Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another 'I told you so'

Remember back when Toledo decided to issue a license to convenience stores? According to the politicians, those evil convenience stores were the source of all kinds of illegal and unsavory goings-on and needed to be controlled.

My point, then and now, was that a business owner shouldn't be responsible for the illegal acts of others. The entire problem was the lack of law enforcement in the neighborhoods that allowed such illegal activity in the first place.

As I said in my first post on the subject:

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.

And now, as a result of the lawsuit filed over the law, guess what? More police patrols. Except in this case, it's not being provided by the city. No, the convenience store owners are having to pay off-duty officers to do what they should be doing when on-duty.

So the solution, as I said all along, is to increase police patrols. As I wrote in my last post on the subject:

I still have a problem, though, with the city's dereliction of duty when it comes to safety. The agreement requires that the stores "develop a plan for a coordinated security patrol of member stores consisting of off-duty and laid-off police officers."

First of all, why must it be off-duty or laid-off police officers? Many companies use private security personnel for such purposes, so this can only be construed as the unnecessary interference of the city in operational aspects of a private business. Or perhaps this has more to do with helping the police unions and/or covering the city because they've so overspent in almost every other area that they had to lay off police. Regardless, this is wrong and I wish the settlement would have contained more generic language to be able to give the store owners as much flexibility as possible.

Secondly, this particular requirement is a bad precedent for the city to set. The reason this is needed - and the reason 'community development groups' and politicians wanted the law in the first place - is because of a lack of enforcement of existing laws. The original problem wasn't the stores, but the illegal activities that police were unable to address, either because of lack of numbers or low priority.

Rather than address the lack of policing, politicians did what they normally do - created a new problem in an attempt to 'solve' an old one, enacting a law for every single store of this type, despite the fact that only some of the stores were having a problem. What they should have done was increase the enforcement in and around those particular problem areas - but they didn't.

Now, the solution is not for the city to assume its chartered responsibility, but for store owners to pay additionally for that same service. And if the city can do it with one, it can do it will all.

This is what passes for logic in Toledo.

Previous posts on the convenience store licensing law in chronological order:

'Not business friendly - post #5'

Eye On Toledo interview with Rob Ludeman

Cheers and boos to Toledo City Council

'Not business friendly' - post #6

Convenience stores fight licensing law (thank goodness!)

FOIA Friday

Faulty logic???

'Not business friendly' Post #9 - convenience stores, again

Emergency injunction requested on Convenience Store Licensing Law

Convenience stores get injunction

City law applies to more than just convenience stores

'Not business friendly' Post #10 - if you don't like the law, close your business

Midwest Retailers lawsuit against Toledo continues

City ordered to pay attorney fees in convenience store licensing suit

Toledo to repeal convenience store licensing law

No comments:

Google Analytics Alternative