While Donald Trump has officially moved into the White House and remains impressed with the beautiful phones he can use in the nation's presidential mansion, putative First Lady Melania Trump hasn't joined her husband in Washington just yet. In case you were maybe hoping East 57th and 5th wouldn't be its own little police state for the foreseeable future, the word now is that Melania might never leave Trump Tower. Hope you like traffic!
The news of our eternal traffic jam/endless overtime spigot comes courtesy of official Trump house organ U.S. Weekly. In following up on their inside look at the fun-loving and 100% human Trump family, they gave us an exclusive look inside the "mysterious world" of Melania. One aspect of that mystery that the magazine purported to answer was whether she'll move to Washington and potentially free New York City from four years of Fortress Fifth Avenue. A "family insider" told the magazine that Melania is for sure not moving until Barron finishes the school year here, and that the family "will reevaluate toward the end of the school year if they will keep this arrangement or if Melania and Barron will move to Washington."
Given that the magazine's cover screams "SEPARATE LIVES" and that Donald Trump told ABC that living alone in the White House is just fine, Melania just might live here forever. Which would be fine except that it's cost New York City a ton of money to protect Trump Tower when it was treated as White House North, and the protection just adds to the ultra-militarized takeover of city streets by the NYPD. The city has denied an initial report that NYPD security at Trump Tower was costing $1 million per day, but Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who represents the district Trump Tower is in, tells us that it costs $500,000 per day to protect the building when Trump is in town. In 2009, the Chicago Tribune reported that it cost the city of Chicago $2.2 million total to protect Barack Obama's home between November 2008 and April 2009, which is dwarfed by the reported $37.4 million dollars it cost New York City to protect Trump Tower between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
"I respect their family and their need to make personal decisions, but I'm very concerned that it might mean more regular presidential visits," Garodnick told Gothamist when asked about the possibility that Melania may stick around. "It's simply not workable for the President of the United States to be in Midtown on a regular basis," which is something Garodnick thinks will happen if Melania does keep living in Trump Tower.
"We hope that [the president] does not treat Trump Tower like a pied-à-terre and spends most of his time in Washington," Garodnick said. "Fifth Avenue is the busiest bus route in the city. The security infrastructure has caused real harm to local businesses, and it is not sustainable on a regular basis."
Garodnick said he wasn't sure how much money it cost the city to protect Trump Tower on a daily basis when Trump is in Washington. A mayoral spokesperson told Gothamist that "the city is still in the process of determining that figure."