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City Council Members Want Trump Golf Course License Cancelled

Parks and Recreation Committee listens to testimony at a sparsely attended hearing. Tate Hewitt for The Bronx Ink.

City council members are calling on the parks department to cancel a contract it holds with Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a golf course in Throggs Neck.

Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan and Councilperson Marjorie Velázquez were joined last Thursday by members of 9/11 Justice, an advocacy group for victims and families of September 11th, in an attempt to prevent The Aramco Team Series, a Saudi Arabian funded golf tournament, from being held in October on Trump’s golf course. 

Citing FBI operation Encore as evidence that Saudi Arabia was linked to the terrorist attack, 9/11 Justice was asking the city to intervene by pulling the license of Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.

“Our federal bureau of investigation has identified 12 Saudi government officials who were directly responsible for assisting the 9/11 hijackers. One of those Saudi government officials was working for the Saudi intelligence agency,” said Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, “For the City of New York to ignore this point…is a travesty,” adding “it’s like salt on an open wound.”

The contract can be canceled at parks commissioner Sue Donoghue’s sole discretion, but her employer – the mayor- may also dismiss her at will. Neither Donoghue, nor any representatives from the parks department, attended the special parks committee hearing last week to review Ferry Point Park LLC’s license to operate a public golf course. Mayor Eric Adams and his administration was also absent from the hearing.

Krishnan said the council was informed late Wednesday night that representatives from either office would not be in attendance. “No reason was given,” according to Krishnan.

“Not one minute away from this chamber…this administration could not send a single person to explain to New Yorkers why City Hall has handed over a public park to Donald Trump and his criminal enterprise,” said Krishnan. The license dates back to February 21st, 2012, predating much of the controversy surrounding former President Trump.

The Bronx Ink reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment on their absence. They responded with a statement from Communications Director Max Young, “Because of ongoing litigation risk, the administration has been advised against appearing at this hastily called hearing and will instead be submitting written testimony.” 

The statement from the mayor’s office was sympathetic to the “desired outcome to cancel both this tournament and the overarching license agreement” but argued that the price of breaking the contract would be “up to tens of millions of dollars.”

The Aramco Team Series is a women’s golf tournament that is a new addition to the Ladies European Tour. It constitutes an initial Saudi Arabian investment into the golf world, but has recently been overshadowed by their second initiative, LIV Golf, a men’s tour which has controversially pulled athletes away from the PGA tour with large sums of money. This would be the first year in which a leg of the tournament would be hosted in New York City.

A document addressed to the Committee from Park Commissioner Donoghue states that her office shares the sentiment that the Aramaco Tournament is “disappointing” and also pointed to financial risks. “Given the City’s budget situation, termination at will – as you are suggesting – would be irresponsible at this time. It would embroil the City in litigation and require a termination payment…that Trump Ferry has claimed could amount to $30 million.” 

Donoghue’s statement disputed points of the hearing’s testimony by questioning the city’s legal standing for breaking the contract, and whether any “misuse” of the contract has occurred.

This contrasted the committee testimony of Stephen Younger, a past president of the New York State Bar Association. He spoke on the legality of terminating the license, informing the committee that Donoghue may pull the license as long as her reasoning is neither arbitrary nor capricious.

Younger noted the recent guilty plea of Allan Weisselberg, a Trump organization leader in whose name Trump Ferry Point LLC is held, as well as the recent withdrawal of support by Mezars USA (the accounting firm that certified Trump’s now disputed net worth as sole guarantor for the park license), as reasonable grounds for termination of the license. 

Krishnan asked Younger about the divorce fee of 30 million dollars that had been stated by a spokesperson for the mayor, after an earlier attempt to cancel the tournament. Younger said that the cost would likely be between $5 million and $10 million.

“The same price of building a bathroom in a city park,”  Krishnan said.

The higher figure of $30 million was originally stated by Eric Trump– apparently not fact-checked by the Mayor’s office, according to Krishnan. 

The sole dissent on the committee was David Carr (R), who objected that the committee was not interested in management of the Parks many golf courses, but was instead “motivated by one thought: orange man bad.”

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