By Paul Gable
“The Greatest Show on Earth” closed last month after 146 years of performances, but the circus remains alive and well among Horry County Council members.
Unfortunately for members, Horry County Council meetings will never be known as “The Greatest Show on Earth”. But, they may well be ranked high among the weirdest shows in politics.
Considering the dysfunctional mess that passes for federal government in Washington, D.C., that is not a ranking to be proud of.
Tuesday’s regular meeting of Horry County Council saw council members jumping through hoops to avoid making what seems an obvious decision regarding the Horry County Solid Waste Authority board.
The show apparently allowed the candidacy of Norfleet Jones for reappointment to the SWA board to remain alive for a little longer.
Jones served two consecutive terms on the SWA board from 2004-2012. After a one year hiatus, Jones was reappointed to the SWA board in 2013 for another four year term and is now seeking reappointment.
According to Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti, Jones was illegally appointed to the authority board in 2013 because he only had the one year hiatus, after serving two consecutive terms on the board, instead of the at least two years required by Horry County ordinance.
According to Carotti, Jones is not eligible for reappointment since his current board term appointment was not made in accordance with Horry County law.
That explanation should have made the appointment of Sam Johnson, the other candidate for appointment to the SWA board, a slam dunk.
Instead, council members chose to go through a convoluted debate that ended with a motion to defer the vote.
During the debate, the idea was put forth to amend Horry County Code in order to make the required time off the board one year, instead of the current two, before a person may be reappointed to the SWA board after serving two consecutive terms.
This would not make Jones’ last four years of service legal. But, it could serve to allow him to be reappointed to a new four year term.
The obvious question is why not just vote to appoint Johnson to the SWA board? There is no good reason that did not happen.
However, the obvious answer may be because this is Horry County where the laws do not apply and, if for some reason they do, they must be changed.
Even more outrageous was a statement made by council chairman Mark Lazarus. Lazarus said during the discussion that if council votes to amend the ordinance to possibly make Jones eligible for reappointment, he (Lazarus) will immediately support changing the ordinance back to its current requirements.
Think about that. Lazarus advocated bringing forward a three reading ordinance amendment to, possibly, make Jones eligible for reappointment only to immediately bring forward another three reading ordinance amendment to change the requirements back.
Only in Horry County!
Why shouldn’t Jones be subjected to the same requirements as every other candidate? Why is council so apparently ready to grant him an exception?
There is a lot more than meets the eye to this situation. I don’t know what that may be, but I will endeavor to discover what is really behind all these machinations and make those reasons known to the voters of Horry County.
There is absolutely no reason council should go through a convoluted process to amend an ordinance, then, immediately amend it back just to benefit one person.