By Paul Gable
A small agenda item for Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting brought reminders of how special interests and ego often combine to replace common sense in the public decision making process.
The item was second reading of an ordinance to make a slight adjustment to the Multi County Business Park ordinance of 1999 as amended in 2000.
Under consideration was abandonment by Horry County of the last several years of an exclusive option to purchase land from Burroughs and Chapin near the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
On the surface it seems like a fairly innocuous item.
Until we remember the MCBP was essentially a $79 million giveaway to B&C for basically nothing in return for the county. It was the most contentious issue of its day, passed three readings by a slim majority, and, within the next few years, 10 members of council either left office or were defeated at the ballot box.
The MCBP ordinance was the ultimate example of local elected officials bowing to the demands of special interests at the expense of ordinary voters and it cost many of them their elected position.
The piece of land in question was needed for construction of a second runway at Myrtle Beach International.
The second runway concept was part of an airport plan of the early 2000’s that included a $500 million airport terminal on the west side of the runways. This was a time when council egos envisioned MBIA as a major gateway airport for national and international tourists that were going to flock to Myrtle Beach.
The concept was absolutely ridiculous and a pure flight of fancy (ego) on the part of a majority of county council for several years until the entire plan fell victim to its own faults.
Ultimately, the airport plan and terminal project cost the county $27 million for nothing in return except a number of red faces.
We elect these people to make common sense decisions with public money. Often that is lost in the greater scheme of special interests and egos.
The above mentioned two issues are proof of why more than 10 percent of voters should participate in local primary elections, why they should pay attention to issues before local councils and why party primaries should be contested with none of these politicians getting a free pass to reelection.