“No Brain” In DC? Antiterror Aid To Small States

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Since Sept. 11, 2001, about $13.1 billion has gone to state and local governments to Washington: aid for police, fire, and emergency services to help finance equipment and training to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, says Time magazine. That is a 990 percent increase over the $1.2 billion spent by the federal government for similar programs in the preceding three years. But most of the $13.1 billion was allotted with no regard for the threats, vulnerabilities, and potential consequences faced by each region. Of the top 10 states and areas receiving the most money per capita last year, only the District of Columbia also appeared on a list of the top 10 most at-risk places, as calculated by AIR Worldwide Corp. for Time. Funding appears almost inversely proportional to risk. Wyoming received $61 per person in homeland security money while California got just $14, according to data gathered at Time’s request by the Public Policy Institute of California, an independent, nonprofit research organization. Alaska received an impressive $58 a resident, while New York got less than $25.

Al O’Leary of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association says: “It goes against every fundamental precept of fighting crime. If you’re having a robbery pattern in a particular community, you put detectives there. It’s actually a no-brainer, but there’s apparently no brain in Washington, D.C.”

Time says that the Bush Administration wants a far more risk-based approach for 2005 funding, “but rural-state Senators are balking now that they have had three years to get accustomed to their cash.” Time blames Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who headed the Senate Judiciary Committee when the funding bill passed. The formula required that each state receive a minimum of three-quarters of 1 percent of the total pot of money. That meant that 40 percent of the funds had to be divided up equally among the states, regardless of size or population. “Yes, New York City is more target rich,” says Bruce Cheney, director of New Hampshire’s bureau of emergency management. “But there’s been a lot of added security there. If you’re a terrorist, you may say, Why waste your time in New York City when you can make a hell of a mess in Maryland or Delaware or, God forbid, Portsmouth, New Hampshire?”

Link: http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101040329/nhomeland.html

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