2007-07-27 / Community

Weiner:New York City Still Shortchanged By Feds

One year after New York City's anti-terror funding was slashed by $83 million or 40 percent, while small, low-risk cities like Louisville and Omaha received questionable funding increases, the Department of Homeland Security announced its 2007 funding allocation today, which only provides an additional $9.6 million or 7.7 percent in homeland security dollars to the City. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn and Queens), a member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, responded to the announcement calling it "a shocking abuse of homeland security dollars."

According to DHS, the Big Apple will receive only $134 million in homeland security grants in 2007 compared with $213.8 million in 2005. In per capita security dollars, New York City now ranks 19th on the list of 46 cities to receive funding, despite being recognized as one of the top seven prime terror targets, and while the U.S. is on heightened alert for a terrorist attack on the homeland.

While New York City gets dangerously shortchanged, small, lower-threat areas are set to receive questionable increases in funding. Three smaller cities in particular - San Diego, Denver and Indianapolis - will each receive more than a 75 percent increase in anti-terror dollars. Almost one half of the cities - five of 14 cities - that will receive funding increases in 2007 have populations smaller than Staten Island.

While DHS has taken steps to address some criticisms of its funding formula by dividing cities into "Tier 1" and "Tier 2" categories for the first time in 2007, creating these categories had little impact on funding and the number of cities eligible for high-threat grants has hardly changed. The result: New York City got severely shortchanged.

This year, "Tier 1" cities, which includes the Big Apple, competed for $411 million, or 55 percent of the total funding pot. In 2006, without the tiers, the same six cities ended up getting 54 percent of the total pot.

For 2007, again forty-six cities covering 54 percent of the country were eligible for urban homeland security grants, including 14 cities smaller than Staten Island. What will these cities do with anti-terror funds? Hard to tell, but here's a possible list:

• Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, Knotts Camp Snoopy

Amusement Park; • Anaheim/Santa Ana, California, Filming for the Fox

drama, "The OC."; • Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Miller Brewery; • San Antonio, Texas, Japanese Tea Garden; • Portland, Oregon, Glazed Terra Cotta National Historic

District; • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol Museum; • Kansas City, Missouri, Jesse James Farm and Museum;

• Charlotte, North Carolina, Carolina Raptor Center.

"Despite promises to the contrary, New York City has once again been shortchanged while small, low-risk cities continue to receive questionable funding," said Weiner. "I am all for protecting the beer industry in Milwaukee, but not with the same funds used to protect Wall Street and the United Nations from a terrorist attack." After heeding a long-standing demand from Weiner last year, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that anti-terror dollars could finally be used to fund terrorism cops in 2007, and NYPD can continue to use up to 25 percent for overtime.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation authored by Weiner which will require public disclosure of all anti-terror spending by cities and states. The legislation requires any government entity that spends federal homeland security dollars to send quarterly expenditure reports to DHS, which will help ensure that vital anti-terror dollars, millions of dollars that are supposed to fight terror, aren't actually going to the very worst kind of pork barrel programs.

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