By Paul Gable
Two months, much confusion and many hard feelings later, the ordinance to change bike rallies was killed by Horry County Council Tuesday night by a 10-2 vote. Council members Harold Worley and Gary Loftus voted against the majority.
This means the current law under which vendor permits are issued will remain as it has been for the past three years.
Vendor permits will be issued for seven days at a cost of $800 east of the waterway and $500 west of the waterway.
This was an issue that had no need to arise. The ordinance was first discussed at the February Committee of the Whole meeting of county council with council chairman Tom Rice stating “something” would be on the agenda for first reading at the county’s February 28, 2012 meeting.
Rice led the “Take Back May” movement several years ago, before being elected to county council. The movement effectively cancelled bike rallies in Myrtle Beach.
His intention from the beginning was to develop an ordinance that would further discourage bike rally attendance in the county. Rice has been heard privately to say he would get rid of every biker in Horry County if he could, he didn’t care if it cost the county “a trillion dollars”.
Addressing that point, Renee Culler, a 7th Congressional District Republican candidate as is Rice, told council during public discussion, “The Grand Strand is America’s beach and as such should welcome all to come. Myrtle Beach told bikers they are not welcome. Tom Rice led that attack and now, as chairman of county council, he wants to drive bikers out of the county completely.”
Chris Panos, a member of the local ABATE chapter, told council, “I have had e-mails from Virginia Beach in the last few days. Virginia Beach said ‘If they don’t want you we will take you (the bike rallies).” Panos told council they were not elected to advance “your likes and your dislikes.”
Ultimately admitting defeat, Rice voted with the majority to kill the ordinance that he initiated. One night earlier, during a debate of 7th District Republican candidates, Rice said, “Let’s get the government out of the way and let’s let this free enterprise system work its magic.”
With the defeat of the Rice ordinance, maybe the free enterprise system will get a chance to work its magic with this year’s bike rallies.