Myrtle Beach Election Season Mercifully Nearing Close

November 3, 2017 5:03 AM
Myrtle Beach Election Season Mercifully Nearing Close

Just a few more days remain until the first round of voting takes place in the 2017 Myrtle Beach city elections.

Mercifully, that means only a few days remain in this season of political speak which bears little to no resemblance to the truth.

We have heard Mayor John Rhodes and the two incumbent city councilmen running for re-election, Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder, tout how they passed the largest tax cut in the history of the state.

This is not true. They passed a one percent increase in the city sales tax, 80% of which pays the marketing budgets of the largest businesses in the tourism industry. As part of that legislation, the three incumbents and their cohorts on city council used most of the remaining 20% from that tax to give tax rebates on owner-occupied residences in the city, less than 25% of the total number of properties in the city.

The owners of the properties that benefit most from this tax rebate, those in the Dunes, Grande Dunes and Pine Lakes, are the same people who are the voting base and neighbors of at least five of the seven members of city council.

To sum it up, city council passed an increase in sales tax that is used to reduce the operating expenses of the largest businesses in the tourism industry and to reduce the amount of property tax paid by their neighbors and supporters.

And that sales tax increase is working, at least in the sense that it keeps getting the incumbents who voted for it re-elected.

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Mayor John Rhodes Hits New Low in Political Blame Game

October 30, 2017 4:10 AM
Mayor John Rhodes Hits New Low in Political Blame Game

Politics reached a new low in the current Myrtle Beach election campaign when Mayor John Rhodes trashed the firefighter who shot the video of the Father’s Day shooting on Ocean Boulevard during a recent mayoral candidate debate.

There is no doubt the mayor, city council members and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce panicked when video of that shooting went viral on Facebook. It illuminated Myrtle Beach’s dirty little secret that crime is on the rise in the city for all of America to see.

The Father’s Day shooting was not an isolated incident, regardless of how much city leaders would like you to believe otherwise.

During this campaign, Rhodes has blamed “fake news” for giving the city a bad image on social media, thereby, potentially hurting tourism.

But, Rhodes really sank deep in the mud when he defamed the man who took the video from a hotel room on Ocean Boulevard.

“The gentleman who took the film was a fireman that was here on a firemen’s convention,” Rhodes said during the debate. “He was a sworn officer that was supposed to respond to people in trouble and injured. He was so busy taking the film that he never did what his job called for him to do and that was to respond to injured people on the boulevard.”

Here’s how clueless Rhodes is:

It is nationwide policy that emergency personnel WILL NOT enter an active shooter scene until the scene is cleared and secured by law enforcement personnel.

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Incumbents Want Status Quo in Myrtle Beach

October 28, 2017 4:26 AM
Incumbents Want Status Quo in Myrtle Beach

What I took away from the debate on Thursday night between three of the candidates for mayor and the debate among nine candidates for city council a week earlier is a vote for the incumbents in the upcoming Myrtle Beach city elections is a vote for the status quo in the city.

If the incumbents are re-elected, nothing will change including the secrecy and disinformation that surrounds so much of what passes for planning in the city.

Listening to Mayor John Rhodes during the debate and over several days prior to it, the city had its best year ever this year, everything is great in the city and the shootings on Ocean Boulevard this year were “fake news.”

As we know from the mindless tweets of President Donald Trump, fake news is a term used to attempt to discredit any news a politician doesn’t want to hear.

Rhodes definitely doesn’t want to hear news of crime and safety concerns in Myrtle Beach. Rather than attempt to solve those, his attitude seems to be blame the messenger.

One thing that definitely will not change is the Tourism Development Fee charged on virtually every sale in the city. Rhodes voiced strong support of the TDF, taking credit for creating the idea.

What Rhodes did not divulge is how those who benefit from the TDF work to keep the incumbents in place.

The Tourism Development Fee is a one percent tax (one cent on every dollar spent) on basically everything that is purchased in Myrtle Beach. It is paid by everybody who buys anything in the city.

The tourism industry essentially gets its advertising costs paid for it from these tax dollars.

This is roughly the same as if the federal government charged a one percent sales tax on every item purchased in the United States to pay for the advertising of Ford, General Motors, Microsoft and General Electric.

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Big Money vs Citizens in District 56 Election – Big Money Wins (Updated)

October 23, 2017 4:10 AM
Big Money vs Citizens in District 56 Election – Big Money Wins (Updated)

The special election for SC House District 56 has come down to a contest between a big money candidate on one side and a candidate for the citizens on the other.

I am calling this a two man race between the citizens’ choice Dwyer Scott and the big money choice of Tim McGinnis. With all due respect to third candidate Adam Miller, who will make a fine candidate in the future, he got caught in a vise in this election.

Scott has been endorsed by the Coastal Carolina Young Republican Club, the steering committee of the Make Myrtle Beaches Free, Clean and Safe (a group with 8,351 citizen members according to its Facebook page) and former Horry County Council candidate Ethan Leyshon.

McGinnis has been endorsed by the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors (many of whom belong to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce), the S.C. Education Association and the Carolina Forest Republican Club. The Carolina Forest Republican Club was disbanded in 2015 with no record of it officially being started up again.

The McGinnis campaign website advertised a meet and greet at McGinnis’ Carolina Forest restaurant with U.S. Rep. Tom Rice and McGinnis. In an email exchange with Scott, Rice said he was supporting McGinnis.

However, the elephant in the room, one that McGinnis has attempted to disclaim all knowledge of is the group paying for his television ads, radio ads, most of his direct mail and possibly some of his signs. That group is the Citizens for Conservative Values (CCV), a political action committee (PAC) registered with the IRS as a non-profit 527 committee.

When I asked McGinnis about CCV and the ads, he claimed to have no knowledge of CCV or the ads and said he hadn’t even seen them. He repeatedly made the same claim to various media and other groups when asked about the ads. As Shakespeare would put it, “Methinks he doth protest too much.”

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An Open Letter to the Citizens of House District 56

October 22, 2017 5:03 AM
An Open Letter to the Citizens of House District 56

I would like to thank any media and individuals who have chosen to post this letter to allow it to be read by the citizens of House District 56.

When I first decided to run for political office, many of my friends and coworkers questioned my sanity wondering why I wanted to get into such a corrupt, dirty business.

I told them because I believed District 56 needed someone who cared about fixing the crime and road problems in the district and who wouldn’t let the needs of District 56 be ignored anymore.

I said I may not win, but I was not going to be outworked. I was determined to meet and really talk to as many citizens as possible to hear their comments and complaints.

Going door to door in a political campaign allows you to meet many people who you otherwise may never meet in everyday life. I want to say it has been a privilege to meet many fine citizens in District 56 who care about their homes, neighborhood and quality of life as much as I do.

What I didn’t anticipate, as a novice candidate, is the extent to which big money and special interests were willing to go to influence the outcome of the race. That money is effectively paying for the campaign of one of my opponents, not by contributing directly to him, rather by paying for television and radio ads and direct mail pieces encouraging people to vote for him.

Regardless of how my opponent has attempted to claim ignorance of what is going on and to distance himself from the ads, the Myrtle Beach Chamber and its associates can be tied directly to his campaign.

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How Money and Politics Taint Each Other

October 21, 2017 4:29 AM
How Money and Politics Taint Each Other

(Editor’s note – The following is an op-ed submitted to Grand Strand Daily by Bill Warner, Captain, USNR-ret., a retired attorney and a resident of Carolina Forest. It is an excellent description of what is happening in the SC House District 56 race with the television and radio ads and mailers, ostensibly by a third party PAC, in support of Tim McGinnis.)

Paul Gable’s incisive, thoroughly documented account of the twisting and turning campaign finance contortions apparently involved in the House District 56 special election has been a real revelation to me of not only the universal money and politics culture in South Carolina, but of its regulatory climate as well.

At the outset, let’s get past the “outsider” sticker I get pasted on my forehead every time I open my mouth around here about our local polity.  My people settled along this part of the coast in North and South Carolina nearly 300 years ago – about 1720 – and the many branches of that family tree are still alive and well, particularly around Wilmington.  My parents lived in Surfside Beach for 30 years where I was also a property owner, and where I’ve probably spent more time than anywhere else in the world except the place where I made my living for 55 years, Louisville, Kentucky.

Even if somehow I am by definition a disdained “outsider,” I’ve got bad news for the folksy, down home good ole boy culture that the reigning “insiders” wear like a motheaten cardigan.  There’s too many of us – with more pouring in every day – sooner rather than later a clear majority of voters.  And we’re simply not taken with the quaint backwoods oligarchy we have here fumbling and bumbling with a modern millennial urban community. Also, please note we’re not into the bread and circuses that pass for authentic governance, and worse, we’re not going to shut up.

Politics is in my blood.  My original and still much revered political mentor was my grandmother, Katherine Mayo Cowan, who was mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina, and a stalwart in Democratic politics in North Carolina in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.  She was active in FDR’s campaign in 1932 and then an executive with the National Recovery Administration for ten years – along with Frances Perkins, one of the highest-ranking women in that national government.

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The Ongoing Saga of Television Ads for Tim McGinnis – Updated

October 19, 2017 11:35 AM
The Ongoing Saga of Television Ads for Tim McGinnis – Updated

Grand Strand Daily has published two articles regarding the television ad buy for Tim McGinnis in the S.C. House District 56 Republican Primary.

The second article was reprinted by myrtlebeachsc.com with credit to Grand Strand Daily.

As a result of these articles, Jackie Miller of Miller Direct Media, the business that makes considerable ad buys for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and who made the ad buy for the McGinnis ads, sent an email to Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Billy Huggins, Station Manager at WPDE television on whose station the ads were broadcast.

According to Miller, she sent the email in response to misleading information circulating regarding the Tim McGinnis ads. The email was forwarded with an introductory comment by Brad Dean to John Bonsignor, co-host of Talking Politics. Bonsignor forwarded the email to Grand Strand Daily.

The rebuttal email with introductory comments by Bonsignor (1st para) and Dean:

“The Grand Strand Daily news article squabble relative to paid campaign ads in House Dist 56… I have received a rebuttal to Paul Gable’s article that I want to share with you… It is from Brad Dean”

“Thanks for acknowledging there are always two sides to the story.  And, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story (per an email from Jackie Miller, who placed the ad): Brad D”

From: Jackie Miller
Date: October 17, 2017 at 4:14:37 PM CDT
To: ‘Brad Dean’ , ‘William Huggins’
Cc: ‘Blaine Holland’
Subject: Response

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New Documents Tie Chamber Directly to McGinnis Ads

October 17, 2017 5:01 AM
New Documents Tie Chamber Directly to McGinnis Ads

New information uncovered since our previous article on the campaign of House District 56 candidate Tim McGinnis unquestionably demonstrates the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce was directly involved in ad buys for the McGinnis campaign from the beginning.

According to the public file of political broadcast documents associated with the McGinnis television ads, a proposal was prepared for the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce scheduling television ads for McGinnis on WPDE television. (see form attached to end of this story IMG)

The proposal was approved September 25, 2017, by Jackie Miller of Miller Direct, a media marketing firm the Myrtle Beach Chamber uses for out of area marketing ad buys normally associated with funds from tourism development fee revenue.

Those ads began running on October 9, 2017, asking voters to “Vote for Tim McGinnis on October 24th.”

The National Association of Broadcasters political broadcast form (PB 18), filed with WPDE, again has Miller, on behalf of Tim McGinnis, requesting station time and certifying McGinnis is a legally qualified candidate for the House District 56 seat as a Republican in the October 24th primary. The requested station time is exactly the same as the above proposal. (see form attached below IMG 0001)

The PB 18 includes a page on which it was represented payment for the requested ad broadcasts “has been furnished” by Citizens for Conservative Values. On September 27, 2017, Steve Chapman signed the representation as Treasurer of Citizens for Conservative Values. (see form attached below IMG 0002)

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McGinnis Denies Chamber Support, Records Indicate Differently

October 14, 2017 7:44 AM
McGinnis Denies Chamber Support, Records Indicate Differently

Several times in the past week, including a Friday October 13th conversation with this reporter, S.C. House District 56 candidate Tim McGinnis denied receiving money contributions or support for his campaign from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I have not received any money from the Chamber,” McGinnis said.

The Chamber and its cronies supporting McGinnis in the House District 56 race is only a modest story. However, when McGinnis keeps denying any knowledge of this support, it becomes a big story, especially considering his former position as news anchor for WPDE television who also hosted a weekly political news show.

Television ads paid for by the “Citizens for Conservative Values” asking the voters of House District 56 to “Vote for Tim McGinnis, a conservative we can trust” began airing on local television and radio stations Monday October 9, 2017.

In my conversation with McGinnis, I asked him what he knew about the ads. McGinnis said, “I don’t know anything about those ads, I haven’t seen them.”

I asked McGinnis if the Chamber was responsible for the ads. He again denied any knowledge of the ads and repeated that statement several more times throughout our conversation to the point the statement sounded scripted.

I explained the following indisputable facts to McGinnis:

According to the S.C. Secretary of State website, Citizens for Conservative Values is a non-profit whose registered agent is Steve Chapman at 6000 North Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, whose information is derived from records released by the Internal Revenue Service, Citizens for Conservative Values files as a 527 Political Action Committee. According to those filings, the major contributor, in some years the only contributor, to Citizens for Conservative Values is the Grand Strand Business Alliance.

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The Bizarre Twists in Myrtle Beach Politics

October 11, 2017 5:21 AM
The Bizarre Twists in Myrtle Beach Politics

Two campaign events this week highlight how bizarre the current election season in Myrtle Beach politics has become.

An open candidate forum on Sunday October 15th has been scheduled over a month. The event is open to all candidates for the upcoming city elections.

It will be held at the Myrtle Beach Recreation Center at Market Commons. City council candidates will be up first beginning at 2:30 p.m. with mayoral candidates following at 4 p.m.

As has been the trend throughout the fall campaign, incumbent mayor John Rhodes and incumbent council members Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder have indicated they will not participate in the above mentioned event.

Instead, Rhodes, Wallace and Lowder have scheduled a closed campaign event at the same venue on Thursday October 12th. The event will be by invitation only and is limited to Market Common residents.

In this instance, we have three incumbents seeking re-election holding a campaign event on city property and limiting that event to only certain residents in the city.

You may ask why the incumbents didn’t join the challengers in a candidate forum open to all city residents at the same location only three days later?

The answer that comes to mind is that the incumbents, Rhodes, Wallace and Lowder, who are seeking re-election on November 7th, are apparently afraid to speak to voters except in circumstances totally controlled by themselves.

How bizarre is that?

In the atmosphere that surrounds city elections this year, the bizarre has become quite normal.

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