Q&A Friday #41: Why Did New York Have Its Anti-Terrorism Funds Cut?

Question: “Why the hell would the feds slash anti-terrorist funding for huge cities like New York and give more to boonie towns that wouldn’t be hit in a million years?” — kmb

Answer: Actually, I think Homeland Security made a made a pretty good case for cutting their funding.

#1) Despite the implication that New York is being short changed, they’re getting $124.5 million dollars out of the $711 million dollar allotted for the whole country. That’s 17.5% of all the money. So, are they one of the two biggest targets (along with DC)? Sure, but they are getting a lot of the money, too.

#2) They’re not giving New York money just for the heck of it. They’re giving them money to improve security long-term and in the opinion of Homeland Security, New York isn’t planning to do that:

“The report, obtained yesterday, pointed out opposing views held by cities and the federal government over how antiterrorism money should be spent and, as an extension of those views, how terrorism should be fought.

City officials have used federal money to subsidize continuing costs, like paying overtime to officers. The federal government, on the other hand, wants the grants to pay for semipermanent safeguards that can increase security over the long term, like improvements in communications systems, better gas masks and increased training.

The report faulted the city for not adequately explaining why the money being requested could reduce risks.

Though the report said the city was in the top 25 percent of urban areas at risk, it rated the city in the bottom 25 percent in the quality of its application. It rated the Police Department’s counterterrorism program and Operation Atlas as below average in sustainability, a criticism of the continuing overtime costs.

Eight of the city’s programs including the counterterrorism division and Operation Atlas, as well as some health and training programs — fell in the bottom 15 percent, meaning any federal money used toward them will need to be specifically approved.”

This money being given to New York is for long term security measures, not to subsidize the city of New York’s budget for the police department.

#3) You have to look at all the money New York has received overall, not just the amount they received this year:

“Mr. Chertoff said yesterday: “There was no suggestion about anything we did that New York is not the No. 1 terror target. But I do think it’s fair to ask this question: After a city gets $500 million, more than twice as much as the next-largest city, is it correct to assume they should continue to get the same amount of money year after year after year after year with everybody else dividing up what remains?”

New York has gotten twice as much as anyone else overall. Should smaller cities get no money for training or security just so New York can use the money to pay overtime to cops? New York is an important city, but it’s not the ONLY city in the US.

Moreover, contrary to reports that you may have heard, they did consider New York’s landmarks and where the money went was determined by security professionals, not politicians.

So, did New York get shafted? It certainly doesn’t look like it.

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