COAST Board Member Blasts Council

April 5, 2012 8:29 AMViews: 695

By Paul Gable

Mickey James, President of the Myrtle Beach Chapter of the NAACP and member of the COAST RTA board of directors, blasted Horry County Council Tuesday night for its stinginess toward the transit authority’s funding needs.

“No other agency receives the type of challenge and scrutiny (for funding) from this council,” during a presentation to council Tuesday night. “The bar for COAST is always higher.”

The question of funding from Horry County was supposedly decided in November 2010 when Horry County voters passed an advisory referendum, by an over 60 percent margin, to provide approximately $1 million in county funds to COAST on an annual basis. The referendum question was non-binding, but it was decisive.

COAST general manager Myers Rollins had told council that the authority needed dedicated funding from the county in order to provide an acceptable level of service. Council member Gary Loftus, with the support of a majority of council, challenged Rollins to prove to council that funding the authority was an issue with Horry County voters.

“With only 16 weeks to the election, you set us up for failure,” said James. “Our general manager became the public face of the case for public transportation. Over 60 percent of the voters approved the funding, but that wasn’t enough.”

James went on to describe council resistance to honoring the $1 million in funding during last year’s budget debate because it included a .3 mil tax increase.

James told how, during that debate, Loftis went so far as to say that maybe the voters did not understand what they were voting for.

Council member Bob Grabowski said the increase was very minor compared to the benefit the people of Horry County would receive. Grabowski went on to say it would be irresponsible not to fund COAST when it is desperately needed for the community.

“In the two years I have been on the COAST board, I have come to understand that for thousands of Horry County residents public transportation is a lifeline to jobs, school and doctors visits among other things,” James said.

COAST ridership has increased significantly in the past several years. Last year it was up 29 percent to 723,000 passengers, according to Rollins. In the eight months reported for the current fiscal year, ridership has increased another 25 percent and is over 600,000 passengers already.

In contrast, the county provides $1.8 million per year to the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, under terms of a contract between the county and the corporation.

Council chairman Tom Rice led the charge to fund the economic development corporation despite dismal results from it over the years.

Would some of that have to do with the fact that Doug Wendel is Chairman of the Executive Board of MBREDC and finance chairman of Rice’s campaign for the 7th Congressional District seat?

Last year, Rice said new MBREDC CEO Brad Lofton had promised to bring in 500 jobs during the first 18 months of his (Lofton’s) contract. One year later, only one deal has closed. That was with historic underachiever AvCraft for a “promise” to bring 150 new jobs to the county over the next five years, most after year three. To date, AvCraft hasn’t added any permanent jobs to the just over 50 it brought to Horry County in 2004.

Word has it that Lofton will announce closing a call center deal next week for 90 immediate jobs. This appears to be another warmed over deal that was originally planned over two years ago (before Lofton arrived), but fell through. At that time, it was supposed to bring 200 jobs.

But MBREDC is guaranteed to get its $1.8 million again in Fiscal Year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012. COAST, on the other hand, will have to make its case to council again and again, over the next several months, to get only 55 percent of that amount, yet it provides considerably more value to Horry County citizens on a day-to-day basis.

Everyone agrees economic development and public transportation are both necessary for Horry County. The treatment of the two agencies’ requests for public funds, however, has been decidedly different.

COAST had to overcome the Lymo scandal of 2004, but has developed into a solid public transportation agency under Rollins guidance and a newly appointed board of directors.

MBREDC still has to prove it can do the same in its newly reorganized state, but it continues to receive almost twice the amount of funding from the county? Why?

 

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17 Comments

  • Frank Simons

    This reporter is the biggest joke I have ever seen. He is so anti Tom Rice that he is lobbying against a new jobs announcement even before it announces. God forbid Tom gets ANY credit for anything. So pathetic, and what a disservice to our community. With the contempt he has for new jobs and Horry County, my advice would be for Paul to pack up and move. I know for certain that the folks running against Tom pay him for this blog and all the hatred he writes everyday. Objective journalism at it’s very best folks!!!!!

  • Walk The Talk

    Mr. Simons it appears that you are the one being paid to lobby for Tom Rice despite the fact that most knowledgeable people recognize how he operates and for whom. I’ve never met Paul Gable but admire his investigative journalist skills. He keeps adding pieces to the puzzle that is close to being complete.
    He digs and questions unlike most other “reporters” who simply repeat the verbiage spoon-fed to them by the Chamber and both MB City and County Council.

  • Frank Simons

    You seem like a good guy, so trust me, Paul is a douchebag, and only parrots what Marion Foxworth and Tom Rice opponents pay him to say. He has looked all over town for a real journalism job and no one will hire him. He has had to resort to working under the table for scraps from Tom’s political opponents. Half the time he runs off at the mouth and never interviews the folks he throws under the bus. I only come here to laugh every morning at how desperate and obvious his paid intentions are. The other 3 people in Horry County that read it, his family, must be proud.

  • Looks like Paul has picked up a ‘troll’. Instead of ‘trolling’ Paul’s site, I would think Tom Rice’s congressional campaign would be better served by Tom, (aka Frank), actually knocking on doors or even having yet another Dunes Club fundraiser!

  • Ashley Gable

    Mr. Simons, it appears to me that you are the douchebag. You have no clue what you are talking about when you say such things about Mr. Gable. He has not looked all over town for a journalism job because he is retired, you ignorant douchebag. It would appear to me that you have much interest in what Mr. Gable has to say considering you are an avid follower of his stories. And yes, his family is very proud of him considering he has much respect from many people all over the county. It is obvious that you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. You would be wise to have an intelligent thought before you put anything in writing.

  • Amy Carlton

    Love how Paul is so quick to blast the few folks he’s paid to bad mouth here but censors my responses. Where’s my last post Mr. Let the Sun Shine in?

  • Tom, you might as well use your own name. Everybody knows it’s you.

    Paul is a terrific investigative reporter and everyone knows that too. That’s exactly why you don’t like him.

    You, on the other hand, are so weak and ineffectual that (even though you tell us you can represent us all in Washington) you don’t even command the respect or cooperation of Horry Council, in the only political post you’ve ever held. Well, that’s if we don’t count heading up Take Back May to advance the Dune’s Club elites’ social engineering agenda of selective tourism, & incidentally use war on bike rallies to drive down property values on the south end so you and your cronies connected to the “Myrtle Beach Mafia” can scoop them up for pennies on the dollar.

    Can you spell RICO, Tom? Because your role in that “Grand Scam” has reportedly not been ignored in the ongoing the fed probe – along with that of a certain CCU/MBACC lobbyist and real estate associate tied to the clearly-related world-wide pushing of a certain “service” here locally providing “distressed hotel asset relief.”

    I remember very well the look in your wife’s eyes when I discussed this kind of stuff with y’all at that event at Mt Olive church back in 2010. You managed to stay cool as a cucumber throughout, and your south end tool Mary Henry was kind of bug-eyed as she hung on every word, but I glanced at Mrs. Rice and she had a look of abject terror in her eyes.

    And that was before I even heard the strong and persistent rumor that the two of you WERE there at the bank that day with your late friend & good old Shep “Where’s Shep?” Guyton that fateful day when the “clearing house” checks were cut.

    Don’t worry. You can tell us if that last one is true or not. Unburden your soul. It will do it a world of good – even if it might not keep you and/or your cronies out of the slammer.

  • Good insight, Charlie.

    Tom’s congressional campaign would also be well served by him somehow getting a real personality and a transfusion of charisma. On the stump, he could put a Loris meth addict to sleep in the middle of a 4-day run.

    Prosser & Bauer are eating Trillion Dollar Tom’s lunch right now, & with Katherine having entered the race and sure to get a good amount of support, it’s no longer a lock the way it once seemed for him. I’ve even heard that the “Myrtle Beach Mafia” now sees him as so weak that those who put up money are now having serious “buyer’s remorse”.

    For that reason, where Randal Wallace has up to now been only a “stalking horse” who was to pull out at a certain point and turn his support over to Rice, the “Inner Cabinet” of the MBACC/GSBB is said to have given the boy new hope of maybe actually being able to realize his long-held dream of finally blowing this pop stand and going to the Big Show in DC to live out all his political fantasies, get his photo taken with even more famous people, and of course, attract more babes.

    In other words, scuttle the stump-dud and put “America’s City Councilman” up there. Hey, he’s got the tea party laughing at him now, but he still snows enough week-minded Repubs and Dems to maybe pull it off (if he can ditch the Walt Whetsel scumsuckers that all those guys use and get some real campaign management and consultation).

    LOL – To Frank/Tom: Are we having fun yet, big man?

  • You’re right, Walk The Talk IS a good guy, and he’s very, very smart. He’s more than smart enough to see through your BS.

  • I sincerely doubt that Paul has deleted your post. That’s not his style. You may have him confused with the people whose boots you are licking in that regard.

    Sometimes these kinds of blogs have bugs in the software that messes up our posts sometimes. If you were concerned about being “censored” why didn’t you just repeat what you’d said in that last comment?

  • See, “Frank”, when you unspeakably corrupt & greedy bastards spend millions of bucks on smears, lies, dirty tricks and “black ops” to destroy people politically (& sometimes financially) and mess with their families in horrible ways, and when you use the clout of your man Tom Leath to have the cops give unwanted “police escorts” to your political enemies and accost and sometimes arrest them over nothing – and when you do all this in such a small town where everybody basically knows everybody – there ARE consequences.

    You are just now starting to feel some consequences. Buckle up, bud-roe. It’s gonna be a VERY bumpy ride.

  • Amy Carlton

    BOZ!!! You woke up. Did the nursing home staff finally give you access to a computer? Bless your little heart.

  • Frank Simons

    Boz, curious about one thing. Were you in the car when your political advisor Marion Foxworth hired the prostitute, or were YOU the prostitute?

  • LOL

    And a happy Easter to you as well, Amy.

    Is that your photo or some guy’s? Can’t tell much about it at that size. Can’t tell what’s going on in it either, but it has a sort of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” quality about it.

  • George James

    Aw Frank are you going to try and use that one again? You and your pals tried to take out Foxworth with those bogus charges four years ago and after he won the election the city had to drop the charges because there was no evidence. You must already be panicking over Mary Henry’s possibility of defeating Foxworth. Don’t blame you, I don’t think she can win either.
    Anyway, why not try and come up with some original, intelligent ideas to share. I know that would be straining your extremely limited mental capacity, but you got to do the best with what God gave you.

  • George is right, “Frank” (either Rice or Loftin, or maybe both of you taking turns) — that bogus charge never really caught on with anyone that has good sense. Of course, y’all do count on people not having good sense because you think you are the smartest guys in the room. We’ll see soon enough if you really are. I’m betting not. A bunch of arrogant, greedy goobers trying to play big-time machine politics in a very, very small town. Worse than Boss Hogg and his buffoon posse, actually.

    btw, speaking of cars and such: Given the “VIP” status routinely afforded certain high-placed and influential people in Horry County by the cops to let them off the hook on most things, what were the odds of someone as well-respected and even loved as Larry Biddle being arrested for DUI before even leaving his own driveway?

    It couldn’t have had anything to do with him having gone public with a complaint about how you guys had screwed up business for Jerry Cox Company’s gas station and virtually all of the businesses on the south end of MB and much of the county, could it?

    Or with Larry and his son being friends and supporters of a certain beloved and excellent coach y’all helped to hose so badly to bring in your fat-cat “vanity coach”?

    And speaking of driveways, what about the guy who hit those bikers and killed one of them after leaving David Brittain’s drunken party? He had a prior on something like that, right, at least a prior charge? Did you guys assist in any way with Hembree and others on the corrupt legal side of the “Myrtle Beach Mafia” letting that guy slide for that to this very day?

    And hey, Mike Wooten gonna get more high-profile again? Now THERE’S somebody you’ve kept in the background pretty much for a while, huh, sort of like Kelly, Greene, Dyer, et al? Some people I know remember how ol’ Mike made a big show of going around asking for donations for the infamous political pay-offs at various businesses in MB, in order to make it look like all the money was not coming from Brittain, then never really followed up coz it was just a show. But he’s been just quiet as a mouse since then. Clever of you? Not really. There are those who saw through that crap from day one.

    And btw, WHERE’S SHEP? Still got him holed up at the Dunes? Golden Boy Matt footing the bill now? You’ve managed to keep Shep away from the media, but what about the feds? Will he take the fall for all of you like he’s suppozed to? Do you really think they would even buy that, given all they know by now? Hmmmm?

    Say, why don’t you and I, or y’all and I, discuss these issues publicly some day soon? We could make it like a Town Hall event, and do it at Fuddruckers, and have the “Next Mayor of Myrtle Beach”, Counciman Gray, moderate. That would be big fun! We could charge for tickets I’ll bet, and give the money to charity, your choice of which one.

    What do you say? And ya don’t have a hair on your ass if you don’t!

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