Politics

Lazarus Promises to Listen to Voters, Gardner Already Has

Mark Lazarus is trying to convince voters he has undergone a character metamorphosis and is now running for county council chairman with a changed personality.
The latest is the ‘Lazarus is Listening Tour’ announced in a mailer sent to voters around the county. Putting ‘Lazarus listens’ together is one of the great oxymorons of Horry County political history.
Lazarus lost the chairmanship four years ago precisely because he didn’t listen to the voters or the many employees of county government, especially the public safety personnel.
Lazarus was not listening to the citizens about road problems that needed fixing throughout the county. He was intent on bowing to his Myrtle Beach Chamber pals and giving $40 million annually, from the county’s hospitality tax revenue, to the construction of Interstate 73 while citizens were asking for improvements on the ‘farm to market roads’, such as Hwy 90 and Hwy 905, that serve so many residents.
Lazarus was not listening to the demands of taxpayers for impact fees on new development, even though an advisory referendum showed 3 in 4 county voters wanted impact fees to help pay for the infrastructure and other services associated with new sub-divisions.
Lazarus was certainly not listening to the police and fire personnel working for the county asking for help with the long hours and low pay they were suffering from.
When challenged about how he was going to address these conditions by police and fire representatives at a community forum in Burgess, Lazarus stormed off the stage and out of the event with “I don’t have to listen to any more of this abuse.”
Lazarus and his then campaign consultant, Rep. Heather Crawford, doubled down on this demonstration that Lazarus ‘does not listen’ by calling the police and fire personnel asking the challenging questions “Thugs.”

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Will Cabal Money Overcome Citizen Interests?

The main story of the 2022 Republican Primary election campaigns in Horry County is going to be one of how the developers and tourist interests of the Myrtle Beach cabal pour money into campaigns of their preferred candidates in hopes those candidates will defeat the candidates who represent the interests of the citizens first.
Several stories have been written in local media over the past few days detailing donors to cabal favored candidates Jenna Dukes, Mark Lazarus and Carla Schuessler.
Dukes is challenging Harold Worley in Horry County District 1. Worley is the longest serving member on county council and one whose signature is to often urge the council to “Do the right thing for the people of Horry County.”
Lazarus, a former Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce board president, is challenging Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner, who took the chairmanship from Lazarus four years ago, a defeat that Lazarus has yet to get over.
Schuessler, a former Chamber board president, is vying with Conway businessman John Cassidy in the new House District 61 seat in the county.
All three cabal candidates, Dukes, Lazarus and Schuessler were the recipients of the campaign donation largesse of cabal members and associates in the development and tourism industries as the stories in local media documented.
Dukes and Lazarus tried to paint their fundraising as coming from a broad range of donors who are anxious for change from the respective incumbents they are running against. In neither case is that narrative true. Neither has support that extends beyond the limited numbers of cabal members who can’t get their own way with Worley and Gardner and want them replaced.

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Myrtle Beach Cabal Pushing Influence in June Republican Primaries – Is it Legal?

With filing completed and the first campaign disclosure reports in, the choices in many of the June 14th Republican Primaries for local offices will be between candidates supported by the Myrtle Beach cabal versus candidates supported by the people.
In case you are confused about the makeup of the cabal, it is the development lobby that wants no restrictions and no impact fees on development in the county and the tourism lobby that continues to push for an ever more expensive proposed I-73 at the expense of local roads and other infrastructure. In other words, the group that wants to pad their pocketbooks at the expense of the taxpayers.
And because the cabal expects to pad their pocketbooks if their candidates win, it is showering the campaign accounts of its chosen candidates with dollars.
The main benefactors of cabal largesse so far are Mark Lazarus in the Horry County Chairman race, Jenna Dukes in Horry County Council District 1 and Carla Schuessler in the new House District 61. Lazarus and Schuessler are both former chairman of the Myrtle Beach Chamber board.
Lazarus has collected $138,000 in donations, Dukes received $96,000 and Schuessler received $42,000.
And one must question the due diligence the cabal uses in picking candidates to back because the word around the area is both Dukes and Schuessler have stronger ties to Democrats than Republicans.
Bill Howard, incumbent in Horry County Council District 2, may also be considered a cabal preferred candidate although he hasn’t begun collecting campaign donations yet. However, Howard donated $1,000 to Lazarus and is considered a safe vote on council for cabal interests.
Sifting through the campaign reports, Dukes received nine donations of $1,000 each from contractor Benji Hardee. Hardee reportedly convinced Dukes to run against incumbent Harold Worley because of personal animus toward Worley and his votes on county council. The nine donations are run through companies, llc’s and investment entities tied to Hardee.

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Dr. Oz, Russell Fry – Where are Trump’s MAGA Candidates?

Former President Donald Trump’s weekend endorsement of Mehmet Cengiz Oz (Dr. Oz) for the U. S. Senate from Pennsylvania makes one wonder how Trump has drifted so far from his Make America Great Again base.
Most of Trump’s MAGA supporters in the S C 7th Congressional District have been pondering that question for more than a month since Trump endorsed Russell Fry, a bona fide member in good standing of the Horry County ‘Swamp’.
How does a man (Oz) who was born in the United States of Turkish immigrant parents, who still holds dual citizenship (U.S. and Turkey) and who served in the Turkish Army (but not the U.S. Army) in order to maintain his Turkish citizenship get an America First endorsement? Oz has said he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if he’s elected to the Senate, but, apparently not if he loses.
(As a veteran of ten years of active duty service in the U. S. Navy, I find it offensive that a candidate for U. S. Senate would even consider keeping dual citizenship, or, put another way – split allegiance between two countries.)
How does any of this fit into Trump’s ‘America First’ mold?
And the above doesn’t consider Oz’s support of the transgender movement, including voicing support for biological males who are now competing in women’s sports, a No-No for MAGA conservatives.

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Council Member Bill Howard Cost His Constituents Two Years in Their Attempt to Prohibit Discharge of Fireworks in Their Neighborhoods

Horry County Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday night, referred Ordinance 155-2021, dealing with the establishment of “Fireworks Free Zones” in the county, back to the county Public Safety Committee for further study before considering third reading of the ordinance.
If the ordinance ever passes third reading, it appears inevitable it will be struck down by state courts because of the legally settled Doctrine of Preemption.
State law, section 23-35-175 (c), states “an owner, a lessee or managing authority of real property may establish a Fireworks Prohibited Zone by (1) filing a Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited Agreement with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the subject property.”
The Doctrine of Preemption simply stated holds if the law of a higher government authority, in this case S. C. Code sec. 23-35-175(c), preempts the law of a lower government authority, in this case Horry County Ordinance 155-2021, then the law of the lower government authority is declared invalid.
Or, in this case, it appears the procedure for establishing a “Fireworks Prohibited Zone” in sec. 23-35-175(c) of state law preempts the procedure for establishing a “Fireworks Free Zone” in county Ordinance 155-2021.
Why has county attorney Arrigo Carotti not informed council of this probable result during council discussions of the ordinance?
It would seem stopping the ordinance now, since the procedure for fireworks prohibition already exists in state law, would be preferable to passing third reading of the ordinance only to see it struck down in state court after thousands of dollars of taxpayer money is spent trying to defend the indefensible.

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County Council to Consider Third Reading of Illegal Fireworks Prohibition Ordinance

Horry County Council has a final chance to stop passage of an illegal fireworks ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
If a majority of council insists on voting to approve third reading of Ordinance 155-2021 “providing for the regulation of the discharge of fireworks within the county by the way of establishing county no fireworks areas”, as the agenda item reads, council will have accomplished nothing other than opening the county up to another waste of taxpayer dollars lawsuit that it will lose.
This proposed ordinance has received no better legal scrutiny than the one that saw council unilaterally eliminate the sunset clause on the county’s original hospitality fee legislation under the urging of Mark Lazarus. The county lost every court ruling in the lawsuit challenging that action before coming to a settlement with the cities that challenged the ordinance.
GSD has contacted representatives of the fireworks industry who have said the association will immediately challenge the legality of the ordinance in court, if it is passed.
The state fireworks association is already seriously considering challenging the fireworks prohibition ordinances in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, which are also illegal under state law.
Readers should note Surfside Beach recently made major amendments to fireworks prohibitions within the town limits similar to those in place in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. Discussion among council about removing fireworks prohibitions in Surfside Beach centered around the illegality of the prohibitions.
Why would county council consider passing an ordinance that so clearly ignores the requirements outlined in state law for establishing fireworks prohibited zones?
Why would county staff draft an ordinance that clearly ignores state law?
Political considerations apparently outweighing obeying state law in this case.

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Russell Fry’s ‘Goofy’ Campaign for Congress

Filing closed Wednesday for this year’s June 14th Republican primaries. Normally the close of filing brings the beginning of ‘silly season’ in politics.
However, this year, the Russell Fry campaign to replace Tom Rice as the SC 7th Congressional District Congressman started ‘silly season’ early.
Fry waited until August 2021 to announce he was running for Congress until he was virtually certain that establishment pols like Henry McMaster and Drew McKissick could get his campaign endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Fry also waited eight months to criticize Rice’s January 13, 2021 vote to impeach Trump. Now he can’t stop talking about Rice as a “Trump impeacher.” Fry is a little slow on the uptake.
Fry has used the term ‘committed conservative’ to describe his political voting stance. However, the American Conservative Union gives Fry a 58% overall voting record for his first five years in the SC House. Sounds more like a RINO voting record to me.
After the Trump endorsement last month, the Fry campaign ran its first political ad, a ridiculous cartoon style creation featuring paid actors to portray such characters as the Joker and the Devil.
Then, voters in the 7th Congressional District were treated to a Fry video announcing, “Damn, it sure is great to be a Gangster.”
Since filing for candidacy opened in the middle of March 2022, the Fry campaign has treated voters to two email messages. (see below)

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County Staff Puts Council Members in No Win Position with Fireworks and Sexual Predator Ordinances

Horry County Council is currently considering two ordinances that appear to be attempted end runs around state law and with the probability they will both be declared unconstitutional when challenged.
One of those ordinances deals with establishing “fireworks free zones” by resolution of county council “in addition to those designated fireworks prohibited zones” under state law.
The other ordinance states the “County Council desires to protect minors” by adding additional requirements and monitoring for ‘child oriented’ businesses by attempting to root out potential sexual predators before issuing business licenses.
In a county whose politicians profess to be so very “conservative”, these ordinances are vast expansions of governmental regulation into the private sector. And just because a new law is passed, there is no guarantee that less fireworks will be discharged in a given area or children will be more protected from potential predators.
The county doesn’t have the resources to effectively enforce the provisions of either ordinance.
Having ordinances that are unenforceable or illegal drafted and put into the legislative process is a failure on the part of county senior staff.
While council sets policy and staff carries out that policy, staff members are not excused in this process from failing to point out to council what is bad or illegal policy. In the case of these ordinances, we have both bad and illegal policy. Why do we have a county legal staff, for example, if this is not the case?

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County Council a Step Closer to Passing Illegal Fireworks Prohibition Ordinance

Horry County Council passed second reading of a proposed ordinance that would allow council to restrict the use of fireworks in zones of their choosing in direct violation of state law.
One would think a county government currently in the process of refunding over one million dollars of illegally collected stormwater fees would pay close attention to what it can and what it can’t do with regard to state law.
Evidently not!
Because one thing is certain, the proposed ordinance, which would allow county council by resolution to establish fireworks prohibited zones in the unincorporated areas of the county, is in direct violation of state law.
The proposed ordinance, as written, directly contravenes both the spirit and letter of state law.
The proposed ordinance, 155-2021, sub-section c states: “County No Fireworks Areas shall be any geographic location, as determined by County Council, wherein the prohibition against fireworks under this section is deemed appropriate. Such areas may be designated only by Resolution of County Council and must state with adequate specificity the area encompassed as to be readily identifiable by the general public and Horry County officials and employees.”
State law, section 23-35-175 (C) states “an owner, a lessee or managing authority of real property may establish a Fireworks Prohibited Zone by (1) filing a Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited Agreement with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the subject property.”

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Solicitor Jimmy Richardson Endorses Allen Beverly for Probate Judge

Horry County Probate Judge candidate Allen Beverly picked up an important endorsement this week when Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson endorsed his candidacy.
“Allen Beverly has studied under Probate Judge Kathy Ward as her Assistant Probate Judge and is ready to bring the same drive, compassion and honesty to Horry County,” said Richardson in his endorsement statement. “I am pleased to endorse Judge Beverly in his candidacy to continue the great service we have come to enjoy.”
Beverly is seeking to succeed Judge Kathy Ward as she has chosen to retire rather than seek another term in office.
Endorsements are funny things. Some can mean quite a lot to a candidacy, others virtually nothing.
In the case of the Richardson endorsement, Beverly gets a nod from not only a popular incumbent in Richardson, but also a man whose judgement is respected by the employees in what can be called the ‘courthouse crowd’, which is extremely important to any countywide candidacy.
In addition, Richardson is not a buddy politician endorsing a friend, he is knowledgeable of the work of Beverly since the Solicitor’s Office and the Probate Court judges interact in the special Drug Court, which is one of the areas under the auspices of the Probate Judge.