Thursday, April 9, 2020

When You Are Close to Power the Lockdown Doesn't Apply

The Palm Beach Four Seasons
The New York Times reports:
Ah, to be quarantined inside a luxury beachfront hotel. Ocean views. Poolside cabanas. A makeshift financial trading floor.

When Citadel Securities, a sibling to the hedge fund company Citadel, decided to isolate a team of stock traders to keep business humming during the coronavirus pandemic, the firm’s billionaire founder, Kenneth Griffin, secured sumptuous Florida quarters: the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach.

The firm booked the hotel for New York and Chicago traders just before Palm Beach County put a hold on March 26 on new hotel reservations, and it began operations there on March 30. A few days later, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order across Florida...

Local and state orders require social distancing and the closure of nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Yet officials in the town of Palm Beach say the unusual arrangement at the Four Seasons is not in violation of public health rules because Citadel Securities is the hotel’s only tenant.

The town is treating the property as a private residence where people inside can work — or swim in the pool — as they would in any home, said Michael Ogrodnick, a Palm Beach spokesman.

“As far as we’re concerned, they’re in their own bubble,” Mr. Ogrodnick said...

The firm’s effort to continue its work has some neighbors questioning the wisdom of allowing a few dozen employees from its New York and Chicago offices — as well as some of their families — to stay at a staffed hotel while similar properties have been forced to close.

David Kamp, who lives across the street from the Four Seasons, said it was difficult not to think about the contradiction between the traders working at a five-star resort and people unable to ride out the pandemic in similar comfort...

“It is disheartening to know that this is underway while observing at the corner a public bus idling at its stop, empty of passengers less fortunate than traders,” said Mr. Kamp, the founding partner of a landscape architecture firm.

The town on Tuesday posted on its website that it had received “several messages of concern” regarding Citadel Securities’ presence at the Four Seasons after Bloomberg and later The Miami Herald reported about the firm’s temporary Palm Beach trading site.

“We have responded recently to the Four Seasons for several Violation of Town Ordinance complaints, but to date have not observed a citable violation,” the post said.

With Palm Beach County beaches closed, orange cones on the sand delineate the hotel’s property. Over the weekend, guests played tennis on the resort’s immaculate green clay courts. At one point, music could be heard blaring from the resort...

The hotel is offering “reduced services” to its guests, Laurie Herrick, a Four Seasons spokeswoman, said in a statement. Restaurants are closed, though takeout and in-room dining options are available...

Mr. Griffin, a 51-year-old Daytona Beach native who grew up in Boca Raton, donated nearly $6 million to Mr. DeSantis’s campaign in 2018...

In the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Griffin backed Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, and then donated to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. He has had an unofficial relationship advising Vice President Mike Pence on economic and business issues and has appeared in executive White House briefings and calls.
Well, good for Griffin having the pull to keep les petits tyrans away but my bigger point is that the closer you are to power the easier it is to get what you want. To change this, so that everyone has a shot, an end to government power centers must occur and move toward the PPS.


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