Cerabino: New train of thought; Brightline enriches, endangers Trump


Lawyers representing foes of the Brightline Miami-to-Orlando passenger train played their Trump card this past week.

They argued that a loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to pay for the new train service would create untoward financial rewards for President Donald Trump while also creating unique security concerns for the president when he is staying at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

This twin-track approach is based on the location of a Brightline station in downtown West Palm Beach, some four miles away from the president’s private club.

At first blush, the idea that a new train station in West Palm Beach would be both a windfall and a security nightmare to the president might seem like a whole lot of nonsense.

But nonsense is my business. So allow me to fully explore these two possibilities.

How Brightline unfairly enriches the president

The lawyers are making the point that a federal loan to support a project that “creates an important benefit to a private business of the president’s” is an improper use of public money.

The argument here is that the new station will bring economic benefits to the properties around the station, and therefore the federal money will be helping the president in his private business.

And let’s not forget just how relevant this new train stop will be to the members of Mar-a-Lago.

You could argue these club members, who pay a $200,000 initiation fee, might even pay more once they have another public transportation option in the area. And that Trump’s private club will become more valuable once a train more luxurious than the existing Tri-Rail train has a stop in West Palm Beach.

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA’S BRIGHTLINE

FIRST LOOK: Inside WPB’s new Brightline train station

TOTAL COVERAGE

To bolster this argument, the lawyers simply would need to find Mar-a-Lago members who come and go from the club via public transportation.

If club members do that now, they might take the Tri-Rail train to the West Palm Beach station, then get off the train and walk to Banyan Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue, and then wait for the No. 1 southbound Palm Tran bus. It comes about every 20 minutes.

Then take the No. 1 southbound to the corner of Dixie Highway and Southern Boulevard, the closest you can get to Mar-a-Lago on public transportation.

From the corner of Dixie and Southern, it’s a simple 1.2 mile walk east along Southern Boulevard and across Bingham Island to Mar-a-Lago. Women with spiky heels need to be careful not to get them caught on the drawbridge.

In all, it’s a 1 hour and 5 minute trip, according to the Google machine, and that’s if you don’t have to wait at Tamarind and Banyan for the bus. (If you have to wait very long at Tamarind and Banyan, you may be making an unscheduled stop at Club Good Samaritan.)

But with the Brightline train, the Mar-a-Lago club members get off at Quadrille and Fern Streets, which is a couple of blocks closer to Mar-a-Lago than the Tri-Rail train stop.

From the Brightline station, it’s a trip on the southbound No. 1 bus to Dixie Highway and Southern Boulevard, and that same 1.2 mile walk to the club.

But by getting off at the Brightline station instead of the Tri-Rail station, you shave off a solid two minutes from the hour-plus commute to Mar-a-Lago.

With that, who knows? Club membership fees at Mar-a-Lago may jump to $300,000 — further enriching the president.

How Brightline poses a security threat to Mar-a-Lago

Brightline hasn’t released its ticket prices yet, but they are expected to be multiple times more expensive than Tri-Rail trains.

So who’s going to ride this more expensive train? OK, other than the previously mentioned Mar-a-Lago club members.

These trains are bound to be empty. And as you know, the watch words for preventing terror is the saying “If you see something, say something.”

There aren’t going to be enough non-jihadi passengers on Brightline to see anything. So it may turn into the Rail-Qaeda express, a perfect way for sleeper cells to get from Miami to West Palm Beach in less than an hour and with a minimal amount of opportunities to cause alarm.

Terrorists will probably be able to fill entire train cars with martyrs, shoulder-launched missiles and goats, without anybody even noticing.

Our only line of defense will be the passengers on the connecting Palm Tran No. 1 bus. And that’s not comforting, considering they are typically asleep, in conversation with imaginary people or consumed by their cell phones.

With any luck, there won’t be any room for the missiles on the bike racks in front of the bus.

And once off the bus, the terrorists would be able to blend into the protest march de jour on the walk to Mar-a-Lago.

So as you can see, a new train station in West Palm Beach will make President Trump richer and in more danger at the same time.

Same thing goes for that new WaWa convenience store on Belvedere Road.

But that’s another story.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical...
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can

Amanda Mattuchio said her parents use a fake can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to hide their cash. Unfortunately, they stored it alongside real soup cans in their kitchen. “The bottom would unscrew and it had $2,500 in it and it was a combination of $100 and $50 bills,” she said. “The neighbor upstairs asked them if they had any canned...
Ibuprofen appears to mess with male hormones. Should you be worried?

In recent decades, prompted by concerns that men’s sperm quality is declining, researchers have looked at things they suspect of potentially disrupting the body’s endocrine system - from chemicals in water bottles to WiFi laptops to wearing tight underwear instead of boxers. You can add ibuprofen to the list. In a study published in the...
Lifestyle changes for better blood pressure
Lifestyle changes for better blood pressure

If you’re worried about high blood pressure, there are some things you can do beyond taking appropriate medication. The American Heart Association (AHA) points to some not-so-difficult lifestyle changes to delay or lower high pressure and reduce the risk of illnesses associated with it, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Here&rsquo...
So what’s high blood pressure?
So what’s high blood pressure?

When headlines about new blood pressure guidelines pinged across my phone recently, I remembered a man my inpatient team had admitted to the hospital not long ago. He had gotten up in the middle of the night to use the toilet and passed out, hitting his head on the floor. The first people to find him described him twitching, so he initially got a battery...
More Stories