2007-08-17 / Community

Addabbo Denounces Terror Funding

City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. has co-sponsored a resolution in the Council denouncing the use by President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff of a flawed risk-based allotment of antiterrorism grants and failing to recognize that New York City is one of the top targets for an international terrorist attack, and calling on them to increase future homeland security funding for New York City.

As the global financial and cultural capital, as well as the site of both the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks and the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, New York City has historically faced - and continues to face - an unparalleled threat to homeland security.

With more potential terrorist targets and residents per square foot than any other city in the United States, New York City faces unique challenges to public safety, Addabbo says.

For fiscal year 2006, New York City applied to the Department of Homeland Security for $219.7 million under its Urban Areas Security Initiative program ("UASI").

According to the Homeland Security Grant Program, the UASI program is "designed to fund designated highthreat, high-density Urban Areas against acts of terrorism and catastrophic events."

The Homeland Security Grant Program further states that all UASI "funding is allocated based on risk and the effectiveness of applicants' proposed solutions to address identified needs."

New York City planned to spend the requested $219.7 million to support a number of New York City Police Department initiatives, including (i) the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, a program to enhance security in New York City's Financial District and civic center by assigning more law enforcement personnel and making improvements to infrastructure and surveillance technology, (ii) Operation Atlas, New York City's antiterrorism defense that relies on weapon-equipped police to patrol city landmarks, religious institutions, and the transportation system, and (iii) enhanced training and additional protective and intelligence equipment for police officers.

The Department of Homeland Security awarded only $124.5 million in UASI funding to New York City for fiscal year 2006, a 40 percent decrease from the $213.9 million appropriated in fiscal year 2005. Although New York will be allotted $134 million this year, it is still $80 million less than the metropolitan area received two years ago.

Given the recent bombings in London and Glasgow, and that there have been reports of potential terror threats in the U.S., Addabbo stated that he doesn't accept the reasoning for shortchanging New York again.

Addabbo also said that he wants to know why, if Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has a "gut feeling" about higher terror risks, he's not sending more money to the nation's No. 1 target.

While UASI funding for New York City was cut significantly, a number of less populous localities with fewer financial and cultural landmarks, such as Charlotte, North Carolina, Omaha, Nebraska, Louisville, Kentucky, and Atlanta, Georgia, received substantial increases in homeland security funding in fiscal year 2006.

A report released a year ago cited that an insect zoo in Florida, a bourbon festival in Illinois, a bean fest in Indiana and a kangaroo conservation center in Maryland were funded, while Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge were not listed.

Despite the persistent efforts of New York City and New York State elected officials to convince the federal government to increase New York City's UASI funding, the Department of Homeland Security, under the leadership of Presidential appointee Chertoff, has refused to re-review funding applications except in cases with "factual and substantive error[s]."

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