A while back one of our blogs was titled "When the Lights Go Out". It was a little note that came on the heals to our most recent visit to the Florida Keys, Islamorada in the middle keys in particular. At that time, we noted that the place was withering on the vine after a bunch of retirees moved into the area and tried to remake what had been a red hot tourist and fishing capitol into their own image. These folks thought history started with their arrival and had no use for the people and visitors and activities that were there before them.
They set about getting rid of all those they considered "undesirable", they put all the local businesses out of business through ordinances and regulations, bought up property, and set about building multi-million dollar condos. Then the economy turned sour, and all the tourist revenue that used to support the area had moved on. Now the place is a long stretch of highway with half-finished unoccupied mounuments to their short sightedness. If this story sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. We wondered if Myrtle Beach was on the same track, and still wonder that. Well, now there is an update. We have received an email from a family friend that is still hanging on down there, and it would be a hoot if it were not simultaneously sad. Here is his missive, unedited... It should serve as an instructive warning to the citizens and businesses of Myrtle Beach about apathy and bad government.
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Just a side story about the nuts who run this city.
In 1990 the feds gave Islamorada 20 years to put sewers in. Now it is crunch time and these people are going crazy .... I mean stupid ...........They approved a $20,000 per household plan ... they are not sure where to put the d**n thing ..$400,000 study says build five plants on five islands ...... nobody wants a plant next to them .. so now it's three plants on five islands ....... or ..... ship it to Key Largo ....... or if a business has their own little plant ...... exempt them ...... except that destroys the overall cost structure. So in order to show good faith effort with the Feds ...... they insist we sign the contracts (tax bills) for the $20,000 now ....... they are not sure what to do with it .......... but just send the money.
Wait ....... it gets better .........that $20,000 does not include the hookup ...... that will be $5,000 to $7,000 and that is due immediately ........
Wait ......... it gets better ........ so they start in North Plantation key ....... within days the sewer is backing up into the homes ..... right up through the kitchen sink ..... up the toilets ......... Find out the project manager has never had any experience with sewers ......
Wait ........... it gets better..........These crazy SOBs ......... are now concerned about how the residents of the city feel about the $20,000 ...... the $7,000 ....... the back up water ............
so what do they crazy f**kers do????? ........... they go out and spend $40,000 for a public relations firm
TO MAKE US FEEL BETTER ABOUT HOW THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOB!!!!!!
Why b**ch? ......... this is paradise.
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There are a number of elements here that should sound familiar to those of you in Myrtle Beach. The Mayor and City council pass ordinances designed to run the bikers out of town and then blame THEM for business revenue losses when they don't show up. They enact a special levy of 3 million dollars to enforce these ordinances, and turn the place into Little Compton with roadbloacks, flying helicopters, and a police presence not seen since the 9/11 terrorists flew into the World Trade Center. What tourist wants to come to a place like THAT? After successfully shooing away 500 million dollars in tourist income, they pass a 1 cent sales tax on the citizens of the beach in order to try and attract a new "better" breed of tourists to the beach at a time of the year when few people are vacationing anywhere. They want to expand a convention center that cannot now even pay for it's own maintenance costs.
They embrace hypocrisy by flying "Welcome Bikers" on their own personal businesses while simultaneously enacting the ordinances designed to keep them out. They battle with the TERC year after year which has been trying unsuccessfully to confirm that accomodations taxes are being properly handled and accounted for. They concentrate legislative authority in small areas to dilute the vote of the ordinary citizen. They attempt to muscle other local municipalities into following their madness using taxpayer monies as a carrot inducement (some might be tempted to use the word bribe). They enact their own special system of justice that prompts the Chief Justice of the SC State Supreme Court to write a letter calling them "repugnant" and blatantly unconstitutional. They then scrap the Admin Courts and move to Municipal Court, where the gang who can't shoot straight is told they have no jurisdiction for civil infractions. When a citizen has the temerity to question His Honor on all this, he helpfully tells her to "If you don't like it, MOVE."
How long before enough is enough? Time will tell, but it has always been true that we get the government we deserve. One thing is also true. Inertia is an inexorable law of Newtonian physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. There may come the day, sooner than some suspect, when the damage being done to the Myrtle Beach economy and reputation is irreversable. When that day comes, you may be the next one writing e-mail to an out of state friend about the "Crazy SOBs" running your city, without any ability to change it.