- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

New Yorkers are sending a message to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in response to budget cuts he made affecting the city targeted by terrorists in 1993 and 2001 — “Wish you were here!”

New York lawmakers are urging their constituents to mail postcards depicting New York City landmarks — including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Shea Stadium and Brooklyn Bridge — to protest an $83 million cut for the city from last year.

Leading the bipartisan campaign are Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, and Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Both sent their own postcards that read, “Just a quick note from one of New York’s many national monuments and icons. Wish you were here! Hillary and Pete.”

Lawmakers in several cities, including Washington, are protesting the millions of dollars in cuts from last year — cuts to which they agreed to in this year’s budget.

What members of Congress did not expect were major slashes in the top terrorist target cities of New York or Washington, which will suffer a $32 million cut, or cuts to 26 other cities that total $204 million.

Of the 46 cities that receive funding, 18 will receive part of the $85 million in funding increases.

In a letter to Mr. Chertoff on Friday, Mr. King said he is “gravely concerned” about the “dramatic reduction” to New York and the Washington area and demanded classified and unclassified materials that show how the funding decisions were made.

The funding decisions were made by a panel of 100 homeland security officials from 47 states, who compared funding needs to risk of a terrorist attack and how cities planned to spend the funds.

Mr. Chertoff says New York remains the No. 1 risk and has received considerable funding, but other cities have “received very little or no money.”

“If the standard for whether the secretary were to keep his job is whether every single city did better than the last year, you’re never going to have a secretary keeping this job,” Mr. Chertoff said during a speech to the Brookings Institution on Thursday.

Despite rumblings on Capitol Hill that hearings might be called or Mr. Chertoff’s resignation demanded, the secretary is standing steadfast in favor of his department’s decision.

“If there’s one credential you need for the job, it’s the willingness to stand up and say, ‘Look, we’ve made a decision; I think it’s a decision that’s not only defensible but actually an intelligent decision,’ ” he said.

“The fact of the matter is when we protect a community in Connecticut that happens to be a place that houses a power plant that puts up most of the electricity for New York City, New York is getting protected. … The measure of protection for a community is not driven just by whether that community’s politicians control the spending of money.”

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