American pop culture is fascinated by zombies. Every time I turn on the TV, there is a teaser for the next new series on the undead.
But this fascination is not limited to TV. On July 12th, Rep. Alan Clemmons dragged out that ragged “I-73 will create 29,000 new jobs” zombie for another lurch through the letters column of The Sun News.
Not to be outdone, Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce included it in a press release on July 14th.
After a letter asking why The Sun News did not appear to be enforcing its fact-based guidelines was published on August 17th, Rep. Clemmons doubled down with a letter in the Aug. 21 paper, parading that I-73 jobs zombie once again.
I tried to kill it in a detailed op-ed published in the Sun News on Feb. 17, 2013. I personally placed an even more detailed critique of the Chmura “Economic Impact of I-73 in South Carolina” study done for the North Eastern Strategic Alliance in Rep. Clemmons' hands on May 1, 2013, and invited him to show me where my numbers were wrong and his were right. The Chmura report predicted 18,856 tourism-related jobs would result just from the time saved by travelers on I-73, and my prediction (after correcting the mathematical errors and unrealistic assumptions made by Chmura) was that no more than 1,305 jobs would result.
Rep. Clemmons claims in his latest letter that Parsons Brinckerhoff validated the Chmura report. This P-B study was released at an invitation-only meeting in Florence on Dec. 6, 2012. The TV coverage was entirely from the promoters of I-73. The Sun News merely transcribed a press release claiming that Parsons Brinckerhoff said that the Chmura study “was credible.”
When inquiring minds read the actual Parsons Brinckerhoff report, it turns out that only the construction-related jobs estimates were deemed “credible.” These jobs could just as easily be created by other, more pressing highway repair or construction projects. The bigger claim of increased tourism-related jobs did not rate a “credible” rating from Parsons Brinckerhoff. The P-B report actually says:
“The NESA study asserts substantial benefits from increased tourism in Myrtle Beach and from service business formations around I‐73 interchanges. The methodologies used by Chmura to make these planning estimates are interesting and backed by some good information such as surveys of Myrtle Beach visitors. However, while these impacts may occur over time, they would be subject to many other factors not considered, and should be regarded as having a very wide margin of error and be viewed as illustrative rather than definitive. . . . The travel efficiency benefits estimated in the NESA study still appear substantially overstated relative to the FEIS analysis. . . “
I guess I'll have to start watching more TV to learn how to vanquish zombies permanently.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.