Post Tagged with: "city elections"

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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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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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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Increased Crime, Poor Planning as Myrtle Beach City Elections Near

October 4, 2017 5:06 AM
Increased Crime, Poor Planning as Myrtle Beach City Elections Near

Five weeks remain before voting begins in the Myrtle Beach city council elections and it looks like the incumbents don’t want to face the public in other than a completely controlled environment.

Two years ago, we were told the city was safer than ever. There was an ad campaign complete with thousands of mailers claiming so. We know that claim was incorrect when it was made and things have only gotten worse since.

National crime statistics just came out showing Myrtle Beach had a double digit increase last year in violent crimes.

The recent shooting incident near Futrell Park puts an exclamation point on a situation which has been basically ignored by city officials.

Mayor John Rhodes recently blamed the iphone for hurting the image of the city by spreading negative pictures and comments about it. What Mayor Rhodes forgets is iphones and the people who use them can only show what is happening and comment on it. They do not create the incidents that are shown, at least not yet.

This is exactly the type of detached thinking and denial of what is happening that is hurting the city.

Or am I wrong? Was there really no shooting on Ocean Boulevard, or at Futrell Park? Was this just something an iphone made up and spread throughout the internet?

Eighteen months ago, Bennie Swans, Jon Bonsignor and Tim McCray went before city council to ask for help with problems around the Futrell Park area. They were basically called traitors and told their words would hurt tourism in the city.

However, a problem doesn’t go away when it is ignored. Maybe, if the city council had listened to rather than attacked what was being said, a young pregnant girl would not have been shot in a car last week killing her and her unborn baby.

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Storms Near as Myrtle Beach City Elections Filing Closes

September 8, 2017 9:01 AM
Storms Near as Myrtle Beach City Elections Filing Closes

It seems appropriate that filing closes for the upcoming Myrtle Beach city elections as the area awaits the possibility of tropical storm conditions.

This election cycle has already been stormy with more to come.

The incumbents running for reelection, Mayor John Rhodes and council members Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder, have received justified criticism of decisions made by council over the last several years.

I was looking back on stories from the election cycle two years ago. In one, I quoted an op-ed column by Mande Wilkes written three weeks before the 2015 election.

Wilkes criticized the “Asian fetish” of Myrtle Beach City Council while stifling local business investors with “the bizarre zoning laws, the oppressive signing ordinances, the climbing licensing fees, and the restrictive parking policies.”

“All of these rules add up to a suffocating environment for businesses, and that’s why Highway 17 is littered with empty storefronts and dilapidated buildings,” Wilkes wrote.

While the “Asian fetish” appears to be in the midst of a severe ‘crash and burn’, many of Wilkes’ other criticisms have not only not been addressed, but instead have been added to.

Shootings on Ocean Boulevard, indeed throughout the city, have been on the rise and city council responded with barricades along a section of Ocean Boulevard it apparently wants to redevelop.

The city surreptitiously bought up property in the Superblock area and, when it was exposed, threatened remaining private landholders with the use of eminent domain to acquire their properties.

The publicly stated reason for this land acquisition by the city – a new building for Chapin Memorial Library, a private-public partnership entity, and a new building for the totally private Children’s Museum.

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Changes Needed From City Elections

November 1, 2015 5:55 AM
Changes Needed From City Elections

City elections in three local municipalities could bring much needed changes to the way those communities work for their citizens.

Those three communities are Conway, Atlantic Beach and Myrtle Beach.

Below, we have highlighted the candidates we believe are most likely to bring new ideas that will lead to much needed positive change for those municipalities.

Conway

Mayor and three council seats up for election.
City council member Barbara Blain-Bellamy is continuing to build momentum in her attempt to unseat incumbent Mayor Alys Lawson.
Blain-Bellamy is well known to Conway voters. She has been elected to city council three times and has led the ticket each time. This is not an outsider attempting to unseat an incumbent mayor.

Blain-Bellamy’s message of finding new ways to ward off the influence of gangs and crime in Conway’s neighborhoods and listening to the concerns of citizens throughout the city highlight her message.

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Myrtle Beach Fantasyland

October 23, 2015 7:00 AM
Myrtle Beach Fantasyland

Fantasyland has arrived in Myrtle Beach.

No, it’s not a new attraction or theme park.

It’s the attitude and atmosphere that surrounds the biennial Myrtle Beach city elections.

Mayor John Rhodes (who is not up for reelection until 2017) stepped into the middle of this year’s election rhetoric a couple of nights ago at a Neighborhood Watch meeting at Market Common.

According to numerous sources at the meeting, Rhodes attacked non-incumbents running for the three city council seats in this year’s election cycle by claiming the challengers were lying to voters.

Rhodes said these challenger candidates were misleading citizens by claiming crime is an increasing problem in the city and using independent rating reports to substantiate their claims.

Rhodes referred to a city generated report which, reportedly, said crime is the lowest it’s been in the city since the city began keeping statistics 20 years ago.

According to Rhodes, crime in Myrtle Beach is at a 20-year low!

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Myrtle Beach City Election Runup

October 10, 2015 7:17 AM
Myrtle Beach City Election Runup

The Myrtle Beach city elections are just over three weeks away and the game of keep the incumbents in power is in full swing.

There were competing op-eds in local media recently between local writer Mande Wilkes and Myrtle Beach public information officer Mark Kruea that are of note in this election season.

The opinions expressed in the two columns demonstrate the current disconnect between Myrtle Beach city officials and the people who live and work in the city.

Wilkes criticized the “Asian fetish” of Myrtle Beach City Council while stifling local business investors with “the bizarre zoning laws, the oppressive signing ordinances, the climbing licensing fees, and the restrictive parking policies.”

“All of these rules add up to a suffocating environment for businesses, and that’s why Highway 17 is littered with empty storefronts and dilapidated buildings,” Wilkes wrote.

“I wonder if it’s common for a relatively small-town mayor to be paid to jetset across the globe,” Wilkes speculated.

We agree with Wilkes’ assessment. Myrtle Beach City Council ignores locals while looking for big hitters from abroad.

She stung council enough that an official response was deemed necessary.

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Myrtle Beach – A Tale of Two Cities

October 10, 2013 6:00 AM
Myrtle Beach – A Tale of Two Cities

Two neighborhood watch meetings in Myrtle Beach in recent days highlight the great divide that separates the city, according to several candidates in this year’s city election.

A meeting of the Withers Swash Neighborhood Crime Watch group was filled with complaints about three home invasions, one that included a rape of a woman with a gun, an armed robbery, drug deals in church parking lots, prostitution arrests and a shootout on Maple Street, among other incidents all in the last month.

To say the group attending the meetings was irate is to minimize the feelings in the room. However, being on the south end of the city, the neighbors are used to serious crime and minimal police presence.

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Myrtle Beach Government Fit for Middle Ages

August 25, 2013 8:00 AM
Myrtle Beach Government Fit for Middle Ages

As Myrtle Beach prepares for its 2013 city council elections, the city continues its regressive governance slide to more closely resemble an English town of the Middle Ages rather than a modern American town.

Four incumbents on Myrtle Beach city council filed for re-election last week. Incumbent Mayor John Rhodes was joined by incumbent council members Wayne Gray, Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder at city hall on August 22nd to file their candidacies.

Rhodes is seeking his third consecutive term, Wallace his fourth consecutive, Gray his fourth overall and Lowder his second.

And right now, those four plus challenger Keith Van Winkle may be the complete slate sent to the voters in the November 5th general election.

There was a time when Myrtle Beach elections were raucous affairs, but in the last decade, the town has gone back in time to match a more rigid, hierarchical structure.

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