2006-06-30 / Community

Weiner: Correct Homeland Security Regulations

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg testi-fied before the House Homeland Se-curity Committee recently, Represen-tative Anthony Weiner renewed his criticism of the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress, which have taken no serious action to correct three DHS regulations that put New York City at a distinct disadvantage.

In defending the indefensible cuts to New York City's homeland security grants, Department of Homeland Se-curity Chertoff has implied that the City's application was deficient com-pared to cities like Omaha, Louisville and Milwaukee.

But, in fact, Weiner told The Wave, the Department of Homeland Security has stacked the rules so much against New York, the City almost can't win.

"The blame for this debacle lies di-rectly at the feet of the Bush Admini-stration and the GOP Congress," said the Congressman, pointing out that the Big Apple is going to get short-changed again unless the following rule changes are implemented by the Bush White House:

+ Allow Cities to Pay for Police Overtime and Salaries.

The Department of Homeland Security's own rules put virtually no limit on how many gadgets, gas masks, and car barriers a city can buy with fed-eral grants, but they steadfastly re-fuse to allow a city to pay for police overtime. The NYPD spends over $200 million a year in operational and personnel costs to make sure we are not attacked again by terrorists. If the feds won't help the Big Apple cover the cost of cops, DHS will al-ways short New York.

+ Limit the Number of High-Density, High-Threat Cities.

Out of the outrage of learning that tiny states like Wyoming and Ver-mont were getting much more per capita terror money than New York, Congress created a special fund for high-threat, high-density urban ar-eas.

Seven cities were on the list in 2003 and New York got 25% of the money. Since then the Bush admini-stration has increased it to 46 cities and "urban areas". Fourteen of the cities are smaller than Staten Island. Now that they have expanded the list to include more than 54% of the coun-try as "big cities" it's predictable that our share is down to 16%.

+ Spend Homeland Security Funds on Terrorism, not Natural Disasters.

When DHS announced in January that cities would have to submit threat-based proposals before DHS doled out grants, some folks cheered. We should have read the fine print. They also announced that threat of natural disaster was going to be in the mix.

So, the Congressman concluded, this limited pool of money that was intended to be used for tar-gets of Bin Laden were now going to be used to protect against Mother Nature as well.

To make matters worse, Congressman Weiner added, even Bird Flu was considered a "terror" for these grants. Good news for helping Omaha defend against twisters, but bad news for New York and for common sense.

Weiner, who represents the western end of the Rockaway peninsula, has introduced legislation that would limit the number of high density, high-threat cities (THREAT Act) and legislation that would remove spending restrictions on anti-terror funds, allowing cities like the Big Apple to invest in their real homeland security needs - sala-ries and overtime (First Responders Funding Modernization Act).

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