King: Slashed NYC Anti-Terror Funding `A Knife in The Back’
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WASHINGTON (AP) – New York will receive $124.5 million in anti-terrorism grants for cities at high risk of attacks, a deep cut of some 40 percent described as “a knife in the back” by one lawmaker.
The Department of Homeland Security announced grant amounts for 46 cities, divvying up a $740 million pool of funds. Buffalo also suffered a major cutback.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Department of Homeland Security and the administration have declared war on New York,” said Rep. Peter King of Long Island, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “It’s a knife in the back to New York and I’m going to do everything I can to make them very sorry they made this decision.”
A worksheet made by the federal government to explain the decision, obtained by The Associated Press, said the city had just four major financial assets at risk, and no national monuments or icons _ a description ridiculed by New York officials.
“Anyone who can’t see New York monuments at risk is blind as a bat when it comes to homeland security,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
“When you stop a terrorist, they have a map of New York City in their pocket,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “They don’t have a map of any of the other … 45 places.”
Federal officials defended the decisions.
“At the end of the day our job is to make sure that we apply resources in an appropriate manner across the full breadth of this nation so that we get the maximum benefit out of those dollars,” Homeland Security Undersecretary George Foresman told reporters in Washington.
While New York will lose a big chunk of its funding, Buffalo lost an even greater share, nearly half of the $7.2 million it received last year. The upstate city near the Canadian border will get $3.7 million this year. The new figures are for the 2006 budget year.
Buffalo was warned early this year that the agency aims to ease it out of the high-threat program, and could receive no UASI money next year.
The Urban Area Security Initiative has created a fierce competition among dozens of cities vying to prove their ongoing need for federal anti-terrorism aid 4 1/2 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The high-threat grant money is not the only source of grants for cities, but in New York City’s case, it amounted to more than 75 percent of the grant money it received in 2005, some $166 million of the $204 million total. The remaining $38 million came through a separate federal program that grants money to states.
Most cities had been bracing for a reduction in the high threat money this year because Congress shrunk the UASI total more than $100 million from the $855 million provided a year earlier, but some like L.A. actually saw an increase.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has said the agency is shifting its overall grant-making program to direct a greater share of the money to those places deemed to be at greater risk.
New York officials, from Bloomberg to members of Congress, have long complained the government scattered too much money to rural, low-threat areas at the expense of big cities like New York.
Gov. George Pataki, speaking in New York City on Wednesday, agreed that New York is “deserving of far more of the threat-based funds that are allocated.”