by WILL FOLKS || I grew up spending my summers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – at my grandmother’s home on North Highland Way (a.k.a. 62nd Avenue North).
It was idyllic. My dad was a college professor who had most of the summer off, which enabled my little brother and I to spend several months each year frolicking in the surf, feasting on delicious fried seafood and listening to beach music from bands like The Drifters, The Fantastic Shakers and Chairmen of the Board.
When it got too hot outside we’d come in and crash – falling asleep to the soothing voice of Harry Caray calling Chicago Cubs’ games on my grandmother’s old RCA television.
When it rained we’d do jigsaw puzzles. Or models.
As the locals say, I’ve had “sand in my shoes” since 1974.
Myrtle Beach then is not like Myrtle Beach now, though.
And I’m not just speaking out of nostalgia …
Corrupt leaders have taken over the coast, something this news site has been exposing for the better part of the past decade. This corruption – by no means a recent phenomenon – has led to all sorts of abysmal outcomes.
These are just a few of the problems plaguing the Grand Strand …
Recently, I decided to stop vacationing in Myrtle Beach. And more recently, the escalating violence in and around the city I loved as a child has gotten so bad I’ve stopped making trips to Myrtle Beach altogether.
I’ve got five kids of my own now and I’m not gonna lie … I don’t feel safe bringing them downtown during the summer.
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Thousands of other families appear to be making the same decision, judging by recent tourism data.
This month, Myrtle Beach residents will go to the polls to choose their next mayor.
The choices are former mayor Mark McBride (who represents the city’s past), current mayor John Rhodes (who represents its present) and businesswoman Brenda Bethune – who I would argue represents the future.
Another candidate, Ed Carey, is also in the mix.
One of my political companies, Liber-TEA, has gotten involved in coastal politics recently – running an ad that pokes a little bit of fun at McBride. Liber-TEA is no stranger to local politics, having engaged in Upstate legislative issues as well as some Midlands-area political disputes.
Let me be clear: I like Mark McBride. I like John Rhodes, too.
But while McBride and Rhodes may be nice guys, I don’t like what they’ve done to Myrtle Beach.
More importantly, I have zero faith in their ability to move the city forward toward a safer, cleaner, less corrupt and more prosperous future.
This news site wrote favorably of Bethune’s candidacy months ago when she was still mulling a bid – and FITSNews is proud to lend our endorsement to her in this month’s mayoral race.
I don’t know Bethune very well, but I know enough about her opponents to compensate for this lack of familiarity.
Bottom line? It’s hard to imagine anyone doing worse ….
As for the ads poking fun at McBride, I think they’re funny – and let’s be honest, what is modern-day politics if not cheap entertainment?
Politicians wishing to be taken seriously should try being serious. And politicians looking to get reelected should try doing the jobs people entrust them to do.
Finally, to all the reporters grilling me over Liber-TEA and its donors, vendors and related financial particulars, I have never discussed these issues and have no plans to start doing so now. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing (so is the Citizens United ruling). And so are the Palmetto State’s “Wild West” disclosure laws.
Combined, they provide for vigorous debate … and occasional political hilarity. Both of which I would argue are good things.
Oh, and last time I checked, my record of keeping confidentiality is pretty damn good …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the website you are currently reading.
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