Local News

SC Treasurer Announces SC Pension Fund Lawsuit Settlement

SC Treasurer Curtis Loftis told fellow members of the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission Thursday that a lawsuit with Bank of New York Mellon Corp. regarding the SC pension fund had been settled.

The lawsuit dated back to 2009 when the state alleged the bank had lost $200 million of state pension funds through bad investments associated with the financial meltdown of 2008-09. The suit was run through the SC Treasurer’s office beginning with Loftis’ predecessor Converse Chellis.

Loftis declined to discuss details of the settlement with the commission until all settlement provisions are completed, according to provisions of the settlement.

Senate Advances Ethics Reform

A S.C. Senate sub-committee Tuesday made major changes to an ethics reform bill the House had rushed through last week to meet the May 1 crossover deadline for legislation.

The amended bill would make major changes to the way in which ethics violations against members of the General Assembly are investigated as well as requiring new income source disclosure for public officials throughout the state.

The amended legislation takes investigation of allegations of ethics violations against House and Senate members out of the hands of legislative committees and puts a revamped state Ethics commission in charge of all ethics investigations.

The House bill proposed elimination of the House and Senate Ethics committees, replacing them with a Joint Committee on Ethics, a body that would include eight legislators and eight members of the public chosen by legislators.

Ethics investigations of legislators would have effectively remained in the control of legislators with this committee.

The Case Against Flow Control

A bill that would make flow control illegal in South Carolina currently rests in the S.C. Senate Rules Committee awaiting a majority vote to put it on the calendar for full Senate vote.

Flow control is the term that means establishing monopoly control over the flow of the solid waste stream in an area, in this case a county.

It is illegal for private companies to establish flow control over a waste stream, but, currently, not for county government to do so. Horry County currently has a flow control ordinance in place that makes its Horry County Solid Waste Authority the monopoly arbiter over county waste.

Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was in Myrtle Beach earlier this week to push an initiative for oil and gas drilling off the coast of South Carolina.

Gingrich spoke at a forum of oil and gas industry representatives who want Congress to allow exploratory drilling and development of possible offshore oil and gas resources.

One of the issues at the forefront of talks about oil and gas drilling off the U.S. coast is the number of high paying jobs such economic activity will bring to the area.

If those types of jobs would become available, it would certainly help the Horry County area which consistently ranks dead last in average worker income among the 335 largest counties in the nation.

The irony here is that wage levels in Horry County have been consistently depressed because of the tourism industry. It’s just over 50 years ago that Horry County business leaders met with then Sen. Strom Thurmond to stop plans for extending I-20 to the coast. They worried an interstate would bring industrial development that would rob them of low wage workers in the hotels, restaurants and tobacco fields in the county.

Myrtle Manor Notoriety

Myrtle Beach’s very own Reality TV show ‘Welcome to Myrtle Manor’ received some unexpected notoriety in the last few days when three of the cast members were arrested in a 48 hour period.

Amanda Adams was arrested for DUI Friday morning followed by the Sunday morning arrests of Lindsay Colbert for DUI and Taylor Burt for Criminal Sexual Conduct with a minor.

The show’s ratings have reportedly been tanking in the last several weeks prompting some to speculate that these run-ins with the law are publicity stunts. However, it’s hard to see DUI and criminal sexual conduct with a minor as publicity stunts.

If attention getting publicity is what the show needs to rebound with viewers, why not bring in the Anna Nicole Smith connection?

After all, cast member Gina Thompson Shelley (the hairdresser) has close ties with the Smith saga that played out after Smith died in a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Seminole, FL in February 2007.

Making Municipalities Fiscally Responsible

With over thirty municipalities throughout the state in violation of South Carolina’s law requiring them to turn in a yearly audit to the State Treasurer, one might say something is not working!

The current law gives municipalities thirteen months to turn in an audit after the end of the fiscal year. If they don’t turn it in by the end of the thirteen months, then the Treasurer is supposed to halt all payments to the municipality until they are in compliance.

Obviously, the system is not working and something needs to change.

In light of this problem, Reps. Goldfinch, Clemmons, Hardwick, H.A. Crawford, Loftis, Barfield, Bedingfield, Hamilton, V.S. Moss, Rivers and G.R. Smith are sponsoring H. 4031. This bill seeks to promote more fiscal accountability on the municipal level.

A common excuse that the municipalities use for not having an audit is lack of funding. The bill requires that all municipalities include funding for an annual audit in their budget; that takes care of that!

New Look for Myrtle Beach Pavilion Site?

Nearly seven years after the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park was torn down, a proposal has surfaced to bring rides back to the nearly vacant site.

According to recent media reports, Strates Shows of Orlando, FL is working with site owner Burroughs & Chapin, Inc. to open a three month, summer season carnival on a portion of the former Pavilion property.

On the surface, bringing rides back to that traditional downtown area of the oceanfront seems like a good idea. It always seemed a bad idea that former B&C president Doug Wendel wanted to do away with the Pavilion in the first place.

Awendaw’s Missing Money

We are hearing the town of Awendaw may be missing money from its public coffers as important bills are not being paid on time.

According to several sources who have contacted us, the town missed its required payment of approximately $270,000, due March 1st to Charleston County for fire service, and nobody’s giving any answers.

Money for the fire service payment comes from a special fire tax district that was set up by town voters to levy taxes, specifically for fire service.

SCDNR Delays International Drive Again

Since International Drive was first proposed, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has thrown one roadblock after another in the way of the project.

Issues with red cockaded woodpeckers, right of way disputes, bear crossings and chain link fences have all been overcome only to find now the DNR has teamed with the Army Corps of Engineers to discover wetlands that have to be mitigated before permanent road construction can begin.

Two absolutes I quickly learned after moving to Horry County 30 years ago were: there is no such thing as a conflict of interest for politicians and there are no wetlands in Horry County. These were written in stone as the county was transformed by development.

Curtis Loftis Exposes Unreported Pension Fees

It became more obvious Monday why the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission wants to silence S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis.

Just a few days after his fellow commissioners voted to censure him, Loftis issued a press release in which he detailed an additional approximately $114 million in unreported fees on the commission’s annual report and financial statements.

The unreported fees are associated with the approximately $3.3 billion “Fund of Hedge Funds” listed in the report, according to a March 4, 2013 letter Loftis sent to Suzanne M. Bernard, a principal in Hewitt EnnisKnupp, Inc., a consulting firm for institutional investors.