I just don’t see Mar-a-Lago as a “municipal service benefit unit.”
I’ve been to the Palm Beach estate only a few times, so I’m no expert. But I’m certain that after being in close proximity to this majestic 20-acre estate, I’ve never found myself muttering under my breath, “Pretty nice municipal service benefit unit you got over here.”
Those words, “municipal service benefit unit,” sound more like a description of a ring of prostitute meter maids than anything that has to do with Mar-a-Lago, which has become a kind of winter White House for President Donald Trump.
County Commissioner Dave Kerner came up with this handle for Mar-a-Lago as a possible way for the county to be reimbursed for the recurring expenses of providing security and traffic control for the president during his getaway Florida weekends.
The weekend presidential visits have shut down nearby Lantana Airport, created traffic routing and protest protocols, and left the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office footing the bill for more than a million dollars in security costs and overtime payments.
In a more reasonable world, the federal government would make timely payments to Palm Beach County for making Trump’s stays safe. But discussions with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has done bupkes to shake free any money.
Something had to be done. If Sheriff Ric Bradshaw complained any more about not getting paid, he’d probably find himself being called “the failing Sheriff Bradshaw” in presidential tweets.
So Kerner floated the idea of turning Trump’s private club into its own taxing district as a way to raise the money.
It would be just another taxing district, like the ones we have for mosquito control or for dredging the shallow spots in the Intracoastal Waterway. I imagine this tax will eventually be shouldered by the club’s members, which probably won’t create an economic hardship, considering that they’ve already been anesthetized by the doubling of the club’s initiation fee to $200,000 after Trump’s election.
But I think we owe them the courtesy of gussying up the name of this tax to proper Palm Beach standards.
Here are a half-dozen suggestions, with the pros and cons for making each choice:
Suggested name: The Tweeting Sanctuary Taxing District
Pro: Could be cited by Kellyanne Conway as a pro-environmental initiative
Con: Dangerous for national security to encourage further Twitter use by president
Suggested name: Bingham Island Improvement District
Pro: Highlights the use of Southern Boulevard Bridge causeway as something other than a protest zone and a place for TV reporters to do live stand-ups
Con: Might encourage high-rise condo project there
Suggested name: Make Overtime Great Again Taxing District
Pro: Putting Americans to work at keeping other Americans far away
Con: Going to need more red ball caps
Suggested name: The Semi-Seasonal Supplemental Surcharge
Pro: Reminds club members that expenses will stop accruing after April
Con: Eliminates possibility of starting Trump University summer session
Suggested name: Foreign Labor Opportunity Zone
Pro: Fosters international understanding of club members through their interaction with foreign workers hired through the H-2B visa program
Con: Will make unemployed Americans wonder why they weren’t hired
Suggested name: You’re Going to Love This Taxing District, You Really Well, Buh-lieve Me, Taxing District
Pro: Promoted to members by the president, himself
Con: May include air quotes around the word “love.”