By Paul Gable
The Myrtle Beach city elections are just over three weeks away and the game of keep the incumbents in power is in full swing.
There were competing op-eds in local media recently between local writer Mande Wilkes and Myrtle Beach public information officer Mark Kruea that are of note in this election season.
The opinions expressed in the two columns demonstrate the current disconnect between Myrtle Beach city officials and the people who live and work in the city.
Wilkes criticized the “Asian fetish” of Myrtle Beach City Council while stifling local business investors with “the bizarre zoning laws, the oppressive signing ordinances, the climbing licensing fees, and the restrictive parking policies.”
“All of these rules add up to a suffocating environment for businesses, and that’s why Highway 17 is littered with empty storefronts and dilapidated buildings,” Wilkes wrote.
“I wonder if it’s common for a relatively small-town mayor to be paid to jetset across the globe,” Wilkes speculated.
We agree with Wilkes’ assessment. Myrtle Beach City Council ignores locals while looking for big hitters from abroad. She stung council enough that an official response was deemed necessary.
Kruea responded that Rhodes’ trip to China was for “tourism development” not “business recruitment.” He claimed Chinese-Americans based in the United States were the ones making investments in the Myrtle Beach area.
(That’s not what we are hearing about the investment partnerships that have purchased a number of local golf courses and hotels recently.)
More outlandish was a diatribe Kruea went into about a Rhodes trip to Tiberias, Israel.
“As a coastal tourism town of about our size, with significant sports facilities, Tiberias and Myrtle Beach have much in common. Again, increased tourism is the goal,” Kruea wrote.
Tiberias is a coastal town like Chicago is a coastal city. It sits on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, dating back to at least the Roman Empire period. It has many historical attractions and religious sites in the town and the nearby area, including the burial site of many Jewish sages, the remains of a crusader castle, the Mount of Beatitudes and the site of Jesus’ baptism.
It is hard to see how the Myrtle Manor production site compares to those types of attractions.
Tiberias and Myrtle Beach both attract tourists, but, I don’t see anything else in common between the two.
Back to the upcoming election.
In our opinion, the incumbent city council members continue to ignore the plight of the locals, especially in the south end of Myrtle Beach (the historic roots of the city) while attempting to play up to perceived big hitters from abroad.
It’s past time for a change. There will be one new council member as Susan Grissom Means is not seeking re-election, but it would be nice to see three new faces next January.
Otherwise, the yuan may become the new medium of exchange within the city confines while locals are increasingly forced out.