City Myrtle Beach Area Chamber Leaders Duck Hard Questions
The local Sun New article of just yesterday exposes a pattern of how the city and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber leaders duck hard questions from the media. Sun News Reporter Chloe Johnson questioned Keith Pierce of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce yesterday about the vast amount of unaccountable millions spent by the local Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce receives over $25 million in tax welfare annually paid by tourists who visit and shop in the city of Myrtle Beach.
As is custom, Keith Pierce told the Sun News, “he was unable to answer a list of questions sent to him in time for publication.” Much of the most recent funds were spent with Myrtle Beach insider Brandon Advertising. Scott Brandon, owner of Brandon Advertising, and Matthew Brittain, owner of Brittain Resort Hotels are the children of parents who formed the Golf Holiday group and who worked to garner considered influence in the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber over the last 50 years. The Sun News reports that Tyler Easterling, the president and chief operating officer of Brandon Advertising, also could not be reached by phone or email Monday evening.
Local business owner, Ann Dunham and Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean have had several exchanges in recent letters to the editor with the Sun News. The most recent being published yesterday. Mild mannered and detail oriented, Mrs. Dunham has stayed on focus with just the facts about how the Myrtle Beach area has not performed as well as the cities of Charleston and Beaufort, S.C. Neither of these cities have a $25 million annual tax on tourists for advertising.
CAT OUT OF THE BAG
The election surprise of 2016 let the cat out of the bag on media buys. What MyrtleBeachSC.com has reported now for over the past 5 years has become clearly evident. America has moved beyond the age of marketing and into the age of brand management, brand messaging. Below is proof in one simple graph.
The above graph displays two candidates with what most consider to be tarnished brands. Candidate Trump, himself, spent less than half of what candidate Clinton spent in total on media marketing. Compare line one, $556 million (Clinton) to $248.3 million (Trump). Lines two and three in this graph only further highlight our point. The $486.7 million spent by the Republican party and the $60.1 raised by Republican super pacs were almost entirely spent on down ballot candidates working to re-elect Republican congressmen and senators as the Republican party believed candidate Trump would harm the Republican brand. Meanwhile all of the $1.3 billion in funds raised for candidate Clinton were spent on the candidate herself. These included rock concerts, celebrity endorsements, etc.
$1.3 Billion (Clinton) versus $248.3 million (Trump) and the candidate who spent 75% more lost.
Let’s apply this same narrative to the current Myrtle Beach brand and ad taxes.
While City Manager, John Pedersen just enforced what some have equated to martial law in the district near the former Myrtle Beach pavilion, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber has spent $25 million this year promoting the brand to America as the nation’s “Family Beach”. As both the Sun News and Mrs. Dunham have pointed out, there are no local nor statewide regulatory agencies that monitor the spending by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. However, millions of dollars are annually spent with corporate media that include: WBTW – NEXSTAR BROADCASTING CORPORATION (Formerly Media General), WPDE – Sinclair BroadCasting Corporation, WMBF – Raycom Broadcasting Corporation. Hard statistics show that none of these ad purchases have amounted to any real return on investment since the $175 million tax was passed into law in 2009. What these media buys have created is great influence in the local media by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber as it relates to any issues that concern city government and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber issues.
CASES IN POINT
OCEAN WATER QUALITY
City Myrtle Beach Area Chamber leaders duck hard questions here
Myrtle Beach has a now well documented water quality issue with drainage pipes that leak high levels of concentrated bacteria in 8 sections of oceanfront Myrtle Beach after any rain. When that story first broke last March, local TV rushed to defend city government and Brad Dean, C.E.O. of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. Reports were run locally on all three major local stations and then re-broadcast in a viral way among all corporate channels of those stations. TV stations throughout NC, SC, NY, NJ, PA, VA, etc re-broadcast each of these local “nothing to see here, poor water quality stories in Myrtle Beach are not true” reporting. These “everything is good here” reports were all based on one (1) water sample conducted at tax payer expense by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. For the record, DHEC tests the water every week, yet the Myrtle Beach Chamber based its entire findings on one water sample.
HOWEVER, as the 2016 season moved into May and Summer, the DHEC water samples continued to show readings of from 2 times to 40 times unsafe for swimming in most of these infected areas. Tourists also began reporting illnesses.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber spent millions and used its paid corporate media partners to spread misinformation among the public at large.
The Federal Trade Commission regulates TRUTH IN ADVERTISING. Each of the below were appointed by President Obama. President Elect Trump will appoint his own team in 2017. MyrtleBeachSC.com reached out to each of the below concerning the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber’s ad spend on misinformation concerning Myrtle Beach water quality. As of this report, not one of the below has ever responded.
We will reach out to the President Trump appointments once they are in office. We have previously also reached out to City Public Information Officer Mark Kruea, City Manager John Pedersen, City Councilmen Mike Lowder, Wayne Gray, Randal Wallace, Mike Chestnut, Phil Render, Mayor John Rhodes and Council Woman Mary Jeffcoat about giving us a direct response to the city’s plan for removing these drainage pipes immediately. Not one has ever responded directly to our email requests. However, City Spokesman Mark Kruea went as far as to use city property, the Myrtle Beach City Website to post false and misleading information. When we called him on it, Mr. Kruea did not respond.
At city council workshops these leaders often work hard to stay just clear of our cameras. Should MyrtleBeachSC.com be spotted by any local officials with cameras in hand, each shies away from any public on camera statements. This while city police cameras are located along a cross section of almost every inch of Myrtle Beach.
The same has also been true for S.C. Senator Luke Rankin and S.C. General Assemblyman Alan Clemmons. We reached out to both of those concerning the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber Tourist Tax each voted to extend to the year 2029 this past May. Neither would comment on camera.
The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation is a city owned not for profit. It is lead by David Sebock. The organization is funded by over $1 million annually in parking meter fees collected downtown.
MyrtleBeachSC.com has reported ongoing about the run down areas of the downtown district. Many small downtown merchants believe the DRC is simply a tool used by local city government to drive small businesses out of business while the city negotiates to bring in Peoples Republic of China investors. The DRC has successfully torn down one local oceanfront, but dated hotel, the Emerald Shores. The organization has stated publicly they intend to demolish more.
We have reached out to David Sebock ongoing about his plans to revitalize the downtown area. As of this report, he has never responded to one request.
THE MAYOR AND CHINA
City Myrtle Beach Area Chamber leaders duck hard questions here
Our Mayor, John Rhodes, and our Chamber President, Brad Dean, have well recorded visits and business meetings with officials of the Peoples Republic of China. They both just returned from a joint 10 day trip taken in September and paid for by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber.
As recent as last August, Mayor Rhodes told local residents that the Chinese would invest another $100 million in Myrtle Beach by the end of October 2016. Those investments have not yet materialized as promised. No statements have been issued by Mayor Rhodes as to why. No questions on the matter are responded to.
Local corporate media has been asked not to question Mayor Rhodes about his financial dealings with China at the request of the Chinese government. To the shock of local residents, corporate media has largely complied. No investigative journalism on Chinese investments , other than ours and the local Sun News, has occurred to date.
We have questioned Brad Dean and Mayor Rhodes ongoing about their secretive Chinese investment meetings. We have never been responded to once.
The only Chinese investments made to date have been highly suspicious with Chinese government officials raiding the offices of the agency who purchased 22 golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area.