By Paul Gable
The longer this campaign season goes on, the more outrageous the misrepresentation from the developer and tourism cabal candidates about their records become, demonstrating their total disregard for the voters they claim to want to represent.
Actually, the only voters cabal candidates really want to represent are the ones funding their campaigns with large amounts of cash. Those voters, of course, are not sufficient in number to get any candidate elected, hence the necessity to roll out the lies about themselves and/or their opponents.
The tendency of cabal candidates to create new history was on full display during an event held at the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce last week.
Five candidates attended the event. Incumbent county council member for Horry County District 1 Harold Worley and his opponent Jenna Dukes. For county chairman were incumbent Chairman Johnny Gardner, Mark Lazarus and Johnny Vaught. Each candidate was given five minutes to speak about the issues.
Gardner and Worley have been especially targeted for defeat by the cabal.
Worley led off the speeches, addressing his support for impact fees, continued increased funding of public safety services throughout the county and the need for state and federal funding for Interstate 73 before any local dollars should be considered for the project.
Worley has been a consistent supporter of impact fees, which are charges on new development to help pay the cost of increased county services to support that development and help to keep some of those costs from being spread to all county taxpayers through increased property taxes. The developers and the S.C. Homebuilders Association hate impact fees. The homebuilders association funded a mailer, supposedly sent by something called “Fairness in Taxation, LLC”, to voters throughout the county last month attacking impact fees.
Dukes spent most her time talking about herself and her pharmacy business. It was a nice story but tells the voters absolutely nothing about her stands on issues such as spending local tax dollars on I-73, impact fees, new county regulations on housing density in CFA zoning or new flood mitigation regulations. These are all the issues the cabal that is funding her campaign want changed back to the way they were pre-2019.
Dukes told the gathering that she didn’t know much about the county budget at this point. This is an incredible statement. Since she filed to run for office, county council has been working on next year’s budget. That budget, which will be approved by council before the end of June, is the same budget that will be in place should Dukes win the County Council District 1 seat. While professing to want to serve the voters, Dukes can’t be bothered to try and become informed about the county budget or the process involved in its adoption.
Meanwhile, the Dukes campaign continues to spin out mailers that totally distort Worley’s record and try to paint him as a “millionaire developer” when, in fact, he has consistently voted for the interests of the average voter and against cabal wishes.
Lazarus continued his attempts to rewrite his history on county council. He claimed credit, during his prior chairmanship, for establishing a scheme to fund the countywide 911 system through a host fee on county trash. First of all, Lazarus was chairman from 2013-2018. The host fee to fund the 911 system was proposed by Worley and promoted by then county chairman Liz Gilland in 2004, as the county was considering the results of a study of the Solid Waste Authority by R. W. Beck, Inc. Lazarus had nothing to do with the idea but he tries to claim it now in his recreation of history. Unfortunately for Lazarus, I covered those meetings and remember the issues well.
Lazarus bemoaned the loss of immediate county funding for I-73, which would have put a considerable amount of public dollars in the pockets of some of the cabal members funding his campaign. Lazarus pushed through that funding just before stepping down as chairman at the end of 2018, but the contract with SCDOT was cancelled by county council in 2019 after Gardner took over as chairman.
And Lazarus tried to claim credit for supporting public safety when all he really did was call public safety fire and police officers “Thugs” when they challenged him about his lack of support for them during the 2018 county chairman race that Lazarus lost.
The real history of Lazarus’ time as chairman was his promotion of issues important to his cabal buddies while ignoring the needs of county employees and county citizens.
Vaught gave a rather confusing presentation apparently attempting to claim credit as someone who can promote cooperation between the county and the cities. He attempted to blame Gardner for the various lawsuits between the county and the cities, especially the one regarding hospitality fee distribution.
However, it was Lazarus’ cavalier treatment of the cities in removing a sunset clause in the original hospitality fee legislation and his attempt to shift all of the county revenue, approximately $41 million annually at the time, to funding construction of I-73. Vaught totally supported Lazarus’ efforts on behalf of the cabal and acted as a Lazarus surrogate during the 2018 campaign.
Since Gardner defeated Lazarus and took over as county chairman, Vaught has worked hard in the background to dedicate county funding to I-73 and to limit county impact fee legislation to the lowest amount possible, helping cabal interests at the expense of average taxpayers.
Vaught is acting as the cabal “B team candidate” in this race for the county chairmanship hoping to draw enough support from Gardner so Lazarus will be the winner.
Gardner spoke about fulfilling his promises to make “Public Safety Priority One, Day One”, his belief that the state and federal governments have the responsibility for funding construction of I-73, his work on promoting impact fee and flooding mitigation legislation during his term on county council as well as backing zoning changes that limit housing density in CFA zoned areas. In addition, he spoke about his efforts to improve local infrastructure over the past four years.
Again, Gardner and Worley have been targeted for defeat by the cabal. Lazarus, Vaught and Dukes are receiving considerable funding for their campaigns from cabal interests. Just as in 2018, this campaign season shapes up as cabal candidates, this time Dukes, Lazarus and Vaught, versus the peoples’ candidates, Worley and Gardner
An example below of the cabal at work: