Local Politicians Risk Lives in Supporting I-73 Over Public Safety

By Paul Gable

According to recent statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Myrtle Beach is the third most dangerous city of over 10,000 residents in the country.

According to those statistics, Myrtle Beach has nearly double the murders per 1,000 population as the national average. Among other violent crimes, Myrtle Beach has nearly four times the number of rapes, three and one-half times the number of robberies and three times the number of assaults as the national average.

Last month, the website for Coastal Law, of which Russell Fry is one of the two practicing attorneys, posted a story about these Myrtle Beach statistics. The entire story can be viewed at this link: https://coastal-law.com/myrtle-beach-crime-rates-are-we-the-3rd-most-dangerous-city-in-america/

With the crime rate so high in the city in which he practices law and wants to represent in Congress, why is Fry so effusive in his support of the plan for funding Interstate 73 by using locally collected hospitality fee revenue from Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Horry County? This public revenue could be put to better use funding additional public safety personnel and equipment as well as other, more critical, local infrastructure needs.

One could conclude that Fry is more interested in supporting the interests of those who fund his campaigns than he is in improving the welfare of those he currently represents and those he hopes to represent in Congress.

A true, conservative politician would prioritize the spending of local public dollars solving the issues that currently reduce the quality of life of his or her constituents, such as crime and poor infrastructure, rather than spending those limited public dollars on a new boondoggle project.

If Fry believes only new projects give life to his campaign, why isn’t he promoting construction of the SELL road, which would give a new access road to his current southeastern Horry County constituents in House District 106, rather than I-73?

Fry is not alone, among local politicians, in ignoring the need to fight crime in Myrtle Beach and improve current infrastructure in favor of spending locally generated tax dollars on the I-73 boondoggle.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune has done nothing to reduce crime rates in Myrtle Beach during her current nearly four-year term in office. Bethune was joined at the governor’s press conference by city council members Jackie Hatley, Gregg Smith and John Krajc. Bethune, Hatley and Smith are on the ballot for reelection next month.

The campaign website bethuneformayor.com sent out an email after the governor’s visit last week praising the “great news” the governor “pledged 300 million in state funding” (he didn’t because he can’t pledge state funding) to take the next steps on I-73. The email said “we (city council) are committed to investing in this important infrastructure to our area.”

Why not invest in reducing crime instead?

State Rep. Case Brittain, whose House District 107 includes Myrtle Beach, and county council members Dennis DiSabato and Bill Howard, whose council districts include Myrtle Beach, were all on board at the governor’s press conference praising the benefits of I-73 and voicing support for local funding for the project while ignoring the crime problems in the city they represent.

But not all politicians are so easily fooled by the propaganda surrounding I-73.

Dillon City Council voted unanimously Monday night for a resolution to not support the current plans to complete I-73. One of the concerns is the road would not help and, in fact, may hurt the Dillon economy counter to the statement of Congressman Tom Rice last week at the governor’s press conference.

The Dillon County Republican Party previously posted on its website that it opposed construction of I-73 because it would hurt the Dillon economy.

Dillon County is included in the S. C. 7th Congressional District that Rice currently represents and Fry wants to represent in the next Congressional session. The vote by city council and statement by the Republican Party only demonstrate how far out of touch both Rice and Fry are with the voters they hope to support them in the upcoming June 2022 Republican Primary for the 7th District.

There will be much more to be heard from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and its associated cronies who are pushing propaganda about the benefits of I-73, which is resonating with the politicians they donate to but not with the voters who will actually cast ballots in upcoming elections.

Meanwhile crime rates remain high in the tourist destination these politicians represent and which the Chamber spends tens of millions of public dollars each year promoting.

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