Members of the City Council called on Mayor Eric Adams to end the city's contract with the Trump Organization on Thursday.
The current arrangement allows former President Donald Trump's company to manage a public golf course in the Bronx. But councilmembers said this agreement should be voided in light of Trump's legal troubles.
“Public parkland should not be in the hands of Donald Trump or his criminal enterprise,” said Councilmember Shekar Krishnan at a press conference before a public hearing on Thursday.
The Council was joined in its efforts by several people who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They expressed anger at the golf course’s plans to host the upcoming Aramco Team Series women’s golf tournament, which is sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Trump Golf Links in Ferry Point is operated by the Trump Organization on public land owned by the city. For years, the contract between the Trump Organization and the city has attracted criticism for its ties to the former president as well as the generous tax breaks that the city offered the organization. This summer, the golf course sparked new controversy over its connections to Saudi Arabia.
Councilmembers said hosting an event sponsored by Saudi political leadership was “offensive” to families of 9/11 victims because of that country’s role in the attacks. They said scrapping the contract by this Saturday would cancel the tournament.
“If the American golfers and the former president don’t want to stand up for the 9/11 families in their fight for justice and accountability, I wish they would at least stand up for their fellow citizens that had to decide whether they should jump from the 100th floor or burn alive,” said Dennis McGinley, who was overcome with emotion as he read aloud an opinion piece he authored that ran in the USA TODAY Network. McGinley lost his older brother Danny in the attacks.
Mayor Eric Adams has said in statements that the golf course should not be hosting the upcoming tournament, citing the “deep anger” felt by families whose lives were upended by the 9/11 attacks. But his administration said it cannot legally block the tournament.
In January 2021, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was ending the city’s contract with the Trump Organization over management of the golf course, saying he had authority to do so because of Trump’s “criminal” role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. However, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled in April that the city had wrongfully terminated the 20-year contract.
That clash was reinvigorated last week via a letter from Krishnan and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who urged Mayor Eric Adams and his parks commissioner, Sue Donoghue, to strip the organization of its license.
Councilmembers argued that the permitting issue should be revived due to a series of legal troubles facing the Trump Organization. They claim that the guilty plea from Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in August to a litany of charges — from tax fraud to falsifying business records — means that the contract should be reconsidered. They also point to other lawsuits against the former president himself.
“In addition to the long history of the Trump Organization’s problematic practices and fraudulent operations, the recently announced plans for the Aramco Team Series women’s golf tournament to be held at Ferry Point Park are an affront to the values of New York City,” the Sept. 7 letter from Councilmember Krishnan and Speaker Adams reads.
Speaker Adams, appearing at the press conference on Thursday, said the Trump Organization’s hosting of the tournament shortly after another 9/11 anniversary “is insensitive to say the least.”
Mayor Adams’ administration has been resistant to strip the Trump Organization of its control over Ferry Point, pointing to the costs the city would potentially incur to terminate the license in question.
Max Young, Mayor Adams’ communications director, said the mayor had been advised against appearing at the hearing “because of ongoing litigation risk.”
“As we’ve told Chair Krishnan and his colleagues in the City Council, ending the contract we inherited would require the city to pay up to tens of millions of dollars to the Trump Organization, an outcome no one wants. If the chairman would in fact prefer to continue down the route he has advocated and pay the Trump administration, he should publicly share the amount he'd like the city to turn over,” Young said in a statement.
The golf course has long had a contentious relationship with the city, stemming from its expensive development when the project was first announced in 1998 under then-Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
In 2011, the city struck a deal with Donald Trump to run the course. That arrangement has faced pushback because the Trump Organization received significant tax breaks that did not trickle down to taxpayers.
“Given the city’s budget situation, termination at will — as you are suggesting — would be irresponsible at this time,” said written testimony from Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue for today’s hearing. “It would embroil the City in litigation and require a termination payment to Trump Ferry that Trump Ferry has claimed could amount to $30 million.”
The Trump Organization’s contract with the city over the management of the golf course is set to expire in April 2032. Its spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.