Road Paving Decisions Bad for County Residents, Good for Politicians

This opinion piece is from the May 17th edition of the Pawleys Island COASTAL OBSERVER. It points out the politics that Democrats, particularly State Rep. Vida Miller, are playing with Georgetown County road paving funds.

Road Paving Decisions Bad for County Residents, Good for Politicians
By Tom Swatzel

Recently the Georgetown County Transportation Committee (CTC), after being captured and strong-armed by the Democratic-Party-controlled county legislative delegation, agreed to spend almost $800,000 in taxpayer money to pave five very sparsely populated roads in Democrat State Senator Yancey McGill's district in the far western part of the county, and as a result blew a $200,000 deficit in the CTC's future budget.

Incredibly these five roads jumped ahead of all 28 of the Waccamaw Neck roads listed on the CTC paving priority lists that are in the district of State Rep. Vida Miller, a Democrat.

Two of the roads do not appear on any of the CTC priority lists, and one, the 1.5 mile long Center Road and has no houses on it at all.

All of the listed Waccamaw Neck roads have a substantial number of houses per mile.

Miller and McGill, who with Democrat Rep. Carl Anderson control the county legislative delegation, tried to entice the CTC to approve the paving work as a "pilot project," while promising to seek project-specific funding in the state budget. When the pork did not materialize (not unexpected because of Miller's and McGill's minority party status in Columbia), and the CTC members balked at approving the project using existing committed paving funds, Miller's and McGill's solution was to start getting rid of the members who opposed them.

Ricky Horne, Miller's opponent in the last election, was conveniently removed after he opposed the Miller-McGill paving plan.

He was replaced with a person that actually lives on one of the roads involved in the questionable funding, effectively reducing Waccamaw Neck representation on the CTC.

Linwood Altman, a Democrat and respected former state legislator from Pawleys Island, who strongly opposed the paving plan, resigned from the CTC rather than participate as a rubber stamp.

This type of "Boss Hogg" action is not new.

Georgetown County Council used to have the power to appoint the CTC members. This made sense because council members actually reside in the county (McGill does not), are closer to the people, and therefore generally more knowledgeable about local road issues and making good committee appointments.

However, several years ago Miller and McGill appeared before the CTC to ask the committee to commit transportation funds to pave a parking lot.

Yes, a parking lot at a proposed library in McGill's district.

Shortly after the CTC denied the parking lot funding, Miller and McGill collaborated on legislation that removed the appointment powers from County Council and gave them to the legislative delegation. None of this passes the smell test.

Why would Miller abandon her constituents on important road issues within her district and cause her district to have less representation on the CTC?

The only answer that might make sense is simply partisan politics.

I would guess that perhaps a back-room deal may have been cut to have Miller help McGill look like a hero to his constituents because of the likelihood that he may face strong opposition in the upcoming election next year.

I'm not sure what Miller may have gotten in return politically. I do know that unfortunately she has become part of the problem with state government and not part of the solution.

On this issue Miller has surely taken her constituent support very much for granted and undermined an objective process for improving roads within her own district and the county.

She has reinforced the stereotypical notion that good old boy, and in this case gal, politics are alive and well in South Carolina, and made an excellent case for the need for eliminating the antiquated county legislative delegation system statewide.

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet and is chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party and a former Georgetown County Council member