Long time, multi-generational Myrtle Beach resident, Matthew Hardee invited every local corporate news channel to the announcement of his intentions to run for Myrtle Beach City Council yesterday. No news group, other than the independently owned news team of MyrtleBeachSC.com showed up.
Who the heck is Matthew Hardee? AND just who does he think he is to challenge the system that is Myrtle Beach/Horry County/Myrtle Beach Area Chamber/SC State Government?
I’ve Had All I Can Stands
In the 1960’s, a popular cartoon was Popeye The Sailor Man. His famous line, just before eating his spinach was “I’ve had all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”
Matthew Hardee, like most long time Myrtle Beach residents, was raised attending a local church. He is currently serving as worship leader at one Myrtle Beach church downtown. The church calls what Matthew and others are feeling – “A Holy Discontent”. History is re-pleat with these tipping point moments that include: Bastille Day In France, The Protestant Reformation, and that “little Revolutionary War thing” you might have heard about in a 3rd grade civics class.
RUNNING AGAINST THE SYSTEM
Matthew made it clear in his announcement, that while current councilmen Wayne Gray and Randal Wallace are nice guys, he knows he is running against a system and not them.
The system was carefully crafted over a decade or more by the tourism industry to make sure that city, county, and state government were not required to be accountable to residents and Myrtle Beach merchants. Here is a diagram of how the system was set up.
PROPERTY MANAGERS HEAD THE SYSTEM
The system’s head is the tourism industry, largely composed of property management firms that run like hotels. There are more than 20,000 individually owned oceanfront condos in Myrtle Beach. Those condo owners primarily live in other states. As such, they can not vote in the city nor the state. Condo owners are charged as much as 50% of their income by these property managers to rent their rentals. For the privilege of investing in Myrtle Beach, condo owners are each required to buy a $250 per year business license (hidden tax). These out-of-state condo owners are also charged higher property taxes. A condo rental property for an out-of-state owner can cost $2,000 or more in city taxes annually above a similar one occupied by a local resident.
The property managers, themselves, have little invested in the hotel concept. They simply control the funds of other people’s investments. Meanwhile, they have the full weight of state, federal, county, and city government writing laws that favor them financially.
Myrtle Beach Chamber Reports Directly To Property Managers
Brad Dean (Myrtle Beach Area Chamber) is next on the food chain. Through business PACs, like the Grand Strand Business Alliance, board members of his group have raised millions for State, City, County, and Federal office holders. Every time there is a race, the funds flow. Everyone in the green circle above gets their share.
Through a combination of ATAX tax funding and TDF tax (tourist tax funding) legislated by the city, county, and state, Brad Dean then uses $32 million of our tax dollars paying local corporate media, Google, and the like. Those local media stations include: WPDE, WMBFnews, WBTW, and Alpha Media radio stations including WRNN. Why was Matthew Hardee surprised no media showed up to cover his outsider run against the system?
Did we mention the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber (MBACC) tax monies are not publicly audited? They aren’t.
SC JUDGES/SUPREME COURT
The S.C Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices who are elected to ten year terms by the General Assembly. The terms of the justices are staggered and a justice may be reelected to any number of terms. The S.C. General Assembly is made up of the elected incumbents that these MBACC related PACs and local media coverage/spin masters keep putting back in office.
S.C. Judges Chosen Statewide
South Carolina is one of only two states whose legislature is responsible for selecting judges. The legislature has elected South Carolina’s judges throughout its history. The legislature? – Same Incumbents above once again.
City, County, and State politicians depend on positive local news coverage, ongoing media spin, and Myrtle Beach Chamber related PAC monies to ensure re-election. This system is well oiled and has not failed them to date. Money goes from the city, county, and S.C. legislature in taxes to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. PAC monies and media coverage are reciprocated to the incumbents.
THE LOCAL MUSCLE
Non elected leaders and quasi government groups hold the most power to harm or shut small businesses in Myrtle Beach down. Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen was hired by Myrtle Beach city council. As such, local citizens can not fire him. As he runs city government, including the Myrtle Beach Police Department, he is the key person responsible for the city’s recent Superblock purchases and the barricades currently lining ocean boulevard. Merchants say those barricades are responsible for up to 30% in financial losses this Summer 2017. Ask a city councilman for help? The say there is nothing they can do. It’s a John Pedersen issue and our hands are tied.
Chuck Martino’s term on the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (DRC) just recently expired. City Council gave Mr. Martino a full new term renewal. Once on these powerful boards, quasi government officials rarely step down or are removed. Martino has been involved since the DRC was founded in 1998. The DRC is famous for harassing downtown merchants. The parking meters city-wide are also notable DRC landmarks. Under current city council stewardship, all parking meter funds now go to the DRC. While the city has done little in the way of creating downtown development, Lanier Parking has become one of the most successful businesses downtown. Lanier collects the funds for the DRC and is paid a portion of the receipts. Merchants, meanwhile, say business is down Summer 2017.
David Sebock makes over $100,000 a year, yet is accountable to no one. He has been DRC President since its inception. He is widely unpopular among business owners.
Larry Bragg has headed the board of the Community Appearance Board for more than 20 years. Want a new sign? Want to paint your property? Want to build a new Myrtle Beach business? Mr. Bragg can hold up a project or see that it never happens. He is appointed by the mayor and city council. The Community Appearance Board (CAB) is regularly called CAB – City Against Businesses by most downtown merchants.
WHO DOES MATTHEW HARDEE THINK HE IS?
Matthew Hardee is a man witnessing the collapse of opportunity for Myrtle Beach locals, low wage paying jobs, oppression of local businesses, and disappearing tourists. He is concerned and wants to make a difference. He sees a weed that he wants to pull up.
However, sometimes we attempt to pull up a weed only to find a tree attached to it. Matthew Hardee knows this weed has a forest attached to it.
In our own American history, men who felt like Matthew Hardee wrote the following:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
There is a ground swell of Matthew Hardees rising up within the city of Myrtle Beach.
The system will fight with all its money and its power to deceptively keep this current system in place, however.
Grab the popcorn, November just ahead.