Secrecy Surrounding MBREDC Projects

September 5, 2012 10:00 AMViews: 1572

Secrecy Surrounding MBREDC Projects Wearing Thin

Secrecy Surrounding MBREDC Projects Wearing Thin

By Paul Gable

Secrecy continuing to surround MBREDC projects in Horry County is starting to wear thin with some council members.

Two Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation projects took up most of the time during a meeting of Horry County Council Tuesday night. Of course, most of the discussion about Project Blue and Project AF took place behind closed doors in executive session, which is standard operating procedure for the EDC.

Council member Gary Loftus and council chairman Tom Rice tried to give excuses for the secret sessions, citing such things as the need to keep information secret in order to maintain a negotiating edge and council members were elected by the public to make these kinds of decisions.

However, not all council members agreed.

Council member Paul Price said, “We need to have as much sunshine on these projects as possible.”

Council member Jody Prince said, “It’s difficult to go back to my constituents and tell them I’m spending their money in the back room.”

John Bonsignor, addressing council during public input, said, “There must be some sunlight. The public has a right to know what is happening. By meeting behind closed doors, it doesn’t give a good feeling to me.”

The vote to go into executive session to discuss Project AF and Project Blue was 6-4 with Prince, Price, Harold Worley and Marion Foxworth voting no. Council members Paul Prince and Al Allen were absent from the meeting.

When council returned to public session, two ordinances relating to Project AF were approved in second reading by an 11-1 vote after a short public discussion about the project.

Worley was the lone dissenter. He explained his opposition by saying he does not support buying jobs. “If we’re going to give a tax break to this company, it’s an existing company in Horry County, we should give tax breaks to all businesses in the county,” Worley said. “It’s fundamentally wrong to buy jobs.”

According to information from EDC CEO Brad Lofton, Project AF will provide 79 new jobs in the county within 36 months. For that, it will receive a 50 percent reduction in property tax, a total of $600,000 across the 20 year span of the agreement.

How many companies in Horry County would like a $30,000 per year tax reduction for the next 20 years? How many deserve one just for the asking?

What was discussed about Project Blue behind closed doors was not mentioned in public. Prior to the executive session, Rice said negotiations were ongoing with Project Blue officials.

Project Blue was initially scheduled for third reading of an ordinance to approve county general obligation debt in the amount of $8 million as a portion of the overall $24 million of public funding being offered to project officials. This truly is an attempt to buy jobs as Worley said.

Why, if negotiations are ongoing, was third reading scheduled for Tuesday night’s council meeting until a revised agenda was issued at the end of the business day Friday eliminating Project Blue from the agenda?

The secrecy of Project Blue and the bum’s rush to get final council approval, even though there is no contract between Project Blue officials and AT&T for call center services, is definitely suspicious. Could it be the local connection?

Could the real reason for Project Blue’s secrecy be to keep hidden from the public the identity and number of the members on the EDC board who stand to gain financially from contracts on pieces of the project?

Another question would be how many of these EDC board members, who have the possibility of financial gain, are also significant contributors to the Tom Rice for Congress campaign? Have they also promised financial support in upcoming council elections in a de facto quid pro quo for approval of the project?

The talk on the street among the business community is not flattering for EDC members or council members due to perceptions that the public funds are being used to benefit a few favorites. All the continued secrecy does nothing to dispel these perceptions.

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19 Comments

  • Business as usual in Myrtle Beach……..

  • Gable Full of Crap

    Once again the laid off journalist proves he knows absolutely nothing about economic development. His head is so far up his butt that he has no clue the danger his ignorance does for the actual leaders in this community trying to get something accomplished. Paul, while you sit back an relax in the comfort of your AC, why don’t you try to tell those 1,000 people why you are working so hard to fight an opportunity for them to support their families? All of this over your hatred of Tom Rice and your paranoia that he might just notch a win? God forbid. You are pathetic and I understand now why you were fired.

  • It’s always good to hear the wit of Brad Lofton. This has nothing to do with hating Tom Rice. Actually, I would prefer him in Washington to remaining council chair. No Brad, this is about what is wrong with your attempts at economic development. The same pattern that got you fired from Effingham and Valdosta is being used here. Don’t you ever learn?

  • Gable Full of Crap

    Try again loser! Paul, thanks for agreeing that you are ignorant and way over your head. Suggest you fade back into the obscurity called your pitiful life and let the adults lead. You now want Tom in DC? Wow! After all you did to derail his campaign? So, now you prove yourself not only to be ignorant which we all have known for years, but also schizophrenic. That explains an awful lot.

  • Thank you for your comments, they are always so insightful. Yes, I want Tom in Washington. At least the damage he can do to the county will be limited that way. As chairman, he’s a disaster.

  • horry observer

    Glad to see the edc is following a long Horry County tradition – using public money for private gain. A new llc in town to funnel campaign contributions through. Just what we need and now ties between edc and coastal all pork (sorry uncorked). We’ll see how long this sick puppy lasts.

  • I Support Jobs

    When we have nearly 10% unemployment, Gable is lobbying against one of the largest job creation opportunities in the history of the County. I thought I had seen it all. I can understand why he fights Bike Week shenanigans, but this is not a game and people’s future is at stake. You would think that even Gable would be behind jobs. He claims he is in one breath and then does all he can here and behind the scenes to disrupt every single economic development project the EDC has worked to locate. The public needs to know who is responsible for jeopardizing this opportunity. Paul, please stick to politics and don’t try to wreck job creation. Unlike you, there are a lot of people that need work.

  • Other than Paul, I don’t know a single sole opposed to this project. All I am hearing is “when can they break ground?” Paul is a blow hard who hates everything. Carry on whoever is responsible for making this happen.

  • Brad, Using different identities doesn’t fool ISP identities. Just decide on one name to use and make all your comments under that one. I know you want to make it seem that many different people are making comments, but you can’t hide the ISP. Sorry about the computer age, but tracking is so much easier.

  • Mercury Rising

    Some of these comments seem to want to shoot the messenger rather than answering valid questions about the message. It might be easy to target Gable, but what about the rest of the electronic, broadcast and print media. It seems to me that the media are unanimous on their suspicions that this deal smells. Are they ALL wrong?

  • Gable, as usual, you got it wrong again, and if I were you, I’d be careful calling people out here and naming names when, as usual, you have no idea what you are talking about. Pretty lonely leading the anti jobs caucus, huh?

  • Another name same ISP. Love the e-mail address you gotta do better.

  • No one is trying to wreck economic development. What Mr. Gable and others are trying to do is get some light shown on the projects. Besides Frontier, what jobs have been created? I would not have a problem with the secrecy if the companies receiving incentives turned out to be what the EDC said they were. For example, AV2 was suppose to be manufacturing jobs, turns out it was not. It was said Blue was a fortune 100 company, and its just a company trying to get a contract with a fortune 100 company. Does it not bother you that repeatedly we are told we are getting one thing and it turns out to be another?

  • Fired From Myrtle Beach Herald

    I would take criticism from the washed up Paul Gable as a badge of honor. He hasn’t gotten anything right in years and was fired by the Herald despite how he attempts to spin his “early retirement” claim. He was against Tom Rice for Congress–Landslide Victory. Governor’s ethics case–proven to be a partisan joke. GSWSA witch hunt–They are doing business as usual. His family and his boyfriend Marion Foxworth are the only people that read this, and the remaining people in Horry County consider him a joke. Never forget that those that can…do, and those like Gable that can’t do anything other than complain and stand in the way….blog.

  • Wow! So many comments from supposedly different people, all saying the
    same things in the same posting style. Gable has the cPanel for the
    blog, though, and can see the IP. He’s indicated who is doing it. Why
    further embarrass yourself, BL? Another thing: There is a genuine world-class expert on call centers in the area. Perhaps he could have
    advised on this?
    What’s that you say? He shares a last name with a council member, but they don’t see eye to eye? Because he’s a what? He’s a biker? Uh-oh. But I’m guessing that whatever else he mignt say, he might agree with that other fellow’s assessment, and tell the chairman (who has the last name that rhymes with theirs) that he, too, would at this point advise: SUNSHINE.
    So … All together now … “LET THE SUN SHINE, LET THE SUN SHINE IN, THE SUN SHINE IN …”
    Hahahahahahaha! and VROOOOOM, VROOOOOOM!!!!!!!

  • There are actually two posters. This IP has much closer ties to Rice.

  • Gable Full of Crap

    Wow! Gable now publishes your ISP address if you disagree with him. What a hypocrite. First amendment only applies to those that support this moron which only applies to his immediate family. What a loser.

  • You must be a sick puppy, or a woman? maybe just one step away from being insane.

  • Thank you. Any derogatory comment from you is a compliment. Don’t exactly understand your 1st amendment comment, you have been free to make your rants. Actually we like it when a comment is authored in such a way it screams “I’m a blithering idiot and here’s written proof of it.”

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