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Anti-Terror Funding Cut In D.C. and New York
"It's completely inconsistent," Greenberger said. "Where are our priorities? . . . There can be no doubt that Washington and New York are the biggest potential ground zeroes for any future attack."
The Urban Areas Security Initiative provides money to 46 metropolitan areas. It is part of a broader $1.7 billion grant program at DHS, most of which attracted little controversy because it is divided evenly among states and territories.
In addition to Washington and New York, the grant decisions included a 46 percent drop for San Diego, where several of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived; a 61 percent decrease for Phoenix, where an FBI agent suspected that terrorists were taking flight training; and a 30 percent reduction for Boston, the point of origin of the two jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center.
Phoenix Mayor Phillip Gordon called the grant reduction from $10 million to $3.9 million "outrageous." He said that Phoenix, the nation's fifth-largest city, includes a network of dams, a nuclear power plant and numerous other potential targets.
"Shame on them," Gordon said. "They are literally stripping the ability to protect this area by actions that are incomprehensible."
Winners included Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities such as Louisville (up 70 percent), Charlotte (64 percent) and St. Louis (31 percent). The only notable gain in the Northeast was in the Jersey City-Newark area, where the grant rose from $19 million to $34 million.
Louisville's funding increased from $5 million to $8.5 million, and Mayor Jerry Abramson said the money will be used primarily on a project to improve communications between emergency responders. "A lot of this is about logistical issues that are very important if something were to happen," he said.
Undersecretary for Preparedness George Foresman told reporters that although the program was formed with anti-terrorism objectives in mind, the money is meant to improve readiness for "an act of terrorism or an act of Mother Nature."
Yet one of the big losers was hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, whose grant award dropped from $9.3 million to $4.6 million.
The national capital region, which includes Washington and its suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia, had requested $190 million in urban security funds for 2006 -- an optimistic figure that would have represented an enormous increase over the $77 million the region received last year.
Washington's deputy mayor for public safety, Edward D. Reiskin, said possible cutbacks will include $25 million planned for communications infrastructure and $10 million for "mass care shelters" to house people displaced from their homes.
"I think it's shortsighted for the federal government to cut funds this way," Williams said at his weekly news briefing. "We remain a target area."
Montgomery County's homeland security director, Gordon Aoyagi, said he was stunned by the news, and predicted "a substantive reduction in a number of regional efforts." Robert Crouch, homeland security adviser to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), said that "there will be some shakeout" because of the cuts.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) scoffed at the grant decision. "When you stop a terrorist, they have a map of New York City in their pocket," he said. "They don't have a map of any of the other 45 places."
Staff writers Lori Montgomery in Washington and Michael Powell in New York and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.