Short version: Taxpayers build a FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY helipad at Mar-A-Largo. Only use has been to land private helicopters.
Courtesy of the Palm Beach Daily News:
On Dec. 22, 2017, the Friday before Christmas, the new helipad at Mar-a-Lago was used for only the second time. A private business helicopter with the corporate Trump logo landed and took off from there a few hours before President Trump’s arrival in the area via Air Force One. The only other time the new helipad has been used was on April 8, 2017. In that instance it was also a private business helicopter with the corporate Trump logo that landed and took off.
Helicopter takeoff and landing in the town of Palm Beach is strictly regulated, as one might expect. Essentially, it is limited to only emergency helicopters such as Trauma Hawk.
So when President Trump moved to have the federal government build a helipad at Mar-a-Lago for him, he had to seek a waiver from normal town rules to allow for helicopter take off and landing. The issue was taken up at the Jan. 10, 2017, Town of Palm Beach Town Council meeting. Under the advisement of long-serving Town of Palm Beach legal counsel John “Skip” C. Randolph, the Town Council voted 5-0 to grant the waiver with the caveat that it only be for government, not personal or private sector, use. Specifically, it designated Mar-a-Lago for the “take-off and landing of helicopters pursuant to the provisions of Section 14-34 of the Town Code of Ordinances during the term(s) of office of the President-elect Donald J. Trump for business related to the Presidency only.”
Given that both times the helipad has been used a private business helicopter with the corporate Trump logo landed and took off, it would seem to violate the waiver allowing “for business related to the Presidency only.” This is not an issue of politics and has nothing to do with whether one does or does not agree with President Trump’s policies. This is an issue of the rule of law and no one — not even the President of the United States and not even in Palm Beach — should or can be above it.
Apparently the local officials have no idea who is using this helipad, and for what purpose.
Courtesy of the Palm Beach Post:
“I wish I could answer that,” said Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio about who was using the helicopter and why. “If that’s the case and it’s being used for official business, so be it.”
Even Battalion Chief Sean Baker, spokesman for Palm Beach Fire-Rescue, said he has “no clue” who is using the helicopter, adding that Fire Rescue is “called to Mar-a-Lago when the Secret Service needs us.”
The local residents are kind of fed up.
Neighbors and residents complained that the council had not given enough public notice before agreeing to modify the aircraft ban and build a helipad.
“It is one thing to bring in Marine One with the president on it. It is another thing to bring in helicopters with the president not on it, or private helicopters,” Jesse Diner, attorney for Palm Beach resident Nancy deMoss, said at a February Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting. “So there needs to be a restriction on use as far as that goes to only Marine One when the president is on it.”
Their concern: noise, downdraft, personal use of the helipad by friends, family and Mar-a-Lago members and setting a precedent for other residents to seek their own helipads.
So to be clear taxpayer money paid for a helicopter landing pad that has only been used twice, and most likely not for any government related business.
And really is this a surprise to anybody?