OPINION: Fair and unfair competition

clipper-magazineIn the mailbox yesterday was the current issue of Clipper Magazine. It’s a big/small advertising medium headquartered right around the corner between Mountville and Centerville with a really interesting beginning.

“Founded in 1983 by Steve Zuckerman, Ian Ruzow and Bob Zuckerman, Clipper Magazine has grown from a single local, four-page campus advertising publication to 524 local editions and specialty publications … ” is the light version at the mnagazine’s Website.

In 2013, Central Penn Business Journal had a bit more about the founders as they decided to retire.

Today, Clipper Magazine is owned by Valassis Communications — and there’s more history in this Lancaster Online article. Among other media ventures, Valassis is the producer of many of those glossy food and personal care items inserts in Sunday newspapers across the nation.

Anyway, in this issue of Clipper Magazine, we noticed a departure from the Buy one-Get one couponing that we’re all used to seeing to “$15 for $30” at many of the participating restaurant and specialty food advertisers.

cath war vets

Noticed the above ad for a Columbia restaurant — Sebastian’s on 7th.” Here’s a Groupon offering with the same $10 for $20 offer that’s in the Clipper Magazine ad.

A closer look shows that Sebastian’s on 7th is at the Catholic War Veterans and according to its facebook page, it is a “Nonprofit Organization in Columbia, Pennsylvania.”

Nationally, the Catholic War Veterans tells us: “Organized in 1935, the Catholic War Veterans are probably the oldest Veterans Service Organization that you’ve NEVER heard of. One of our goals is to get our message out so people will know who we are and what we do for veterans of ALL faiths.”

Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) ostensibly exist to attend to the needs of veterans; VSOs are chartered by the US House Committee on Veterans Affairs and includes these organizationsNote the Catholic War Veterans became chartered as a VSO in 1984.

Note, too, at the bottom of the page, the authorized and correct display of the logos and /or seals of the branches of the United States military branches.

branch display

We wondered in this June 1 OPINION, “When does the Veterans Service Organization change from serving veterans and community interests into a pure social club with more ‘social members’ than veterans? When does the administration of the organization relinquish leadership roles to non-veterans?”

After all, veterans organizations, when operating as dining establishments serving the public, overwhelmingly are tax-exempt entities competing with retail establishments.

What’s the outcome of a property tax exemption; higher taxes for other tax payers? At the September 11 meeting of the Lancaster County Board of Assessment Appeals, this item appears: ‘COLUMBIA POST 1306 CATHOLIC WAR VETERNS (sic) HOME ASSOCIATION / A motion was made by Mr. Fry and seconded by Mr. Bechtold to approve exemption of the Columbia Post 1306 Catholic War Veterans Home Association located at 250 North Seventh Street in Columbia Borough, parcel number 110-56749-0-0000. The exemption will be effective beginning with the 2013-2014 School and 2014 County and Municipal tax years. Motion passed. During the course of conversations regarding this parcel; it was mentioned that the other property owned by Columbia Post 1306, located at 629 Locust Street, rear (parcel: 110-18319-0-0000), currently has or will have space designated for public rental use for banquets, wedding receptions, etc. Please keep in mind that this may change any current exemption on those particular portions so used. Assessment notices reflecting the Board’s decision will be mailed at a later date.’” – SOURCE: Columbia news, views & reviews

Nationwide, veterans clubs are in decline. In too many instances, younger, just returning veterans are feel they’re not being welcomed and included at the existing, established clubs.

Clubs are veering away from their stated missions … and trying to staying afloat fiscally by expanding the internal leadership with non-veterans and by capitalizing, indirectly,  on taxpayer subsidies. Is that fair to VSO memberships or to citizens at large?

2 comments

  1. Thanks for pointing this out. I’m sure that many other restaurants would like to operate on a tax-exempt status. It’s Columbia, do what you want, for as long as you want, as long as you’re on the good side of the good old boys.

  2. We should also give 650K to another group who want to open a hotel and restaurant. What does it matter when the cost of a beer and wine license is so ‘affordable’ for anyone else wanting to open a restaurant.

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