Escaping the NYC cold wave down in South Florida this weekend, I dropped by Palm Beach’s Mar-a-Lago vicinity to check the temperature of the locals on President Donald Trump’s visits to his seaside palace.
Many were boiling. As if residents don’t have enough problems with their eroding beaches and snowbirds clogging their roads and favorite restaurants, they now have Trump regularly swooping in (five of the past seven weekends) and wreaking havoc on their community.
“This is getting way out of hand,” Palm Beach resident Mike Blazic told me angrily. “We’re paying for police overtime, additional services — our taxes will rise to cover him coming down here all the time. It hurts our economy.”
Palm Beach County has paid more than $1 million for security, overtime pay and other Trump-related expenses in the past few months, according to Money.com.
New Yorkers can relate. From Election Day to inauguration, it cost us $24 million to provide security at Trump Tower, and we continue to pay six figures a day to protect first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan has asked Congress to “provide city taxpayers a full reimbursement.”
Meanwhile, Palm Beach Town landscapers and pool cleaners are banned from the island after 3 p.m. on Fridays through May 1, and nearby Lantana Airport is on lockdown. It bleeds money every time Trump jets in for meetings and rounds of golf.
Trump mocked President Barack Obama for wasting taxpayers’ money on far fewer trips. But that was yesterday. The Mar-a-Lago visits provide free publicity for the Trump-owned resort, and initiation fees for membership were recently doubled to $200,000.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner is attempting to designate Mar-a-Lago as a “municipal service benefit unit” and asking that the resort help defray the costs of the president’s repeated visits. “These trips are costing us a fortune, and we should be compensated for it,” agrees Palm Beach resident Richard Horowitz.
I wouldn’t hold my breath, guys. But hang in there, Palm Beachers, a solution may be in sight. If Trump’s proposal to slash the Environmental Protection Agency goes through, Mar-a-Lago will be under water before you know it.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.