Alabama Official Apologizes After Cutting Down Tree For Trump Rally
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Point-counterpoint now, from Mobile, Ala. First, Donald Trump had an event there over the weekend.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: This is our last rally, our last stop. And I just want to thank the people of Alabama, and I want to start by wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And Dolly, a dog recorded today.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)
SIEGEL: And finally, the 50-foot cedar tree dividing them.
SHAPIRO: The president-elect spoke at a stadium with a large tree behind him. That seasonal backdrop was decorated with Christmas ornaments, and it artfully obscured the scoreboard. Before the weekend, though, a very similar tree stood in a city park where Dolly takes her daily walks.
DENISE GRIER: It's the only cedar tree in the park.
SHAPIRO: That's Denise Grier, who owns the dog Dolly. And what she means is it was the only cedar tree in the park.
GRIER: It had a lot of character to it. The trunk was very gnarly. It had a lot of curves.
SIEGEL: When trucks and a crane arrived at the park Thursday morning, Grier suspected the tree would soon fall.
GRIER: I thought they were clearing land, maybe for a new bathroom facility.
SIEGEL: Well, now, a neighbor had tipped her off that the city was trying to find a tree for the Trump rally. But still, there was no guarantee this cedar would be the one.
SHAPIRO: Well, after work on Friday, when the dog Dolly got her walk, the tree was gone.
GRIER: And we didn't have time to gather around the tree and protest or anything like that.
SHAPIRO: Indeed, it was the very same tree. An outcry followed, and the mayor's chief of staff apologized. Colby Cooper said he became overzealous while trying to ensure the expectations of Trump's team were not only met but exceeded. Cooper said that in the future, he will be, quote, "more sensitive to the spectrum of concerns regarding trees."
SIEGEL: Denise Grier sees something other than remorse.
GRIER: They just got caught is what happened, and they had to pretend like they were sorry.
SIEGEL: The city said the wood from the tree was to be repurposed. But...
GRIER: I drove over to Ladd Stadium. And yeah, they took the tree down all right. They cut it up. They tossed it in the back of a truck. I spoke with the supervisor of the crew, and he knew nothing about repurposing the tree. I think they were headed to a landfill with it.
SHAPIRO: The city disputes that, saying the parks and rec department is still, quote, "assessing the wood." And for his part, Cooper has offered to have three new trees planted and pay for it himself. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.