Palm Beach County has drafted a resolution seeking relief from temporary flight restrictions that impact the Lantana Airport during President Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago mansion on Palm Beach.
The resolution, up for discussion when county commissioners meet on Tuesday, states that: “The frequent imposition of TFRs have resulted in, and will continue to result in, significant losses to the aviation businesses operating at the Lantana Airport.”
Temporary flight restrictions during Trump’s visits have impacted all airports in the county, but they have been particularly costly for the Lantana Airport, located six miles south of West Palm Beach.
A county report in February noted that the airport lost $30,000 in business during one of Trump’s visits.
The county’s resolution directs County Administrator Verdenia Baker or her designee to work with the county’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to find a way for the Lantana airport to continue operations during Trump’s visits.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, held a discussion with mayors in her congressional district Wednesday, when they complained about a lack of mental health resources and sought her help in getting more federal funding.
Frankel started her day by ripping President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. But that hot topic gave way to more municipal concerns when the congresswoman met with nine mayors in her district, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.
Frankel reminded those in attendance that a recent federal funding bill includes money for local governments that have incurred security and roadway management expenses during President Trump’s many trips to Palm Beach County.
“The burden is spread out among the taxpayers,” Frankel said before joking that the county could see fewer presidential trips now that the weather is warming.
“All I can say is thank goodness it’s summer,” she said.
Frankel told the mayors Delray Beach is working on an ordinance to regulate sober homes. The mayors said more beds need to be available for the mentally ill and told the congresswoman they’d like to get more federal funding to help with community renovation projects, tearing down abandoned buildings and youth programs that could steer young people away from drugs and make a dent in the opioid crisis.
Another weekend. Another visit by President Donald Trump. And now, another idea about how to cover the escalating costs of those trips to Palm Beach County.
Commissioner Steven Abrams has asked County Attorney Denise Nieman and County Administrator Verdenia Baker to look into using bed tax revenue to defray the cost of assisting with security and managing road closures during the president’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago mansion on Palm Beach.
Last month, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw estimated those costs had already reached $1.4 million.
Bradshaw and other county officials have asked the federal government for reimbursement, but, so far, those pleas have been unheeded.
Commissioner Dave Kerner floated the idea last week of imposing a special tax on Mar-a-Lago’s owner – Trump – that would be linked to the cost of providing roadway management and additional security during the president’s trips here.
Kerner was quoted in The Washington Post today noting that the same law enforcement resources needed during Trump trips are the same ones that are needed to combat the growing opioid and heroin epidemic.
“Those are real issues: keeping cops off the street and diminishing our opioid epidemic response,” Kerner told The Washington Post.
While Kerner’s idea would shift the cost of Trump-related expenses to Trump, bed tax money would come from the county’s tourists.
That money is currently used for other county purposes.
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.
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.
No 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.
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.
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.
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.
With President Donald Trumplikely 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.
Businesses at the Lantana airport had a message for Lois Frankel to take to President Donald Trump: you’re putting us out of business.
At a meeting Monday at the airport, about two dozen people who own or operate businesses there told U.S. Rep. Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, that two straight weekend of stays by the president at his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago compound have cost them thousands of dollars, and customers worried about continued visits already have fled to other airports.
And a collective groan went up when Palm Beach County Airports Director Bruce Pelly said he’d heard — unconfirmed — what most have suspected for a while; that Trump will take advantage of the long President’s Day weekend and make it a third straight weekend.
The business people told Frankel, and she said so as well, that they understand the need to protect the president while he’s here. Pelly said he and the businesses, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, have suggested tweaks to the temporary flight restrictions which would let planes come and go to the west and southwest, letting them operate while keeping Trump safe. So far, the Secret Service hasn’t budged, saying it wanted to see how the first visit or two went before making any changes.
Frankel asked the businesses, as well as Pelly and Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner — whose district includes the airport — to assemble a package she could take to the Secret Service. She said she’ll also reach out to the White House to ask that it lobby the Secret Service to make accommodations for the airport, listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the nation.
State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, whose legislative district includes the airport, said she’ll craft a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking if he also can call on Trump, a longtime friend, to lobby the Secret Service. The Palm Beach Post posed that question to Scott last week but he did not answer it.
Business have reported some $250,000 in losses — with several not yet reporting — just from the president’s first visit last weekend. With Trump set to return again today for a weekend that includes talks with the prime minister of Japan, some firms have said repeated Trump visits could run them out of business.
Airport officials have stressed it is the Secret Service, not Trump, which imposed the restrictions. They all acknowledged the need to protect the president and said they recognize the Secret Service can’t afford to be 95 percent right. But they’ve said publicly, and in correspondence with both the Secret Service and the White House, that they hope the agency will find ways to both protect Trump and avoid harming businesses. Officials also have called on Trump himself to lobby the Secret Service.
Also invited: private aircraft owner Kelly Gottlieb; Florida Aero Paint manager Chris Cura; Palm Beach Helicopters owner Dan Crowe; Palm Beach Flight Training owner Marian Smith; Skywords Advertising owner Jorge Gonzalez; a representative of Sarasota Avionics; private aircraft owner Phil Valente; and Palm Beach Aircraft Services owner Dave Johnson, who also chairs the airport’s advisory board and is local representative to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents small plane owners nationwide.
Frankel’s scheduled to talk to reporters following the meeting.
The first visit by new President Donald Trump cost aviation-related businesses at Lantana Airport an estimated $50,000 this past weekend alone, and with Trump reportedly making another visit next weekend, a flight school that’s the airport’s biggest tenant already is looking to leave Palm Beach County, an airport manager said this week.
It’s not just this past weekend; “the question is ‘how many of those 3-day periods do you have?”” Jonathan Miller, CEO of Stellar Aviation, said late Monday.
By edict of the U.S. Secret Service, any time the president is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, a series of flight restrictions are put in place. They’re much stronger than those in effect when Trump visited while president-elect, and effectively shut down the Lantana airport.
County Airport’s chief Bruce Pelly said late Monday that, with Air Force One having gone wheels up just hours earlier, it was too early to get a handle on the impact of the flight restrictions.
Bruce Pelly did say that he’s had no reports that any aircraft violated the concentric 1-mile, 10-mile and 30-mile restriction zones around what Trump has called his “winter White House.”
Pelly said he’s “still trying to get a head count” on flights that came through the area after getting security clearances at “gateway airports.”
This weekend’s visit by President Donald Trump, the first to Palm Beach since he was sworn in, by no means marks the first time Air Force One has been parked at Palm Beach International Airport.
And as always, interested sightseers will want to take a look at America’s most recognized flying machine.
Not to worry. You can’t miss it, says Bruce Pelly, Palm Beach County’s director of airports.
“It’s a 747,” Pelly said Wednesday. “You can pretty well see it from almost anywhere at the airport.”
Pelly said it will be the Secret Service that decides exactly where the plane sits during Trump’s stay, but most likely it will be near the U.S. Customs office, a small building along Southern Boulevard on PBIA’s south side.
Which, Pelly noted, is about where private citizen Trump used to park his no-less-recognized private plane. The one that says “Trump.”