How Trump Cleaned Up on a Garbage Dump; PLUS: Trump’s Forgotten Holocaust Awareness Advocacy
Anybody who follows the Donald knows that one of his favorite boasts concerns his enigmatic talent for “making deals” that seemingly work like magic to make him one of the world’s most stellar businessmen. Trump’s alchemical acumen – his Midas knack for touching trash and turning it into rolls of green – was on fine display in 2012, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck a deal with reality TV tycoon Trump to convert a Bronx landfill into a massively taxpayer-subsidized luxury golf course.
Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News wrote of the project before its approval:
City officials are expected to approve a 20-year contract Wednesday that will hand the Trump Organization the most expensive public golf course ever built — yet they plan to charge Trump the lowest rent of any golf course in the city.
The 18-hole course at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx — designed by Jack Nicklaus — will be the first championship-level course in the city. But it has been plagued by cost overruns and huge construction delays since it was first proposed in the waning days of the Giuliani administration, and it is still not completed.
The project’s overall cost to taxpayers, including an adjacent waterfront esplanade and community park, is now projected to be more than $190 million — nearly 10 times the original price tag.
Trump plans to charge as much as $125 on weekends to play the course — more than twice what other city courses charge.
Yet the rent deal he secured from the Bloomberg administration is bargain-basement.
Last year, two courses at Pelham Bay Park/Split Rock paid the city $1.2
million; Clearview Golf Course provided $861,332; Douglaston Golf Course gave $733,299.
Even Kissena Golf Course, the lowest-revenue generator of all, provides $311,000 to the city coffers.
So what will Trump pay in his first year of operation in 2014?
The same from 2015 to 2017.
Only in 2018 will the course — to be named Trump Links at Ferry Point — begin to pay the city any rent. And that rent could be as low as $300,000 or 7% of the gross receipts, whichever is higher.
Even a miniature golf course and driving range on Randalls Island paid rent of $593,000 last year.
As you might expect, Mayor Bloomberg and Trump, two kindred tycoons, don’t see a problem.
“I’m not sure he got a great deal,” Bloomberg said recently. Golf courses, the mayor noted, “are not terribly profitable things in this day and age.”
Trump offered the “best deal” of three bidders, said Trump Organization vice president Ron Lieberman.
Pictured with The Donald is Trump Organization Vice President Ronald Lieberman, the executive in charge of the Ferry Point Park Trump Links development.
The firm will contribute up to $10 million to build a new clubhouse, Lieberman said.
“The better we do, the better the city will do,” he added.
Well, how about this part of the deal: Trump’s contract requires the city to pay for all the water the golf course consumes.
Why this unusual water provision?
“Other courses all have replenishing irrigation ponds and water wells that greatly reduce the dependence for city water,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. That wasn’t possible at Ferry Point “due to the existence of municipal solid waste below the surface.”
In other words, the city must pay for building a golf course on a toxic site.
“The city was required (by the federal government) to cap this landfill,” Abramson said. “Building a golf course was the least expensive alternative.”
Such is the logic of Bloomberg’s people: a $200 million golf course becomes “the least expensive” way to cap a landfill.
Geoffrey Croft, the gadfly head of New York City Park Advocates, has a simpler view:
“Why are taxpayers paying bills for a luxury golf course, when our city has all these other needs?”
The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee will vote on this giveaway.
Watch the committee embrace the Trump deal.
Reporting on the same project two years later, Gonzalez appended these details:
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently wasn’t satisfied with simply handing Donald Trump control over one of the most expensive public golf courses ever built in this country – the new $236 million, 18-hole Parks Department course scheduled to open next spring at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx.
Bloomberg’s aides quietly added a slew of financial giveaways in the 2012 deal with The Donald that no other city golf course concessionaire enjoys, a Daily News review of Parks Department golf contracts has found.
Those giveaways include: no concession fees for four years; then decades of extraordinarily low revenue-sharing with the city; tens of millions of gallons of free water annually; even a five-year delay for Trump to build a $10 million clubhouse, his only major capital investment in the project.
Trump with partner in crime Bloomberg
Start with the greens fees, the basic charge for a round of golf; virtually all of the city’s existing 13 public golf courses charge $48 per person during weekend peak hours, higher for non-city residents.
But the new Trump National Golf Course at Ferry Point plans to charge nearly three times as much — $125 per person.
Trump’s split of revenues with the city, however, will be far less than all other courses.
At the Pelham Bay & Split Rock course in the Bronx, for example, the operator pays the Parks Department from 18% to 23% of greens-fee revenues, plus an additional $4 surcharge for every round of golf.
At Clearview in Queens, it’s 27%. At Silver Lake in Staten Island, the city gets 25% to 27%. And at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn, the city’s split is 20%. These also have a $4 per round surcharge.
So what Trump will pay for his brand new course designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus at taxpayer expense?
Would you believe 7% of greens fees?
Mayor Bloomberg with Trump friend Larry Silverstein
If you do the math, the older courses will produce more actual cash per person for the city than Trump’s.
On top of that, Mr. Art of the Deal won’t have to pay a cent in surcharges per round at his course.
So what about all the other revenue sources from golfing — merchandise, food and beverage, catering events, pro lessons?
Other operators pay the city 10% to 11% of their total revenue from these.
Trump will pay just 7%.
Then there’s the huge issue of water. Golf courses use a lot of it. The Parks Department estimates that during the 100 hottest days of the year the new 190-acre Ferry Point Golf Course will need between 250,000 and 400,000 gallons of water — PER DAY!
No wonder the agency dug wells and built ponds years ago at city golf courses to capture runoff and reduce reliance on our potable water supply.
But two golf courses don’t have wells. One is Marine Park in Brooklyn. The other is the new Trump course. At Marine Park, the underground water is so salty its unusable. And wells are unfeasible at Ferry Point because it sits on a toxic landfill. The course has only a pond to capture runoff water.
Michael and Adam Giordano, the father and son who operate Marine Park, use more than 20 million gallons of city water annually. They are barely staying afloat financially given their $140,000-a-year water bill.
Trump, however, has no such worries.
That’s because the Parks Department agreed to pay all water bills for his new course. The agency’s spokesman Phil Abramson conceded as much late Thursday after repeated questions from The News.
Ronald Lieberman, the Trump vice president in charge of the project, said this week he doesn’t have an estimate for how much city water the course will use.
But given the world-class status Trump envisions for it, you can bet it will dwarf the 20 million gallons a year at Marine Park.
A world-class, taxpayer-built course. Sky high admission prices. A miserly split for city. And unlimited free water to boot. What a deal Trump and Bloomberg negotiated.
2005 article discussing Trump’s brashly worded reservations about Larry Silverstein’s “master plan” for Ground Zero also refers to the two notorious real estate developers as friends.
The secret of Trump’s success, it would seem, is having moneyed Jewish friends in positions of power and influence – such pillars of polite international society as the former Mayor Bloomberg, noted displaced peoples advocate George Soros, hedge fund philanthropist Carl Icahn, and – according to mutual associate Howard Rubenstein – even World Trade Center attack victim and Benjamin Netanyahu confidant Larry Silverstein.
None of this is to say, however, that Trump’s enjoyment of privilege has rendered him at all insensitive to the need to give something back to the little people and to the wider New York area community – particularly the long-suffering Jewish-American community, which continues despite its many successes to be burdened by nativist bigotry. Painfully cognizant of the shared psychic wounds that accompany such ongoing problems, Trump donated the free use of one of his country clubs and golf courses to the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore.
Trump is particularly sensitive to the plight of America’s Ashkenazim, owing partly to his familial ties to that community through daughter Ivanka’s marriage to Jared Kushner, owner of Kushner Properties and The New York Observer, and owing partly as well to the guilt Trump feels as a man of white privilege descended from Germans, who – as Trump knows only too well – exterminated six million innocent Jews during the Second World War, a ghost that prompted Trump for a number of years to pretend to be Swedish in ancestry. As The Guardian’s Kate Connolly recounts in a story about the Trump dynasty’s immigrant background:
There was a time when Trump was embarrassed to admit his German connection, to the extent that he denied it. His repeated references to himself as Swedish even prompted the Swedish town of Karlstad to begin planning a museum in his honour.
Only in the 1980s did Trump relent. […]
The family’s reluctance to acknowledge their Germanness had much to do with hostility levelled at German-Americans during the first world war, while after the second world war the Trumps’ qualms continued as many of their customers were Jewish Holocaust survivors.
The real Donald J. Trump would NOT be amused!
In 2000, while vying with Pat Buchanan for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination, Trump denounced his rival as a “neo-Nazi”. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci reported in 1999:
Trump also toured a museum honoring Holocaust victims in Los Angeles Tuesday and used that visit to suggest Buchanan do the same.
“He seems to be a racist,” Trump said of Buchanan after a visit to the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Trump has criticized Buchanan’s contention […] that Nazi Germany presented no strategic threat to the United States after 1940.
“I used to like Pat,” Trump said in another interview in 1999. “I thought he was a nice guy. Then I read the things he had written about Hitler, Jews, blacks, gays, and Mexicans. I mean, I think it’s disgusting. Clearly,” Trump further charged, “he has a love affair with Adolf Hitler, and that’s sick.”
Rainer Chlodwig von Kook