A lawyer for Donald Trump told a judge Monday that the ex-president’s firm might not budge from the city-owned Bronx golf course it runs, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s orders to scram by Nov. 14.
Attorney Kenneth Caruso declared the Trump Organization has a right to keep operating the 18-hole Ferry Point Park golf course whether it wins or loses its lawsuit against the city, since Trump could appeal a defeat to a higher court.
Trump Ferry Point LLC sued the city in June, after de Blasio ordered Trump’s concession to run the public golf course canceled, citing the then-president’s role in fanning the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Caruso wrote Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Debra A. James, urging an immediate halt to de Blasio’s termination of its 20-year contract to operate the Jack Nicklaus-designed, tournament-quality course.
Robert Funkhouser, an attorney for the city, fired back that Trump isn’t entitled to a pause — specifically because the firm stands to get a payout under a deal with the city Department of Parks and Recreation should he court nix de Blasio’s attempt to cancel the ex-president’s deal for cause.
The Parks Department had told Trump it has the right to yank the deal because the former commander in chief’s actions damaged the golf course’s reputation so badly that tournaments will shun the Bronx links.
Trump’s lawyers call that nonsense, pointing to a record number of rounds played at the holes this year as well as the rarity of tournaments at public golf courses.
Trump’s team has asserted that his organization would be due $30 million from the city if de Blasio’s cancellation goes through. City lawyers have not provided any estimate of their own of how much taxpayers might have to hand over to Trump if he wins.
In written testimony submitted last week to a city approval board, the executive vice president for the Trump Organization, Ron Lieberman, said the city was trying to “steal” the firm’s more than $30 million investment into the golf course.
“This administration and mayor are trying to terminate our contract and steal this investment from us all to settle a political vendetta against the former president who is no longer involved with the day to day operation of our company and has not been for more than five years,” he wrote.
Workers in Limbo
The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee approved a new operator for the greens last week, although two members voted against the “rushed” no-bid process.
That operator, the Atlanta-based Bobby Jones Links, had originally intended to team up with a CORE Services Group, a New York City-based homeless shelter operator bidding to take over from Trump, only to part ways after THE CITY broke news of the collaboration.
The New York Times subsequently revealed the homeless-services operator’s CEO earned more than $1 million a year and had steered at least $32 million in government money to related security, food, and maintenance firms. De Blasio, who initially defended the contract with CORE, later said the selection of the shelter operator “doesn’t make sense.”
Trump’s lawyers on Monday reiterated their concern for roughly 150 current employees, saying even if a new operator keeps the workers, they will have to go on unemployment for months due to the city’s planned closure through March.
A Parks Department official said last week that most, if not all, of the current employees would keep their jobs. And Funkhouser noted that the Trump Organization has known about the city’s plan since March.
“Rather than facilitate the hiring of its employees by the new Licensee, [Trump Ferry Point] has instead threatened the new Licensee (and others) with litigation,” he wrote.
A spokeswoman for Bobby Jones Links declined to comment on the allegation Trump’s firm threatened to sue it.