Here are some thoughts on a range of issues, some current, some from my time on the City Council of Myrtle Beach and the issues we faced at that time, some of these are from videos and some are my latest thoughts in my letters to the editor on any number of issues both big and small. I hope they help, I do realize everyone has their own opinions, these are mine. 

What would you like to see happen in the Arts & Innovation District on the property that the city of Myrtle Beach has acquired downtown?


In 2017, I ran on the idea of an anchor development (which was the Library- Children’s Museum) but I was not married to that project. I actually like the Arts and Innovation District format better. I say that because it is also not a traditional tourist based idea for the west side of Highway 17. I believe that anything that will succeed on that side of the highway needs to be centered on building up a resident base of people living in the downtown. In order to do that it needs to be safe and lit up, it needs to have the latest technology for computer usage (Internet, etc) , I also believed that a public transportation loop of some type should be a part of it because younger people who you hope to incentivize to move into this area (and baby boomer retirees too) from other cities look for that very thing, reliable public transportation. I had proposed and still believe that we need both a homeownership component to incentivize people buying and moving into the Wither’s Swash neighborhood, which is both a historic neighborhood and one in which the older families who had been there have moved away from or died off, and the same for the neighborhood behind Broadway that stretches back off Alder Street and into one of our most troubled spots going into the 3rd avenue south area. Plus, many people may not realize that the Downtown has a number of Apartments above the storefronts, and a lot of it currently sits empty ( or did ) they too need to have incentives to try and get them filled up. These two things would create, with any luck, a residential permanent base of people to help make our downtown thrive. The fact that these areas had fallen by the waist side or had number of long time residents become elderly, or move out helped create the situation we have in this area of town, along with the boom of malls in the 1980’s, and outlet stores in the 2000’s , that left our downtown dated and in some cases abandoned. On the East side of Highway 17, where the old Pavillion sat and where the city has bought a number of properties I think it is ripe with possibilities. I have talked with many of the Downtown merchants who are overflowing with ideas. One of which I think stands out; that of trying to work with Burroughs and Chapin, the largest property owner, to bring in a Gaylord Hotel type resort, I think that would overnight turn our downtown into a year round destination. It would also create an atmosphere where everyone would thrive. I also believe that in the second and third row south of the boulevard area is the perfect opportunity to create an Austin, Texas, Rainy Street atmosphere, with pedestrian friendly walk ability and the opportunity to revamp some of the older buildings as they did there. I personally do not think building a baseball stadium, as is rumored, is a good idea, nor would I welcome any attempt to bring Casino gambling to our area (which is also rumored but I don’t see as a realistic possibility). After leaving office, I wrote a book that laid out my thoughts about attracting millennials and retiring baby boomers to the area. A lot of these suggestions were written about in more detail in that book, which is available on Amazon. 

I was recently asked Who was my Political Role model? A tough call, but my role model was a generation of leadership, the Greatest Generation, the subjects of our podcasts. .

I was recently asked a question about which political figure was my role model? Well, I have been around politics my entire life, so just one is tough to say, but I grew up admiring and working around a generation of leaders that came out of the Great Depression and World War 2 experience. Political figures like Strom Thurmond, who took great care of his constituents, Ronald Reagan, who exuded optimism and a firm belief system about government being kept small and less regulatory, Richard Nixon, who was a strategic thinker who had well thought out plans for what he wanted to to do to tackle problems in the most effective and creative way, George H. W. Bush, a man who had little ego and set so many good examples of how to lead in a crisis, without gloating in victory, always knowing that another day was coming and we still had much to do, he built relationships that he could call on to help resolve huge problems on the world stage in a way that brought people together, and he was not afraid to make tough political decisions, and most importantly, Bob Dole, who I saw up-close in 1996 as a 25 year old volunteer on his campaign in the South Carolina Primary, a man who knew how to get things done by reaching across the aisle and finding people who were willing to make agreements that would work for the betterment of the country even when they started out with enormous ideological differences. There is no better example of his leadership than the work he did with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Speaker Tip O’Neill to save Social Security in the early 1980’s. So I admired a generation of leaders who I saw lead our nation as a child, and saw up-close in some cases as my own time in public service began and sadly I could see was an era coming to an end, but I saw these people get things done, and make the sacrifices that were necessary for the betterment of the country. I have always tried to follow that example that I saw in that generation of leadership and follow the advice one of them, Strom Thurmond, gave me in 1996, “That if a person is sitting on the other side of the desk they are there because they did not believe they had anywhere else to go and it is your job to help them. “

My 2012 and 2014 Position on Offshore Drilling certainly did NOT Age Well

In 2012, I ran for Congress in the newly created 7th district of South Carolina. The centerpiece of my plan to bring prosperity back to the district , (and as a member of Congress the country I had hoped) was to lead an effort for an all the above energy plan that would include drilling for offshore natural gas just outside Georgetown County S.C.  That plan was a popular proposal at the time I had made it in the 7th District. However, two years later, a resolution opposing offshore drilling was placed on the agenda of the Myrtle Beach City Council where I had served for many years. I supported the offshore drilling industry at that time and voted against the resolution. 
The facts of the situation at the time of the debate I thought lent itself for an amazing opportunity for the region as a diversified industry for a struggling port city, Georgetown, with a port that was just at 10% capacity. This was a chance to utilize the port for all the different aspects of drilling for natural gas, from shipping, to refining, to other industries designed to help support the employees lives who would be working the platforms. For the 7th district this looked like a winning situation especially since we were talking about Natural Gas and not oil drilling. 
There was also a national security issue for the country at stake. The price of gas had skyrocketed devastating an already struggling economy, we were approaching peak oil (which is the hypothetical point in time when the global production of oil reaches its maximum rate, after which production will gradually decline and get more expensive to get to ) The 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas believed to be off the coast of South Carolina looked like a Godsend. This was especially true because of the energy plan I had endorsed which had come from  T. Boone Pickens, a plan that would address the one problem no other plan seemed able to fix, the issue of transportations almost total dependence on oil. 
The fact was 33% of every barrel of oil the United States consumed was used by 18 wheelers transporting  goods around the nation, another 10% was used in everyday travel in cars, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles. Transportation guzzled 43% of every barrel of oil we used and not one single other energy source could realistically negate that fact. Back then, Electric cars were tiny vehicles that could barely get a person around town unless they were hybrid vehicles that were, in the end, still dependent on a gas tank.  The only plan I had ever seen that addressed this problem was the Pickens Plan , that would make transportation run on natural gas and that seemed like one hell of an opportunity for both Georgetown County and the answer to continuing to be dependent on foreign oil for the nation. 
Then two things happened in the late teen years that changed the entire ballgame in energy production. Fracking and Elon Musk. Fracking opened up huge deposits of natural gas and oil. The United States became so abundant in its production that the Saudi’s decided to drop the price of oil and take the profit out of the American energy boom. But most importantly, Elon Musk revolutionized electric batteries, and finally made alternative energy a real player on the scene. Today an electric car can be charged at the Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach in about 20 minutes, while you eat dinner at Abuelos, and then you can drive it to Savannah , Georgia. That was impossible when I ran for Congress in 2012 and when I stuck by the position on the fight for opening up Georgetown for drilling for natural gas as a councilman in 2014. 
Today , Elon Musk’s batteries can collect energy from solar and wind sources and store them for later use, they have also created a totally sustainable energy system  using solar panel technology that may soon be able help power the electric vehicles, and he has built a network of supercharging stations around the world, and while they are not as prolific as gas stations at the moment, they are in enough places to guarantee you won’t be stranded on the side of the road as long as you make some effort not to be. 
So are we there yet? The answer to that question is no, but are we at the start of the transition that in 2012 and 2014  looked like we were 75 years away from, I would say yes to that, we are moving toward the day when fossil fuels could become either obsolete or no longer the absolute necessity they have been for over a century.  For that reason, and the fact, that it would take a decade, even if a drilling site were approved in Georgetown today, to move us from a permit to actual drilling ability. Who knows what technology will do in this next decade?  I would say there is no reason to even continue to look at offshore drilling as a viable industry in our region any longer. It just no longer makes any sense. 
And besides all of that, the people have spoken, and they have said no, and in the end, for me , that is final word. 


May 11, 2023
It is an exciting time to be involved in Downtown Myrtle Beach. The city has developed a lot of plans that are sure to draw people back into the area. the fruits of that labor are showing in things like the new brewery and the events at Nance Plaza. I think the Arts and Innovation District is certainly an opportunity for a new downtown to eventually emerge into a new destination for the area. But I still go back to the final proposal I had pushed when I was still serving on the Myrtle Beach City Council to truly insure success in this struggling area.  The area needs some type of home ownership initiative in order to bring people into the area to live. Permanently invested, people living and working in the area is what has been missing for a while in our downtown, and that is what needs to be fixed.
In order to do that you will need to light up the area, incentivize the purchase of homes in the two adjacent neighborhoods, and incentivize the current property owners to attract renters into the apartments above the stores. We need a real effort to help our homeless population find the services they need and move those along who don’t want help that currently wander the area. We need to ask our current transportation provider, Coast RTA (of which I am a board member) for ideas on how to create a timely and reliable service  in the loop of downtown, servicing the businesses, and the neighborhoods, so it has the city feel that so many of our younger people want in where they  live, work, and play, today and into the future.  Finally, we need the area to not only look good but to feel safe and secure too, as we provide all the trappings of a vibrant city downtown. 
How to do all of that is easier said and written than done. In the next few weeks,  I hope to bring you several ideas that could compliment what the city is already doing. Ideas I hope that can add to a new and thriving region and help take Myrtle Beach to a new level. These are things I picked up along the way from cities I have visited from Austin , Texas, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Reno Nevada, to the Florida Keys.  But as with any plans it will take people working together to get it done, and not actively undermining each other.  This communities ability to find that common ground and work together to find a solution to issues we have stumbled over in the past has always been Myrtle Beach’s greatest strength, and I see no reason why our struggling downtown won’t end up being another example other regions of the country won’t be pointing to in the future as yet another example of Myrtle Beach success.   


May 8, 2023

You can pour all the money in the world into an area and if you let the homeless take it over it will sit desolate. Homelessness breeds crime anything from petty theft, to more serious issues, to just plain aggravation that people  don’t want to deal with on a daily basis, especially if they are on vacation. We all want to be the type of people who help those in need, but there does come a time when there are people you just can’t help. Those people need to be moved along. Several years ago, we had set up a system that was supposed to identify these folks and match them up with the services they needed. While I know that system is still attempting to work it is overwhelmed by the problem. We need to help it along. 

You do that by making life incredibly uncomfortable for those who do not want to be in the system and improving their situation. If they are going to be eating at a community kitchen then they need to be a person our social services people know who they are and are working with to help.  Same for going and getting any other charitable help. We need to have some idea who they are and what their story is and how we as community can help them get on their feet. Those who don’t want the help don’t need to be sleeping in the parks , the beach, under the boardwalk, in the woods or in the alleys. If they are then we need to pick them up and give them the option of help or a night in jail. The more its uncomfortable to be out their on our streets, the more they will either help themselves or move on down the road. 
We also need to work with our state officials to actually convert some of, our already over crowded jails, into a place where people can get the mental health, and drug dependency services they need to get their lives together. The jails are already dealing with it and so it’s time to just face that fact and figure out how to mix the two systems so people don’t fall through the cracks or just funnel through the system back out onto the streets to cause more trouble or end up dead. It is ridiculous to just keep releasing someone for public drunk 72 times, this is a person who  is obviously drug and alcohol dependent or mentally ill or all the above. Give law enforcement and Judges  the tools to help these people instead of throwing up our hands in defeat. 
Years ago we had mental institutions to handle this problem, today if we can’t have that, then using our current jails is the only solution, so let’s get the systems in place to help them. That will require money, determination, a plan, and the will to get it done, and it needs to happen with the help of the State of South Carolina because this issue is not unique to just Myrtle Beach and its downtown, and understand,  one of the problems with addressing an issue of this magnitude in an effective manner is when people see it’s a success, they will then send their problems to you. This is a State issue and we need to all be working on it together so that other areas don’t put their homeless and mentally ill on a bus and send them to Myrtle Beach for us to continue to deal with on and on. It is time for every level of government to tackle this issue, the issue of mental health together. 

Myrtle Beach's Downtown and Public Transportation

May 5, 2023,
As stunning as it is for a guy my age it appears that young people don’t want to drive. They want reliable public transportation. Any city in the future that wants to compete will need to have a reliable public transportation system. We actually have a good system in our area. I think the city of Myrtle Beach, as well as all the other cities should utilize it more. 
This is especially true if you want to build a thriving , growing downtown core. I have pointed this out for a long time, some areas, even in a town as overwhelmingly tourism driven as ours, are just not going to thrive as a tourism spot. They are the places that thrive based on the local people who live there. When you really look back on the history of downtown Myrtle Beach, it thrived when the Wither Swash neighborhood was full of homeowners, as was Alder Street, and the Chapin Department Store, Terminal Barbershop,  bakery, and the shoe repair place were all right there on our main streets of downtown. Tourists want to go to the beach, or the boulevard, or both, and they have sight blindness when they get anywhere near them. McDonald’s failed on 9th Avenue for that reason. The west side of highway 17 needs to be a place that draws from the local community and it still needs some of that community to be the residents that reside in the downtown area itself. 
Our downtown has infinite possibilities to draw young people into it to live, but you need to be paying attention to the things they want in order to get them here. More and more businesses are letting young people work from home. that seems to be the trend made more evident since the covid 19 virus lockdowns. That means the neighborhoods need to be more friendly to them, more open spaces, more technology friendly, and more reliable public transportation. The city needs to look at the trends of the millennial and generation z young people and design the downtown future around the things that will make them consider it home. Then put the money into those things such as paying for a reliable, frequent, transportation service  that could loop the neighborhoods and downtown business area with a connector to join on to the other routes offered. It is a good start even if it could, for a while, be the egg before the chicken. 

Congressman John Jenrette

Last week we lost a colorful character in the history of South Carolina politics in former Congressman John Jenrette. During my final days as a

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