By Paul Gable
Year in and year out voters go to the polling booths in June for primary elections and November for general elections to vote for the candidates they want to lead their respective governments.
Unfortunately, local voters, especially those voting in Myrtle Beach City Council and Horry County Council elections, appear to be getting short changed in the leadership department because far too many of these elected officials defer to staff to determine policy.
And these policies leave a lot to be desired as council members act like sheep being led by senior staff members.
In Myrtle Beach, the city has decided to wage war on certain Ocean Boulevard business owners with a zoning overlay district that makes selling items such as CBD oil illegal in the district while allowing it to be sold everywhere else in the city.
It was announced recently that CBD coffee ads will air during the upcoming Super Bowl. CBD products are good enough to be advertised during the number one television event of the year, but can’t be sold in a certain area of Ocean Boulevard because the city doesn’t want the store owners to get business.
There is something very wrong with that calculus but city council doesn’t question what.
The targeted Ocean Boulevard stretch appears to be coveted because of its location and proximity to other city owned properties in and around the super block, a nice area that could be resold to a developer looking to locate, say, a casino complex.
But first the businesses in that location must be driven out and the buildings become available at the right price.
With three new members of city council and a completely redrafted ordinance presented for second reading last summer, this can’t be a council driven decision for members looking to get reelected. The only logical conclusion is that council members went along like sheep following the lead of the city administrator and his staff in passing this ordinance.
If the business owners win the lawsuit that has resulted, what the heck, it’s not council or staff money spent defending it.
But, it is taxpayer money that could be better spent elsewhere and defending a lawsuit by attempting to justify why some products are illegal in one part of the city, but not others, is ridiculous.
These council members were not elected to promote such brainless policies, but, there they are doing just that.
The county has much the same problem.
Never mind that the county administrator and attorney made groundless accusations against the new council chairman before he even took office. Groundless accusations, I might add, that will come back to haunt them when a SLED report comes back finding no evidence of what these two alleged.
What is even more distressing is that a majority of council members were not even willing to discuss the actions of the administrator and attorney in fabricating these baseless allegations when a special meeting was called for that purpose.
These same council members have allowed themselves to rely on the administrator, his staff and, at times, the former council chairman to make decisions for them. They follow like sheep.
Why else would the county public safety departments be allowed to remain so seriously understaffed and underfunded for years while the administrator told council there was no money to improve them?
At the same time, $12 million was found almost overnight to purchase swamp land off of International Drive when it was a priority of the administrator and former council chairman acting in concert? Nobody else on council even questioned this purchase while fire stations in District 9 were going unbuilt and new personnel were not being hired.
Why was the hospitality fee and business license department removed from the Treasurer’s Office, prior to the current treasurer assuming her duties, and put under the thumb of the administrator in the Finance Office?
This was done in apparent violation of state law and with no council vote on the move, but, not one council member has come forward to question it.
There are many other examples of how the respective administrators and their staffs have led the respective councils down the ‘golden path’ to bad decisions because the council members like holding office, but not making decisions.
We have become an area and a country where the emphasis is on getting elected while little to no thought is given to governing.
But, it’s the governing part that affects the lives of the citizens on a day to day basis and allowing that part to remain with hired hands who appear to have agendas in conflict with the public good is bad government.