HCSWA Board Just Doesn’t Get It

By Paul Gable

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) board ignored business while spending one-third of its meeting time Tuesday night in what appeared to be a choreographed criticism over the verbiage in emails sent by board member Dan Gray.

The entire exercise was utterly ridiculous, but it did accomplish its probable goal of altering the discussion from what the HCSWA board and staff is not doing to chastising the one board member who has the courage to point out what the board and authority should be doing.

The email that offended the board members is quoted below in its entirety. It was sent in reference to the public meeting held by the authority recently to discuss plans for HCSWA property after closure of the landfill.

 “Such an arrogant and ill-advised method of announcing County business…disposition of 2,000 acres of public land.  Invitation should be from Chairmen of County Council and Solid Waste Advisory Board.  The Executive Director should be in background as facilitator only.  Not acting as the presiding officer.  The excess land belongs to the people, not unelected hired hands.  Can you imagine Mayors John Rhodes or Marilyn Hatley putting up with such blatant disregard?  It is they who stand before the people, like all our mayors and councilpersons.  This high-handedness compounds the folly of the original disclosure by the Solid Waste Executive Director in the Sun News on Wednesday of last week.  The SWA Board or County Council had no prior knowledge and there was no comment or mention by either Chairmen, neither during or following the regular August meeting.  Amazing dismissal of public accountability.

“What Horry County and its cities should be doing is developing plans for trash disposal beyond year 2035  Plenty of money is set aside for closure and post closure ($79 Million) of existing landfills to protect the public.  We have only a few short years to figure out what to do when we run out of a place to put our trash.  Export it to another county or state at much higher cost?  Build more landfills in Horry County?  Where? Your backyard?

“Object lesson?  Don’t spend money on play things until we take care of garbage disposal business first.”

Chairing last night’s meeting, board member Lance Thompson called the tone of the email “derogatory and disrespectful.” His intro and comments by other board members had all the appearances of an orchestrated ‘let’s all jump on Dan Gray’ exercise.

Frankly, I find nothing wrong with the email and to be so thin-skinned about the verbiage in it is nonsensical! I have often called the HCSWA board and senior staff arrogant – they are!

The board has no planning as to what will happen with solid waste generated within the county after the Hwy 90 landfill runs out of space, but it is planning for recreational use of its property after closure.

The board is worried about losing the income generated by its flow control monopoly over waste generated in the county while giving passing comment to the need to save landfill space. Wouldn’t allowing at least construction and demolition debris to be removed from the flow control monopoly result in saved landfill space?

The board is constituted under an ordinance of the county that specifically states the purpose of the authority is to find “an acceptable alternative method of solid waste disposal” and to “reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills” (in the county).

Doesn’t that purpose fly in the face of any argument to continue the flow control monopoly?

‘Derogatory and disrespectful’ tone is in the eyes of the beholder. But to waste one-third of a board business meeting discussing the exercise of what is a constitutional right of all American citizens seems to be a complete waste of time when more important issues, concerned with the primary business of solid waste disposal, go un-discussed.

And they wonder why they are called ‘arrogant’. It was not an impressive performance Tuesday night, but it did highlight why other answers must be found for the business of solid waste management within the county.

Leave a Comment