If Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes were arrested, or Conway Mayor Alys Lawson, or Surfside Beach Mayor Doug Samples, our newsroom would quickly shift into overdrive. Reporters and photographers would be sent to dig up background. Front pages would be redesigned. Sources would be mined for information. Competition would be fierce for every nugget of information. Articles and editorials already in the works would be moved to the back burner to fit in news and commentary on the arrest.
When Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce was arrested – again – this past week, the reaction around here was a bit more muted. Rather than “Oh my God!” it was more of an “Oh, her again?”
We’ve written so many times about the leadership woes of Atlantic Beach over the years that frankly it’s becoming hard to get worked up about the latest indiscretion by Pierce or her compatriots in town. We imagine readers are becoming just as tired. With that in mind, we hope to save you some time.
The following editorial attempts to fill the bill for the next few scandals that will no doubt hit the town. Cut it out, save it, perhaps make a few copies, and just circle the appropriate word choice when the next Atlantic Beach disgrace hits.
The all-purpose, one-size-fits-all, do-it-yourself, generic Atlantic Beach editorial:
It’s another frustrating time for Atlantic Beach residents, who just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to their leadership. The recent (arrest / outburst / fraud) of the town’s (mayor / council member / manager / police chief) is just the latest in what has become an unending string of embarrassing episodes for the small town.
Readers who have been paying attention will remember only too well the previous (lawsuit / shouting match / abuse of power) perpetrated by those nominally leading the town, and the latest incident is only another black eye for a town already sorely beaten. They all come, it must be pointed out, as the town continues to struggle on with an election still unsettled almost (6 months / 12 months / 18 months) after the first votes took place.
The real losers in such chaos are the residents, who must live with leaders that seem incapable of fulfilling their primary duty: leadership. While those tasked with directing the town’s future bicker about their positions and the latest conspiracy theory that says the town is being threatened by (the solicitor / state lawmakers / developers / North Myrtle Beach), those who live in the town wonder why their tax money has disappeared and basic services such as police protection, code enforcement and financial oversight have fallen by the wayside.
Indeed, even after the (governor / treasurer / solicitor) stepped in and attempted to restore order, the town has devolved once more into what seems to be its natural state these days: (confusion / turmoil / chaos / anarchy). And though reforms were promised, council members have reverted to their foolish practices of filing frivolous suits against (each other / the town / local enemies) and appointing (friends / business partners / relatives) to beneficial boards and positions to the detriment of their relationships with other leaders and the town as a whole.
We continue to wish the best for the town, which has a proud history and heritage that deserves better than it has received. But as year follows year with little if any improvement, with (arrest after arrest / lawsuit after lawsuit / election after election) our hopes and our patience ebb bit by bit.
We’ve said it before – and we’ll no doubt say it again – but there seems little prospect of the town fixing its own problems. Outside help is sorely needed. It’s past time for (the governor / state lawmakers / the attorney general) to step in, roll up those sleeves and get to work cleaning up Atlantic Beach. Otherwise, we can just expect more of the same.
And nobody wants that.