By Paul Gable
Fantasyland has arrived in Myrtle Beach.
No, it’s not a new attraction or theme park.
It’s the attitude and atmosphere that surrounds the biennial Myrtle Beach city elections.
Mayor John Rhodes (who is not up for reelection until 2017) stepped into the middle of this year’s election rhetoric a couple of nights ago at a Neighborhood Watch meeting at Market Common.
According to numerous sources at the meeting, Rhodes attacked non-incumbents running for the three city council seats in this year’s election cycle by claiming the challengers were lying to voters.
Rhodes said these challenger candidates were misleading citizens by claiming crime is an increasing problem in the city and using independent rating reports to substantiate their claims.
Rhodes referred to a city generated report which, reportedly, said crime is the lowest it’s been in the city since the city began keeping statistics 20 years ago.
According to Rhodes, crime in Myrtle Beach is at a 20-year low!
What Fantasyland is he living in?
Anyone who lives, works or visits the city knows crime is increasing. The number of murders, assaults (with and without deadly weapons), home invasions, robberies, car break-ins and on and on and on, is considerably higher than 20 or even 10 years ago.
I know of one neighborhood in the south end of Myrtle Beach where there were five murders in 12 days.
You can’t walk on Ocean Boulevard at night with a complete feeling of safety, much less in most of the neighborhoods of the city, especially on the south end.
Nightclubs at Broadway at the Beach are not getting their leases renewed, leaving them no choice but to close, basically because the muggings in the parking lots around Broadway, after the clubs close, are out of control.
But Rhodes says the city’s crime statistics are the only accurate ones and he stands behind them.
Why should Myrtle Beach, its police department and its city council deal with reality when Fantasyland is so much more fun?
The incumbents are edgy this year.
A few weeks ago, city government felt the need to respond to an op-ed piece written by local writer Mande Wilkes, claiming Wilkes was completely wrong in her assessment that Myrtle Beach’s attitude toward home-grown small businesses was unfriendly while laying the red carpet for large investment groups from China.
Now, the mayor feels the need to call challenger candidates ‘liars’ while touting a bogus crime report and all the wonderful work the incumbent city council has accomplished.
To paraphrase a famous Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, ‘Methinks the mayor (and the city) doth protest too much.’
Or it’s simply that they live in Fantasyland.