Post Tagged with: "wasteful spending"

Clemmons, Crawford, Crawford, Parker You Got Some ‘Splaining to do

April 28, 2020 6:44 AM
Clemmons, Crawford, Crawford, Parker You Got Some ‘Splaining to do

Campaign funds and the lax laws controlling them allow politicians the ability to do almost anything they want with donations they receive.

But, the donors and the voters have a right to know exactly what is being done with campaign funds just as they do with public money. How, why and to whom is it paid? What goal toward being elected or reelected is achieved by its expenditure?

This is why nearly $150,000 over a four year span from Rep. Alan Clemmons’ campaign fund to now Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford (she was only a SC House member for the final $2,250 of that amount) listed as contract and/or campaign services leaves many questions.

Clemmons had no opponent in either a primary or general election in 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Yet, Crawford was paid an average of $37,500 per year for four years from Clemmons’ campaign account.

The voters deserve to know exactly what work did Clemmons pay Heather Crawford for? Was it all associated with political functions?

Heather Ammons Crawford, her husband and current Horry County District 6 council member Cam Crawford and SC Rep. Russell Fry have a political consulting business called Crescent Communications.

By way of comparison to the Clemmons payments to Heather Crawford, three campaigns run by the firm for former Horry County Council chairman Mark Lazarus provide stark contrasts.

Crescent Communications provided consulting services for three Lazarus campaigns, a special election in 2013 and regular election in 2014 and 2018. In those three campaigns, Lazarus spent a total of approximately $300,000 from his campaign account, all for election purposes. Approximately $41,000 was the total sum paid to Crescent Communications for those three campaign cycles.

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Council Votes to Pay Magistrates Retroactive Raise

February 20, 2019 9:06 AM
Council Votes to Pay Magistrates Retroactive Raise

Horry County Council voted to pay the county magistrates retroactive to FY 2017 for a pay raise that was voted by council but never instituted.

Council voted a three percent pay raise for all county employees beginning FY 2017. The magistrates also received a 3.5% pay raise from the state budget beginning that year.

Despite being included in the county budget to exclude the county three percent raise for the magistrates.

Council member Al Allen questioned how the county got to the point where the magistrates had to threaten to sue the county in order to receive a pay raise approved by county council.

“The public needs to understand how we got here,” Allen said. “Who made that choice?”

Despite the presence of all senior staff at the meeting, not one had the integrity to step up and say they made the decision.

According to several sources inside county government, administrator Chris Eldridge made the decision to exclude the magistrates from the council approved budget pay raise.

Allen made the point that eliminating the magistrates from the pay raise amounted to an amendment to the county budget not approved by council. It takes a three reading budget amendment ordinance passed by an absolute super majority of council (9 yes votes) to amend the budget once it is approved.

Apparently Eldridge believes he can do it by executive fiat.

The magistrates item was not the only pay issue discussed by council.

At the regular meeting two weeks ago, council members Dennis DiSabato and Cam Crawford requested staff to prepare a study to compare the cost of the current merit raise pay policy of the county to a more standard pay scale for public safety employees, such as the one used in other counties throughout the state and in the military.

Instead, assistant administrator Justin Powell and Eldridge briefed council on a study commissioned to compare Horry County employee compensation with 15 similar counties in the region.

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Is $12 Million For Swamp Land Wasteful Spending?

May 7, 2018 3:21 AM
Is $12 Million For Swamp Land Wasteful Spending?

(Above photo from Lazarus for Chairman 2014 website)

Four years ago, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus made seven commitments to voters when seeking reelection in 2014. One of those commitments was to “eliminate wasteful spending” (in county government.)

Three years later, Lazarus was leading the charge to purchase 3,729 acres of swamp land off of International Drive for $3,000 per acre, a total expenditure of nearly $12 million.

County citizens were told the land was to be used for mitigation credits for Ride III and other road projects and that excess mitigation credits from the land could be sold to other counties.

According to one council member I spoke with recently, slightly less than 1,000 acres of wetlands will be needed to mitigate wetland disturbances associated with Ride III projects.

Another council member I spoke with said he didn’t know how much of the parcel off International Drive would be needed for Ride III mitigation, but the deal was a great one because the county could sell excess credits to other counties.

I have seen offers on wetlands in the more rural, western areas of the county ranging from $1,000 per acre to $1,500 per acre.

I questioned the second council member why the county purchased the parcel off of International Drive for $3,000 per acre when wetlands further west in the county sell between 50%-67% cheaper.

After calling county staff, he told me the purchase off of International Drive was necessary so that the mitigation wetlands would be near the wetlands disturbed by Ride III projects.

I questioned how that explanation made any sense when the claim was made the county could sell excess mitigation credits to other counties where the International Drive land wouldn’t be close to the land being disturbed. Obviously, I received no answer.

Considering the contradictions in the above statements and that cheaper wetlands in the western areas of the county were ignored, one can only conclude there was some hidden agenda behind the purchase of the International Drive parcel for nearly $12 million.

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