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.
William J. Ely, a 105-year old Delray Beach resident, said there are three reasons he has lived so long: good luck, good genes, and the love and caring of his wife, Helen, to whom he was married for 70 years before her death in 2014.
Ely, believed to be the oldest living graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was honored by the Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday.
Commissioner Steve Abrams, whose district includes Delray Beach, presented Ely with a proclamation honoring his 33 years of service in the Army, including service in the Pacific during World War II.
Ely earned an Army Distinguished Service Medal, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and two Legions of Merit.
After receiving his proclamation, those attending the commission meeting gave Ely a sustained standing ovation.
A routine vote on a Palm Beach County proclamation at Tuesday’s county commission meeting prompted a lengthy discussion on school choice.
Commissioner Steve Abrams was asked to introduce declaring Jan. 22-28 as “School Choice Week in Palm Beach County.” The motion passed, but Mayor Paulette Burdick and new commissioner Mack Bernard voted no and did not sign the proclamation.
“If you go on their web site, it is very much about charter schools. It is very much about using public funding for vouchers and scholarships,” Burdick, who sat on the county school board from 1994 to 2010, said of the group National School Choice Week.
Abrams said the group is non-partisan and doesn’t lobby and that it fully supports the option of public schools.
“It’s not about charters,” he said. “It’s not about vouchers. It’s not about tuition tax credits. All those controversial type issues. It’s about appreciating that we offer choices in the county.”
Abrams said that after hearing fellow commissioners weren’t comfortable with the group’s original proposed wording, he rewrote it himself “to best reflect the types of choices our parents and
The proclamation “does not have to do with certain types of schools that some of us, myself included, are not happy about,” said colleague Mary Lou Berger, who said she and her siblings spent their youths in parochial schools. “It’s about the choice that parents have.”
Abrams then offered to change the wording to refer only to choice in Palm Beach County; “then we don’t have to affiliate with that group at all.” He even changed the date to Feb. 22-28.
Burdick still felt the commission, by approving the proclamation, was at least indirectly supporting the national group. Bernard did not speak on the issue.
Palm Beach County is looking for people willing to adopt not puppies, but natural areas.
The county has put out the call for its Adopt-A-Natural Area program, in which local groups and agencies provide volunteers who organize events such as trash pickups, restoration plantings, invasive plant removal, public education events, and guided tours.
“It’s a win-win for all parties,” County Commissioner Steven Abrams said in a release. “The county’s natural areas are a local treasure and we are always thrilled to partner with groups interested in volunteering and promoting them.”
The contentious issue of how to regulate Uber and other app-based ride programs, and what it means for the traditional taxi and limo industry, could be back before the Palm Beach County Commission as early at next month.
The issue could come back to the commission’s April 5 meeting, Brock Rosayn, president of Metro Taxi of Palm Beach County and a member of the county’s Vehicle for Hire Advisory Committee, said Sunday.
At least one county leader is broiling mad over a planned declaration of “meatless Mondays.”
The commission is set to issue the proclamation at next Tuesday’s meeting. It urges people to reduce meat consumption to cut back on the environmental impact of raising animals for food.
Abrams says he won’t sign it.
“The public doesn’t need the county commission to tell them when and what to eat,” Abrams said Thursday in an actual official press release from his office, titled “Abrams has cow over meatless Mondays.”
“Our constituents are smart enough to decide on their own,” Abrams said. “‘Ice Cream Sundays [sic],’ yes, ‘Meatless Mondays’ no.”
While the subject matter would seem light-hearted, Abrams told the Palm Beach Post Thursday it’s consistent with his political leanings as a lifelong “less-government” Republican.
He also said nobody can remember the last time a proclamation was anything but a formality.
“This is a directive from the board and it has policy issues attached to it,” he said. “It’s not the typical “cancer prevention week.'”