Weiner Chides Feds For Security Spending
Representative Anthony Weiner, who represents much of the Rockaway peninsula, has studied the funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security and believes that he finds it wanting.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced the latest round of High Threat High Density Urban Area Grants. Though funding was originally limited to seven cities particularly at risk for terror attack— New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle-the White House has expanded the list to 50.
As funding has spread across the land, New York City has gotten less, including a drop of $102 million from last year. Where’s it going and what’s it being used to protect? Weiner’s office did an informal study, the results that were surprising.
For example, while New York City, a prime terrorist target, was cut, funds went to many newly-funded locations, including Knott’s Snoopy Amusement Park in Minneapolis, the San Jose (California) Museum of Quilts and Textiles, The Squaw Valley Herb Gardens, San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden, the Andy Warhol Museum, Kansas City’s Jesse James Farm and Museum protection of Jesse "The Body" Ventura and the Carolina Raptor Center.
"I don’t know anyone who isn’t sick of Jesse the Body by now, but I think the last terrorist who had it in for him was the Iron Sheik," said Rep. Weiner. "The bottom line is: New Yorkers don’t begrudge efforts of Minnesotans, Kentuckians or anyone else to protect themselves, but the money to do it shouldn’t be coming out of our coffers. We know we’re a target because we’ve already been attacked."
During the last fiscal year (FY 2003), Congress set aside a total of $800 million for High Threat High Density Urban Area Grants: funds to fight terror in cities identified as the most at risk. At first, that list included only seven cities—New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle-but by the end of the year, 23 more major metropolitan centers were added. Importantly, as the list expanded, so did the available funds (from $100 to $800 million). New York City’s aggregate take: $149,760,000.
But this year, the DHS has expanded the list again while reducing the funds. Now, 50 cities are dividing up a $725 million dollar pie.
The result: this year, funding for New York City homeland security will be cut by $102 million, down to $47,070,000. Instead of taking as much as 25% of the available funds, the City is getting 6%.
Weiner is sponsoring legislation called First Responders Funding Reform Act of 2003 (H.R. 2512), which would amend the formula of the homeland security block grant in two ways. First, it would reduce the minimum set-aside for each state from 0.75% of the total pot to 0.5 %, freeing up 12.5% that currently is being distributed regardless of threat or population. Second, the bill would require that the remaining funding be awarded based on a quantitative assessment of risk for three categories: threat, vulnerability, and consequences.