New Airport Master Plan Process Highlights County Staff Bungling

Current concepts for a new airport master plan for Myrtle Beach International Airport are in direct violation of an existing agreement between City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County governments demonstrating what must be considered incompetence by Horry County Government senior staff.

Approximately three weeks ago, Horry County Department of Airports officials appeared before the City of Myrtle Beach Planning Commission to share concepts to be included in a new Airport Master Plan the county will submit to the Federal Aviation Administration within the next year.

Prior to the appearance before the city, the airport plan was the subject of a virtual public meeting held by airport officials, a required step in the planning process.

The general overview being presented is that in the next 20 years, the required planning span for the FAA, Myrtle Beach International Airport will require more terminal and concourse space, approximately 28 passenger gates and expanded parking. For at least the past two years, airport officials have also discussed converting at least part of one of the current taxiways into a second runway for general aviation use only.

What hasn’t been discussed to date by airport officials or other county officials is the fact that this planning is in direct violation of a 2004 Planned Unit Development zoning district for the airport approved by city and county officials.

The 2004 Myrtle Beach International Airport PUD specifically limits growth of airport facilities to a maximum of 18 fixed passenger gates and one runway.

These restrictions are not only ignored in the new master plan, they appear to be unknown to many of the officials involved in the planning process.

Additionally, while airport officials felt the need to advise the city planning commission of concepts for the new master plan, this same information has yet to be presented to Horry County Council members.

Pearl Harbor Day Then and Now

As a Navy veteran, December 7th, what my grandmother called Pearl Harbor Day, has special meaning to me. In recent years, however, its symbolism has taken on new dimensions.

Seventy-four years ago, without first declaring war, the Japanese Imperial fleet attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor causing considerable damage to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and bringing America into World War II.

A total of 2,402 American servicemen lost their lives that day, four battleships were sunk and 188 aircraft destroyed. President Roosevelt called it “a day that will live in infamy”, actually a phrase first attributed to Hawaiian Queen Lili’uokalani spoken on the day, in 1893, that the American government overthrew the native Hawaiian government.

The attack broke the U.S. out of its isolationist attitude and presaged America’s ascendency to world leadership. Americans united behind the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” as the nation embarked upon a nearly four year war to defeat the armed forces of Japan, Germany and their allies.

True, on December 6, 1941, the isolationist members of Congress still held great sway in the halls of that institution as the fighting in Europe was considered best for America to stay out of. One day later, everything changed in Washington, D.C. and across a now united nation.

Seventy-seven years later, none who survived that day remain and the cohesiveness and combined
commitment of that time are not apparent in today’s political environment or society at large. We face great challenges, possibly greater than we faced on December 7, 1941, although economic dangers are not as easy to identify as military dangers from foreign forces.

We should be clear, however, that today’s dangers in the national economy are every bit as grave as the military dangers we faced 74 years ago. The industrial might and national wealth that the U.S. marshaled to support its war effort, and those of its allies, have been lost.

Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hogmanay

Forty-three years ago, I was preparing to celebrate my third and last Hogmanay in Scotland, an event that is celebrated as widely as Christmas in that country.

For those of you not familiar with Hogmanay, it is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the New Year’s Eve celebration that lasts until the next morning. It is an experience you never forget nor never totally remember.

For a little perspective, four decades ago the western industrial world was still in the grip of an Arab oil embargo. Many Americans were still sitting in lines to buy gas and the price of that commodity was beginning its steady rise that led to the 1973-74 stock market crash. Prices of oil helped fuel hyperinflation for the remainder of the 1970’s.

However, the U.S. national debt was still below one trillion dollars and would not breach that benchmark until seven years later with the economic policies of Ronald Reagan and the total lack of fiscal discipline in Washington since.

Watergate was still much in the news and Richard Nixon was in his downward spiral which ended eight months later when he became the only American president to resign from office.

Scotland and the entire United Kingdom would shortly experience a second coal strike in three years, which would lead to a general election and the downfall of the government of Prime Minister Edward Heath, but also to the eventual rise of Margaret Thatcher five years later.

And the Soviet Union was still perceived to be a colossus threatening world peace while China was not far removed from its Cultural Revolution, its backyard steel furnaces and its ‘Great Leap Backward.’

Much has changed in the intervening forty plus years, but those changes are a mere microcosm of the changes in the world since the Scottish poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns wrote his Hogmanay and New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788.

May you all have a blessed, prosperous and Happy New Year in 2017.

Taxes, Flag Top 2015 News Stories

Taxes, Flag Top 2015 SC Newsies

Local tax increases and removal of the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds topped the 2015 news stories.

Horry County Council passed the largest single tax increase in county history with a 7.2 mil increase in property taxes. Just for good measure, council also increased the road tax charged on every vehicle registered in the county by 67%.

Sold to the public as a means to increase public safety, the tax increase was really Horry County Council bowing to the will of county employees for a pay raise.

As council member Harold Worley said during debate of the tax increase, “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.”

Adding insult to injury, the road annual tax was increased from $30 to $50 per vehicle, ostensibly to provide more money for maintenance of roads in the county road system.

Just a few months later, county council voted to use approximately $16 million in excess revenue from Ride II tax collections not for roads, but to buy a new radio system for public safety.

Five county council members will be up for re-election in 2016, but only one, Gary Loftus, voted to increase taxes.

Five of the six council members voting to raise taxes were elected or re-elected in 2014 and hope the voters will not remember this tax increase in 2018 when they face election again.

The statewide issue that was most intriguing was the removal of the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds.

This was done in just several days of a special session called by Gov. Nikki Haley. It demonstrated the General Assembly can act quickly when it wants to.

This special session followed a five month regular session when the General Assembly did absolutely nothing about the most important issues in the state – road maintenance and repair, ethics issues and school funding.

Our police departments are looking like armies

“The linked article from the Charleston City Paper is an SC Hotline must read for anyone who cares about our freedoms.

The author hits the nail on the head about the militarization of police forces that may be heading to a “domestic army who are as heavily armed as the military and can act with complete impunity.”

As he correctly points out, “America has allowed itself to become protected,… by heavily armed men and women in large vehicles with questionable amounts of training who follow bad policies.” ~Paul Gable

By Mat Catastrophe

Last week, President Barack Obama announced that he would end the federal government’s policy of giving some kinds of used military equipment to local police forces. This move was in response to criticism that law enforcement officers had used military equipment to quiet civil unrest in several American cities, most notably Baltimore, Md.

Sadly, Obama’s actions are just another example of the president’s too-little-too-late approach to governance. The truth is, Obama is not the wild-eyed radical the hard right paints him as. In reality, he’s about as radical as a cup of warm water.

Reaching Your Dreams, Honor Black History Month

By Jordan Cooper

The opportunity for reaching your dreams is open to every American. Opportunity for having the type of family and career you desire is guaranteed to all. But, the outcome of your efforts is not set in stone.

As all Americans celebrate Black History Month in February, we must continue to rely on our attitude, preparation, and effort to help us achieve our goals.

As Blacks we must remember constantly to speak this, to show that we are the resilient, future people that our forefathers fought to get equality for.

Gaming the City of Columbia Budget

Being a Child in America Today

Being able to look back on childhood with fond remembrance used to be taken for granted for most people. However, being a child in America today is getting more hazardous by the day.

Here’s a joke for you – did you hear the one about an elementary school child who was suspended for playing cops and robbers on the playground?

It turns out 8-year-old Jordan Bennett from Florida went all Tony Montana at recess and got a little carried away with the pow pow with his fingers.

Bennett’s crime was he did what children have done on playgrounds for decades – he pointed his thumb and index finger into a right angle and mimicked gunfire.

Change Needed in Federal Government

Now into our second week of a federal government shutdown with a possible default on federal government debts looming just around the corner, it’s time to admit what we have in Washington doesn’t work.

A total of $5.2 billion was spent on the 2012 elections for President and Congress. We’d have been better off burning $100 bills in the front yard.

What was the first thing many in Congress did when they got to Washington in January 2013? Start raising money for re-election in 2014!

Horry County Council Oversight Inconsistent

The specter of further contretemps between Horry County Council and the Coast RTA board over appointment power to that board appears to be looming in the not too distant future.

Horry County provides approximately 50% of the total amount of state and local grants to the transit authority ($1.06 million of an approximate $2 million total). Those grants are matched 50-50 by the federal government to provide most of the Coast RTA operating budget.

Fourth quarter FY 2014 funds were only recently released to Coast RTA by county council. But, if information sources are providing to us proves accurate, the real showdown will come when next year’s budget is discussed.

Budgets - Cuts, Spending and You

ITAP Grant Symptom of Federal Money Woes

A recent grant announcement in the amount of $3.7 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to the International Technology and Aerospace Park (ITAP) at Myrtle Beach International Airport is a symptom of the greater problems affecting federal government spending.

While ballyhooed locally as a great aid to luring businesses to the now vacant facility, it’s really nothing more than pork barrel spending.

The 400 acre site, and plans to build this grand aerospace park, grew out of the failed West Side Terminal project at Myrtle Beach International.

The land was originally purchased, with a $12 million grant from the FAA, to be the site of the airport’s new west side terminal.