Johnson Withdraws from School Board Election

July 25, 2018 4:33 AM
Johnson Withdraws from School Board Election

Press Release

(July 24, 2018) … Citing the realities of politics in Horry County, Heather Johnson announced today that she has withdrawn from the November election.  The timing of her decision removes her name from the ballot and virtually guarantees that Ken Richardson will become the next Chairman of the Horry County Board of Education. Johnson cited three reasons for her decision.

“First, I tend to be both a social and fiscal conservative – but I filed as a Democrat believing that I would have a better chance to make my case and discuss the issues against a single opponent in November than in a crowded primary in July,” Johnson explained. “Because I am not a politician, I was naïve in that, even if voters on both sides of the isle favor my candidacy, “Straight-Ticket Voting” (pushing the “R”) assures a Republican victory in November.” No Democrat has won a County-wide race in more than a quarter century.

Johnson added that she believes that party affiliation should not be a factor when running for or voting on school board positions.

“Secondly, dragging this decision out another 4 months only delays the inevitable coronation of Ken Richardson as Chairman.” she emphasized.  “I have personally offered my assistance to Ken to serve as a liaison concerning teacher insight and student needs.   I’m hopeful that the Board and Mr. Richardson can find a way to begin working together immediately. Our children deserve no less.”

“Finally, I didn’t enter this race to gain political power or notoriety,” she added.  “I did it because I’m a mother and a former teacher and I am concerned that we are losing a generation of young Americans. Communication skills, fundamental manners, self-value and authentic respect for others are items that are being lost in today’s fast-paced digital society.  I want to use my time, money and energy efficiently to champion change on this front.”

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Myrtle Beach Harassment of Jewish Business Owners

July 24, 2018 9:27 AM
Myrtle Beach Harassment of Jewish Business Owners

The City of Myrtle Beach appears to be practicing continuous harassment of Jewish shop owners on Ocean Boulevard for no better reason than it can.

The current round of harassment began one year ago when city officials and DRC board members blamed t-shirt merchandise in the shops as the cause of several shootings on Ocean Boulevard.

The city immediately installed barricades in front of the shops, allegedly to control pedestrian traffic, but, in reality, to cut down walk-in traffic to the shops, costing the owners sales during the height of the tourist  season.

The harassment continued with local police officers checking business licenses in the shops while police from other jurisdictions were being used to patrol Ocean Boulevard.

This spring, the city administrator attempted to require employees of the shops to wear special badges, reminiscent of the use of a yellow Star of David by Nazi officials in Germany in the 1930’s.

Recently, legally produced and legally sold CBD oil products in the shops have been targeted as potentially illegal and the city reportedly asked SLED officers to help in checking these products.

The harassment was highlighted when Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune made the following statement at a recent council meeting regarding the CBD products:

“We have stores on the boulevard right now who have cases of edibles and they are marketing to children. They have lollipops, and if you open one of these jars, it looks and smells exactly like regular marijuana.”

Bethune initially denied making this quote, then, after probably remembering city council meetings are videotaped, said it was used out of context by local media.

These incidents have all the elements of planned harassment by an authoritarian city government that can be viewed as anti-Semitic in its nature all under the guise of keeping the city “family friendly” for tourists.

It may also be an attempt to drive down business profits to force the owners to sell their properties at reduced values.

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Horry County’s Political Schism

July 22, 2018 9:22 AM
Horry County’s Political Schism

One glance at the agenda for Tuesday’s upcoming special meeting and workshop of Horry County Council demonstrates the political schism that exists in local politics.

Council will consider two resolutions that propose advisory referendums on the upcoming November 2018 general election ballot to raise countywide property taxes by 10 mils to fund police, EMS, Sheriff and E911service improvements throughout the county and one to raise property taxes by an additional 9.5 mils in the unincorporated areas of the county to fund fire improvements.

The entire discussion of these two referendums is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to the defeat of incumbent council chairman Mark Lazarus by Johnny Gardner in the June 2018 Republican Primary for the nomination for council chairman.

One of the reasons Gardner won the nomination was his motto of “First Responders First” and his promise to take care of the additional needs of public safety departments in upcoming county budgets. It must be noted, Gardner never proposed tax increases to fund additional personnel and pay raises for first responders. Rather, he proposed prioritizing the needs of public safety during the budget process with current revenues and funds.

Over the last five years, Lazarus and council have basically ignored the increasing needs of public safety. After the voters made themselves heard by voting Lazarus out in June, it is all of a sudden a council priority necessitating a special meeting.

Being advisory rather than binding referendums, the results will mean nothing. The resolutions were first proposed by council member Tyler Servant at the June 19, 2018 regular meeting of council.

Servant said he was a strong fiscal conservative Republican who opposed tax increases, but proposed allowing the voters to make the decision. A true, fiscal conservative would first look to current revenues and funds to meet these needs and consider tax increases only after every other option has been considered and discarded.

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Solid Waste Authority Looking for Further Expansion

July 20, 2018 8:45 AM
Solid Waste Authority Looking for Further Expansion

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) is preparing to request a Determination of Need from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for permission to further expand capacity at its Highway 90 landfill.

The request, expected to be sent in next month, will begin the process to add a Phase III Piggyback landfill cell for Class 3 Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and expansion of the current Class 2 Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste landfill.

The SWA says it needs this expansion to continue serving the needs of the residents of Horry County for landfill capacity.

Included in the plans for Phase III is a proposed bridge over Sterritt Swamp and a new roadway snaking through wetlands areas on the authority’s 1187 acre tract adjacent to the current landfill site. The bridge and roadways are needed to mine approximately one million square yards of dirt on the 1187 property and haul it to the landfill for construction.

It is only 18 months ago that the SWA was literally begging Horry County Council to approve an increase in tipping fees at the Hwy 90 landfill to keep the authority solvent. The need for the increase in fees was blamed on capital expenditures associated with current Phase II Piggyback Expansion and planned Vertical Expansion for the MSW landfill.

Horry County Council approved an immediate $7 per ton increase in tipping fees for MSW with additional $1 per ton increments for seven more years and a $1 per ton increase for C&D.

The SWA landfill sits in an environmentally sensitive area surrounded by Sterritt Swamp on three sides. Its origin dates back to open, unlined garbage dumps that served the City of Conway since the 1960’s.

As the state was preparing what would become the South Carolina Solid Waste Policy Management Act of 1991, Horry County Council formed the SWA, by county ordinance 60-90, to conform with the new state law.

A hydrology report prepared in 1990 by HDR Engineering stated that no soils in Horry County were listed as fair to good for landfills. The 1990 report and several subsequent through 2001 stated the Hwy 90 landfill site was hydrologically unsuitable for a landfill due to the proximity of Sterritt Swamp.

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Richardson Rolls To GOP Nomination

July 18, 2018 7:16 AM
Richardson Rolls To GOP Nomination

Ken Richardson was the heavy favorite of voters Tuesday as he captured 71 percent of the vote in the Republican primary special election for Horry County School Board Chairman.

Incumbent school board member Janice Morreale gathered 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second with former Patricia Milley completing the field at 9 percent.

Richardson will face political newcomer Democrat Heather Johnson in the November general election.

Richardson’s campaign centered on safety in the schools, transparency of board decisions and strict oversight of the school district budget.

The Richardson victory continues a recent trend of incumbents with serious opposition in the primaries falling by the wayside.

Last month challenger Johnny Gardner bested incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman and William Bailey defeated incumbent Greg Duckworth for the GOP nomination for  SC House District 104. The Richardson victory completed the Trifecta Tuesday night.

What is particularly interesting is all three incumbents had significant help from other incumbents during the primary campaigns.

Lazarus had the endorsement of at least 10 of his 11 fellow county council members as well as endorsements from the coastal mayors and members of the county legislative delegation. State legislators Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry ran the Lazarus campaign.

Duckworth had the active support of fellow legislators Alan Clemmons, Greg Hembree, Fry and Ammons Crawford, as well as North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, contacting voters to push Duckworth reelection.

Morreale, the current school board member for District 5, had a group of her fellow school board incumbents actively contacting voters to push her candidacy.

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School Board Needs Strong Leader, Richardson is the Answer

July 15, 2018 9:10 AM
School Board Needs Strong Leader, Richardson is the Answer

When Horry County voters go to the polls Tuesday July 17th to elect the Republican nominee for School Board Chairman, they should only have one consideration in mind – who is the strongest leader among the candidates.

Approximately 20 years ago, the Horry County School Board ceded much of the control of policy making to then Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. Since then, successive boards have allowed this policy to continue with only a very few minor changes.

The board basically identifies general objectives or goals, but the superintendent is allowed to make policy to achieve those ends. The board does some monitoring of the superintendent, but is at the mercy of the information that is shared with it.

What this means is the school board members the public elects to supposedly set policy have become little more than figureheads controlled by the superintendent and staff.

When new school board members are elected, they are given a class by staff on what they can and can’t do under this type of governance system.

Think about that for a minute. School board members are told by staff what they can and can’t do rather than the other way around. Makes one wonder why we need a school board at all and certainly question why school board members voted themselves a 66% pay raise last year.

It is past time to elect a school board chairman who is a strong leader willing to make the changes necessary to the current district governance model to put the school board back in the position of making district policy, especially in areas of budget and oversight of operations and facilities.

I believe Ken Richardson is that candidate.

Richardson worked for 40 years in a very successful Fowler Motors, the last 14 years as owner of the business. He has served for over 20 years as a member of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission, including 15 years as Chairman and now Chairman Emeritus.

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Large vs Small Issues in School Board Chairman Race

July 12, 2018 7:14 AM
Large vs Small Issues in School Board Chairman Race

The Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman will be decided by voters next Tuesday.

Most campaigns for political office center around a few important issues and questions. The biggest question going into next week’s voting is do you care enough about who will chair the government body that spends the largest portion of the property taxes you pay ($700 million in round numbers) to go out and vote?

Voters will choose between current school board member for District 5 Janice Morreale, former teacher Pay Milley and local businessman and current Chairman Emeritus of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission Ken Richardson. The victor will face Democrat business woman and former teacher Heather Johnson in the November general election.

Morreale’s campaign theme is ‘Back to the Basics’. However, Morreale seemed to forget one of the most basic rules in politics – Don’t Vote for a Pay Raise for Yourself – when she voted for a 66% pay raise for board members last year.

During the campaign, Morreale has pointed to getting the school district to pay for pool times for swim team members and the cost of transportation for band members to attend away games as two of her accomplishments as a board member. Both, I’m sure, are important to the students and parents they affect, but they are small issues compared to school construction, teacher pay and support and establishing the district wide agendas for board consideration.

Milley’s campaign has said school days are too long, curricula too difficult, nights too short and students too stressed to result in a good learning environment. She advocates 15 minutes of recess for every 45 minutes of instruction and copying the education model of Finland for better student achievement.

Milley acknowledges her issues will require approximately 11 new bills from the General Assembly to allow changes she advocates. Local legislators said those bills are never going to happen.

Richardson has been eyeing the school board chairman seat since the 2016 general election, an election he did not participate in because the HGTC commission was in the midst of a search for a new president of the college.

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County Council’s Phony Tax Referendum

July 10, 2018 1:32 PM
County Council’s Phony Tax Referendum

Horry County Council is expected to have a discussion next week about placing an advisory referendum on the November 2018 general election ballot regarding tax increases for public safety.

The issue was proposed by council member Tyler Servant at last month’s council meeting. Acknowledging the main topic of the primary election which cost council chairman Mark Lazarus nomination to another term in office, Servant said he was opposed to raising taxes but believed the voters should have a say on whether they wanted to pay higher taxes to increase public safety services in the county.

Council members Dennis DiSabato and Cam Crawford jumped on the bandwagon, acknowledging a need for more public safety personnel and facilities in the county but saying the voters should make the decision.

The discussion will be a waste of time as an advisory referendum will not solve the problem of funding for public safety needs. Regardless of how the referendum is worded and what percentage of the vote it may receive, an advisory binds the council to no action and, furthermore, does not provide permission from voters to raise taxes above the limits of Act 388.

The proposal for a discussion and resolution vote to place the advisory referendum on the ballot appears to be an attempt to divert the discussion from various alternatives for public safety funding to a possible tax increase.

Republican chairman nominee Johnny Gardner, who defeated Lazarus in the June primary voting, never mentioned raising taxes while he campaigned on increasing public safety personnel numbers and pay throughout the county.

Gardner said the current 20 ½ minutes average elapsed time it takes from when a 911 call is answered until a first responder arrives on the scene is unacceptable. Gardner pledged to make public safety funding priority one in the budget process.

At times, when extra sources of tax dollars become available, public safety staffing is never on the radar of most council members and county staff.

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School Board Chairman Primary Nears

July 7, 2018 5:04 AM
School Board Chairman Primary Nears

Ten days remain before voting takes place in the special primary election for the Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman.

With statewide primary elections last month, the special election has stayed below the radar of many voters. However, the Horry County School Board annual budget is approximately $750 million. No locally elected government agency in Horry County is responsible for spending more taxpayer dollars each year.

Tuesday July 17, 2018 is the date voters will choose between three candidates for the Republican nomination.

The candidates bring an interesting mix of issues to the race.

Retired teacher Patricia Milley is concerned about the mental health of local students, an issue she said she first brought before the Horry County School Board in 1996. Milley claims one in four Horry County students suffer from mental health issues due to school days being too long, school curricula being too hard and nights too short to recover.

Milley proposes less instruction time per school day, more recess periods in the day and changes to easier curricula in the schools. She proposes 11 separate pieces of legislation that must be passed by the South Carolina General Assembly to institute her recommended changes.

Janice Morreale is the current school board member for Horry County District 5. She was first elected to that seat in 2012 with a campaign slogan of ‘Back to the Basics.’ Her signs for the special election chairman race are carrying the same slogan.

Morreale has been a solid school board member during the five and one-half years she has served District 5. However, 2018 has not been a great election year for incumbents facing opposition. While there is no incumbent in the special election for board chairman, Morreale is one of six incumbent board members who voted for a large salary increase for themselves last year. The salary increase issue already cost one board incumbent the nomination for District 6 in last month’s primaries.

Ken Richardson is the third candidate in the special Republican primary election. He is a Horry County native and longtime business man and former owner of Fowler Motors. Richardson has been a member of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission for 20 years, the past 15 as chairman of that body.

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The Consent of the Governed

July 4, 2018 7:19 AM
The Consent of the Governed

Among its many memorable phrases, the Declaration of Independence states, “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,..”

Too often, governments, or the people who run them, forget about the people. They become too concentrated on personal agendas or too impressed with their own perceived importance.

In the United States, we have a form of representative democracy in our local, state and federal governments. When governments become destructive with respect to the ends desired by the people, the people vote out representatives and replace them with others more in tune with their wishes.

We have seen this result in recent local elections where incumbent officeholders were voted out in two different city elections, the school board, a state legislative seat and the Horry County Council Chairman.

None of the losers are bad persons, they just lost touch with the people whose consent they needed to stay in office.

A few of their transgressions include:

Questionable land purchases with public dollars, often discussed in secret, while public infrastructure needs are ignored
Selective use of the Freedom of Information Act provisions to avoid disclosing information the public has a right to know
Ignoring public safety needs at the expense of the welfare of first responders and the citizens they protect
Public disagreements with other elected officials resulting in needless lawsuits that waste public dollars rather than using those dollars for improved service
Economic development trips to China with no results
Strict adherence to boondoggles such as Interstate 73 while more pressing infrastructure needs go unmet

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