Post Tagged with: "Mark Lazarus"

Horry County Chairman Candidate Johnny Gardner Endorsed by Firefighters

April 8, 2018 6:42 PM
Horry County Chairman Candidate Johnny Gardner Endorsed by Firefighters

Johnny Gardner, a candidate for Horry County Council Chairman in the upcoming June 12, 2018 Republican Primary, has received the endorsement of his campaign from  the Horry County Professional Firefighter Local 4345 of the International Association of Firefighters.

Robert Mullaney, President of Local 4345 IAAF told GSD, “We are happily endorsing Mr. Gardner and looking forward to helping Horry County and making fire rescue the place people want to work for again because of outstanding leadership.”

Mullaney has been critical in local media of the pay raise and shifting around of personnel proposed for firefighters and EMS personnel with next fiscal year’s county budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2018.

Mullaney called the proposal a “band aid” that does not deal with the underlying problems in the department.

“I am humbled to have received endorsement from Horry County Professional Firefighters Local 4345,” said Gardner.  “Their endorsement is indicative of the change in county government being sought by working citizens. Horry County is a great place to live and work and I want to make sure it stays that way for all of our citizens.”

“With this being National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, I want to ensure not only our public safety employees but also all county government employees and the citizens they serve that the lines of communication will always remain open between them and the county chairman, if I am elected,” Gardner continued. “I promise to listen and hear what is being said rather than spend my time talking at them.”

Gardner is a native of Conway, a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and the University of South Carolina School of Law, a U.S. Army veteran having served as a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division and the founder of Johnny Gardner Law, P.A.

In the short time since he has filed his candidacy, Gardner said he realizes there is a large disconnect between county employees and county leadership.

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Primary Filing Opens But Do Campaigns Mean Anything?

March 19, 2018 3:11 AM
Primary Filing Opens But Do Campaigns Mean Anything?

Filing opened last Friday for candidates in the upcoming June 12, 2018 Republican and Democrat party primary elections. Filing for candidates will close at noon Friday March 30, 2018.

The biggest name filing for re-election on the first day was Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

We will now see three months of campaigning, led by incumbents to convince the voters to continue their time in office.

But, have the incumbents really served the needs of the people or worked for other agendas?

Unfortunately “fake” is the political environment of today. Most politicians occupy a fake reality where they say one thing when campaigning, do another when in office and cry “fake news” and attempt to change the narrative when their duplicity is pointed out. It often works because voters do not have the time or desire to acquaint themselves with the issues and, instead, rely on sound bites for their information.

The few who try to stick to the facts and have a reasonable discussion of the issues are too often defeated because of their honesty.

Four years ago, Lazarus committed to the voters to “Oppose new taxes” on his Lazarusforchair.com website under issues.

This commitment quickly went by the wayside. After being re-elected, Lazarus became the biggest proponent on council for raising taxes with the largest tax increase in Horry County history resulting. Property taxes were raised 7.2 mills and the annual vehicle fee paid to the county was raised from $30 to $50 per vehicle.

To sell the tax increase it was billed as an increase for public safety. Voters bought into this narrative during budget discussions only to be fooled after the tax increase was approved. As councilman Harold Worley said at the time, “Not one penny of the tax increase will go toward putting one extra officer on the street. Response times will not go down nor will community policing increase because of the tax increase.”

Worley was correct in his assessment. What most voters didn’t know was the tax increase was the result of a huge outcry by county employees after County Administrator Chris Eldridge received a large pay increase from council between first and second reading of the budget. A large portion of the “public safety” tax increase went to a pay increase for all county employees, not to improve public safety.

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Horry County Treasurer Request Nixed by Administrator, County Council

January 25, 2018 5:00 AM
Horry County Treasurer Request Nixed by Administrator, County Council

A request by Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones to have county administrator Chris Eldridge sign off on an addendum to a contract with a county software supplier was shot down at Tuesday’s regular meeting of county council.

Jones made a presentation to county council about a new service the Treasurer wanted to institute in Horry County. The service would provide taxpayers who pay vehicle taxes in person at the Treasurer’s Office or one of the satellite offices with a new vehicle registration and decal for the license plate when the payment is made.

A convenience fee of $1 would be added to the vehicle tax notices to add this service.

According to Jones presentation, this service is already in place in 32 of the 46 counties in South Carolina and the $1 convenience fee is established by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

After Jones presentation, council chairman Mark Lazarus called for Horry County staff to address some issues with allowing the Treasurer’s Office to offer this convenience.

Eldridge moved to the microphone to speak for the staff. He began his remarks with the statement, “Of course there is litigation going on currently between the Treasurer’s Office and Horry County Council.”

Actually, the litigation is Angie Jones, Individually and as Horry County Treasurer v. Horry County, a body Politic and Chris Eldridge, in his capacity as Horry County Administrator.

Eldridge went on to say the request was a budgetary issue and if council wants it done, “it isn’t that much.” He would prefer to see it go through the normal budgetary process and would not support the $1 fee.

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Myrtle Beach City Council Hears Frustrations and Possible Solutions to Recent Violence

June 21, 2017 8:55 AM
Myrtle Beach City Council Hears Frustrations and Possible Solutions to Recent Violence

Myrtle Beach City Council hosted a raucous special meeting Tuesday with home and business owners voicing their outrage at recent shooting incidents on Ocean Boulevard and in other parts of the city.

It was a good move by city council, allowing the meeting to act as a pressure valve relieving some of the pent up frustration felt by citizens by having it voiced directly to council and city staff in a public forum.

That frustration ran from blaming city officials for ignoring the city’s problems and threatening defeat of the four incumbent council members up for reelection in November to calling for martial law to be declared in the city.

Many of the comments were rough and pointed, one citizen even asking John Rhodes if he would immediately resign as mayor. However, council took the criticism stoically because solutions are more important at this point than verbal jousting contests.

While many of the comments fell short of suggesting solutions for the violence problems in the city, several were on point.

Several citizens suggested using money from the one cent local option ‘tourism development fee’ (ad tax) to fund more police officers.

Former Mayor Mark McBride was most forceful in this line of thinking noting that the city’s police force had not expanded since he left office at the end of 2005.

To be fair, the city has installed over 800 cameras that are constantly monitored to help with public safety response and were very helpful during this past weekend’s incidents.

McBride called for 50 percent, approximately $10 million, to be redirected from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s out of area advertising to funding additional police officers as well as providing raises for current officers.

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Questions Surrounding the HCSWA Board Member Elections

May 7, 2017 5:46 PM
Questions Surrounding the HCSWA Board Member Elections

Nothing is ever simple and straightforward when it involves the Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) Board of Directors.

Last Tuesday, Horry County Council voted to appoint two members to the HCSWA board from among three nominated candidates. Two of the candidates, current board chairman Pam Creech and vice chairman Norfleet Jones, were incumbents. Candidate Sam Johnson was the outsider in the voting.

Creech was reelected by a majority of council members. However, Johnson and Jones tied in two successive votes with six each. After the first vote, Creech was named to remain on the board by council chairman Mark Lazarus who proceeded to hold a second ballot with just Jones and Johnson competing for one opening, against the advice of Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti.

Jones and Johnson tied with six votes each on both ballots.

Lazarus announced the second opening on the HCSWA board would be filled by council vote during council’s regular May 16, 2017 meeting. However, Lazarus stated nominations for the second position would remain open adding an additional question mark to the process.

The voting, however, only showed minor problems compared to what transpired before the vote.

On April 28, 2017, Esther Murphy, HCSWA’s Director of Recycling and Corporate Affairs sent an email to Horry County Council Clerk Pat Hartley with copies to all 12 members of county council as well as HCSWA Executive Director Danny Knight, Creech and Jones.

The email began, “Board member Norfleet Jones asked that we contact you regarding his term on the Solid Waste Authority Board, which ends on June 30, 2017. Mr. Jones indicated he would be completing his first term and would like to be reappointed to the Board for a second term…”

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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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Parking Fees Discussed by City/County Council Members

September 30, 2016 6:28 AM
Parking Fees Discussed by City/County Council Members

The parking fee issue in Myrtle Beach seems to get a little more convoluted each week.

Earlier this week, a group called the Beach Coalition held a meeting at Longbeard’s in Carolina Forest to discuss issues surrounding the parking fees.

Attending the meeting were county council chairman Mark Lazarus and council members Bill Howard, Jimmy Washington and Johnny Vaught. Randal Wallace from Myrtle Beach City Council was also in attendance.

Members of the coalition group are unhappy with the rather cavalier manner in which Myrtle Beach city council treats issues such as parking fees.

With regard to the fee itself, Lazarus said there is going to be a parking fee for county residents when they park in beach access areas.

Additionally, Lazarus said the fee has to be reasonable for everybody and nobody is going to pay $300 (for a parking decal). The $300 figure was thrown out by Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes at a recent forum held with citizens.

Lazarus said the city and county would establish a “steering committee” to address the issue.

Wallace said something had to be done about parking in beach access in the Golden Mile and surrounding areas. He seemed to blame the fee on litter finding its way to the properties of Golden Mile residents.

Wallace said maybe the $10 per day parking fee now being charged to non-city residents wasn’t the best answer to the problem. He said he was sure city council wants to work with county council to address the parking fee issue.

Wallace admitted to the crowd that all parking fees collected in the city go to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. For many years, the DRC has accomplished little in the way of redevelopment and virtually none in the city’s historic downtown in the area of City Hall, Five Points and adjacent areas.

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Economic Incentives and the Kingman Airline Services Deal

July 16, 2016 5:35 AM
Economic Incentives and the Kingman Airline Services Deal

The recent announcement by Horry County officials that Kingman Airline Services will be expanding its business to Myrtle Beach International Airport is one in which enthusiasm must be tempered.

The announcement was accompanied by sparkling pronouncements from such dignitaries as Gov. Nikki Haley, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes and the like.

Local media was quick to pick up on this announcement to shout ‘180 jobs coming to Horry County’ without the qualifying ‘we hope’ that this type of deal requires.

We’ve heard this type of fanfare before – do you hear AvCraft and PTR Industries among others? I do.

It’s only four short years since we heard the last “It’s a great day in Horry County” when the last AvCraft deal was announced by many of these same players.

The initial reaction I heard from several callers who contacted me was, “Is this AvCraft 2.0?”

On the surface it sounds a lot like it. A small Arizona company plans to open an aviation maintenance and repair facility (MRO) at Myrtle Beach International.

It promises to provide 180 new jobs to the area over a five year period. For that promise, Horry County and the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority is providing a total of $250,000 in incentives (read cash payments).

According to sources familiar with the deal, the payment of the $250,000 will be phased over the five year period of the agreement and will depend on Kingman meeting targeted employment levels along the way.

Kingman will be leasing one of the former AvCraft hangars from Horry County Department of Airports. I do not know the rental amount. However, I have been assured by several county officials familiar with the discussions that the rent will be in line with market value and more than AvCraft paid.

In addition, Horry County will be spending an estimated $100,000 to repair the fire suppression system in the hangar and to repair the hangar doors.

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HCSWA Board Hubris Round Three

January 8, 2016 5:14 AM
HCSWA Board Hubris Round Three

Horry County Solid Waste Authority board chairman Lance Thompson sent a letter to Horry County administrator Chris Eldridge last month notifying Eldridge of the 5-2 vote by the HCSWA board recommending removal of Dan Gray from the HCSWA board.

The letter and its accompanying documents were obtained by GSD through a Freedom of Information Act request to Horry County government.

Included in the accompanying documents was a letter to Gray that states in part, “While the Board regrets having to make this decision, it has determined that you have engaged in an ongoing course of conduct, which appears to be designed to undermine the Board’s actions and to hamper the functioning of the Board in a deliberative manner.”

I submit the above statement is one of opinion, not fact. I further submit the HCSWA board rarely acts in a deliberative manner.

The HCSWA board certainly did not deliberate long on the decision to spend over $1 million of public money with a lobbyist to advocate against changing state law and local ordinances with respect to flow control of waste streams.

County council ultimately amended the county flow control ordinance over the objections of the HCSWA and its lobbyist.

I submit the entire issue of removing Gray from the HCSWA board is one of personal agendas of certain HCSWA board members, certain HCSWA staff and certain Horry County Council members. In other words, Horry County politics at its worst.

The HCSWA board has taken its vote and sent its letter. I expect that is as far as the issue will go.

Gray is a nominee of the League of Cities approved by vote of Horry County Council.

Council chairman Mark Lazarus has said he will not put the issue of removing Gray on council agenda if the League of Cities does not support the HCSWA vote.

Despite behind the scenes phone calls by some HCSWA board members to mayors in the county, sources tell me the League of Cities is firmly behind Gray remaining on the HCSWA board.

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The New Horry County Transportation Committee

August 31, 2015 5:00 AM
The New Horry County Transportation Committee

The Horry County Transportation Committee held its inaugural meeting Thursday.

Appointed by Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, after the Airport Advisory Board was discontinued several months ago, the committee members are Gary Loftus, Chairman and Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard and Lazarus.

The committee will provide initial oversight of issues for the full council on airports, Coast RTA and the railroad.

With the railroad sale now completed, R.J. Corman, the new owners, are clearing the track in preparation of fixing the line and bridges so that the portion in North Carolina to the SCDOT bridge across the waterway at Myrtle Beach can be opened for traffic.

Lazarus said Corman wants to open the track as quickly as possible for service to those former users and possibly new economic development opportunities associated with rail freight.

In time, it is possible that special passenger excursions, dinner trains, and the like will be run from Myrtle Beach to Conway, but that is for the future.

The largest undertaking over the next several months will be committee involvement with a comprehensive airport master plan for the county’s four general aviation airports – Myrtle Beach International, Grand Strand in North Myrtle Beach, Conway and Loris.

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