Outside Special Interests Working to Impede Progress in Lexington

Lake and Main has been providing information to the public about the Town of Lexington’s proposed plans for traffic improvements and the “hospitality tax” to fund those projects.  In addition to explaining the plans (here and here), L&M has also exposed the misrepresentations and tactics used by opponents (here, here and here).  Just when we thought opponents could go no lower, they go lower.

Following the latest (second) public information session held by the Town on 24 August, The Lexington County Citizen’s Watch (LCCW) started a telephone campaign against council members who recognize the need for the tax.  This follows a pamphlet drop in select neighborhoods. Six of the town’s seven council members support the tax as the only means to pay for desperately needed traffic improvements within the town limits.  The single opposing member is restauranteur Ted Stambolitis.  Stambolitis had been a supporter of the tax until the council rejected his idea to spend only 80% of the tax revenue on roads.  Ten percent of the remaining monies he wanted to go to a hospitality committee run by – restaurant owners!  That 10% would amount to approximately $1.5 million.  For Stambolitis and his industry colleagues.  One and a half MILLION dollars.

According to sources, the phone call campaign – telling people to call council members to protest the tax and suggesting they vote the members out in the next election – was carried out by volunteers recruited by LCCW and made from the Comfort Inn on West Main Street.  Their compensation was free food.  Interestingly, the Comfort Inn is about 400 yards from Mr. Stambolitis’ restaurant, The Flight Deck.  Coincidence, I’m sure.

The effort had some effect as council members have been getting calls from people who are not only  uninformed, but also rude and even vulgar.  One council member was cursed at and a female member had two men call her and tell her that she has no business being in government because she is a woman and women have no place making decisions.

Wow!

LCCW CALLER1The Lexington County Citizen’s Watch is a rabid anti-tax group that is, according to several state-level sources, funded by out-of-state interests.  The head of the group is not a Lexington town resident, nor are several of its members/supporters. (It is not a large organization.  L&M has heard  only 7-8 regulars, but can’t confirm.)  It was active in last year’s drive to defeat the county penny tax and claimed to be the reason for that defeat.  As county residents know, no organized protests were needed to kill that tax.

It is an open secret in state and county political circles that the LCCW also gets occasional funding/support from American’s for Prosperity, a far, far right organization operating out of Arlington, Virginia.  A major source of AFP funding is said to come from Texas.

Why, then is LCCW (and AFP) trying to tell the Town of Lexington and her citizens what to do?

They see the word “TAX” and they jump.  They don’t care about anything but doing away with taxes.  They would make lousy surgeons because they would kill a patient to extract a cancerous cell.  And that’s what’s happening in Lexington.

The LCCW doesn’t care about Lexington’s infrastructure, progress, economy, safety, traffic, schools or citizens.  They want to be able to say they defeated the tax so they can put a notch in their belt.  It’s about their ego, not what the citizens want or need.  For what other reason would this outside-influenced/resourced special interest oppose a piddly 2%, limited application, non-permanent tax in Lexington, South Carolina?

A prominent state official told Lake and Main that people want a house on the lake, but want to only pay for a cottage on the edge of a cotton field.

Apparently it can’t be said often enough: the hospitality tax is the only revenue source available now or in the foreseeable (and beyond) future.  The state does NOT “owe” the town money from gas taxes.  The county does not “owe” the town sales tax monies.  No matter how much we think they should or even believe they could, nope and nope.

The argument that the roads “don’t belong to the town,” is immaterial.  For one thing, the town is improving intersections, not building roads and second – so what?

Non-South Carolinians are crossing those lines to go to retail venues, the beach, Lake Murray, etc.  And here’s the rub.  They are using South Carolina roads.  When the state legislature debated raising the gas tax to pay for highway improvements, forcing users of the roads to help pay for them, what would have been the reaction if groups from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio or Canada lobbied the General Assembly to NOT raise that tax?  What would be your reaction?  Should they have a say?  They want to use our facilities but don’t want to pay for them.

That is, in fact, what one of the LCCW members said on WLTX TV: “I want our roads fixed. I don’t want our taxes raised…

Rather than see Lexington improve and progress, LCCW would rather the town devolve to a welfare colony.

Isn’t that special?

16 comments

  1. Yes – that’s me! I’m one of the crazy people who argue that the roads don’t belong to the town – It IS a material FACT. And, for the record, I live in the Town!

    Here’s another point I argue:

    In a leaked letter, dated July 9th and addressed to County Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat, SC DOT announced they were sending Lexington $8.5 million in extra money this year.

    $2.8 million is to be received by the end of August.

    Another $5.7 million later this fall.

    That’s in addition to the nearly $4.1 million they normally receive!

    Despite this extra money, Lexington Town Council plans to implement the new “H” tax with a vote on September 7th and start collecting it October 1st.

    Again, I appeal to all those who want to pay more taxes – Please, donate all you want! I would rather donate to causes and organizations that make a positive difference in people’s lives, unlike the culture of corruption that exists in all levels of government.

    Like

    • Haven’t seen the letter, but if you have a copy, please share. The key word in your comment is “county.” Because money goes to the county has nothing to do with the town. The county is making a number of improvements, but NOT anything that relieves traffic congestion IN THE TOWNOF LEXINGTON.
      Sometimes, and this issue is an illustration, corruption in government is overtaken by a corruption of intelligence.

      Like

    • That is a stupid thing to say. If your argument has to include my fomer occupation, of which I am VERY proud and for which I am grateful, then you have no valid defense of your position. If my years supporting our combat troops is so distasteful to you, I hope other residents take note the type of people who are so opposed to progress and improvements.

      Like

  2. Sorry, Charlie – you just lack objectivity. And please, no need to roll out the violins – I’ve given to Wounded Warrior, my Grandad served in the Navy in WWII, my dad, and Uncles, served during Vietnam, and I have friends and relatives serving now. Let’s just stick to the issue at hand – a 2% tax that the Town has no business collecting

    Like

  3. A thorough review of this thread shows you deviating from the discussion by a moronic comment about indoctrination, so don’t get whiney about sticking to the issue.
    Simplified:
    Do you want traffic streamlined in Lexington for better movement, improved safety and better access for emergency vehicles? What would be your reaction if you had to call 911 only to have the police or fire truck or ambulance delayed by clogged roads? How important will that extra 16 cents for a Big Mac combo be then?

    How long do you want to wait? These plans were first introduced in 2004.

    How will this be paid for? THERE IS NO MONEY! The county, state and feds have all said so. The town has no other means to get the money.

    The town is growing and that means traffic will just get worse.

    NO one wants the tax. The council has tried to find other eays, but THERE ARE NONE. I don’t want more taxes, but I DO want a solution to the very-bad-and-getting-worse traffic problem.

    There have been two Council public education meetings on this. The council was not required to do that, but it wants people to see and hear the truth about the plan. Did you go?

    So, how have I lost objectivity?

    Like

  4. Cutting off Dreher St will not help Fire/EMS get to the hundreds of homes back there, and the very nature of a traffic circle, is to slow traffic. The “there is no money” is a weak argument, too. As long as there are taxpayers, there is money. Government needs to adjust, rather that take more. None of these roads are owned by the town, so NO road taxes should be collected by the Town!

    Like

    • Dreher is being re-directed, not cut off.
      A roundabout is designed to slow traffic. Although traffic circles and roundabouts use a circular design, they operate very differently. Traffic circles are very large and are designed for high-speed vehicle operation. Roundabouts are designed as small as possible, 16 to 180 feet wide, and operate at 15 mph to 25 mph.

      The design of roundabouts forces drivers to slow as they approach them, then limits drivers’ circulating and exit speed. It is difficult to pass through a well-designed roundabout above these design speeds.
      All this and more was discussed at the education session.

      Like

  5. So now you admit this was a pro Koon website. You are not nothing more than a will folks wanna be. On this tax issue I will put my money on the people against it it was very well pass council vote but if these are same people that were behind the penny tax getting defeated last year then major changes will occur in city hall. When is the vote for this? Just asking so I will know when you next 3 month vacation will be.

    Like

    • I admitted no such thing.
      These are not the same people involved with the county tax debacle.
      Recommend you attend the next Council meeting at which you will be given a chance to state your concerns.

      Like

      • I have no concern about the tax. People are soon going to get tried of sitting on 378 and 1 for an hour each day to get to work. Once other areas get there schools on par people will start flocking to the cayce and west Columbia area.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s