- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

The two cities targeted in the 2001 terrorist attacks — Washington and New York — will receive dramatically less money in homeland security grants this year, while some Southern and Midwestern states will get more, officials said yesterday.

All but 12 states will receive grants from a $757 million Urban Areas Security Initiative budget to help local officials prepare for terrorist attacks or natural disasters. The allocation is a $500 million cut over last year.

The National Capital Region, which encompasses the District and parts of Maryland and Virginia, will receive $46.4 million, which is $32 million less than last year. New York City is still the top municipal grant recipient with $124 million, down from $207 million last year.

“I think it was very shortsighted for the federal government to gut our homeland security funding program,” said D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams. “We learned the hard way on September 11 that terrorists want to kill innocent Americans and that Washington, D.C., and New York City are among their top targets. I firmly believe that this area could be attacked again at any time, and now is not the time to back off on our efforts.”

Funding was increased to California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Cities added to the list include Fort Lauderdale, Fla., $9.9 million; Orlando, Fla., $9.4 million; Memphis, Tenn., $4.3 million; and Milwaukee, $8.5 million.

In a conference call with reporters, Tracy Henke, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department’s grants and training office, said a panel of 100 homeland security “peers” in 47 states decided how to allocate the money, but she declined to say what cities the “peers” represented.

Funding was based on risk to geographic areas and “anticipated effectiveness of state proposals” on how the money will be spent, she said.

“Risk is ever-changing,” Ms. Henke said. “Understand, the department is much better today than last year or the year before, or three years before, on its risk analysis capabilities. We have a much broader insight into information pertaining to those threats than ever before.”

Asked whether the risk is still higher in the Washington and New York areas she replied, “There is risk throughout the nation.”

Funding was cut from $9.3 million to $4.6 million for New Orleans, which is recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita while preparing for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which begins today.

Kansas City and St. Louis received more than $9 million, Louisville, Ky., was given nearly $9 million, and Detroit got $18.6 million.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the allocation “disgraceful” and “indefensible.”

“New York City has been attacked twice and is doing more than any other city in the country to defend itself and our nation,” Mr. King said. “As far as I’m concerned, [the Department of Homeland Security] and the administration have declared war on New York City, and I am going to fight this as hard as I possibly can. This raises very serious questions about the quality and sincerity of management at every level of the department.”

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, agreed. “This administration’s approach to homeland security can be summed up in one word: incompetence,” said the chairman of the House Democrats’ homeland security task force. “What competent person would possibly think that slashing security funding for the nation’s top terrorist target is a smart idea?”

Ed Reiskin, D.C. deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said the city requested $190 million and officials were surprised to receive a funding cut.

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