Homeland insecurity

first_img So four years after 9-11 – and 10 weeks after the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina – it’s still not clear that Washington has figured out how to properly distribute homeland security funds. And that gives us even less reason to believe officials in Washington.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! If you believe officials in Washington, then at last, more than four years after 9-11, we’ve nailed down a sensible formula for doling out federal homeland security funds. Of course, if you believe officials in Washington, you’re probably too trusting for your own good. For decades, the nation’s political establishment neglected to take the terrorist threat seriously – not after countless attacks abroad and not after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Then came 9-11, which supposedly changed everything, or at least everything but Washington’s tradition of pork-barrel politics. So even though federal funding for homeland security has skyrocketed in the past four years, it’s been distributed not on the basis of need, but politics. That’s why Wyoming, a state that faces no serious terrorist threat, has received seven times the per-capita homeland security funding as target-rich California. All that is supposed to have changed in the $31.9 billion homeland security bill recently approved by Congress. Under new funding formulas, money will go out on the basis of risk factors. Or so the politicians say. But there are doubts. For starters, even though distribution formulas have changed, the total number of dollars allotted has been cut. So it’s possible that California could get a larger share of a smaller pie, which could actually amount to funding lower than previous levels. Congressional Republicans counter that the cuts aren’t a factor because the Department of Homeland Security has yet to allocate some $6.6 billion to state and local governments. But that raises the question of how those funds will be appropriated, so no one really seems to know what to make of the new system. “It could mean less funding as a whole, but more funding for high-risk cities,” says Tom Ludica, Long Beach manager of government affairs. “Or it could be the other way around, and there could be less money overall for cities. I don’t have a projection on that.” last_img read more