In-House Counsel, Tax Law

House Rules: The Deepest Cut…

Well, Bausch and Lomb is finally being sold. Oh, there will be some time between now and the closing, but yesterday’s announcement of 800 million dollars in cost cutting would make any in-house attorney nervous.

The cuts are to come largely from the front office and management, all places where lawyers are part of the organization. I know several good people who face a period of real uncertainty as Valeant performs assessment after assessment of where cuts can be made, and then begins to swing the axe.

My town of Rochester has seen more than its fair share of decline in the last decade. Eastman Kodak is a shell of its former self, and now B&L is going to be owned by a Canadian concern; at least, if true to Canadian tradition, they’ll be “nice” about the cuts, right?

This once great center of technology and innovation seems to be falling prey to the bane of New York’s outrageous taxes — corporate, income and property. This state boasts one of the highest property tax rates in the country, some of the worst corporate taxes anywhere, income taxes that plain old suck, and my town has the lowest graduation rate for black youth in the entire country. Yes, worse than Mississippi or Alabama. We have a Deep South mentality toward race relations, and a seeming blind eye towards enticing business to move here. So, I pay more property tax than folks in Malibu, and we can’t graduate kids from a school system with a two billion (with a b) dollar budget, and we need desperately for business to come in and stanch the flow of dollars out of our economy…

It is becoming more true with each change to the former “big five” businesses in town, that if you want (or need) to change jobs, there is nowhere to go. See, that’s the thing, this is a wonderful place to raise a family. I bought a nice four bedroom colonial in a good school district (which my kids don’t attend, but that’s a fight I won’t win against a cradle Catholic wife) and it cost around 190k. My commute to work is literally under 15 minutes door to door, and there are over 70 public golf courses within three counties. We boast triple-A baseball, basketball, lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, and a professional hockey and football team within an hour’s drive. Yet, there remains the issue of those taxes. Oh, and don’t start on it’s a Bush thing or an Obama thing, this problem starts and ends with some very crooked and entrenched pols in Albany.

No one is surprised that B&L was sold, that was the plan ever since the equity fund bought B&L some years ago. What has come to pass though is the fact that cuts are coming, and in a town that is already down for too many reasons to count, the timing just could not be worse. So, what’s an attorney to do? Pack it in and move to a growing, or more stable, region such as the Research Triangle? Go back to a firm (shudder)?

If you have the motivation for either of those strategies, I say go for it and don’t look back. But, if your roots are here, and you have a true sense of community in this town, look for solutions rather than drowning sorrow. I know this post is Rochester-centric, but I also know that there are many communities experiencing some sort of the same pain.

I also look to my hometown of Oklahoma City, a town that is booming. Houses are being built, jobs are being created, and the future looks fairly bright, save for those damned tornadoes. As a member of a community such as this, we have a duty to try and correct issues that have taken us off the path to prosperity, so our kids don’t have to live in a region where studio apartments go for the high six figures, or more.

We have an abundance of resources, both mental and structural. But, like fracking that taps into rich veins of natural gas, we must proceed with caution, but we must, at all costs, proceed. My best wishes for those at B&L, and my prayers for my town.

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments