Post Tagged with: "Al Allen"

Horry County Council and the 2nd Amendment

February 18, 2017 5:00 AM
Horry County Council and the 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment and the issue of firing weapons in close proximity to other people’s residences will again be discussed at the Horry County Council regular meeting Tuesday night.

It’s been nearly five years since Horry County Council decided not to vote on an ordinance that would restrict gun usage on private property in close proximity to residences.

At that time, the ‘Duck Dynasty crowd’, in full camouflage, packed council chambers to protest any restriction on their perceived 2nd Amendment rights with respect to where they could fire their guns in the unincorporated areas of the county.

In the interim, nothing has changed.

It would seem to be a matter of common sense that a person wouldn’t discharge a gun so that the bullets end up in a neighbor’s yard, especially if the neighbor is standing in his yard. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Horry County.

As I recall the discussion last time, wasn’t about where the gun was discharged, but, rather, about where the projectile could land that was considered being restricted. And that discussion didn’t even get to first reading of an ordinance.

There is no law in Horry County prohibiting discharge of firearms within a certain proximity of residences, according to county attorney Arrigo Carotti.

This issue has again been brewing in the county for the last year. In the interim:

Council chairman Mark Lazarus said we need to have a discussion (about the problem).

“As the county has grown and more and more housing developments have taken place in the unincorporated areas, protecting your 2nd Amendment rights, protecting hunters and everything else, we need to look and see, we need to protect the people living in their houses also and in the neighborhoods,” Lazarus said.

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Community Violence Subcommittee Update

April 13, 2016 8:16 AM
Community Violence Subcommittee Update

The Community Violence Subcommittee was given specific goals and objectives earlier this week by Al Allen, Chairman of the Horry County Public Safety Committee.

Allen told the committee that he had been too vague when he first appointed the subcommittee and he wanted to clarify its mission.

Allen named the following six persons as committee members: council member Jimmy Washington, chairman, school board member Holly Heniford, vice chairman, Rev. George Payton, spokesperson, HCPD Chief Saundra Rhodes or designee, HC Sheriff Chief Deputy Tom Fox or designee and Van Washington, community leader.

These six members are charged with meeting once a month at the county council conference room where meetings will be broadcast, livestreamed and taped.

In addition, Allen requested subcommittee members to identify the causes and influences that lead to violence in the community as well as visit with all public, private and church groups presently operating to reduce violence and crime in Horry County to rank their effectiveness.

Allen tasked the subcommittee with making a progress report to the Public Safety Committee in September 2016 and to be prepared to present a final report with findings and recommendations to full council in early 2017.

The subcommittee evolved from a request by community activist Benny Swans to the Public Safety Committee.

Swans asked the committee to help in establishing a series of community forums open to all citizens where problems, concerns, and eyewitness accounts of violence could be heard as well as discussions about possible solutions to the growing problem of violent personal and property crimes throughout the county.

Swans stressed the high murder rates, especially among young people, that have occurred in the last several years. Swans stressed that this effort was important to help save the lives of our children.

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Countering Gang Activity in Horry County

March 24, 2016 7:02 AM
Countering Gang Activity in Horry County

The Horry County Public Safety Committee heard a report on gang activity within the county from Lynn Baker, HCPD’s gang intelligence specialist.

According to Baker’s report, at least nine of the 19 murders in the county area last year were gang related and gangs are the cause of many of the 88 shooting and more than 1,000 shots fired calls HCPD responded to.

Baker said a number of gangs are already operating in Horry County and they pose a danger to our neighborhoods.

But, it takes more than just police monitoring and response to counter the growth of gangs in the county. Since she was first hired in 2013, Baker has been telling groups throughout the county that gang activity can be countered by efforts within communities.

Public Safety Committee chairman Al Allen understands the need for a community wide effort to counter the growth of illegal gang activity. That is why Allen appointed a special sub-committee co-chaired by Horry County Council member Jimmy Washington and Horry County School Board member Holly Heniford to investigate means to counter violence in communities within the county.

The sub-committee held its organizational meeting last week and, in the coming months, will hold a series of community meetings throughout the county where it will solicit information from local citizens about problems they have with violence in their respective neighborhoods.

The desired end product from these meetings is a report that will provide a broad based blueprint for reducing violence within our communities. The blueprint will include not only police, but also community leaders, organizations and citizens who work together with local officials and agencies to counter the root causes of violence and lawlessness.

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Sub Committee to Reduce Violence in the Community

February 17, 2016 5:05 AM
Sub Committee to Reduce Violence in the Community

(Above Photo Bennie Swans)

Horry County Public Safety Committee Chairman Al Allen appointed a special sub-committee to study ways to reduce violence in Horry County communities.

Allen appointed the committee after a presentation to the Public Safety Committee by local community activist Bennie Swans.

Swans asked the committee to help in establishing a series of community forums open to all citizens where problems, concerns, and eyewitness accounts of violence could be heard as well as discussions about possible solutions to the growing problem of violent personal and property crimes throughout the county.

Swans stressed the high murder rates, especially among young people, that have occurred in the last several years. Swans stressed that this effort was important to help save the lives of our children.

Swans called for a collaborative, coordinated, communicative effort from all segments of the population to help solve the problem. Swans stressed that this was important to help save the lives of our children.

The presentation was essentially the same as the one that drew such a negative response from Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes last week.

Allen, longtime Public Safety Committee chairman for Horry County Council, was much more receptive to Swans’ request and eager to attempt something new to bring citizens to forums where problems and solutions can be discussed openly.

Allen appointed District 3 council member Jimmy Washington as chairman and District 1 school board member Holly Heniford as co-chair. Allen asked for a representative from Horry County Police Department and a representative from J. Reuben Long Detention Center to be included on the sub-committee as well as members of the public.

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Council Nixes HCSWA – Charleston County Contract

September 2, 2015 5:00 AM
Council Nixes HCSWA – Charleston County Contract

Horry County Council failed to pass second reading of a budget amendment that is required for the HCSWA to take recyclables from Charleston County.

A budget amendment requires an absolute super majority vote of council, nine “Yes” votes, in order to pass.

The amendment received a vote of 7-4. A vote of 9-2 was required to pass second reading. Horry County Council District 3 is without a member pending a special election this fall to replace Marion Foxworth who resigned after the August 18th council meeting to accept the Registrar of Deeds job.

Without a budget amendment approved by county council, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority has no authority to contract with Charleston County to take recyclables from Charleston County.

But, the HCSWA already has signed that contract and has been processing recyclables from Charleston County since late July.

And, it’s not the contract itself that caused four council members to vote against the budget amendment Tuesday night.

Rather, it’s the process, or lack of it, that the HCSWA used to come to an agreement with Charleston County in the first place.

According to past statements by several HCSWA officials, Charleston County first approached the HCSWA in late May 2015 about taking recyclables for processing at the HCSWA material recovery facility on Hwy 90.

At that point, the HCSWA should have informed Horry County Council what was being discussed and the ramifications for the HCSWA budget, which is part of the overall county budget approved by council.

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HCSWA Recycling Contract Hits Bumps

August 20, 2015 5:00 AM
HCSWA Recycling Contract Hits Bumps

Questions arose about the recycling contract the HCSWA has signed with Charleston County during the regular meeting of Horry County Council Tuesday.

Council was considering first reading of a budget amendment ordinance to provide a means to amend the budget for recycling contracts entered into by the HCSWA. A budget amendment ordinance requires a super majority of nine “Yes” votes to pass, according to council rules.

The first reading passed with the minimum of nine “Yes” votes, but not before being subjected to some tough questioning especially by council member Al Allen.

Allen’s major concerns were in two areas – why council had not been provided with a copy of the HCSWA/Charleston County contract prior to first reading of the ordinance and why the HCSWA was flip-flopping on the issue of bringing waste into the county.

“I don’t want to have to vote for a contract in order to find out what’s in it,” Allen said. “I want to be able to read and study the contract before I vote on it.”

Council members received a copy of the HCSWA/Charleston County contract during the first reading discussion from county attorney Arrigo Carotti.

Allen referred back to the county’s flow control ordinance and discussed how, in his opinion, the HCSWA has switched positions on taking garbage in from out of county sources.

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No Extortion on International Drive

August 18, 2015 9:09 PM
No Extortion on International Drive

Horry County Council gave a resounding NO to the possibility of giving any money to The Nature Conservancy for extra mitigation on International Drive.

The new request came up during a meeting between Horry County officials and representatives from the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation.

Essentially what was asked for was the county to pay The Nature Conservancy approximately $1.6 million so that agency could purchase land to be used ostensibly for wildlife preservation.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus ended the meeting after the new demand was made.

Lazarus reported on the International Drive project during the regular council meeting Tuesday night. He said he wasn’t going to give money from the taxpayers of Horry County to a private nonprofit organization so it could buy land.

It is probably not something that could legally be done either. International Drive is one of the projects paid for by the one cent local option sales tax (Ride II).

Ride II was approved by referendum of county voters in 2006. At that time, each project with the anticipated expenses associated with it was listed in the referendum. The county has already paid for the mitigation credits required by the US Army Corps of Engineers and SCDHEC for the project.

To expend extra dollars just to please conservation groups for land that is neither associated with the project nor required for mitigation certainly seems to be in conflict with state law on capital projects sales tax.

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Horry County Council Budget Resolutions

July 7, 2015 6:30 AM
Horry County Council Budget Resolutions

Horry County Council will consider two resolutions at its meeting tonight to complete this fiscal year’s budget process.

The resolutions will be to approve funding agreements with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation for two years and with Coast RTA for one year.

These votes will be the final acts of contempt toward county taxpayers in a budget year that brings the largest property tax increase in a generation.

Led by the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ (Mark Lazarus, Al Allen, Johnny Vaught, Gary Loftus and Bill Howard), Horry County Council chose to raise property taxes by 7.2 mils ($13.5 million) without even considering during budget considerations whether funding should be cut for the MBREDC and Coast RTA.

Of course, MBREDC and Coast RTA funding weren’t the only possible savings in a $130 million general fund budget that could have been looked at.

It was just easier for the Republican ‘Gang of Five’ to raise taxes than to go through the details of the budget.

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Horry County Council Budget Failures

June 23, 2015 5:00 AM
Horry County Council Budget Failures

The latest development at MBREDC indicates how casually Horry County Council approached raising taxes this year.

Jim Moore, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, resigned from that agency Monday.

Moore came to MBREDC only six months ago after the three plus year dismal reign of Brad Lofton. During the four year period represented by these two, MBREDC allegedly reorganized itself with a new approach to attracting jobs to Horry County.

Neither Moore nor Lofton was any more successful in economic development recruitment than the former iteration of MBREDC or Partners Economic Development Corporation before it.

The difference is the current four year MBREDC 2.0 has been receiving serious funding from Horry County Council, between $1.3 million to $1.8 million per year of taxpayer dollars, with little to nothing to show for it.

Think of AvCraft, Project Blue and PTR Industries as the poster children of MBREDC efforts.

Over the past five county budget cycles, MBREDC has received at least $7.5 million from Horry County Council to fund its few employees and other operational costs.

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Horry County Council Tax Explosion

June 17, 2015 7:00 AM
Horry County Council Tax Explosion

It is now official, the tax and spend Republicans on Horry County Council passed the largest tax increase in a generation last night.

Nothing changed from the budget that passed at second reading. There will be a countywide tax increase of 7.2 mils more for the general fund. The countywide road fee increased from $30 to $50 per vehicle and county building permit fees increased.

The Republican “Gang of Five” who voted to increase taxes consists of chairman Mark Lazarus, and council members Al Allen, Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard and Gary Loftus. Democrat James Frazier made the sixth vote in the 6-5 decision.

Of the six members who voted for it, five (all but Loftus) were elected to their current terms in November 2014, so it will be over three years before they have to face the voters for reelection. There is speculation Loftus may not be planning to run again so his term ending next year may not matter in having to answer for being a tax and spender.

Despite campaign pledges to “oppose new taxes”, “keep property taxes low”, “listen to the taxpayers” and support TEA Party goals, Lazarus, Vaught, Howard and Allen (respectively) make the term conservative Republican virtually extinct in Horry County and, in their particular cases, an oxymoron.

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