By Paul Gable
Five weeks remain before voting begins in the Myrtle Beach city council elections and it looks like the incumbents don’t want to face the public in other than a completely controlled environment.
Two years ago, we were told the city was safer than ever. There was an ad campaign complete with thousands of mailers claiming so. We know that claim was incorrect when it was made and things have only gotten worse since.
National crime statistics just came out showing Myrtle Beach had a double digit increase last year in violent crimes.
The recent shooting incident near Futrell Park puts an exclamation point on a situation which has been basically ignored by city officials.
Mayor John Rhodes recently blamed the iphone for hurting the image of the city by spreading negative pictures and comments about it. What Mayor Rhodes forgets is iphones and the people who use them can only show what is happening and comment on it. They do not create the incidents that are shown, at least not yet.
This is exactly the type of detached thinking and denial of what is happening that is hurting the city.
Or am I wrong? Was there really no shooting on Ocean Boulevard, or at Futrell Park? Was this just something an iphone made up and spread throughout the internet?
Eighteen months ago, Bennie Swans, Jon Bonsignor and Tim McCray went before city council to ask for help with problems around the Futrell Park area. They were basically called traitors and told their words would hurt tourism in the city.
However, a problem doesn’t go away when it is ignored. Maybe, if the city council had listened to rather than attacked what was being said, a young pregnant girl would not have been shot in a car last week killing her and her unborn baby.
City staff has chosen to blame crimes in Myrtle Beach on Confederate flags and suggestive merchandise sold in some beachwear stores on Ocean Boulevard. Staff even had a surrogate on the board of the Downtown Redevelopment Commission send a letter to city council members stating the same.
Ignore the problem or use it for your own devices. Just make sure you don’t admit the truth. Such seems to be the mantra of city officials.
The current council sits on its hands while allowing city staff to come up with some of the most outrageous plans (eminent domain to seize private property in the Superblock, spend $10 million or more on a building for Chapin Memorial Library and the Children’s Museum, essentially privatize the Golden Mile and more).
Eighteen months ago we heard how Chinese investors were going to put $100 million or so into a development on the former Hard Rock Park site. Mayor Rhodes was even suggesting Horry County Schools teach Mandarin.
We now know that $100 million investment was a pipe dream and investments into golf courses and development properties in Horry County, made by Chinese companies, now look to be part of a Ponzi scheme. So much for bringing development and jobs to the area.
What can be said is that the safety and quality of life of average citizens has deteriorated more since the last election cycles.
But, if you refuse to participate in public forums, refuse to engage with the general population of the city and stick to your own carefully controlled groups during the campaign, you never get the message.