Politics

American Conservative Voices Hears of Need for Judicial Reform

The American Conservative Voices group hosted 1st Judicial Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, 16th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett and York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson Tuesday night to hear recommendations on judicial reform in South Carolina.
South Carolina is one of only two states in the Union (Virginia being the other) where judicial appointments are controlled by the legislature. In the remaining 48 states, judges are popularly elected by the people.
Consequently, the judicial branch in South Carolina is in reality not a separate and equal branch of government, but one, at least indirectly, controlled by the General Assembly. Judges’ rulings can, and often are, second guessed by legislators, which can directly affect whether a judge will remain on the bench.
Pascoe gave examples of two different judges who were up for reappointment with no other candidates for their position, but, because each had made a ruling against a legislator-lawyer before them in a case, failed to get through the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) part of the judicial appointment process. These were sitting judges, up for reappointment, who failed to be reappointed just because they had made a legislator-lawyer mad at them. That is not an independent judiciary.
The JMSC is composed of 10 members, three members of the House and three members of the Senate along with four non-legislators. The three House members and two of the non-legislators are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the three Senate members and two of the non-legislators are appointed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. This makeup of the commission makes it easy to see how making just one House member or Senator mad at you can tank a candidate’s appointment or reappointment to the bench.

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American Conservative Voices Presents

Solicitors David Pascoe and Kevin Brackett and Sheriff Kevin Tolson to speak about the justice system in South Carolina including comments about the politics involved.
Pascoe was the lead solicitor in one of the most high profile political corruption cases in South Carolina.
Brackett and Tolson are currently involved in an investigation into how public funds were used with the failed attempt to bring the Carolina Panthers training facility to upstate South Carolina.
A free BBQ buffet will be open to all attendees. The only price of admission is a free, unwrapped toy present to be distributed to the children in foster care at Connie Maxwell Children’s Home.
The buffet and speeches will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday December 6, 2022 at Simple Southern Smokehouse.

County Council Vote Does Not Settle Issue of Development Height for Hwy 905 Sub-division

Horry County Council’s decision to not amend its supplemental flood zone regulations did not settle the issue that caused an amendment to be considered in the first place.
At the center of the issue is a plot of land sub-divided into 46 lots for development off of Hwy 905. The land was prepared for development in accordance with FEMA requirements.
Then, Horry County Council passed a new flood ordinance establishing flood zones supplemental to the FEMA maps and requiring homes in those areas to be built a further three feet above FEMA required levels.
Initially, the developers were assured by county staff members that the 46-lot project would be grandfathered to the requirements before the new flood ordinance was passed. Then, according to sources familiar with the issue, county staff reversed its position and said the new supplemental flood zone requirements would have to be met by this project.
Great Southern Homes, the developer of the land, immediately appealed the latest version from county staff to the Horry County Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals. The county board found in favor of the developer, granting the appeal.

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As Trump Runneth Again, Whither Goest Fry?

The Red Wave that was expected to bring the Republican Party a 40 or so seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and control of the U.S. Senate failed to materialize.
The Republicans will wind up with a very small majority in the House, but control of the Senate is gone for at least another two years.
Donald Trump planned to ride atop the red wave to an announcement of his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination gloating over victories by his endorsed candidates for House, Senate and governorships. Most of those, especially the ones in swing states, lost, drawing into question whether Trump can win the upcoming 2024 presidential contest.
Questioned about his candidates before last week’s election, Trump said, “If they win, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all.” The statement comes as no surprise as Trump always wants all the credit, but doesn’t take the blame for anything including his loss in the 2020 presidential election.
The losses among many of Trump’s endorsed candidates, the failure to gain control of the Senate and the probability of only a small majority in the House have caused some Republican officeholders, party officials, strategists and conservative pundits to question whether they should support a Trump candidacy again.

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Lazarus Letter to S.C. Election Commission Executive Director has Odor of Sour Grapes

Mark Lazarus sent a letter to South Carolina Election Commission Executive Director Howard Knapp last week expressing dissatisfaction with the explanation the commission gave to Horry County Council for the mishandling of approximately 1,400 ballots in the June 2022 primary runoff elections.
The letter included the following statements, “I am disappointed in the state election commission’s refusal to ensure this election be conducted in a fair and competent manner, or to offer any remedy to legitimize this election that was tainted by a failed absentee ballot outcome…The Election Commission claims in their response such an error is “unacceptable,” and yet the commission deems as acceptable the skewed election results it produced?”
And
“Now that the state election commission has admitted the mishandling of 1,400 Republican ballots in the Horry County Council chairman’s race that was determined by about 250 votes, what will be done to remedy this election and determine who really won…I look forward to your response in how this situation can be remedied, and the 1,400 absentee voters’ rights and votes are restored to this race.”
The first thing that must be stated is Johnny Gardner won the election. There is no question of that fact. The wrong ballots were initially mailed to approximately 1,400 Republican voters. However, there is nothing on record to indicate even one vote cast, as stipulated in state law, was not counted. There are no remedies necessary nor 1,400 missing votes to be restored!

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New Political Group Using Veterans to Gain Credibility

An email to Horry County Council members from the Horry County Republican Party’s former 7th Congressional District elector, Jim Furry, introduced a new political group, Horry County Conservative Alliance (HCCA), while announcing a fundraiser to help homeless veterans.
As a veteran, I am always offended when political organizations, whatever their persuasion on the political spectrum, use veterans in order to gain credibility. It is readily apparent from the contents of the email that is exactly what is happening in this instance.
Titled “Rally for Veterans 2022”, the first four paragraphs are a discussion of the current turmoil within the Horry County Republican Party, including the resignations of party leaders, and how this new group hopes to build a “cadre who will operate the Republican Party…”
It is not until the fifth paragraph that veterans are mentioned in this “Rally for Veterans 2022” email. It announces the HCCA is teaming with the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center to conduct a fundraiser at the Conference Center at Barefoot Landing on Saturday October 22, 2022, to raise money for the Center’s “Tiny Home Project” for homeless veterans.
The Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center is a wonderful organization that began as a vision in the mind of its founder, Kris Tourtellotte, an Army Vietnam Veteran. His initial goal was to organize ‘Welcome Home’ events for veterans returning to the area from Iraq, Afghanistan and other assignments around the world, to thank those veterans for their service to the country and to inform them of various resources, including navigating the Veterans Administration, for veterans in the county.

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Chamber Messaging Takes Another Hit

The arrival of property tax bills for City of Myrtle Beach residents recently put another mark in the strike column against the accuracy of messaging from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
A visit to the website “tourismworksforus.com”, which the Chamber uses to justify its continued receipt of tens of millions of public dollars mainly from the Tourism Development Fee (TDF), clearly shows a statement that no longer applies today.
Under the heading “What do you get for your money as a resident of the City of Myrtle Beach”, the statement, “For the current 2020-21 fiscal year, the TDF provides a 76 percent credit toward city property taxes,” gives a false impression of current facts.
The current fiscal year, 2022-2023, tax bills show the TDF credit now applied toward property taxes is 67.5%. This tax credit applies only to owner-occupied dwellings. As the number of owner-occupied homes continues to increase within the city limits, which the current construction boom guarantees it will, the tax credit percentage applied toward each individual tax bill will continue to decrease. Even with the TDF credit, the amount of property taxes paid out of pocket by city homeowners will rise.

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One Cent Sales Tax for Education Worth Every Penny

On the November 8, 2022 general election ballot, Horry County voters will be asked to approve the reimposition of the one-cent Education Capital Improvement Sales and Use Tax for an additional 15 years.
The revenue from this tax is used to keep millage low on property tax for debt indebtedness levied by the Horry County School District throughout Horry County. The current property tax for debt indebtedness by Horry County Schools is 10 mills.
In November 2008, Horry County voters approved a referendum to collect a one-cent local option Education Capital Improvement Sales and Use Tax. The tax will end in March 2024 unless it is reimposed with a new referendum. Since the one-cent sales tax was first approved, property tax millage for school bond indebtedness has been reduced from 28 mills to 10 mills.
Revenue from the tax may be used for capital improvements. It may not be used for salaries, benefits and other personnel costs.

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Riordan Claims No Political Work by Chamber, the Record is Different

“The Chamber of Commerce does absolutely no political work. We advocate for issues. We never advocate for candidates. We do not have any budget to do that.” – Karen Riordan, CEO MBACC
The above words were spoken by Riordan during the regular meeting of county council Tuesday night in response to questions from Horry County Council member Al Allen about the Chamber’s financial contributions to the Grand Strand Business Alliance.
Riordan explained about the Chamber accounting with respect to public and private money. The public money comes from local and state governments from 30% of accommodations tax revenue, approximately 80% of tourism development fee revenue and various state grants, approximately $51 million per year in recent years.
Private money comes to the Chamber in the form of membership dues, ad sales on the VisitMyrtleBeach.com website and other sources.
Riordan said when member organizations pay their annual dues, they can “voluntarily” elect to have 18% of the annual fee given to the GSBA. She did not mention but it is known that a percentage of the money from the ad sales also goes to the GSBA.

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County Council to Vote on Accommodations Tax Tourism Promotion Appropriation Tonight

Horry County Council will consider extending its contract with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for distribution of the 30% accommodations tax collections state law mandates must go for tourism promotion.
The extension will be for one final year. Next year a new contract must be negotiated by the county and it is hoped other direct marketing organizations will step forward to compete with the Chamber for this contract.
When the accommodations tax enabling legislation was passed by the General Assembly over 20 years ago, the provision mandating 30% of the revenue collected must be spent for tourism promotion was included specifically at the request of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and its CEO at the time Ashby Ward.
The Chamber was a struggling organization at the time with membership dues providing most of its operating revenue and a modest little white building on Kings Highway serving as its headquarters.
Accommodations tax money provided the Chamber with its first taste of a steady stream of public tax dollars into its coffers. Over the first decade of this century, ‘greed is good’ apparently became the unofficial motto with grants from the General Assembly added to those coffers and, beginning in 2009, the institution of the tourism development fee.

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