Tag: fiduciary responsibility

JMSC Responds but Does Not Answer Questions About Horry County Master in Equity Vacancy

Last week GSD published an article about discrepancies in several Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) press releases regarding an upcoming vacancy in the position of Horry County Master in Equity.
The story posed questions about the varying timeline of the time of the vacancy included in those releases.
After the story was published, David Hucks, editor of MyrtleBeachSC.com, sent an email to JMSC staff attorney Erin Crawford and commission members Sen. Luke Rankin and Rep. Todd Rutherford with a link to the GSD story requesting clarification of why the differing timeline was issued by the JMSC.
On Monday, Crawford sent an email response to Hucks. Both emails were shared with GSD.
Explaining why a media release was sent on 6/22/20 advertising for applications to JMSC for the Horry County Master in Equity position but the position was deleted from an amended press release four days, Crawford said, “JMSC issued a media release on June 20, 2020 announcing screening for Horry County Master in Equity (Judge Howe’s seat) and the successor to serve a new term to expire December 31, 2027. Since the new term would not begin until January 1, 2022, a subsequent media release was issued, deleting the seat from the 2020 screening.”
However, both the original media release and the amended media release listed Greenville County Master in Equity Charles B. Simmons, Jr., term ending December 31, 2021, as a position requesting applications for screening. No explanation as to why the Greenville County Master in Equity vacancy would be treated differently by the JMSC than the Horry County Master in Equity position.
According to the appointment message sent to the S. C. Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley on March 5, 2015, Howe was appointed to a six-year term beginning July 31, 2015 and ending July 31, 2021 so the Howe vacancy should have remained open for applications.
Crawford said in her email that the JMSC discovered the error in the date ending Judge Howe’s current term in Spring 2021.
Crawford went on to say in her email, “The media release issued on June 21, 2021, listed the Horry Co. MIE term as expiring June 30, 2027, when most judges end their term, instead of July 31, 2027. Masters in Equity terms are determined by implementation in their individual counties, not the schedule of most statewide judges. Pursuant to SC Code Section 14-11-20, Masters In Equity are appointed by the Governor (with the advice and consent of GA) for a term of 6 years and until their successors are appointed and qualify.”
Crawford failed to address why Judge Howe’s term was discovered by JMSC to end July 31, 2021, but was listed in a June 2021 JMSC media release as ending July 31, 2027. As Crawford stated, Master in Equity judges are appointed for six years and until their successors are appointed. How did Howe’s appointment in office get extended by six years? No Explanation!

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County Council Defers I-73 Decision Until Next Meeting – Updated


John Bonsignor and I hosted North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley today on our television show Talking Politics. During the discussion with Mayor Hatley, I asked about the new North Myrtle Beach city ordinance keeping all hospitality tax collected in the city. Mayor Hatley said the city expects an additional $7 million annually from the hospitality tax.

I specifically asked Mayor Hatley if anyone had approached the city about dedicating some of the new hospitality tax revenue to the I-73 project. Mayor Hatley responded that she had received a call from Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune on that subject. 

Mayor Hatley said North Myrtle Beach would consider the request but ONLY if EVERYONE has some “skin in the game”. I inquired if “everyone” includes the state and federal governments and she said “yes.”
Horry County Council members deferred taking any action amending the I-73 Financial Participation Agreement with SCDOT until the next regularly scheduled meeting April 2, 2019.

Issues with the agreement first arose when the cities of Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach passed ordinances recently reducing hospitality tax revenues to Horry County thereby removing much of the anticipated money needed to fund the I-73 agreement.

Last week, members of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee tasked county staff with renegotiating two key areas of the financial agreement with SCDOT – delay of the start of any work under the agreement until January 1, 2020 and remove Section III(D) of the agreement which reads in part, “…“The County’s prior approval shall not be required to enter into contract agreements for improvements to SC-22, provided the cost thereof does not exceed the estimates provided in the Annual Work Plan. Nor shall the County’s prior approval be required for any right-of-way acquisition agreement or consultant agreement for work of the Project provided the cost thereof does not exceed the estimates provided in the Annual Work Plan.”

Members of the I&R Committee did not want to allow SCDOT to enter into any type of contract agreements without prior approval of county council.

As the agreement currently reads, county council only has prior approval on construction contracts.

Horry County Council and Fiduciary Responsibility

I have heard much recently about how Horry County Council was exercising its fiduciary responsibility, overseeing the use of public money, by appointing an ad hoc committee to report on Coast RTA.

I always get a funny feeling when I hear ‘fiduciary responsibility’ from public officials because it’s usually a dodge for some other agenda.

The recent cancelling of a contract for signs and bus shelters by SCDOT and the possibility that Coast RTA may be required to pay back money already spent on the project is the alleged reason the ad hoc committee will be looking into how effectively Coast RTA spends its public dollar grants.