Palm Beach County is expected to discuss a resolution Tuesday calling on the Trump administration to resume posting information on animal breeders who violate standards monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In an effort to shut down so-called pet mills, which critics contend house and breed animals in inhumane conditions, the county banned the sale of puppies and kittens at new pet stores. But existing pet stores were allowed to continue selling the animals as long as they were obtained from breeders who are licensed and not in violation of USDA standards.
In February, however, the USDA under the Trump administration removed from its website information on breeders with violations. That means neither the county nor pet stores know which breeders have violations.
The USDA change, along with concerns about the treatment of animals at Star Pups in Royal Palm Beach, has led to calls for the county to revisit its policy of allowing existing pet stores to sell puppies and kittens.
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.