit which ultimately will be forced upon New York City residents. Also been proposed are taxes on internet downloads such as mp3s and movies, including those in the Adult entertainment business.

Apparently states have increasingly turned to the adult-entertainment industry, this and the booze industry, which are the only ones still making money, to help close budget gaps in recent years.

NY isn’t the first, Texas lawmakers pitched a bill which would require a $5 “pole tax” which was later found to be unconstitutional by a state judge. Judge Scott Jenkins wrote that the fee, “while furthering laudable goals, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore invalid.”

“The bottom line is, we have to protect people who have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals, and we cannot continue, especially in this economy, to have government pay for everything,” Ortiz said.

Fuck you Ortiz! Entering a strip clubs is a protected First Amendment activity. There hasn’t been any evidence provided that combining alcohol (or zero alcohol for full nude clubs) with topless erotic dancing correlates to sexual assaults, domestic violence or contributes to child prostitution. Where is the straight line from child porn/prostitution to adult entertainment? He’s just proposed taking more money away from law abiding citizens (both the patrons and the dancers as this would effect how much a participant contributes to the activity) so essentially the govt CAN pay for unrelated services.

Stripping may be politically unpopular, it is a guaranteed right for the citizens of the state and the US. Even if the state were to get by the constitutionality of the tax, there is no plausibly good reason that tax code should be a substitute for the criminal code. No one would object to contributing to educating and preventing sexually related crimes, however, I would hope communities locally and societies everywhere would want to fund such programs generally.

T-Pain – I’m in Love with a Stripper

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wine tours in upstate NY

The last time I went on a wine tour on the east coast was out to Northfork Long Island and the best part of the experience was the scenic drive and just getting some familiarity with LI. The wines were average at best and those that I thought were good, turned out to be sour as my taste had blurred throughout the day.

This past weekend some friends organized another wine tour, this time upstate NY to some of this countries oldest and newest wineries. We started out with taking the Metro North to Salisbury Mills station near Washingtonville, NY. We had a limo service pick us up in a party bus and take us to the first spot on the tour: Brotherhood Winery.

It just happens that this past weekend Brotherhood had their 10th Annual Grape Harvest Festival which included food, craft merchants, bands and long lines at the tasting counters. We were only able to taste one selection of their wines and because of the crowds we were offered a spit of a taste from a small jello shot cup. Smelling the sausage w onions and peppers stand as we walked in, I knew I’d be devouring one of those savory links but we also shared in some of the best food of the festival from the Reggae Boy Cafe with jerk chicken and oxtail soup (check them out in Poughkeepsie, NY).

It was here I realized I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore as I was surrounded by families, kids and even dogs draped in “Palin Country” and “McCain 08” gear, some of it even ripped up from their front lawns. A few sharp hells of hate against Obama further disturbed me but we weren’t here to canvas but to take in what good, was offered from these upstate wineries. Ultimately I did not like any of the Brotherhood wines that I tasted but I’m sure there’s some gems in there, I never got the opportunity to get there.

Back in the bus with some carnival sweets, we headed to Glorie Farm Winery, located up on a ridge overlooking the valley. A great view for a very small tasting “shack”. Glorie offered a few key wines that I would have bought and locally grown apples as well. It was $5 to taste 5. Of the ones offered, the Seyval Blanc Estate Reserve, Glorie De Chaunac Oak and the Cabernet Franc was a close third.

With a few bottles down, some scenic pics in the memory card, back on the bus we crammed to head to Stoutridge Winery just down the road. The property is the largest of the four wineries we saw and the newest as it has been rebuilt in 2001 from a vandal’s fire. We met Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, the owners of the winery and received more than our share of lecture before tasting on the gravity-flow winery that uses minimalist winemaking techniques. I think Stephen over sold his wines in the lecture and they just didn’t live up to the description; I would have preferred letting the wine speak for themselves with a follow up on the detail.

I didn’t have any favorite wines at Stoutridge but I did like their hard pair cider so it’s good to see that they are branching out into other areas that could work for them. I would have spent some time on their patio drinking other wines but as we were on Tim’s schedule we needed to make it to the last winery for a taste and get back to the station for our ride home.

We took a drive this time up another ridge to Benmarl Winery which is self proclaimed America’s Oldest Winery where Andrew Jackson Caywood first planted and bottled wine in the Hudson river valley. Now Marlboro, NY, Benmarl is the most romantic of the 4 wineries we visited, located up on the ridge with a beautiful grassy knowel for enjoying the wines or the blues that’s typically played through the summer.

We enjoyed our time at Benmarl so much we blew off the train tickets, bought a case of wine and started popping corks! Over all a fantastic trip up north bearing more fruit than my Northfork excursion. I’d recommend this trip over the long island one any day and was a much more enjoyable drive around the valley.