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Bill Rosenthal and Neverly Graham
Bill Rosenthal and Neverly Graham. Who are the private, local partners behind Visibility & Conversions, LLC and Com-Connect, LLC

MBACC TAX: PROCUREMENT IS KEY LEGAL ISSUE

How would city residents respond if the City of Myrtle Beach created a private car dealership for Chief Prock, so the city could buy police cars only from her?

Every major local TV channel has now covered the ongoing narrative of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s use of insider employee companies for procurement of its services.

Many local readers understand the key relevance of why this is such a big news item.

For those who are just now reading about this, imagine if City Manager, John Pedersen, decided to set up a “for profit” car dealership in the name of Police Chief Amy Prock.

The city buys new police cars, construction services vehicles, utility trucks, SUVs and a host of other vehicles practically every year.

Amy Prock
Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock

If the city of Myrtle Beach chose to do this, every local resident would likely show up at City Hall with pitchforks.

Yet, this is exactly what MBACC did with for profit businesses Visibility & Conversions, LLC, Right Analytics, LLC, Com-Connect, LLC, and Battle Strategies, LLC.

THE PROBLEMS WITH FOR PROFIT INSIDER LLCs

The TDF law requires the City of Myrtle Beach designate a “not for profit” organization as the city’s DMO so that tax payers do not pay a mark up on purchases for services.  When the “not for profit” Designated Marketing Organization, MBACC, conspired to set up private, “for profit” LLCs, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce skirted the TDF procurement law entirely.  It would take someone with a keen accounting background to mastermind a strategy like this.

KEY QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE  “FOR PROFIT” LLCs

Bill Rosenthal – Managing Member of  Visibility and Conversions, paid $60 Million In TDF

No one doubts that Visibility and Conversions, LLC is purchasing Google pay per click advertising for MBACC.  Residents likely don’t care where the company’s office is now located.  The real questions MyrtleBeachSC.com news has been interested in from day one are:

  1. How much are taxpayers paying for every lead Visibility and Conversions generates?  City residents would have to see the webstats to know such.
  2. What is the “for profit” mark up on each purchase made by Visibility and Conversions?  Is it 100% mark up? 50% mark up?  Is it the best priced mark up available to MBACC in the free market?
  3. The LLC shield laws only allow MyrtleBeachSC.com news to see Rosenthal’s name on the recorded S.C. Secretary of State incorporation records. He is the managing member for the LLC.  Who are his private, local partners?  We have our suspicions, but no one will ever know, unless city residents can force Rosenthal to come out from behind the LLC shield laws through a lawsuit.

The same above is true for each of the private “for profit” LLCs that someone decided to set up as procurement companies for MBACC.

TAX-PAYER MARKETING COSTS: HOW MUCH PER LEAD?

We wanted to know what areas of the Grand Strand Mr. Rosenthal’s ads were largely targeting.  We also wanted to know how much tax payers are paying for each lead generated. Is the cost per lead $1? $10? or $30?   How does that conversion rate compare to the national average?  MBACC’s attorneys told us those webstats were trade secrets in their formal reply to our FOIA.

The problem for Mr. Rosenthal is that the TDF state law requires advertising be done for the entire Grand Strand.  That means some of Mr. Rosenthal’s pay per click ads must be used to promote Atlantic Beach, S.C.  We have been unable to find any.  If none or few have been generated over the past 8 years,  MBACC is in violation of the TDF law.  Conversely,  the tax is only collected in the City of Myrtle Beach.  What does it mean for City of Myrtle Beach businesses, if the web stats show that most of the visitors are actually staying in North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, or Surfside Beach?

WEBSTAT TRANSPARENCY IS THE KEY

Here is the official MBACC reply sent to  MyrtleBeachSC.com.

Former MBACC C.E.O. Dean tells Mayor Bethune,  “no one cares about web-stats”.  MyrtleBeachSC.com news and our readers certainly do.

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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