It is the actions of the few that reflect upon and affect the many.
I don’t normally go on a political rant but there have been some local events that caused a stir and made national headlines from my city during the Memorial Day Weekend Holiday. Most of the world now knows about the 3 murders that happened during the Bikefest in Myrtle Beach. The Governor of SC has put her 2 cents worth in along with the City Council and I could not even take my nap yesterday lest I got that RANT out of me. For your reading pleasure (please don’t yawn) Here is my feelings about that topic. Note, I am going against the grain on this one.
It is the actions of the few that reflect upon and affect the many.
While it is a tragedy that the Bikefest had fatalities this year, it is an event that partially kicks off the beginning of the summer working season for many people in and out of Myrtle Beach. A great deal of the workers that depend on the summer working season have found the season becoming shorter and shorter. My husband is one such worker and before my current career, I was too. We depended on the income from the summer months to sustain us through the winter season when work was not so plenty and unemployment was not a timely replacement.
We noted that at least one of us had to find work that was not so seasonal in order to provide enough income to pay for a roof over our heads, utilities, and necessities. We also have to provide for our children. We live INSIDE the city limits of Myrtle Beach and have done so for at least 12 years. I have noticed that a great deal of the people that attend audience with the city council are not residents within the city limits. While some may work in the city or choose to come through the city to get to the beach, they do have valid complaint about the things that occur during Bikefest. This letter is not disputing that. Further, I note that the city council members are not directly located in the city but in affluent homes around the edges of the city and do not bear 24 hour witness to the activities of Bikefest.
As stated before, this is a tragedy and the actions of the parties involved ruined it for everyone. While there should be more respect of the city as we open our hospitality industry to then on Memorial Day weekend, Governor Nicky Haley said it best:
“This was not something to be proud of. This was not a good weekend. There was a lot of damage, but more importantly there were deaths. This is no longer a law enforcement issue. Our law enforcement was stellar. We had more than enough people.”
There are multiple truths here. Yes, it is NOT something to be proud of. The events that occurred resulted in loss of life and it did happen in Myrtle Beach. The disrespect for life, the hospitality of the area, and those they hurt in the process was horrid and they should be punished for what they did. However, their actions should not hinder the event itself nor should it be taken away only to make the summer workers of this area suffer more than they already have. Secondly, it was NOT a good weekend due to the deaths. Third, anytime there are a lot of people coming to a place for an event, there will be damage. The more people, the more damage there will be. In speaking of the law enforcement, maybe there were enough and maybe they did to a “stellar” job. I am not writing this to dispute that. In the same press conference, Governor Haley also said the following:
“There are no revenues worth the bad press that we got this past weekend. There are no revenues worth the lack of companies that will come to this area because of what happened this weekend. There are no revenues worth the lack of tourism that we will lose because of what happened this past weekend. It is time for that Bikefest to come to an end,”
This is where I have issue. She is right in that there are no revenues worth bad press and tourism lost. However, those that depend on this weekend to start their income season will lose out unless something of a similar caliber is set in its place and what will provide that type of revenue? The hotel workers put in extra hours, the gas station attendants pull extra shifts. Those that work in the restaurants work doubles and come in early and stay late during the Bikefest weekend. These workers keep businesses running during an exorbitantly busy weekend and they depend on that money to pay their bills and to provide for their families. If you take that away, that is another ding in the incomes of these people. Many of these workers live right here in the city limits. Most will not even think about reaching out to City Council or listen to what Governor Haley is saying. They just want to have a job to look forward to during the summer months when they know they can make the money.
A few years ago, there was a big issue in Myrtle Beach about Helmet laws and noise ordinances and such after a similar situation which had occurred during Bikefest. The helmet issue (among others) went all the way to the Supreme Court of South Carolina and was subsequently overturned as being against South Carolina Constitution. Unbeknownst to the ones that set that controversy in motion, it hurt “the poor people.” Or as the cogs of this city are referred to: The Summer workers. Business has never been the same since that has occurred. Bikefest weekend as well as the Harley weekends is not as busy as the hospitality workers would like. Further, local businesses like restaurants and hotels are not hiring as many people because of the “loss of revenue.”
Every single time an incident like this occurs, here comes the Governor demanding something that has a detrimental effect to those of us who are nearly too broke to sustain but make about $3 too much to receive any type of assistance. Further, those of us who are working our fingers to the bone to barely make it are directly e few make living almost impossible and the City and the Governor wonders why there is a homeless problem in this city.
Finally, Haley mentioned preventative measures:
“Law enforcement was not a problem this past Memorial weekend. The problem was the lack of a curfew, the lack of a noise ordinance, the lack of any sort of discipline or organization, the lack of any sort of ability to control the environment. That was the problem. But it was not law enforcement.”
I am not proposing any solutions but you need to think about the Utilitarian point of view before you make a demand that an event should be eradicated. Haley said there was lack of a noise ordinance but the Helmet Law issue did put in place a noise ordinance. Why was it not enforced by the stellar law enforcement we had for Bikefest? Further, City code does have curfews in place. Especially for minors. Why were the curfews not enforced? (I find it silly to impose a curfew on a resort area when adults know right from wrong and there is no martial law.) While there was not much discipline on the part of the visitors and a few of the locals, there was certainly no organization present within the city. This can be seen from 2 viewpoints. 1. The organizers of Bikefest did not have any structure in the events of the weekend and everyone came to the beach to just ‘hang out.’ When one goes on vacation, hanging out t is what they do. When they go to the sands of the beach or the pool, that is what they do. When they go to the bars, that is what they do. It is human nature to want to congregate and socialize. 2. The visitors were undisciplined and chaotic. Yes. Yes they are. They came to Myrtle Beach to have a good time and while the stores, clubs, and restaurants were open, what activities were there for them? Absolutely none. So what option did they have but to amuse themselves and hang out? One can also look at this from the standpoint that while law enforcement believed they were doing their job, they were severely outnumbered and failed to enforce noise ordinances, local nudity laws, and curfews.
When situations like this occur, it is always the blame of the caliber of people attending the event. However, did anyone ever consider that the many outside of the few were not really causing any issue? Further, Bikefest has been going on for quite some time, the people that brought their families should know or should have known what occurs in the Grand Strand during Bike Fest. Choosing a different immediate area would not have been a detriment to them. Further, it would not have affected any incoming revenue for the business owners.
In suggesting that Bikefest must come to an end or to eradicate the event all together disrupts the lives of the cogs of the city. Those of us that work this and live this life 24 hours a day. Those of us that have roots here and not in some affluent neighborhood on the outskirts of the city limits.
For the City Council and Governor Haley, should you see to it that this event comes to an end, are you going to come out of your pocket to replenish the lost wages for those of us who work long hours during this event? A person making $9.00 an hour working in a restaurant will work 8-14 hours a day during the Bikefest weekend. If you take that away and force the summer working season to start later, you are causing businesses to work people like my husband 4-5 hours a day during that weekend and causing a hardship on us. That money goes right back out in the form of Rent, insurance, water, power, and phone bills. (Not to mention gas, and food.) Do you really want to take the rug out from under the citizens you are seeking to help out by “bringing more jobs to the area?” Businesses won’t come because lack of a successful income year round. It has nothing to do with a singular crime that happened during a large event.
I don’t expect anyone to pass this along but I send it in hopes that someone will read it and see it from the point of view of the workers. Were it not for those of us that live paycheck to paycheck, who would work the service industry jobs? Certainly not the affluent ones, certainly not the City Council, and certainly not Governor Haley.
The writer is a property owner inside the City Limits of Myrtle Beach.