By Paul Gable
A very questionable executive session item has been added to the HCSWA (Horry County Solid Waste Authority) board meeting agenda for Tuesday.
The executive session item is listed as “Legal Advice Regarding Upcoming Board Member Appointment.”
Executive sessions are allowed by state law to be held in private, out of the public eye, for several reasons. The most normal reasons are the discussion of a matter regarding personnel of the authority over whom the board has ultimate control or legal briefing on pending litigation, contracts or other legal matters.
In the case of the questionable item on Tuesday’s board agenda, none of those reasons exist.
While HCSWA board members may be thought of as personnel of the authority, they are not hired, fired, or dealt with in any other manner by members of the HCSWA board or other agency officials. They are strictly within the purview of Horry County Council.
HCSWA board members are nominated either by the League of Cities or the Horry County Council. Board members are appointed by vote of county council Nobody associated with the HCSWA is involved in the process in any manner.
HCSWA board members receiving “legal advice regarding upcoming board member appointment” is akin to the HCSWA board receiving an executive session briefing on legal matters regarding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
The board has no authority in either above example and should not be wasting the time and money involved in receiving a briefing from the HCSWA counsel. Furthermore, it strikes me that the HCSWA counsel should know this is not an appropriate agenda item, especially in secret executive session.
Despite no need and no authority over the executive session item, expect the HCSWA board to go forward with this exercise in overreach.
The authority and its board have a solid history of overreach, especially in matters of a political nature. There are numerous examples of this throughout the history of the authority including questionable purchases of land that has never been used, attempts to obtain a guaranteed income revenue stream, enactment of flow control followed by spending over a million dollars in one 12-month period attempting to convince county council not to amend the flow control ordinance to the current problems with respect to the Charleston recyclables contract.
And, despite many claims of independence through the years, the HCSWA was created by Horry County Council. It is a unit of Horry County Government. It’s budget and major expenditures must be approved by county council. It is answerable to the Infrastructure & Regulation Committee as well as full council and it can be abolished by a majority vote of county council at any time.