Post Tagged with: "Cam Crawford"

Eldridge and His Band of Followers

March 13, 2019 3:52 AM
Eldridge and His Band of Followers

It has been one week since six members of Horry County Council blindly followed the lead of administrator Chris Eldridge with the story pitched by Eldridge about how and why he called for a SLED investigation with false allegations against Chairman Johnny Gardner.

Last week’s farce seemed more like River City than Horry County with Eldridge playing the part of Harold Hill.

But that is exactly what happens when council members are unwilling to ask questions of the administrator about his story or give more than a cursory glance at the SLED report and the tape recording at its center.

Prior to a November 30, 2018 lunch meeting between Gardner, Luke Barefoot and Sandy Davis and Sherri Steele of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Eldridge already had his narrative established of what would be told to SLED 20 days later.

This is obvious from the sworn statements given to SLED investigators by Eldridge and Davis. Almost immediately after the lunch meeting ended, Eldridge peppered Davis with specific questions about Donald Smith, supposed stories that were supposed to be written by me, payments to the Beach Ball Classic and a statement by Eldridge about funneling money to Smith.

Eldridge told SLED Davis was “upset” after the meeting. Davis told SLED the meeting went well and EDC board chairman Neyle Wilson said Davis said the same to him and his interpretation of the meeting was quite the opposite of that of Eldridge.

Nineteen days after the meeting, Eldridge, attorney Arrigo Carotti, council members Mark Lazarus and Gary Loftus, Wilson, Davis, Steele and Fred Richardson of the EDC listened to the portion of the recording of the meeting that was pertinent to Eldridge’s false allegations.

According to Davis and Wilson, Eldridge was the only member of the group that “thought he heard something” on the tape to support his allegations. The others said there was nothing there.

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A New Emphasis on Public Safety in Horry County?

February 7, 2019 4:43 AM
A New Emphasis on Public Safety in Horry County?

Throughout his campaign for election last year, Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner pledged “Public Safety Priority One, Day One.”

By the time Gardner decided to run for chairman last March, county employees in general and public safety personnel in particular were suffering under low pay and demanding working conditions due to understaffing.

These conditions had been allowed to go on under the administration of former chairman Mark Lazarus and county administrator Chris Eldridge. The cry was always that there wasn’t enough money to hire more people or give current employees much in the way of raises.

Recognizing the particular frustrations of public safety employees, the first responders that are most needed when problems arise, Gardner coined his campaign phrase, not as something to say to get elected, but rather as something to do after he was elected.

Now, less than two months into his term of office, it appears that a majority of council members have bought into that philosophy.

Council members Harold Worley and Al Allen,  two of the more senior members of council, have long advocated for better pay and increased staffing for public safety, but they operated as voices in the wilderness as Lazarus, Eldridge and other senior county staff consistently cried ‘no money, no money.’

Current Public Safety Committee Chairman Danny Hardee joined the ‘wilderness chorus’ when he was elected to council two years ago, but it was still only three council members with the remaining nine basically buying into staff propaganda.

However, the situation appeared to change at the regular meeting of council earlier this week when council members Cam Crawford, Dennis DiSabato, Tyler Servant and newly elected Orton Bellamy voiced support for a new study on pay and staffing for public safety personnel.

These are heartening additions as there now is a possibility of at least eight votes supporting proper pay and staffing for public safety.

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Worley Attempting to Lead Insurrection Against Chairman Gardner -UPDATED

January 9, 2019 8:16 PM
Worley Attempting to Lead Insurrection Against Chairman Gardner -UPDATED

Based on his actions over the past six days, it appears Horry County Council member Harold Worley is attempting to lead an insurrection against new council chairman Johnny Gardner.

It began last Friday when Worley appeared determined to avoid having council discuss recent actions by County Administrator Chris Eldridge designed to smear Gardner before he had even assumed office.

This included an interpretation by County Attorney Arrigo Carotti of state law regarding requirements for removing the administrator that three attorneys I have consulted say was a complete misinterpretation of the law.

According to an email chain provided to GSD, Worley has succeeded in enlisting four additional council members, Tyler Servant, Cam Crawford, Bill Howard and Gary Loftus into what I will call the Gang of Five in a new attempt aimed at embarrassing and marginalizing the new chairman.

Those same four supported Worley’s antics last Friday to suppress discussion of the administrator’s actions in embarrassing the county.

This new attempt regards a change in seating arrangement on the council dais that Gardner has called for. The arrangement is numerical which Gardner believes will make it easier for meeting attendees and home viewers to identify their particular district member.

On the surface, this looks like a completely ridiculous division to have.

With the real problems in the county, public safety shortages, infrastructure, storm water and so on, the most pressing issue to five council members is where they sit on the dais?

But is it really about where members sit?

I have been told by business people in the county since last Friday that the Dunes Club Crowd is not happy with Gardner in the chairman’s seat. Worley has long positioned himself as a champion of the people against that crowd, but I wonder.

What is most interesting here is the Gang of Five all represent council districts totally or substantially east of the waterway and all five live east of the waterway.

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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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County Council Breaks Budget Promise to Treasurer

June 21, 2018 3:32 AM
County Council Breaks Budget Promise to Treasurer

When Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones agreed to drop her lawsuit against Horry County Government last month, there was an unwritten understanding that county council would include funding needs for her department in the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Now that understanding not only remains unwritten, but also remains unpassed.

During its third reading of the Horry County budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 Tuesday night, council defeated, by a 6-6 vote, an amendment including budget enhancements for the Treasurer’s department. The budget amendment also called for additions in the $40,000 range each for the Clerk of Courts, Veterans Affairs and Voter Registration budgets.

Council member Johnny Vaught introduced the amendment, seconded by council member Harold Worley. Council chairman Mark Lazarus spoke strongly in its favor.

According to discussions of the amendment by council members, Jones identified revenue additions and/or savings in the amount of $123,000 for the coming fiscal year. Her request for budget enhancements would have only cost the county $111,000.

Additionally, one position provided in the enhancements would have gone to collection of the nearly $88 million in unpaid property taxes that are owed to the county.

In other words, the county would have made more money from voting for the enhancements than it saves by not voting for them.

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Johnny Gardner’s Campaign Message Spurs County Council Discussion

June 20, 2018 2:03 AM
Johnny Gardner’s Campaign Message Spurs County Council Discussion

One week after defeating incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman, Johnny Gardner’s campaign message is already driving council discussions.

Throughout his campaign Gardner spoke of putting “Public Safety First” and charging fees on new development to help pay for the impact it causes on county goods and services.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, council approved two resolutions directly tied to those issues.

By an 11-1 margin, council member Tyler Servant opposing, council approved a resolution to encourage the South Carolina General Assembly to amend the current state Impact Fee law to make it more user friendly for local governments struggling to meet the costs associated with new development.

Later in the meeting, Servant introduced a resolution to instruct staff to bring back to council a proposed advisory referendum question to address raising tax millage to fund increased salaries and additional personnel for police and fire/rescue departments as well as an additional police precinct for Carolina Forest.

After discussion, it was agreed to split the issue into two referendum questions, one for police and rescue personnel and another for fire, because of the different ways in which police and rescue personnel are funded in the budget from that used to fund fire personnel.

County Administrator Chris Eldridge was instructed to meet with the the Police and Fire/Rescue chiefs to determine the increased needs in their respective departments to fully meet the county’s public safety requirements.

Council must approve referendum questions by the end of July in order to meet the August 15th deadline to have them included on the November 2018 general election ballot.

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Changing the Guard in Horry County Republican Politics

March 28, 2016 5:04 AM
Changing the Guard in Horry County Republican Politics

We are seeing a changing of the guard in Republican politics in Horry County. The last election cycle brought some new faces to the fore as some of our older incumbents chose to retire.

That trend is continuing in 2016.

I asked my good friend and former television partner John Bonsignor to help me produce eight thumbnail sketches of some up and coming office holders and candidates in the Republican Party.

The Republican party is beginning to welcome with open arms, into the political arena, young, talented, and desirable new faces to replace their old guard. As many of the elected old timers, having been in office for many years, feel it’s time to move on and give way to the new blood of talented candidates coming up.

Jeff Johnson – completing his first term as representative for SC House District 58, Johnson has consistently supported small government, conservative issues. He is a strong believer in family values and believes the state has an obligation to maintain its existing infrastructure that is so vital to small business.

Heather Ammons Crawford – finishing her second full term as representative for SC House District 68, fiscal responsibility, pro life and second amendment issues are at the top of her goals. Ammons Crawford is also South Carolina National Committeewoman for the Young Republican National Federation engaging young people across the country.

Russell Fry – our newest representative to the SC House, he has served SC House District 106 since winning a special election to fill an unexpired term last fall. Fry’s goals are working for a “prosperous South Carolina for our kids, ensuring they got a good education and a strong foundation.”

Tyler Servant – representing Horry County Council District 5 since January 2015, Servant seeks to bring new and innovative thinking to Horry County Council including waste cutting plans. He looks hard at road improvements needed in District 5 and has been successful in acquiring a federal grant for beach renourishment on the South Strand.

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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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Cam Crawford Newest Horry County Council Member

August 5, 2015 5:28 AM
Cam Crawford Newest Horry County Council Member

Cam Crawford swept through the special general election for Horry County Council District 6 Tuesday.

Crawford, who was unopposed on the ballot, gathered 240 of the 250 votes cast.

Rumors of a write-in campaign to challenge Crawford did not pan out as only eight write-in votes were cast.

Crawford can now be sworn into office in time to attend the next scheduled Horry County Council meeting on August 18, 2015.

This election brings council back to full strength, at least for the time being.

In other local election news, Republican runoff candidates Russell Fry and Tyler Servant are scheduled to face off in a debate Thursday August 6, 2015.

Fry and Servant will be opposing each other in a special Republican primary runoff election net Tuesday, August 11, 2015, to see who will be the Republican nominee in the SC House District 106 special general election scheduled for September 15, 2015.

Fry led the first round of primary voting last week with 1,152 votes to 851 votes for Servant who finished second. The winner of the runoff election will be the only name on the special general election ballot as there are no Democratic candidates in the race.

The South Strand Republican Club will be hosting tomorrow’s debate. It will be held at the Horry County Recreation Center in the South Strand government complex on Scipio Lane.

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Vote Tomorrow Horry County Council District 6

August 3, 2015 4:13 AM
Vote Tomorrow Horry County Council District 6

By Paul Gable
Vote tomorrow, August 4, 2015, in the special general election for Horry County Council District 6.

Republican Cam Crawford will be the only name on the ballot.

Crawford turned back five other candidates in the special primary election just over a month ago. The Democratic Party did not have any candidates file for this seat.

The citizens of Horry County Council District 6 have had no representation on county council since the death of Bob Grabowski in late March 2015.

In the interim, Horry County Council passed the largest tax increase in a generation in a series of 6-5 votes.

Nothing highlights the need of every district to be represented than those votes.

Even though Crawford’s will be the only name on the ballot, a write-in candidacy is always a possibility. It is important to make your voice heard through the ballot box.

This summer has been an extraordinary time for special elections in the southern end of Horry County.

Last week, Russell Fry and Tyler Servant finished one and two, respectively, in a special Republican Primary for SC House District 106. Next week will see the primary runoff election between these two candidates.

Again, the Democratic Party has no candidates in the SC House District 106 race.

Some areas of these two districts overlap, leaving voters in those precincts the opportunity to vote in both elections.

I know the Dog Days of Summer are a difficult time to get out and get around the Grand Strand as the height (and heat) of the tourist season is still upon us. However, it is important we have as many voters turn out as possible for these important elections.

So please get out and vote.

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