Anti-Terrorism Funds Cut Rankles New York
Friday, June 2, 2006; 10:03 PM
WASHINGTON -- When Michael Chertoff was chosen to lead the nation's Homeland Security Department, New Yorkers hailed him as a champion for their tense city. Then he cut New York's anti-terrorism funding nearly in half.
Now, Chertoff is about as popular among New Yorkers as a slow-walking tourist in a Boston Red Sox cap.
Chertoff's agency announced Wednesday that New York's anti-terror dollars would be reduced by 40 percent, or about $83 million, from the $207 million it received in 2005. New Yorkers howled that it was the third time in less than a year that his department had whacked New York.
"He assured us before we supported him that he would fully support New York. Now that seems to have gone completely down the drain," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "I want to meet with him to hear his explanation, but this sure looks like betrayal to me."
Since Sept. 11, 2001, New York officials have charged the government spreads far too much security grant money to rural places at low risk. They felt they had scored a victory in that fight in early 2005 when President Bush nominated Chertoff, a New Jersey native, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
But then Chertoff defended the decision to cut New York's terror allotment, arguing that the city has zero national monuments or icons and only four major financial institutions.
New York lawmakers were flabbergasted.
"He has been blinded by pride here, and he's now defending incompetency," said Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from Queens. "When he got the job, we thought, here's a guy from the region, and he's gonna understand what we face. Quite frankly it's the exact opposite. It's a slap in the face."
Chertoff said the criticism wouldn't help New York get any more money.
"Attacking the secretary personally or threatening the secretary is not a way to drive funding decisions," Chertoff said Thursday during an appearance at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
Chertoff was born in New Jersey and hired by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani in the 1980's as a federal prosecutor. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he led the Justice Department's effort to track down terror suspects.
With that kind of background, New Yorkers were sure Chertoff would be in their corner.