Post Tagged with: "Horry County Council"

County Council Keeps Mask Mandate Despite Inability to Enforce

September 16, 2020 9:32 AM
County Council Keeps Mask Mandate Despite Inability to Enforce

By a vote of 7-5, Horry County Council refused to cancel its emergency ordinance, maintaining mask mandates in the unincorporated areas.

Those voting to keep the mask mandate in place were the Deep Six (Dennis DiSabato, Harold Worley, Bill Howard, Gary Loftus, Tyler Servant and Cam Crawford) plus Orton Bellamy (who seems to be drinking more and more of the Kool Aid).

From the discussion by those voting to keep the ordinance in place, Howard, DiSabato and Loftus, it was obvious requiring masks to be worn is not about keeping the public safe. Rather it is about keeping the tourists coming, if possible. Howard said as much during his comments.

Loftus had nothing to add from himself. Instead he read a Facebook post that had been sent to him.

DiSabato attempted to give a history lesson about the smallpox and the Continental Army and a 1793 Yellow Fever breakout in Philadelphia. He told about George Washington requiring his subordinate officers to be inoculated against smallpox. Having never served in uniform, DiSabato probably doesn’t understand that an order from a commanding general has very different authority than a mask mandate from a local government.

As for the yellow fever outbreak, the local authorities in Philadelphia attempted to take some measures in line with the medicine of that time, but the federal government, of which Philadelphia was the capital at that time, had no authority to establish quarantines and the like and did not try to do so.

One other point about the 1793 outbreak – banks extended outstanding notes of businesses until the end of the outbreak with no penalty. Businesses today are suffering from the many demands on their credit, cash flow and employees while being forced into reduced business revenues as a result of the mask and social distancing mandates.

In short, their arguments were all designed to keep the county in line with city mandates, especially Myrtle Beach, to give the appearance that the area is safe for tourists. The Deep Six do as they are told by the Myrtle Beach cabal and Chamber.

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County Council Refused to Discuss Extension of Emergency Ordinance

September 4, 2020 5:08 AM
County Council Refused to Discuss Extension of Emergency Ordinance

Using a parliamentary ruse that was erroneous, a majority of Horry County Council voted to have no discussion before extending, for 60 more days, the emergency ordinance controlling countywide requirements and restrictions with respect to the ongoing Covid 19 situation.

Council member Al Allen requested the item calling for an extension of the emergency ordinance be moved from the consent agenda, where there is no discussion on any item before a vote, to a discussion item, where discussion of the extension would have occurred before a vote.

Immediately upon Allen making the request the ruse began. Council member Dennis DiSabato called a point of order stating that changing the agenda in such a matter requires a two-thirds majority vote of council.

County attorney Arrigo Carotti, who also acts as council’s parliamentarian, confirmed to council that this was a requirement.

Subsequent to Carotti’s input, a vote was held in which a motion to move the item to discussion failed by a 5-7 vote with the Deep Six (DiSabato, Harold Worley, Bill Howard, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus and Tyler Servant) plus Orton Bellamy voting no.

The entire episode appeared to be orchestrated. I don’t believe DiSabato is sharp enough to come up with the objection he raised on his own and Carotti was too quickly on his feet to support DiSabato’s objection.

Orchestrated or not, voting on any council member’s request to move an item from the consent agenda to the regular, or discussion, agenda is counter to over 20 years of precedent on the council dais.

I have covered many county council meetings in the last two decades since the use of a consent agenda came into being under Chad Prosser’s term as chairman. Prosser initiated the consent agenda to accommodate the many rezoning requests of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s by not having each read and considered separately when the reading did not require public review.

Numerous times over that span, a council member has requested an item be moved from consent agenda to a discussion item. The move was always made by the chairman without a vote. I cannot recall one instance in which the change was even questioned.

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Developers Win Primary Elections While Flooding Continues

June 17, 2020 8:48 AM
Developers Win Primary Elections While Flooding Continues

Recent stories in local news media about homeowners in Socastee asking county council to find solutions to flooding problems in their neighborhoods highlights the effects that will be felt from the results of the recent primary elections for county council and the General Assembly.

The story initially said the station tried to contact Horry County councilman Cam Crawford and he didn’t return calls. Later it was updated to say Crawford would have more to say in four days on the flooding issues.

Crawford did give a statement after a second story appeared in which Socastee homeowners announced a protest scheduled for July 6, 2020 at 8 a.m. in front of the Horry County Courthouse.

Crawford’s statement said he worked with the Department of Natural Resources and the Coast Guard to establish a no wake zone on the Intracoastal Waterway. Crawford also mentioned that the county expected to receive some money from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to assist in buyouts of flooded homes. Apparently Crawford does not know wake reduction is an erosion control method not a flood control one.

What he did not say is the amount allotted to South Carolina is approximately $157 million to be split among 30 affected counties. Of that amount, approximately $35 million is targeted for home buyouts, again to be apportioned among 30 counties. The home buyouts will be based on a scale in which low income, disabled and other economically disadvantaged families will get preference.

What Crawford also did not say is that the buyout program requires a local match and the county would have to assume new debt to participate in it since the state government was not willing to provide any money in the form of grants from its at least $1.5 billion excess revenue it expects this year.

During Cam’s recent reelection campaign, a mailer was sent out supporting Cam’s reelection with a statement by Tom Mulliken, Chairman of the South Carolina Floodwater Commission. The commission was appointed by Gov. Henry McMaster after Hurricane Florence. Both Cam and his wife, Rep. Heather Crawford have touted their work with the commission as proof they are working on flooding.

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Uneasy Lie the Heads that Wear Incumbency – First Week of Candidate Filing

March 24, 2020 7:15 AM
Uneasy Lie the Heads that Wear Incumbency – First Week of Candidate Filing

The coronavirus has not stopped this year’s candidate filing in Horry County from being the most active filing period in the county for many years.

Grand Strand Daily is tracking 22 local races for county offices or local representatives or senators to the General Assembly.

After the first week of filing, which ended yesterday, there are currently 13 contested races of the 22 being tracked and at least two more county council candidates will probably have opposition before filing closes next Monday. If the expected two challengers file in council districts 3 and 4, all five county council seats up for election in this cycle will be contested and all will be Republican primary contests.

One incumbent council member, Paul Prince in District 9, is retiring and four candidates, including Prince’s son, are contesting the Republican primary for that seat. The other four incumbent council members up for reelection are Cam Crawford and Danny Hardee, who already have opponents filed to challenge them and Dennis DiSabato and Gary Loftus, who are expected to have opponents by the end of filing.

The main reason county council is drawing so much attention is a feeling among voters that incumbent council members are only listening to the development community that funds their campaigns and voters’ concerns about flooding and rapid development are being ignored. (See the image at the end of this post, which has been making its way around Facebook, with the heads of the four incumbents inserted).

On the state level, voters are tired of being donors to the rest of the state while road and flooding problems in particular are not being addressed and most incumbents are content with sound bites and photo ops rather than trying to address solutions.

Four incumbents who, I believe, will face particularly serious challenges are state Reps. Alan Clemmons and Heather Ammons Crawford, Sen. Luke Rankin and county council member Cam Crawford. They are being opposed by Case Brittain, Mark Epps, John Gallman and Jeremy Halpin, respectively.

If the expected challengers emerge against DiSabato and Loftus, those races will be hotly contested also.

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Crawford’s Posturing Increases in District 6 Council Race

March 13, 2020 9:20 AM
Crawford’s Posturing Increases in District 6 Council Race

Filing for candidacy does not open until Monday, but incumbent county council member for District 6. Cam Crawford, has already ratcheted up posturing of alleged actions to help his constituents.

Known for rarely speaking on any topic during council discussions, Crawford recently posted on his reelection Facebook page about his “primary flood mitigation objectives” and the “talks” he allegedly has ongoing with “relevant officials” about possible construction of a dam on the Pee Dee River to generate electricity and help mitigate flooding.

Sounds impressive until you drill down into the statements a bit.

Crawford’s grand plan to mitigate flooding is to apply county stormwater requirements to developments of 10 units or less. They already apply to larger development sub-divisions.

County council is asked to approve rezoning on very few sub-divisions of the 10 unit or less size. According to sources familiar with these requests, most fall into the category of family land being sub-divided so children can own the property on which they intend to build a house.

Stormwater runoff from large sub-divisions is a problem in the county but requiring stormwater mitigation for John Doe’s son or daughter to build a house on a couple of acres of land they are being given is not going to solve it.

The engineers and developers involved in large sub-divisions are among Crawford’s campaign chest donors so applying more restrictions to them is apparently out of the question. Pick on the little guy.

As for the dam, the river flows in generally flat land much of it outside of Horry County. Technically, the height of the dam and size of the reservoir needed to generate enough water pressure to turn the turbines to generate enough electricity to make this a viable project is probably nothing more than a fanciful concept.

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Myrtle Beach’s Problem with the Truth about I-73 Funding

February 11, 2020 4:47 AM
Myrtle Beach’s Problem with the Truth about I-73 Funding

Myrtle Beach city government just can’t keep itself from spinning stories in an attempt to make itself look good while hiding the truth from the public.

The following post, which appeared on the city government Facebook page yesterday, is a perfect example of the city’s spin:

“The City of Myrtle Beach supports I-73…

“The Myrtle Beach City Council is on the record as supporting I-73. Twice in the past year, City Council has approved resolutions expressing its support for I-73. In April 2019, Council publicly stated that it would devote financial resources to I-73 once the Hospitality Fee issue was resolved. Myrtle Beach has demonstrated its commitment to I-73. Question: Has the Horry County Council voted publicly to support I-73?”

The day Myrtle Beach filed suit against Horry County to stop countywide collection of the 1.5% Hospitality Fee, the local revenue stream for funding I-73 dried up.

The above post says in April 2019 Myrtle Beach city council approved a resolution expressing support for I-73. The resolution was passed after city council refused a settlement offer for the Hospitality Fee lawsuit from county council that provided funding for I-73.

The county’s settlement offer would have designated one-third of the revenue from countywide collection of the 1.5% Hospitality Fee to fund I-73 with the remaining two-thirds of the revenue collected within the city limits being transferred back to the city for use as city council determined.

The following is an extract from a letter Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune wrote to county Chairman Johnny Gardner rejecting the settlement offer:

“Thank you for your letter of April 3. As you are aware, the Myrtle Beach City Council has expressed its willingness to commit support for the I-73 project. However, since the proposed funding source is the subject of litigation, we are unable to engage in negotiations under the terms described in your letter and related attachments.

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Myrtle Beach Council Back at Work But No Hospitality Fee Settlement

January 28, 2020 8:28 AM
Myrtle Beach Council Back at Work But No Hospitality Fee Settlement

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune announced that the city council is ‘back at work’ at the first council meeting of the New Year earlier this month.

Unfortunately, the New Year did not appear to bring any changes to city government.

Myrtle Beach and Horry County governments each issued statements yesterday acknowledging unsuccessful mediation attempts with regard to the hospitality fee lawsuit with both saying litigation of the lawsuit will move forward.

Among the issues at odds was specific wording Myrtle Beach wanted included in the agreement that would allow its attorneys to be paid up to as much as $7 million from the approximate $19 million fund from hospitality fees collected in city jurisdictions between February 2019 and the end of June 2019.

The county has specifically rejected the concept of allowing attorneys to be paid a percentage of the fund commensurate with a class action settlement especially since attorney fees are not a valid use of hospitality fee revenues.

Another point of contention is a footnote by attorneys representing the city that they intend to file a motion seeking a ruling to end collection of the hospitality fee within the entirety of Horry County.

What that footnote does is end any hope that some sort of settlement would provide funding for the Interstate 73 project.

If Myrtle Beach actually wanted to participate in funding for I-73, it would have accepted the county’s public offer from April 2019, which provided essentially the same split of hospitality fees that is now on the table.

However, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune was quite specific in her rejection letter of the county’s offer last spring. In it, Bethune stated that the city’s position that collection of hospitality fees by the county within city limits is unlawful. Myrtle Beach has not shifted from that position.

Since hospitality fee revenue was the source for funding I-73, Myrtle Beach did not want any of the revenue collected within its limits to be used for the project. The city stated several times over the last 10 months that it supports the building of I-73 but it failed to put its money where its mouth is.

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Apparent Flooding Assistance Should Not be a Campaign Ploy

January 23, 2020 7:34 AM
Apparent Flooding Assistance Should Not be a Campaign Ploy

The most interesting aspect of Tuesday night’s regular meeting of Horry County Council is what didn’t happen.

After several days of media publicity touting his resolution declaring Horry County’s support of S.C. Senate Bill 259 establishing a “Resilience Revolving Fund to Assist in Future Flood Prevention”, Horry County Council member Cam Crawford failed to get council members to vote for the resolution.

Instead, Crawford made a motion to send the resolution to the county Administration Committee for more study.

The timing of the proposed resolution is suspicious. The bill has been stuck in committee in the S.C. House since March 27, 2019, nearly 10 months. If it is such a great bill that will really benefit flood victims, why wait until reelection time approaches and a challenger to his seat has come forward for Crawford to author a resolution supporting the bill?

The bill was pre-filed in the S.C. Senate in December 2018 and passed the Senate roll call vote March 19, 2019. Nothing about it has changed since its pre-filing.

The resolution appears to be nothing more than a campaign ploy by Crawford to make voters think he is doing something on their behalf.

According to several citizens who have been actively working to help flood victims since the aftermath of Hurricane Florence destroyed approximately 2,000 homes in Horry County, there are some things about S259 that could help some of those most affected by the flooding.

The idea behind the bill is to provide a local match for FEMA funds that would be used to buyout properties that were destroyed by flooding from the hurricane. However, as of this date there is no permanent revenue source identified.

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I-73 Funding Remains Roadblock to Hospitality Fee Lawsuit Settlement

December 19, 2019 3:37 AM
I-73 Funding Remains Roadblock to Hospitality Fee Lawsuit Settlement

The question of funding Interstate 73 is the obstacle preventing settlement of the hospitality fee lawsuit brought by Myrtle Beach against Horry County earlier this year.

A proposed settlement agreement that was voted on Monday by the councils of North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Aynor and Atlantic Beach as well as Horry County Council included a provision that one-third of the proceeds from a continuation of the 1.5% countywide hospitality fee collected by Horry County would be dedicated to funding I-73.

The five municipalities voting approved the agreement. Horry County amended the agreement, which necessitates a reconsideration by the five municipalities. Conway and Loris did not vote.  

City of Conway officials said in various media reports over the last day that they have no intention of voting on the amended settlement agreement to the hospitality fee lawsuit proposed by Horry County Council Monday night.

Properly looking out for the interests of its citizens, Conway City Council wants to reserve the right to use any hospitality fee revenue collected within its city limits to meet local needs in accordance with allowable uses of hospitality funds.

The refusal by Conway to vote on the agreement effectively kills the amended settlement agreement since one condition of the amendment was that the cities in the county, less Briarcliff Acres, must unanimously approve the amended agreement.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune tried to take the high road when the county amended the agreement, but she can’t. It was Bethune who summarily dismissed the county’s offer to settle the dispute in early April, long before attorneys began racking up large bills to continue the lawsuit.

The exact same conditions the county proposed in April became the conditions for settlement voted on Monday night, including the I-73 funding.

Attorneys representing Myrtle Beach negotiated with attorneys representing Horry County with the other municipalities essentially left out of the negotiations. The settlement agreement was presented to those municipalities, essentially as a fait accompli. Conway and Loris chose not to accept and Horry County Council members chose to amend it.

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County Council Adds More Controversy to Hospitality Fee Settlement

December 17, 2019 5:55 PM
County Council Adds More Controversy to Hospitality Fee Settlement

Horry County Council approved an amended settlement agreement at its special meeting Monday night that added to the controversy regarding settling the hospitality fee lawsuit.

Council split 7-5 on votes to amend the settlement agreement and to approve the settlement agreement as amended. Those voting for the agreement were Johnny Vaught, Dennis DiSabato, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftis, Bill Howard, Tyler Servant and Orton Bellamy.

The Deep Six (Vaught, DiSabato, Crawford, Loftis, Servant and Howard) can always be counted on to support anything the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and other special interests in the county want. Vaught is counting on that group to fund his run for chairman in two years while DiSabato, Crawford and Loftis expect significant donations from special interests to fund their upcoming reelection campaigns.

The special interests want I-73, they fall in line to keep it in play.

Voting against the settlement were Chairman Johnny Gardner, Harold Worley, Al Allen, Danny Hardee and Paul Prince.

As Worley said at the beginning of open debate on the question, the elephant in the room was I-73.

The settlement agreement as presented Monday night would provide approximately $14.5 million per year toward I-73. As Worley pointed out this amount is a drop in the bucket for a project that will require approximately $670 million to complete the road in Horry County, $1.3 billion to reach I-95 and over $2 billion for the total project to the North Carolina border in Marlboro County.

But the drop in the bucket is important to those landowners in Horry County who will benefit from right of way purchases for the road and the engineering and other businesses who will profit from the early design and site work for the project.

The federal and state governments will have to come in with significant money for the road to ever be completed but the local special interests can realize a significant income from the early work that can be paid for if the county contributes. Like always, it’s all about the money.

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