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Published: Friday, 1/23/2004

Infuriated mayors demand homeland security money

BY ANN McFEATTERS
BLADE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF
Baltimore Mayor Martin O Malley, holding a copy of a report tracking homeland security funds to the states, says the cities  money has been tied up in knots for too long. Baltimore Mayor Martin O Malley, holding a copy of a report tracking homeland security funds to the states, says the cities money has been tied up in knots for too long.
MATTHEW CAVANAUGH / AP Enlarge

WASHINGTON - Two and a half years after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, three out of four U.S. cities have not received any money from the homeland security program that is supposed to help local police and fire officials respond to another attack.

One by one, an angry array of mayors at a press conference here yesterday said their worst fears about homeland security have been realized. Although Congress appropriated money, they said, it is being distributed through the states, and bureaucratic red tape has kept most of them from getting a penny under the highly touted first-responder program.

Their remarks occurred during the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents 1,139 cities.

A survey of 215 cities in all 50 states and Puerto Rico found that municipalities are paying for increased security by tightening already overstretched funds in other areas. The study, funded by a security software firm called SentryPoints, found that 76 percent of the 215 cities surveyed have received no money for improving their first response in the event of an attack or protecting “critical infrastructures,” although Congress appropriated $1.5 billion.

Forty-six percent of cities have not been reimbursed for additional law enforcement requirements at airports. Of cities with ports, 64 percent said they are not receiving funds for extra security the federal government says they are responsible for providing, although there is $245 million set aside for it. Another 64 percent of the cities said they had not received any money from $556 million allocated for state domestic preparedness.

The survey was made public on the same day President Bush said he was asking Congress for $30 billion for homeland security in the budget for fiscal 2005, which begins Oct. 1.

Martin O Malley, mayor of Baltimore and co-chairman of the mayors homeland security task force, said the cities money has been tied up in administrative knots for far too long. “It s really, really distressing we re still studying how we might get the money when the President just said the threat is still there, he shouted.

Many mayors said they want a balanced program so the states get money and the cities get money, and they d like to have a trigger so that if cities don t get their money in 45 days, it automatically goes directly to them.

The mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, said his financially stressed city has to provide city police cars to help protect the border with Canada but has received no money for police overtime costs. “That is not my job, to provide national security,” he said.

Information from the New York Times was used in this report.



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