By Paul Gable
A telephone prank got out of hand Wednesday resulting in telephone harassment charges being filed against Horry County Solid Waste Authority Executive Director Danny Knight.
According to complainant Chris Burroughs, who owns waste hauler EZ Dump, he received two telephone calls from Knight Wednesday morning referring to an incident during a SWA committee meeting two days before.
A special committee meeting was convened by the SWA Monday night during which Burroughs’ permit to recycle construction and demolition debris in the county was discussed.
Burroughs said there was an issue with the percentage of C&D material he recycled and with scale readings at his facility. The SWA cancelled the $5 per ton discount he receives as a C&D recycler and to charge him $18,000 for discounts already received.
In the end, the committee decided to allow Burroughs to keep the $18,000 in discounts and will reinstate the $5 per ton discount as soon as the EZ Dump scales are recalibrated.
At the end of Burroughs’ remarks to the committee, he hit his cell phone against the podium to emphasize his final point.
According to Burroughs, he received a call from Knight Wednesday morning inquiring whether Burroughs’ cell phone was still working after the rough treatment it got Monday night.
Later in the morning, a second call was placed to Burroughs’ cell phone by Knight. This time Burroughs’ wife answered the phone and got the same question inquiring whether the cell phone was still working.
According to Burroughs’ his wife told Knight the phone calls constituted harassment and a police report to that effect would be filed.
Burroughs said he filed a police report with both the Horry County Police Department and the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Department becuse the one of the calls was received in each of those jurisdictions. The charge on the reports is second degree harassment-intimidation.
Burroughs said of Knight’s two calls, “He was trying to stick the knife in and see what I would do. You would think someone earning $165,000 per year would have more important things to do than make prank phone calls. ”
When the SWA convinced Horry County Council to impose flow control in 2009, mandating that all waste generated in the county must be disposed of at the SWA’s Hwy 90 landfill, it offered incentives to those haulers who were financially hurt by the new ordinance.
“They said they would charge us $9 per ton for C&D, which was about the same price we were paying out of the county at the time,” Burroughs said. “After about three months the SWA raised the price to $15.50 per ton and then to $21.50 per ton. They’re not going to stop until they get it all.”
The gate rate at the SWA for C&D waste is $26.50 per ton, which is what Burroughs would have been charged if his discount was revoked.
At least three private haulers, EZ Dump, Lee Disposal and Express Disposal Service, were financially affected when the flow control ordinance was passed. Since that time, the SWA has demonstrated the arrogance of a bully, in my opinion, in its dealings with anyone who opposes its flow control monopoly.
Wednesday’s actions by Knight were childish, not something expected from the former top executive of the county and current head of the SWA. It is just another example of why the SWA should be disbanded, in my opinion, and placed under the control of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Division.
Maybe, then, county taxpayers would receive value for dollars expended to employees burying the garbage of the county. The entire cash rich operations of the SWA and its landfill could be put to better use paying for services to county residents than paying excessive salaries and perks to those whose mentality runs to making prank phone calls on the public’s dime.