Trump spokesman asked about Palm Beach County costs

Cars are stopped as President Donald Trump's motorcade leaves the Trump International Golf Club on Summit Boulevard after he spent the morning there in West Palm Beach on February 19, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post) (Richard Graulich / Daily News)
President Trump’s motorcade in Palm Beach County (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, was asked about the ongoing costs of travel to Palm Beach County Monday. And, no, Spicer didn’t run the reporter over with the briefing room podium, Melissa McCarthy style.

The Palm Beach Post has reported that the county has incurred yuuuge costs providing additional security and roadway management during Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago spread. The county is conducting a review to get a better handle on the costs and benefits of Trump’s frequent travel here.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Spicer was asked about the county’s costs during a briefing Monday afternoon.

The reporter, Gabby Morrongiello of The Washington Examiner, said: “Palm Beach County has said that it’s costing $60,000 a day in overtime pay every time the President comes to visit West Palm Beach.  He’s slated to go there again this weekend according to some reports.  Is the President taking any steps to ensure that taxpayers aren’t saddled with tremendous costs in his travel habits, considering he was so critical of his predecessor on that matter?”

Spicer responded: “Well, Gabby, the security for the President and the First Family is set by the Secret Service.  As you know, they determine the security measures that need to be taken to protect the President — frankly, any President.  So I’m going to leave it up to the Secret Service to decide what security measures and steps are taken to protect the President.”

Spicer continued: “And, as you know, I mean, this…depending on…it transcends administrations.  Wherever the President goes, they need to make sure that the President and the First Family is safe.  That’s something that I think — we rely on the Secret Service to make those determinations.  They continue to do a phenomenal job making sure that the First Family and the President and the Vice President are protected, and we have full confidence in the decisions that they make.”

That wasn’t the answer folks here wanted to hear, which would be something along the lines of: “Why, yes, Gabby, we plan to urge congressional leaders to set aside funding to reimburse Palm Beach County in full for additional costs incurred during the president’s trips there.”

Still, Morrongiello did the county a solid in asking that question. And she didn’t get smacked with a podium or blasted with soapy water.

Twenty-seven pilots violated Trump air restrictions

012517-pbc-workshop-trump-6No fewer than 27 aviators violated flight restriction zones during the first three weekends President Donald Trump was at his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed.

The breakdown: 10 on Feb. 3-5, three on Feb. 10-12, and 14 on Feb. 17-20, the long Presidents Day weekend.

By edict of the Secret Service, any time the president is in town, a package of flight restrictions is in place.

They ban most operations at the Lantana airport and impose strict limits at other Palm Beach County airports that include requiring small plane pilots be cleared by authorities at other airports before they fly in.The restrictions have effectively shut down the Lantana airport’s estimated 200 daily operations.

President Trump visits to Mar-a-Lago a hardship for local airports, report states

Trump, then president-elect, spent the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at Mar-a-Lago, and has come three of his first weekends as president; he skipped this past weekend but plans to return this coming weekend.

Trump meets with Sheriff: they talk about reimbursing PBSO for presidential visits

The Secret Service said early on it would revisit the restrictions after it’s seen how a few weekends went, but hasn’t acted — or commented — since.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been asked about marine interdictions for violations of its zones, but, unlike the FAA, said that information must go through a Freedom of Information Act request, a process that will take weeks or months.

 

An eighth commissioner?

orbit

A new Palm Beach County commissioner was sworn in Thursday to rep-….ah, actually, that’s Orbit, the Houston Astros’ large, green mascot, who stopped by to offer silent thanks for support in building the new minor league ballpark that’s scheduled to open on Tuesday.

Commissioners were happy to see Orbit and grinned broadly as they donned Astros caps and showed off commemorative uniforms, each adorned with their last name and the number 17 to indicate the year of the new ballpark’s opening.

County votes for moratorium on pot dispensaries, treatment centers

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Palm Beach County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a moratorium of up to a year on zoning applications for medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county.

Commissioners stressed that they could craft new rules and begin accepting new applications before the one-year period. They said their goal is to give state legislators time to come up with rules.

In November, voters approved a change to the state constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana.

Check back with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this topic.

PBC approves land use change for horse manure recycling

082812 (Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post) -- Boynton Beach -- Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center is helping out horse owners in flooded areas of Palm Beach County by opening its stalls to the public at their facility in Boynton Beach on Tuesday. Palm Meadows is not charging for the temporary stalls and owners have to provide their own care, hay, feed and bedding. They are currently housing 11 horses in their 1400 stalls. (Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)
(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County commissioners approved a land use change that would allow a horse manure recycling facility to operate between Belle Glade and Wellington, the epicenter of the county’s equestrian industry.

The land use change will be transmitted to state officials for review and come back to commissioners for final approval in March or April when Horizon Compost hopes to get approval of its zoning application for a facility that would be located on 32 acres eight miles east of Belle Glade and eight miles west of Wellington.

Horizon says it has a process that can clean horse bedding, which can be re-used while the manure is turned into a high-grade fertilizer.

Commissioners, who unanimously approved the land use change, said they believe the recycling facility can reduce illegal dumping of manure in the county.

PBC looking to boost spending to combat heroin/opioid crisis

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche at county budget workshop, March 25, 2015 (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)

Palm Beach County commissioners, opening discussions about their 2018 budget, are considering setting aside $2 million to combat the ongoing heroin/opioid crisis.

The Palm Beach Post has provided extensive coverage of that crisis, which has devastated families and strained the resources of first responders and hospitals.

Commissioners are considering dipping into its reserves to boost current year spending to $1 million to combat the problem.

“I think this is a drop in the bucket given the scale of the problem,” Commissioner Hal Valeche said of the proposed expenditures.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay agreed.

“Anyone who fails to see this as the public health crisis that it is is walking around with their eyes closed,” she said.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on the county’s initial budget discussions.

Pinto, McKinlay have sharp exchange on car burglaries

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto recently exchanged sharply worded emails over a public safety issue in the village, a break from the usually harmonious dealings between local public officials.

The flare-up was especially remarkable because it occurred between officials who share constituents. Typically, such officials are eager to be seen as working together for those constituents.

Pinto was elected to the village council in 2003 and was elected mayor in March. McKinlay was elected in 2014 to serve a district that includes Royal Palm Beach and other municipalities west of Florida’s Turnpike.

Their dispute centered on McKinlay’s response to a complaint from a Royal Palm Beach resident and council member about a rise in car burglaries in the village.

McKinlay reached out to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and sought to hold a community meeting on the issue.

Pinto, displeased, admonished the commissioner for not first reaching out to him or the village administrator, Ray Liggins.

“Any issues or concerns regarding crime activity in the Village should have been brought to the Village Manager’s and my attention,” Pinto wrote to McKinlay. “Members on the Village Council will be advised that any ‘official business on behalf of the Village’ with The County Commissioners Office, or other agencies must go through the Village Manager and the Office of the Mayor.”

McKinlay fired back.

“My apologies but when residents in my district contact me and one of your councilmembers, I feel obligated to respond,” she wrote to Pinto. “I fail to see the problem here. We simply were trying to address some concerned citizens’ worries and all I did was ask my contacts at PBSO if there was a possibility we could do a community meeting with the worried residents.”

McKinlay later added: “Of the seven cities I represent, no other city censures their elected members from contacting me directly. I am here to help whenever someone within District 6 contacts me. My apologies if anyone felt their toes had been stepped on, but such a strong censorship is not necessary.”

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Taylor hosting meeting to oppose Glades land bill

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is putting together a breakfast meeting Saturday to call attention to legislation she argues will harm residents of the Glades, an impoverished area along the banks of Lake Okeechobee.

The object of Taylor’s ire is a bill filed in the Florida Senate (SB 10) that calls for the purchase of land south of the lake for a reservoir project that would end the necessity of the lake discharges blamed for the algae bloom that fouled water along the Treasure Coast last year.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, calls for the land to be purchased from willing sellers. But Taylor, a former state legislator whose district included the Glades, worries landowners in the area would be compelled to sell.

One area of particular concern, Taylor said, includes a mill that employs more than 1,000 people.

The closing of that mill “would be devastating to that area,” Taylor said, adding that she is frustrated that there have been no public discussions of the legislation’s potential impact.

Taylor is organizing a “call to action” breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church at 801 9th St. in West Palm Beach.

Building in new PBC city of Westlake underway

What does a new city look like when it’s under construction?

A lot like this:

Minto Communities, the developer building Palm Beach County’s newest city, Westlake, has started construction in the first 500 acres of what is expected to be a city of 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential development along both sides of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.

Minto Vice President John Carter said the builder has also started work on a town center and the first 300-home subdivision.

Westlake used to be known as Minto West. Minto changed the development’s name not long before backing an effort to incorporate the area, a move that surprised and angered Palm Beach County commissioners who had approved the project over the objections of environmentalists and preservationists.

Up Interstate 95, in Daytona Beach, Minto is partnering with Margaritavile Holdings to build what it describes as an “active adult community” called Latitude Margaritaville.

“With Minto’s expertise in creating master planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up,” said John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville Holdings.

PBC Commissioner Kerner asks Secret Service to ease flight limits at Lantana: St. Rep. Berman asks Gov. Scott to lobby Trump; $45 in losses projected this weekend

Frankel (c) Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Berman (c) and Frankel (r) & PBC Commissioner Dave Kerner (r) Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Lantana airport "fixed base" operator Jonathan Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)
Lantana airport “fixed base” operator Jonathan Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

With President Donald Trump likely to return to Mar-a-Lago on Friday for a third consecutive weekend, a state legislator has asked Gov. Rick Scott, who calls himself a long time friend Trump to “intercede any way u can” with the president in hopes of getting the Secret Service to tweak flight restrictions local aviation firms say might be running them out of business.

The Lantana airport is effectively shut down by the Secret Service during Trump’s visits to Palm Beach.

“While the safety of our President is the first and foremost concern of all citizens, I am hopeful that you will recognize the value and importance of maintaining jobs and the economic engine that helps fuel Palm Beach County, which in turn helps our entire state,” Rep. Lori Berman,. D-Lake Worth, whose district includes the Lantana Airport, wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. Her office hand-delivered it to Gov. Scott’s office in Tallahassee.

“Without the consideration of a slightly loosened TFR, our community will continue to feel these adverse effects on our local economy,” Berman wrote. “The potential loss of quality jobs to our area is too great to ignore.”

“TFRs” are temporary flight restrictions.

The Palm Beach Post has asked Scott’s office at least twice in recent weeks if he’ll intervene with Trump, but the office has provided responses unrelated to the question.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner, a Democrat whose district includes the airport, wrote his own letter Wednesday to the Secret Service, listing some of the proposed tweaks, which include a “corridor” allowing planes to come and go to the west and southwest, a plan they believe would not threaten the president’s security.

“The security TFR procedure presently in place will most certainly close the closure of several small businesses” at the airport, Kerner wrote, “and affect the livelihood and lives of thousands of Americans.”

Berman and Kerner agreed to draft their letter during a meeting Monday at the airport, organized by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, to talk to anxious businesses.

The businesses say Trump’s past two weekend stays have cost them tens of thousands of dollars, and their customers, worried about continued visits, already have fled to other airports. One business, the maintenance firm Palm Beach Aircraft Services, says it could lose at least $2 million a year in gross revenue.

Jonathan Miller, part-owner of the “fixed base” operator at the airport, said Thursday businesses estimated $30,000 in losses the first two visits and project $45,000 in losses during the upcoming long Presidents Day weekend..

Presidential visits to Palm Beach County are not unusual, with former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all making multiple visits for fundraisers, golf outings and campaign appearances. But those visits did not involve extended, and frequent, stays, as is the case with Trump.