As predicted below, Horry County Council voted to award the administrator position to interim administrator and longtime county engineer Steve Gosnell, thereby opting for maintaining the status quo rather than bringing in someone new who may actually look for ways to fix some of the problems within the county.
Only council chairman Johnny Gardner voted for someone other than Gosnell, thereby keeping a campaign promise to strive for positive change in who county government really represents and works for.
Gosnell will essentially be a placeholder while he finishes his final 18 months to two years needed to qualify for full retirement. Council members who work for special interests rather than the interests of the general population in the county will find no staff roadblocks during Gosnell’s tenure.
It is not a coincidence that the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce introduced its new propaganda campaign supporting construction of Interstate 73 on the same day council voted for Gosnell.
County council member Harold Worley orchestrated the vote for Gosnell to be named administrator and this reporter has been told that Worley will lead the effort, albeit probably behind the scenes, to find county funding for I-73 even if it means a new tax on county residents.
The propaganda onslaught has just begun to convince county voters that funding I-73 is much more important than fixing current infrastructure problems; much more important than providing sufficient public safety staffing; much more important than managing runaway development and much more important than mitigating against future flooding.
Some of those mouthing such propaganda may even believe it, but the real motivating factor behind I-73 funding is the profits a relatively few local ‘good ole’ boys’ will realize from the project. To those ‘good ole’ boys’, Horry County residents are merely portable ATM machines from which to draw the tax dollars to provide the profits.
By Paul Gable
A majority of Horry County Council is expected to opt for the status quo tonight by voting to appoint interim administrator Steve Gosnell to the permanent administrator position.
Change comes very slowly to government, even at the local level. Most politicians are afraid of change because it threatens the cozy little world in which they operate and control.
Voters elected change last year when they ousted incumbents in three of the four seriously contested primaries in the county.
Those primary results one year ago were not an aberration, they were a beginning. Voters, especially those who have moved into the county over the last decade, signaled that county government cannot continue to operate as it has or they won’t support it. A majority of county council missed the signal.
Development with no plan to provide the infrastructure and services to support it must be brought under control. Existing roads, (increasing congestion on Hwy 90 and Hwy 905; interconnecting roads in Carolina Forest; flood mitigation on US 501, SC 9 and SC 22), must be addressed before the county considers funding a new road project such as Interstate 73.
The self-inflicted debacle that the county finds itself in over hospitality fees, a revenue stream that could have gone to address some of the infrastructure and services needs, must be resolved.
The appointment of a new administrator was an opportunity to address a key ingredient that has been missing in county government for a long time. Namely, the opportunity to appoint someone who can see the big picture, take a fresh look at county government and develop an overall strategy to address the pressing needs for county goods and services while operating within the general constraints of the current budget.
Instead, county council will opt to maintain the status quo and kick the can down the road for at least two more years while the problems with infrastructure and goods and services go unaddressed.
Unfortunately this does not come as a surprise. Almost immediately after Johnny Gardner defeated incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for council chairman, a Deep Six formed among county council to resist change.
This Deep Six, council members Harold Worley, Tyler Servant, Cam Crawford, Dennis DiSabato, Gary Loftus and Bill Howard, attempted to keep former administrator Chris Eldridge in place even after Eldridge and county attorney Arrigo Carotti attempted to smear Gardner even before he took office.
Over the last year, the Deep Six have worked to keep the ‘good ole’ boy system’ alive and well in the county by obstructing change at every opportunity.
Tonight, the Deep Six will be joined by council members Danny Hardee, Paul Prince and Johnny Vaught in voting for Gosnell instead of someone who could move the county forward.
Five of the above nine votes, DiSabato, Crawford, Loftus, Prince and Hardee come up for reelection next year. They can explain to the voters at that time why supporting the ‘good ole’ boy system’ of special interests is better than serving the community as a whole. What are they trying to hide?
Draining the swamp takes time, especially in a county like Horry that is mostly swamp on several levels.
I believe there is a motivated core group of voters who are not happy with the status quo and understand the need for change if their quality of life is not to be degraded.
Tonight’s vote will only spur them to greater effort in the coming year.