There are 275 convenience and grocery stores in Toledo and, according to some people, many of these are nuisance businesses. "Nuisance" businesses? A job provider and someone who is offering needed products is now a nuisance?
In the paper, Beth Lewandowski, president of Lagrange Village Council, said, "...we have a glut of these predatory convenience stores."
Predatory convenience stores? Are they stalking neighborhoods, now?
And in the NBC24 story, she said, "They're not a grocery store. They're not serving what a grocery store should serve. They're just serving convenience. Chips and pop and things like that."
Um...duh...hence the name! And you're probably paying more for 'chips and pop and things like that' in such stores because you're paying for ...wait for it...the convenience.
The scary part of all this is that our City Council is actually considering making it more difficult for such business owners. And why, you might ask, would a city so desperate for business consider adding new restrictions and licensing fees? NBC24 has the answer:
"City council members say many of these stores are drawing thugs, gang members and drug dealers. They say controlling the number of these stores is a matter of public safety."
Ah, yes, the public safety factor. Because, you see, they sell small plastic bags and some - note some - people might use those bags to hold powered drugs. This public safety factor is invoked too many times as an excuse to expand government regulation and increase government coffers.
But in this case - as in many others (smoking or gun bans, anyone?) - they're focusing their efforts in the wrong place.
If convenience stores are not abiding by the rules, then remove their liquor licenses. Council has done this in the past and it works to penalize those who violate the law rather than everyone within a specific industry.
If people are loitering at such locations, arrest them or cite them for violating that law.
But understand this: if you've got crime in the neighborhoods, it's not because you have a store down the street. The solution to crime in the neighborhoods is increased police patrols to deter such activity and swift response when a crime does occur. It also means a commitment to the criminal justice system to fully prosecute and hold accountable those who commit crimes - and that may mean spending money for more jail space and prosecutors - and not flowers, lights on trees, nature education or secret shoppers.
But in Toledo, it's so much easier to regulate business than it is to address the true problems in the neighborhoods and city as a whole. And it gets better headlines, too.
Even Councilman Michael Ashford admits that these stores exist because there is a need for them:
"Ashford admits there's obviously a demand for these types of stores because otherwise they'd go out of business, but he's more concerned about the type of people they draw.".
The "type of people they draw?" The people they draw are your residents and citizens. If people are doing illegal things, they're not going to stop because the local convenience store has been taxed and regulated out of business. And without another local employer, you'll have more unemployment...doesn't that lead to crime and deteriorating neighborhoods???? And I'm sure that a boarded up building in your neighborhood is a much more attractive spot for criminal activity than a successful business. Talk about a 'nuisance.'
If YOU don't want this type of store in your neighborhood, then open up the type of store you DO want. It's still a semi-free country.
However, this being Toledo, more regulation and taxes will probably be the outcome - along with less employers, fewer jobs, and a strongly negative message to other job providers who are already here or considering Toledo as a location.
And the issues of "crime, alcoholism, prostitution, drug use, and other unsavory elements" will still exist.