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.

 

 

 

Lantana air firms to Frankel: help us survive Trump Palm Beach stays

Frankel meets with air firms Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Frankel meets with air firms Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Frankel Monday at Lantana Airport with "fixed base" manager Jonathan Miller, PBC Commissioner Dave Kerner (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Frankel Monday at Lantana Airport with “fixed base” manager Jonathan Miller, PBC Commissioner Dave Kerner (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

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.

Cong. Frankel to meet with Lantana aviation firms about losses from restrictions during Trump visits

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel
Frankel
trump
Trump

tfr02U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, is scheduled to meet Monday, at the Lantana airport, with Palm Beach County airport officials and some of the people whose aviation businesses are suffering because of flight restrictions imposed when  President Donald Trump visits his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago compound.

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.

According to a memo from Frankel’s office, she’s set to meet with Palm Beach County Airports Director Bruce Pelly and Jonathan Miller, part-owner of Stellar Aviation, the “fixed base operator” and landlord at the airport, listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the nation.

County Commissioner Dave Kerner, whose district includes the Lantana airport, tweeted Friday afternoon that he’ll also be there.

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.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County hopeful it will get federal money for Trump security

122216-trump-palm-beach-_01 trumpcopsPalm Beach County is optimistic it will get some of $7 million in available federal reimbursement for what it spent on extra security for recent visits by President-elect Donald Trump to his Mar-a-lago compound in Palm Beach.

“The good news is it should be a fairly expedited process from application to award,” Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron told county officials Thursday in an email.

Neither Bonlarron nor the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had estimates yet on what was spent during the two weeks Trump was at Mar-a-Lago from Dec. 16 to Jan 1. PBSO said it might have a ballpark figure later this week.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker told commissioners at their Dec. 21 meeting that the county spent $250,000 just over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, for escorting Trump’s motorcade and providing additional security, and that she’d ask for federal reimbursement.

 Bonlarron told The Palm Beach Post Monday that he realizes Palm Beach County is competing with New York and New Jersey, who also have handled extra security for Trump since the election.

“There should, hopefully, be some equity in how they allocate those dollars,” he said.  “But I don’t take anything for granted.”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com

Frankel to push for FEMA to forgive counties’ storm debts

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel
Frankel

MDN1-FRANCES_MULCH_DEBRIS09A bill that gets Palm Beach County out of most of a $3.28 million federal tab for hurricane cleanup has passed the U.S. House and is on its way to the Senate, U.S. Rep Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said late Monday.

The amount owed by the county government, and other local entities within the county, totals $14.1 million of the total $35 million owed by entities in Florida, Frankel said.

Potentially off the hook besides the county: the cities of Boca Raton: ($4.7 million), Lake Worth ($3.8 million) and Palm Beach Gardens ($351,000); and Jupiter Christian School ($90,000.)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Florida Division of Emergency Management had given more than $120 million to the county to help recover from 2004’s hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, and 2008’s Tropical Storm Fay. The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is a part, later did an audit, leading to the calls for repayments.

In January, Palm Beach County Commissioners agreed to give back $341,858 of the $3.28 million and appeal the rest.

The current legislation, introduced in the House by Frankel, who was West Palm Beach mayor from 2003 to 2011, gives the feds a 3-year window to recoup claims, except in cases of fraud.

“This provision will give FEMA the necessary time to review grant awards while providing certainty for communities so they can plan their budgets accordingly,” Frankel said in a release. It quotes Palm Beach County Mayor Mary Lou Berger as saying. “It is unconscionable for FEMA to propose de-obligating previously awarded disaster funds for projects that have been certified complete by the State.”