By Paul Gable
Myrtle Beach City Council Tuesday approved an overlay district on a portion of Ocean Boulevard that will ban legal products from being sold on the basis they are not “family friendly.”
Family friendly is an excuse the city administrator and city council roll out when they have no solid reason for doing something.
In my opinion, the majority five council members who voted for the ban, Brenda Bethune, Phil Render, Mike Chestnut, Jackie Vereen and Mary Jeffcoat took a position on the issue that is arrogant, ill-considered and downright embarrassing.
If the five believe the issue is settled, I doubt it is.
To quote Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Churchill was correct, five long years of war remained.
I fully expect the legality of the ordinance to be challenged in court. But city council doesn’t care because they will not be paying from their pockets to defend a lawsuit if one is forthcoming. It will be your taxpayer dollars that are wasted just as they were with the ill-fated helmet law council passed some years ago.
Local attorney Reese Boyd pointed out during the meeting that the ordinance has changed by 70 percent or more since it passed first reading in May 2017. This draws into question whether the ordinance received a true second and final reading Tuesday.
The ordinance targets businesses that are Jewish owned bringing into question how it stands up to the anti-discrimination precepts contained in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
It is absolutely ridiculous that a targeted product can be sold on one block of Ocean Boulevard but not on the next, as will be the case if the ordinance withstands expected legal challenges. “Family friendly” is evidently determined by geography.
Is it because of who owns the targeted businesses and not about what they sell?
If so, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that a case of conspiracy could be alleged.
Why does the city only want a portion of Ocean Boulevard to be “family friendly”?
One could argue the ordinance is decidedly unfriendly to the Jewish families who own the targeted businesses, some of whom have done so for decades.
The five members of city council who voted for the ordinance can’t believe the issue is settled. What comes next will be much more interesting.
And sales of alcohol will continue to be okay in the “family friendly” overlay district.