Paying for Special Election Campaign Pledges

The two candidates in a special election primary runoff for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council chairman spoke of the need to continue to address the same issues that brought them this far.

With those pronouncements in mind, Mark Lazarus and Al Allen, the two surviving candidates, owe some explanations to the voters how they will pursue their earlier pronouncements without raising taxes.

Both were very vocal about re-instituting county paid health insurance for retired county employees. County council voted to phase this coverage out as a benefit too costly to continue.

Money in Politics, Influencing Elections

A special election for Horry County Council chairman this week and in the S.C. 1st Congressional District next week brings to the front the influence of elections by money in politics again.

Some startling statistics track over a period from 1974 – 2010 for Congressional elections and 1976 – 2008 in Presidential elections.

In 1974, total campaign spending for the House of Representatives was $44 million. By 2010 total campaign had reached $929 million, a factor of 20 times.

Senate campaigns in 1974 totaled $28.4 million while by 2010 that number inflated to $568 million, another 20 times expansion.

Little Difference in Special Election Candidates

If I learned anything from Tuesday night’s televised forum of candidates in the special election for the vacant Horry County Council chairman seat, it’s that very little separates these candidates on issues.

Mark Lazarus, Liz Gilland, Al Allen, Debbie Harwell and Fonzie Lewis are not going to raise taxes except in cases of extreme emergency. Yet, all are going to push hard for I-73, the Southern Evacuation Lifeline and other major road projects in the county.

More major road projects with no tax increases.

Things like hospitality fees, road maintenance fees and local option sales taxes, all of which have been added or increased through the years, don’t count as taxes in this thought process.

Treasurer Loftis Target of More Dirty Politics

S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis has once again been subjected to political attacks by the members of the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission.

Loftis, one of seven commissioners, and the only constitutional officer on the commission, has taken his job of overseeing the policy and performance the retirement system fund too seriously for the six political appointees on the commission.

Two years ago, current commission chairman Reynolds Williams, a long-time member of the commission appointed by Sen. Hugh Leatherman, attempted to smear Loftis by alleging he and an acquaintance were involved in a ‘pay to play’ scheme with SCRSIC funds. Williams’ attempt included efforts to have Loftis removed from the commission by the S.C. General Assembly.

Horry County Council and Its WestJet Guarantee

The vote by Horry County Council earlier this week to set aside a contingency fund of $1 million to guarantee Canadian airline WestJet from suffering losses on new passenger service to Myrtle Beach International Airport continues to be a topic of discussion by the general public.

Several times this past week I was asked the question, “What is Horry County Council thinking by guaranteeing a private business against losses?”

My first inclination was to respond that ‘Horry County Council thinking’ is an oxymoron, but I settled for ‘I don’t have the slightest idea.’

Expanding Horry County Inc.

Horry County will insert itself more firmly in the private business sector when it passes three resolutions at tonight’s council meeting.

One resolution guarantees revenue to Canadian airline WestJet that will begin service to Myrtle Beach International. The second approves the Horry County Department of Airports purchasing the assets of Ramp 66 at the North Myrtle Beach airport and becoming the new fixed base operator there.

The third resolution directs the administrator to explore any and all legal recourse, which may be available to the county, if and when the S.C. General Assembly passes legislation making the Horry County Solid Waste Authority’s solid waste flow control monopoly illegal.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Drone

“People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out. Your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.” – George Orwell, 1984.

Just when you thought things could not get any worse for Americans, news surfaced Tuesday morning that the U.S. government can now order the killing of American citizens. Weapon of choice – drone.

If these citizens are ‘believed’ to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaeda or “an associated force”, even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the United States, they are fair game.

Thoughts on Horry County Council Chairman Race

The special election primary for the vacant Horry County Council chairman seat is but five and one-half weeks away (March 12th) and I have been asked several times when I will write something about it.

So far, I have very little thought on the race at all, except for an overall feeling of ‘déjà vu all over again’ as Yogi Berra so eloquently puts it.

Of course, there are those associated with the local economic development corporation and our new Congressman Tommy Rice’s entourage who will assert that I have no coherent thoughts at all. I contend the same things about them, so it’s a safe conclusion the twain will never meet in that couplet.

S.C. Ethics Reform? – Don’t Bet On It

The South Carolina Commission on Ethics Reform, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley late last year, released its recommendations to tighten state ethics laws Monday.

Some of the recommendations should be considered no-brainers, such as: (1) Disclosing all private sources of income, and identifying all “fiduciary” positions, or positions of trust, held, whether compensated or uncompensated; (2) banning leadership PAC’s; (3) expanding the definition of lobbyists and lobbyists principals and increasing their annual fee and (4) strengthening public corruption laws.

It would seem that number (1) with regard to sources of income would be the most important. From outside interests of lawmakers and other public officials corruption generally rises. However, don’t hold your breath waiting for that provision to become law.

Curtis Loftis Will Seek Re-Election as Treasurer

South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis confirmed yesterday that he will seek re-election to his current office ending any speculation about his candidacy for governor in 2014.

This is important news for the citizens of South Carolina. Loftis brings openness, integrity and accountability to the job. He has been especially vigilant in attempting to end the secrecy and questionable practices of the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission, of which he is a voting member.

Those efforts to reform the SCRSIC made Loftis the target of an attempted political smear campaign in late 2011 featuring “leaked documents” and bogus claims of a supposed kickback scheme by two investment firms with close connections to, then, retirement system CEO Robert Borden.