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Keep up downtown crackdown

Keep up downtown crackdown

Crackdown on corner businesses needs to become a regular practice

He said he was going to send a message.

By now, they should have it.

Back in January, during his state of the city message, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy promised to crack down on violations at corner stores that promote an atmosphere of drug use and engage in other questionable behavior that helps bring down the quality of life in local neighborhoods.

The effort got off to a slow start, as city leaders rolled out the enforcement in a soft-opening, if you will, by educating city staff and business operators first about the city's plans to enforce existing city codes.

It should be obvious that business operators aren't supposed to let druggies loiter in front of their stores and that the electrical wiring and emergency exits should be up to code. It also should be obvious to businesses that if they violate the rules, the city was going to punish them for it. But apparently, it wasn’t.

The first such crackdown took place on April 8, with members of the police, fire and code enforcement departments pulling a surprise inspection of four corner stores on Albany Street. They found a bunch of violations, apparently nothing major.

If indeed the problems went unaddressed a little too long, at least the businesses now have a clear message that the city isn't tolerating illegal or illicit conduct anymore.

The initiative is off to a good start. But this can't be the end of it.

Violators will only continue to heed the message as long as the city keeps its foot on the pedal. No more education. No more advance notice. No more warnings.

If the mayor is truly serious about cracking down on these establishments and improving the neighborhoods, he needs to show them by now making these sweeps a regular, constant threat and then following up on citations with strong, meaningful action.

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