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One More Myrtle...

RevWhat's happened this week in Myrtle Beach will likely be remembered as the moment in time when community leaders there decided that it was time, once again, to lead. 

Indeed, it was community leadership (both public and private) that set the tone and the table for Myrtle Beach to become one of the premier destinations in the country over the past 30 years. And then, not unlike in other communities across the nation, they suffered silently as the media and agenda-fueled wingnuts took potshot after potshot at them.

Old school public and community relations wonks told all of us to "turn the other cheek;" that, by engaging in a tit-for-tat confrontation in front of an audience that doesn't understand the nuance of community development, you do nothing more than fuel the fire and keep the issue alive. Nothing could be further from the truth. We'll go deeper on this concept in next week's edition of the Z-News (if you're not already a subscriber, you can join our family HERE).

To recap the story: On Tuesday, the City approved a 10-year extension of a penny sales tax that has provided an 82% property tax rebate to residents and powered the region's tourism industry and job growth to record heights. The approval came after the Mayor's rejection of a call from a small minority (less than 400 people signed an online petition) for the question to be put to referendum. 

Timed to coincide with this week's vote, a disgruntled ex-Chamber member brought a lawsuit against the Chamber of Commerce (which holds the Destination Marketing contract with the City) alleging misuse of tax revenues and "cronyism." Naturally, the media jumps all over the story, splattering the Chamber and several of its local contractors with incendiary innuendo.

Of course, within a day or so, a local TV station ran the numbers behind the allegations and found them to be wildly miscalculated and intentionally misleading

And then, the Chamber Board did something totally out-of-character for a body that had been proud of its ability to turn the other pushed back. Hard. In a 15-minute news conference (starting at the 9:30 mark), several members of the Chamber Board punched back with the truth. If you're short on time, start at the 23:40 mark. Game on.

But, of course, the damage has been done. The community can't un-hear these allegations. But, the free pass to slander community leaders that Chamber and City critics have enjoyed for the past few years has just been revoked.

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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