This week in Under the Outhouse, the debate over BikeFest rages on, and Charleston’s city council starts to realize bowing to Mayor Joe Riley kind of sucks sometimes.
Property Rights Also Part of Solution to BikeFest Troubles
The spike in violence during this year’s Atlantic Beach BikeFest aka Black Bike Week, in which three people were murdered and several more injured, warranted calls from across the state to end the event, including from the governor. There is no question the swelling of violence and criminal behavior associated with BikeFest is a real problem, but as with any high profile incident when tensions are strained, it is important to let objectivity, not emotion, guide the response.
The Sun News hits the nail on the head with its May 31 editorial. “Let’s be clear that the situation in Myrtle Beach a week ago boils down to unacceptable behavior,” writes the paper. “The issues are not really about race or the right of people to be here.” The Sun News suggests an increase in the number of police to help control crowds and lawbreakers is one step toward reducing future outbreaks of violence.
Another part is empowering business owners to take necessary action to protect their businesses, as well as employees, from abuse during the week. Business owners who decide that it is in their best interest to shut down over the holidays should have the right to do so; however, the NAACP has repeatedly sued Myrtle Beach businesses for this. “Closing businesses or refusing to provide equal services to Black Bike Week visitors that are provided to visitors at other times of the year, not only makes no economic sense, it is against the law,” says NAACP Field Operations Chief Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III.
Vigilance of racial discrimination is not without historical merit, but groups such as the NAACP have no right dictating to business owners through legal bullying what is in the best interests of their businesses. In a free society, especially in environments considered adverse to the financial and safety interests of one’s business, owners should have every right to decide to cease business operations. Unfortunately, small business owners lack the financial resources to fight back against overzealous legal activism, leaving them defenseless to stop the gutting of property rights while conditions worsen. Perhaps this is an area in which the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce could be of use [hint, hint].
And, while those such as Rivers deny any economic justifications for closing businesses, the NAACP itself frequently uses boycotts as a means to effect change. As more area businesses close, pressure would be put on BikeFest organizers (and festival-goers themselves) to self-regulate behavior in order to regain the community’s trust that they can behave themselves in accordance with civilized standards; not to mention legal ones. Equipping business owners with tools to protect their property, and applying economic pressure on BikeFest participants without the need for heavy-handed government ordinances is a preferable solution to setting a dangerous precedent of a government body banning public events.
Drinking Ban Exposes Charleston City Government
The Charleston City Council passed a first reading of a bill last month that intends to prevent any new business, such as bars and restaurants, from serving alcohol after midnight. Despite overwhelming opposition from the food and beverage industry – which was not invited to the table for input on the new regulations – and generally everybody else in Charleston except Mayor Joe Riley, Chief Gregory Mullen, and crotchety downtown aristocrats, there was only one opposing vote (Councilman Dean Riegel).
Charleston attorney and former city government official Dwayne Green describes in the Charleston City Paper as a “death knell for the town's late-night bar industry,” the process in which it was passed exposes the true nature of Charleston’s city government: An unchecked mayor who merely has to pull at the strings of his puppet city council in order for his will to be done.
The Post and Courier’s Brian Hicks wrote Sunday about the City Council’s sudden sense of regret following the bill’s passage; however, it is hard to see this regret as anything more than feeling ashamed they were exposed as patsies in Riley’s crusade. For example, take Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson, who Hicks writes supported the bill “out of respect for the mayor and the police chief, who insist something must be done.” So, rather than do her job and act in the best interests of her constituents, Wilson (and the rest of the City Council) went along with Riley’s scheme hatchery despite knowing full well it was a bad bill.
Kiss the rings, people.
If there is one good thing to come from this bill, it’s that Charleston residents are starting to realize it is time for new blood in the city government. Plus, Myrtle Beach City Council members get a sneak preview of what will happen to them should they ever attempt similar shenanigans.
ANDREW DAVIS is a Myrtle Beach native and former Director of Communications for the national Libertarian Party. Contact him at SCPundit@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @SCPundit.