|Meet the Mayor of Atlantic Beach|
It sounds like being an elected official in Atlantic Beach, a small beach-front town adjacent to North Myrtle Beach in Horry County, can be a great way to make money.
An op-ed published by the Myrtle Beach Sun Times identifies a number of town politicos who have sued the town, including Mayor Retha Pierce, warning that the "entire practice of Atlantic Beach leaders profiting from suits against their own town is overdue for investigation by the State Ethics Commission and/or the state attorney general.":
Councilwoman Windy Price, Mayor Retha Pierce and Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Cole have all had suits pending against the town. Price and her husband have received more than $50,000 in settlement cash since November. Pierce has pocketed at least $22,000. Lest you be tempted to write it off as not your problem, that money comes not from the Atlantic Beach budget but from a state insurance fund paid into by taxpayers across the state. Now it seems that Cole’s payday may be just around the corner.
The Town Council this week (or at least the lawsuit-loving trio who control it) directed the town’s manager to move ahead with negotiating a settlement to a long-running suit against the town by the Tyson Beach Group, a land-holding company in which Cole has a stake.
What's taking place in Atlantic Beach is no secret. It's been discussed on this blog a number of times and in the news media. Town elections held last November were nullified and new ones held in May. Concerns regarding the last town manager, who was a former town police chief with a shady record and ties to the former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin, who is doing time for drug trafficking while Sheriff, ended up with SLED being called in to investigate.
Add the potential conflicts of interests with these lawsuits and Mayor who can't stay out of jail and you get a town that is in dire need of a clean sweep, if the town should be allowed to exist at all.
While state officials have challenged the recent town elections, that's not enough. Rep. Tracy Edge, who represents the town, has sought action, but one legislator isn't enough. The Sun News' call for a major state investigation seems the only hope there is to get to the bottom of the Atlantic Beach mess.