Tag: Karen Riordan

Chamber I-73 Funding Loses Again in Columbia

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce propaganda blitz for I-73 funding failed to secure any money for the project in next fiscal year’s state budget.
It’s becoming obvious to all but the Chamber and its cronies that it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of the needle than to get funding for I-73.
With all the excess money floating around in Columbia from federal Covid relief funds and excess state revenue, this was supposed to be the year the Chamber finally secured some funding to construct at least a portion of I-73.
The thought around the Chamber was, if it couldn’t get I-73 funding in the upcoming budget, it was never going to get it. It didn’t.
Even with all the excess money floating around the state budget process this year, it’s difficult to convince legislators that a new, 66-mile spur road from I-95 to Briarcliffe is a priority over all the existing roads and bridges in the state that have been ignored for so many years.
In Horry County alone, the needs for improvements on 90, 905, 501, 9, 319 and 544, to name a few, far outweigh the need for the I-73 spur road.
The Chamber counted on its preferred politicians, Tom Rice, Russell Fry and Henry McMaster to get the job done.

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Chamber Political Brochure Explodes into Fight with Horry County and Voters

You have to give Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan credit, if there’s a way to make relations with Horry County Council members worse than they already are, she will find it.
Last week saw the Chamber send out a mail piece full of information that ranged from misleading to totally false. In today’s lexicon – Fake News
Members of county council took immediate offense at Riordan and Chamber Government Liaison Jimmy Gray, the two Chamber officials hired to replace the work of Brad Dean after Dean resigned from the Chamber and who were, reportedly, responsible for the mailer’s contents.
County council member Harold Worley led a 25-minute discussion about the real facts versus the fictitious Chamber version of the I-73 funding debate, at the end of last week’s regular meeting.
“The only thing in the Chamber brochure that was true was the one-lane on 501,” Worley said. “Everything else was a lie.”
The message in the brochure was, “Tell Horry County Council it’s time to fund I-73.”
And Riordan and her cabal minions are using these tactics to pressure county council into committing funding for Interstate 73. How’s that going?
This situation would never have happened under the watch of former Chamber CEO Brad Dean!
The two biggest whoppers in the brochure:
“We (Myrtle Beach) were one lane away from being cut off. The construction of Interstate 73 would ensure this never happens again.”
And
“Funding from the federal, state and local governments is lined up.”
Two quick responses:

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Gov. McMaster Tries to Keep I-73 Project Alive

Gov. Henry McMaster requested the General Assembly appropriate $300 million, from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the state received from the federal government, to construction of Interstate 73 as one of the items in the executive budget he submitted to the legislative body earlier this week.
McMaster made good on the promise he made to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce at an October 2021 press conference when he said he would request the I-73 funding from the General Assembly.
Traditionally, executive budgets submitted by governors of this state have received minimal consideration before being shelved and ignored when the SC House writes the budget. There is no reason to believe the same won’t happen with the governor’s request for I-73 funding.
McMaster presented a funding plan for the I-73 project which consisted of $800 million from the state, including the $300 million which is actually federal funds given to the state, an additional $450 million from the federal government and $350 million from the local governments in Horry County.
However, Chamber President Karen Riordan attempted to spin the governor’s remarks at the October press conference as a pledge that the I-73 project would receive $300 million from the state. She was joined in that spin effort by Rep. Case Brittain, who in his first year in the SC House was made president of the I-73/74/75 Corridor Association, which is a high-sounding name for a Chamber created entity.
In addition, Congressman Tom Rice and SC Rep. Russell Fry were prominent at the press conference and enthusiastic in their statements on I-73 funding. Fry, of course, announced in August that he was challenging Rice for the Congressional seat because Rice has been a failure to his constituents in the 7th Congressional District. GSD has said over and over that Fry is really a clone of Rice who hopes to gain Chamber support for his Congressional run should Rice continue to falter with voters.
Actually, the press conference and statements by the various elected officials was nothing more than an attempt to keep the I-73 project on some kind of life support.
What has happened since that October press conference?

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North Myrtle Beach Council Members Vote for I-73 Funding – Or Did They?

North Myrtle Beach City Council voted at last night’s meeting to provide $1.7 million annually to construction of Interstate 73 contingent on so many variables it really isn’t a provision at all.
Among the contingencies required for North Myrtle Beach to provide any money to I-73 is a requirement for the other cities and counties that would supposedly benefit from construction of the highway to also contribute money for construction of the road.
In addition, North Myrtle Beach restricted use of any money it may provide to actual construction costs. Specifically prohibited from use of any money provided by North Myrtle Beach are right of way acquisition, engineering and legal services, construction documents, environmental studies and reports of any kind. Funds from North Myrtle Beach may not be used on SC 22 or any other roadway and actual construction must begin before December 31, 2024.
Despite the headlines of local television stations last night, the North Myrtle Beach resolution contains so many restrictions and prior requirements from other local governmental agencies in three counties as to make it virtually meaningless.
The North Myrtle Beach resolution varies widely from a proposal by Gov. Henry McMaster during a press conference at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in October 2021.
According to the governor’s proposed $1.6 billion funding plan, the state will be asked to provide $795 million for the I-73 project all of which will be spent in Dillon and Marion counties. The federal government will be asked to provide $450 million, most of which will be spent in Marion and Dillon counties. Local governments in Horry County were asked to provide $350 million for construction of the road in Horry County. None of the cities in Dillon and Marion counties nor the county governments themselves were asked to provide any money toward construction of I-73.
The governor’s plan only included funding for construction of what is really an interstate spur road from I-95 south of Dillon to the eastern terminus of the road at the end of the current SC 22 in the Briarcliffe area.

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Chamber Response to County Council Rejection of I-73 Funding is Arrogant and Threatening

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce issued an arrogant and threatening email response to the rejection by a majority of county council Tuesday night to a resolution funding Interstate 73 from local county tax revenue.
Whether she authored the email personally or it was authored by one of her underlings, Karen Riordan as MBACC President and CEO bears direct responsibility for its contents.
Responding to questions about the email from a local media outlet, Riordan attempted to pass off its contents as showing “appreciation to the Horry County Council members who voted for funding Interstate 73.”
Such a statement would be true if the email was limited to the first and last two sentences in its content.
However, when the statement, “Make no mistake about it, we need local and county support for this Interstate and there will be additional votes at county council,” was included the email crossed the line from congratulations to arrogant threat.
According to comments I’ve received from several of the six county council members who voted against the resolution, the Chamber email was not viewed favorably by any of the six and apparently the email has stiffened their resolve to oppose local funding for Interstate 73.
The entire lobbying effort for local government funding for I-73 by the Chamber was mishandled from its start. I would submit it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of local citizens’ attitudes and local politics in today’s environment.
For example, four members of county council who voted against the resolution, Harold Worley, Mark Causey, Danny Hardee and Al Allen, were born, raised and make their living in the council districts they represent. They know the desires of their constituents much better than the Chamber group.
Council member Orton Bellamy, a Horry County native, represents a district that derives little to no benefit from Chamber marketing or the proposed I-73 and is a retired Army officer who will not be intimidated by the Chamber lobby.
Council Chairman Johnny Gardner, a Horry County native, was opposed by the Chamber group when he ran for office and wasn’t even invited to attend any of the private meetings hosted by the Chamber in which the need and strategy for obtaining local funding was discussed. Instead council member Dennis DiSabato was included in that group and DiSabato could not convince six members of council to join him in voting for the resolution.

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Chamber and Governor Mull Press Conference to Announce I-73 Funding with No Funding Approved

The latest effort by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to make construction of Interstate 73 a viable project in the minds of the voters of Horry County took several bizarre twists yesterday.
A brief recap:
In recent weeks, the Chamber has promoted the idea that a mysterious poll of voters in South Carolina (405 in all) showed 82% of those responding favored construction of I-73. The actual questions and responses have never been revealed, just questionable results.
The poll announcement was followed by news that Chamber President and CEO Karen Riordan, state Rep. Case Brittain, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and Horry County Council member Dennis DiSabato were working on a $750 million funding package for the I-73 project that included $250 in funding from local governments and $500 million from the state. It was announced that the governments of Horry County, the City of Myrtle Beach and the City of North Myrtle Beach would approve their respective portions of the $250 million funding package by the end of this month.
Monday it was announced that the Horry County Administration Committee would vote the next day on a resolution to dedicate $4.2 million per year, for up to 30 years, to the I-73 project from county hospitality fee revenue. That vote, however, was postponed until at least October 26 after a short executive session by committee members on Tuesday.
Tuesday evening Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner was informed that Gov. Henry McMaster would hold a press conference Monday October 4, 2021, at the Myrtle Beach Chamber offices to announce the state was committing $300 million to I-73 construction. (There was no explanation of why alleged state funding was reduced from the $500 million announced by Brittain to the $300 million over a two-week span.)
Now the bizarre:
According to a number of sources familiar with events, word began to spread from Riordan to local politicians yesterday that the governor would be coming to Myrtle Beach on Monday to make an announcement about I-73 funding.
Unless the state government receives specifically earmarked funds for I-73 from the federal government, the governor cannot order any state agency to spend money on the project. Appropriations must receive voting approval from the General Assembly.
State legislators, from around the state, contacted by Grand Strand Daily, said the news that Gov. McMaster was going to announce funding from the state for I-73 was a surprise since the General Assembly had not approved nor even considered any such appropriation.

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