by Catherine TRIOMPHE
After years of flying south for the winter Donald Trump is making his Florida nest permanent, breaking with the city that molded his outsized persona in a decision that’s left most fellow New Yorkers unmoved.
“Good riddance” appeared the collective take on the billionaire’s announcement late Thursday that he would not return to his gilded three-level penthouse in Manhattan after his presidential tenure wraps, moving instead to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, oft referred to as the “Winter White House.”
The one-time king of Queens has long professed his love for his birth city, where he amassed celebrity, power and wealth as a brash real estate mogul.
But his romance with the American financial and cultural capital soured as his deeply controversial presidency triggered angry protests, including outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
The consummate New Yorker who came to embody his city’s ambition implied that he was moving his permanent residence partly over the city’s heavy taxes, while centering most of the blame on hostility from the Democratic stronghold where 80 percent of votes went to his rival Hillary Clinton.
“I cherish New York, and the people of New York, and always will, but unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and the state,” the 73-year-old president tweeted.
“I hated having to make this decision, but in the end it will be best for all concerned. As President, I will always be there to help New York and the great people of New York,” he continued.
“It will always have a special place in my heart!”
– Poster boy of success –
In the early 1980s, when he cut the ribbon to Trump Tower and re-opened Central Park’s beloved skating rink, the business magnate appeared the quintessential poster boy of the revival of a city plagued for years by fiscal crisis and endemic crime.
A regular of Manhattan’s elite nightlife scene as well the city’s tabloids for his myriad affairs and third marriage to the Slovenian immigrant Melania, Trump forged an image of success that even several bankruptcies couldn’t falter.
His hit television show “The Apprentice” took the myth of Trump national, making him a household name boasting of riches and clout, an unshakeable broker of deals.
Sam Abrams, a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College, says since Trump’s move to the White House he no longer seems “to be proud to be a New Yorker.”
His positions stand in stark contrast to New York’s, Abrams said, accusing the president of “attacking diversity and attacking immigrants.”
“He used to be seen as someone who can build things, seen as someone who cares about New York,” Abrams said.
“He is not even pretending anymore — he hates it.”
– ‘All yours, Florida’ –
New York’s Democratic establishment was quick to applaud the president’s move: “Good riddance,” tweeted the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway… he’s all yours, Florida,” said Cuomo, alluding to suspicions that Trump — who still refuses to release his tax returns — is guilty of evading paying his share.
The president was reportedly furious that Manhattan’s top prosecutor filed a subpoena demanding returns, which Trump has unsuccessfully tried to thwart.
The tax implications of moving to Florida would likely work in the president’s favor, particularly for his heirs when he dies, considering the state of New York’s top estate tax rate of 16 percent. Florida does not impose an estate tax on top of the federal rate.
Trump on Twitter attacked Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying they have let the city become “dirty & unsafe again” and that their mismanagement has driven people away.
“Too many prople (sic) are leaving our special New York,” he tweeted.
Since his arrival at the White House the septuagenarian has spent just 20 days at Trump Tower, including to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly, in contrast with the 99 days he’s passed at Mar-a-Lago, according to a count from the network NBC.
He’s expected to make a brief appearance this weekend in Manhattan, which is already generating snarky comments and fears of traffic snarls.
Like many of his neighbors, lifelong New Yorker Yovo Addo waved off Trump’s departure, but did note that “he’s done a lot for the city, he’s done some philanthropy.”
But “he’s not great for a city as diverse as this one,” said the 38-year-old doctor.
“New Yorkers are pretty strong-willed,” Addo said. “We have gotten used to having people in many different cultures within the town.”
“Even if he were to come back, we wouldn’t tolerate some of his philosophies.”