By Paul Gable
Two neighborhood watch meetings in Myrtle Beach in recent days highlight the great divide that separates the city, according to several candidates in this year’s city election.
A meeting of the Withers Swash Neighborhood Crime Watch group was filled with complaints about three home invasions, one that included a rape of a woman with a gun, an armed robbery, drug deals in church parking lots, prostitution arrests and a shootout on Maple Street, among other incidents all in the last month.
To say the group attending the meetings was irate is to minimize the feelings in the room. However, being on the south end of the city, the neighbors are used to serious crime and minimal police presence.
Two nights later, a meeting of the Dunes Club Neighborhood Crime Watch celebrated a crime free year! Of course, that’s the north end where the police presence is always in view and the voters strongly support the incumbent members of council, both with their pocketbooks and at the ballot box.
The historical divide in the city has always been 38th Avenue North. North of that line lived the business owners of the city (what we now call the Myrtle Beach Mafia) while south was where the workers lived.
North of that line city services are quick to respond to any problems. South the city gets to when it can, with some attention being paid around election time.
We are now within one month of another election and, right now, it’s an odds on bet that all four incumbents up for re-election will be sent back into office for another four years. And nothing will change.
The real blame for this set of circumstances lies with voters in the south end. If they would get behind several of the challengers, things could begin to change this year.
But, maybe, as in recent elections past, they are so beaten down after years of neglect they won’t even bother. That won’t change the status quo, however, and tax dollars, like those from the city’s one-cent sales tax for tourism, will continue to flow disproportionately to the north.