Borough politicians are again calling on the federal government to give New York City its fair share of anti-terror funds in light of the 9-11 Commission’s report, which was released last month.
The commission wrote that “Homeland security assistance should be based strictly on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities. Now, in 2004, Washington, D.C. and New York City are certainly at the top of any list.” President Bush has pledged to institute the commission’s recommendations, but Queens legislators are not taking any chances.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney released a report Friday which stated that New York state receives just over $10 per person in anti-terrorism funding in 2004, ranking it 35th in the nation. Wyoming received $40.60 per person this year, tops in the 50 states.
Maloney, who commissioned the report, is chairwoman of the Task Force on Homeland Security for the House Democratic Caucus. A similar report last year indicated that New York got $21.78 per person, 16th in the country.
“We know that some states like Wyoming were getting way more than their fair share within some individual programs, but now the whole picture is right here in black and white. The entire Homeland Security funding system is broken,” she said.
The report combines state distribution grants allocated through the Department of Homeland Security with other DHS grants to determine the total amount the states receive. One of those grants is the Urban Area Security Initiative, which sends money to large cities at risk of a terrorist attack.
“The Administration and Congress both need to read this screaming headline: since Homeland Security was created, New York has gotten only about 30 cents per dollar for each dollar Wyoming has received. If there is a louder alarm to warn the country that we need to change the funding formula and change how Secretary Ridge distributes the aid, I haven’t heard it,” Maloney said.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria, whose district is within Maloney’s, recently called on the federal government to provide the NYPD and FDNY with $355 million for operations.
“The federal government has told us that a foreign power is poised to attack. But where is the Army? Where is the Air Force? What are they doing to protect us? Luckily, we have the best protection in the world, the NYPD, but even they need additional funding. Protection isn’t free,” he said.
Vallone recently joined Congressman Joseph Crowley and Senator Hillary Clinton at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in Manhattan to protest the so-called “pork barrel” allocation of funds to rural areas. They were outside the NYSE because President Bush recently identified it as one of several area buildings that had been “cased” by terrorists.
“We learned, once again, this weekend that New York and Washington are the top terrorist targets in the nation. There is nothing stopping the President from ordering increased funding for those cities. He should act immediately,” Clinton said.
Congressman Anthony Weiner has long criticized the Bush Administration for what he sees as neglecting New York City. Weiner said last month that the city received $172.1 million in federal funds for three police and law enforcement programs—the COPS program, Local Law Enforcement Block Grant and Byrne Grant—in 2001 but only $18.9 million this year, a drop of $153.2 million since before the terrorist attack.
According to Weiner’s statistics, the city also received $159 million in Homeland Security anti-terror funds last year, but is on track to receive only $91million in 2004. He has called for the President to reinstate funding for the three grant programs, increase Homeland Security funding and for strict rules governing New York’s airspace.
“President Bush is playing a shell game with the city’s public safety funds. After September 11th, funding for the NYPD should have gone through the roof, but it’s gone nowhere but down. That’s shocking,” he said.
Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Howard Beach, meanwhile, has called on Congress to pass the Remember 9-11 Health Act, which would provide long-term health monitoring, treatment and other services for those who developed health problems as a result of the terrorist attacks.
“A long-term monitoring and treatment program to evaluate and manage the health consequences of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on rescue, recovery and cleanup workers and residents, students and employees of the World Trade Center area is essential now,” he said.
The bill would allow the federal Centers for Disease Control to carry out short- and long-term examinations on members of the NYPD, FDNY or other agencies that worked in the rescue and cleanup operations until August 21, 2002. It would also apply to people who worked or lived in Lower Manhattan during this time.