Trump at the Public Trough
Lawrence Weschler with Gerri Davis | Monday, Oct 31, 2016
For over a year now, drivers across the Whitestone Bridge from Queens, New York, have been forced to confront a huge eyesore of a self-advertisement for virtually the entirety of the ride down the far-side of the arch into the Bronx. To wit:
The signage advertises the Ferry Point public golf course, which some of you may remember from Jon Voight’s breathless narration of the Trump bio-puff film which preceded the candidate’s arrival at the Republican Convention: “Donald took over another city project tied up in red tape since 1978 and transformed a landfill into a championship public golf course and saved the city millions.”
Except, of course, that he did no such thing. According to the former NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, as quoted in the city’s real estate newsletter The Real Deal (July 24, 2016), “He did not build the golf course. The city built the golf course. Trump came in as operator.”
And in fact, as operator, he has been costing the city millions. According to the Washington Post (August 25, 2016): “As part of his deal, Trump agreed to build a $10 million clubhouse within the first five years, run the course and pay for the continued upkeep of greens, fairways and roughs. In return, the city agreed to cover water and sewer costs and let Trump keep all of the course’s earnings. Trump’s company only has to pay the city a growing share, starting at 7 percent, of the course’s yearly revenue starting in 2019. In the first year of the deal, Trump’s company tallied $8 million from greens fees, golf-cart rentals, banquets and other sales,”—of which the city, already on the hook for the $146 million cost of commissioning, designing, and building the course in the first place, got precisely bubkiss.
Not even property taxes, since, after all it’s public land.
Nor is there any evidence that the Trump organization has thus far started work on the much vaunted $10 million Club House.
On the other hand, in this poorest borough in the city (one of the poorest counties in the country), Trump is managing to charge city residents $145 for a round of golf, ($178 on weekends), three times the price of any other such public course outing in the city.
For which privilege, day-trippers get to encounter, rounding the 12th hole, a plaque commemorating the course’s (alleged) first hole in one, an 8-iron shot, naturally, by one Donald J. Trump.
Talk about the Art of the Deal. Or maybe, rather, the Craft of the Shaft.
At any rate, the drivers on the Whitestone Bridge might well be excused, from here on out, if descending into the Bronx, they find themselves rubbing their eyes, unable to keep from seeing: