Mayors’ pleas for more federal aid to help anti-terrorism efforts did not seem to get much sympathy from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Meeting in Denver, leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors argued that federal money for training, equipment and stepped-up patrols should go directly to cities, which would respond first to a terrorist attack, USA Today reports. The money goes first to governors for distribution.
Mayor James Garner of Hempstead, N.Y., a Republican and president-elect of the conference, said, We are Democratic and Republican mayors alike. We speak with one voice. That voice says send the money directly to the cities, not to statehouses.”
Michael Brown, a top deputy to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, said Congress has ordered that at least 80 percet of homeland security funds go to cities and counties, with states limited to 20 percent. He said the Bush administration has allocated $4.4 billion to states and cities since March. Brown urged mayors to take a regional approach in applying for federal aid so neighboring cities and counties won’t be vying for the same dollars. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Ridge soon will announce the appointment of several regional homeland security chiefs to work with local governments.
Federal officials took the opportunity to announce that Colorado would receive more than $25 million in federal money for homeland security costs, but that didn’t satisfy Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, the Rocky Mountain News says. Mayors said it takes too long for funds to be allocated and they’re frustrated that money is channeled through states. “Some of these funds could have been given to large cities with huge population centers,” Webb said. “We don’t want to go through two bureaucracies – one a federal and the other a state.”