By Paul Gable
The City of Myrtle Beach filed a supplemental memorandum Monday in support of its lawsuit against Horry County’s continued collection of hospitality fees.
Leading the memorandum is an affidavit by North Myrtle Beach City Manager Michael Mahaney providing evidence of the county’s continued collection of the hospitality fee in the City of North Myrtle Beach after June 21, 2019, and supporting a June 26, 2019 motion by Myrtle Beach for the county to show cause why it was not in contempt of a temporary restraining order issued by Judge Seals on June 21, 2019 prohibiting same.
Included in the filing was an email originated by attorney Henrietta Golding who is representing the county in the lawsuit.
The email appears to have evolved out of the string of emails that were the subject of several media stories yesterday. The email that appears to have started the string was sent by former county council chairman Mark Lazarus to Golding.
In her email, Goldings criticizes the judge and the temporary restraining order the judge issued against the county for having “many errors”; states, “This is solely the fault of Myrtle Beach” and appears to discuss the county’s strategy in moving forward by saying the county will try to get a “supersedeas” and saying “if the county took steps to suspend the ordinance (creating the hospitality fee), then probably create legal issues detrimental to the county.”
Golding’s email was sent to Lazarus, county council members Johnny Vaught, Harold Worley, Tyler Servant and Dennis DiSabato, interim administrator Steve Gosnell, county attorney Arrigo Carotti, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, Mahaney and Surfside Beach City Manager Dennis Pieper.
The choice of recipients is confusing as Golding only represents six – the four council members, county administrator and county attorney. Lazarus has no official position with the county since his term ended December 31, 2018. Hatley, Mahaney and Pieper support the position of Myrtle Beach that the county has been illegally collecting the hospitality fees since January 1, 2017 when the original sunset provision of the county hospitality fee ordinance expired.
Why discuss anything about the lawsuit with three officials from two cities opposing the county and a businessman with no current official position and who was already out of office when the original lawsuit was filed?
Why send the email to only four county council members rather than all 12 members? For that matter, why didn’t Gosnell or Carotti inform the eight council members left out of the email about its contents? Aren’t those eight members entitled to all correspondence about the lawsuit or is this just another example of sloppy work and preferential treatment by the interim administrator and attorney?
A local attorney I spoke with about the email, its contents and curious choice of recipients called it “unbelievable” and “absolutely crazy.”
Maybe it’s not crazy at all but, rather, a continuation of the effort to minimize the effectiveness of current council chairman Johnny Gardner and his agenda for change in county government.
Worley, DiSabato and Servant are charter members of what I have called the “Deep Six”, a group of council members who supported Carotti and former administrator Chris Eldridge in an entirely fictitious attempt to implicate Gardner in wrongdoing before he ever took office.
Lazarus, in his last days in office, was also an early participant in creating a false narrative about Gardner that a SLED investigation concluded never happened.
Since last year’s campaign, Vaught has demonstrated he is willing to support anything Lazarus wants. Recently, Vaught has chosen to carry the water for an effort instigated by Worley to attempt to appoint Gosnell to the permanent county administrator slot. All three were certainly included as recipients of the email while Gardner, among others, was not.
The other three charter members of the “Deep Six”, council members Gary Loftus, Bill Howard and Cam Crawford, appear to have been shunted to the side since an effort to keep Eldridge as county administrator failed. Or, maybe, they are just taken for granted with no need to keep them informed.
Is working in the interests of just a few council members really what we want from a county administrator when the county has such pressing problems with infrastructure, public safety and continued out of control development?
There is no doubt this is a split county council with a few council members working on their own personal, selfish agendas with no view about what is best for the county and its citizens. More lunacy!