Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce is in the news again. The Atlantic Beach Mayor, who has been arrested multiple times by Atlantic Beach police, the last arrest happening on January 28th, 2009, is suing several town officials in United States Federal District Court.
According to the Myrtle Beach Sun News, the Mayor is alleging that a few town officials conspired to prevent the Mayor from doing her duties as Mayor. The article can be found at http://www.thesunnews.com/news/local/story/807124.html. Please note the nastiness of the comments section. Allegations of drug abuse, criminal activity, etc. are found. As such VUI finds the local government in Atlantic Beach to be the nastiest fight in the state. Even in Anderson County things like drug abuse are not tossed about.
Frankly, VUI does not know who is really right in Atlantic Beach. VUI does know that the losers are the people of the small coastal town. Atlantic Beach is struggling to keep its town charter. Instead of its leadership spending money to stay alive, it will be spending money on lawyers.
It is a growing trend around South Carolina. More and more town and county elected officials seem to be unable to work out differences as rational human beings and “lawyer up,” so to speak. Then there is the corruption in places like Union, whose former Mayor was recently sentenced to over five years in federal prison.
The local government system in South Carolina is in a growing crisis. Spending by local government has skyrocketed in recent years, and there are not many tangible things to show for it. There are several theories out there as to why such is the case. Some contend that local politics is more personality and self interest than policy and in today’s litigation society, that leads to the large amounts of local taxpayer money being spent on lawyers and accountants. Others contend that the local governments get the second string of elected officials, and those who are more able seek higher office. Some blame Home Rule and how it allowed a mishmash of local governments to create an inconsistent mess of spending and governing around the state. Perhaps even more telling is how most property owners in South Carolina are paying higher property taxes now than before the state legislature came in and paid local and school tax relief.
If a taxpayer pauses and realizes that his or her taxes are paying for things such as the melodrama in Anderson County and the nastiness in Atlantic Beach, it is frustrating to see how little respect a growing number of county and local governments have for the people who pay for them.