By Paul Gable
Just a few more days remain until the first round of voting takes place in the 2017 Myrtle Beach city elections.
Mercifully, that means only a few days remain in this season of political speak which bears little to no resemblance to the truth.
We have heard Mayor John Rhodes and the two incumbent city councilmen running for re-election, Randal Wallace and Mike Lowder, tout how they passed the largest tax cut in the history of the state.
This is not true. They passed a one percent increase in the city sales tax, 80% of which pays the marketing budgets of the largest businesses in the tourism industry. As part of that legislation, the three incumbents and their cohorts on city council used most of the remaining 20% from that tax to give tax rebates on owner-occupied residences in the city, less than 25% of the total number of properties in the city.
The owners of the properties that benefit most from this tax rebate, those in the Dunes, Grande Dunes and Pine Lakes, are the same people who are the voting base and neighbors of at least five of the seven members of city council.
To sum it up, city council passed an increase in sales tax that is used to reduce the operating expenses of the largest businesses in the tourism industry and to reduce the amount of property tax paid by their neighbors and supporters.
And that sales tax increase is working, at least in the sense that it keeps getting the incumbents who voted for it re-elected.
Combine this manipulation of the tax story with the land grab taking place around the Superblock in downtown Myrtle Beach, for purposes unknown, and you have two good reasons for changing the direction of the city.
The explanation back near the beginning of the year that the city was buying up properties in the Superblock area to build a new library and children’s museum was just a cover story created quickly when it became known that the city was the mysterious purchaser of these properties.
During the few debates he attended, Rhodes said the library and children’s museum is “just an option” that was thrown out there. “It is not etched in stone.” Buying the properties was just the first step in spurring new development in the downtown and the city is looking for a public-private partnership to develop these properties.
The truth remains hidden about what the real plan is for downtown Myrtle Beach, but, I predict it will not be for the general welfare of the citizens.
Rhodes said the city talked to the property owners in the Superblock area and they were not interested in upgrading their properties so buying the properties was the city’s answer. What his answer didn’t include was the reason city council authorized the use of eminent domain to acquire businesses that are thriving in the area. First step is “we have to take the buildings down,” according to Rhodes.
The second and succeeding steps remain a mystery to all but the very few who know, but refuse to tell, who will benefit from the use of public tax dollars in this area.
To divert attention from the self-serving and secret moves of the incumbents, we have been treated to childish videos attempting to ridicule mayoral candidates Ed Carey and Mark McBride and a mailer from a non-existent “South Carolina Industry Project” touting the accomplishments of the incumbents.
If they can ultimately be traced, a number of politicos in the area suspect the source of all three of those childish diversions will fall at the feet of Rhodes and the consultant he hired to run his campaign.
Political speak does not have to be truthful. By its very definition, it virtually can’t be. In the state of South Carolina, it is supposed to include the name and address of the individual or entity making it, but that is becoming less and less the case every election season.
Over the past 36 years or so, election campaigns and political speak have gotten further and further from the truth about what is really happening in government.
A general rule should be, those who speak it the loudest probably should not be elected.
A lead article in a local media outlet today says, “A troubled scene of drugs, homelessness, prostitution in the heart of Myrtle Beach.”
That, unfortunately, is the truth with the addition of the increasing amount of gun violence in the city.
That’s why the incumbents should not be re-elected.