Dirty deal on dirty bombs: New York reps fell way short in fight for anti-nuke terror fundingEditorial
October 9, 2009
Members of New York's congressional delegation are doing their darnedest to make chicken something into chicken salad after they failed to secure $40 million to ring the city with anti-terror radiation detectors.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had sought that sum so that the NYPD could make fast strides toward securing the five boroughs against the threat of a dirty bomb or suitcase nuke. But a House-Senate conference committee came up with half the amount.
Making matters worse, the committee put a big asterisk on the $20 million: Cities across the country will be eligible to apply for pieces of the funding. It is not specifically earmarked for New York. It is earmarked for nowheresville.
Our Democratic mighties call this a victory. Why? Because the Obama administration and Congress could have shut us out completely. By that standard of zero-based budgeting, we should all fall to our knees in gratitude for each dime the feds send to New York.
We give Washington billions of dollars more every year than Washington gives back to us, but, hey, we do get crumbs.
Thank you, kind sirs. Thank you, kind ladies.
This particular hosing began with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who sent Congress a budget proposal that eliminated funding entirely. The whole House Democratic leadership, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi on down, got on board with the idea.
Suddenly, they were tight-fisted budgeteers, never mind that city taxpayers currently shell out $300 million annually for NYPD anti-terror operations. Never mind that homegrown terror cells have been cropping up like dandelions.
Only a June floor revolt led by New Yorkers Pete King, a Republican, and Yvette Clark, a Democrat, forced the issue to a vote. Sanity prevailed, with a 282-to-148 vote in favor of providing the full $40 million to New York.
Next up, Senate powerhouse Democrat Chuck Schumer and his rookie colleague, Kirsten Gillibrand. Their body came up with only $10 million, which would be competitively awarded among the nation's cities.
Next up, the conference committee, where New York was represented by Rep. Nita Lowey. She backed the full $40 million and went into negotiations with the overwhelming and bipartisan support of the House. There, she wuz - and we wuz - robbed because of the obstinacy of Schumer's Senate colleagues.
The outcome left Kelly in the position of having to express thanks for half a loaf at best and reduced our representatives to a whispered blame game and promises that bidding specifications will be drawn to ensure that New York gets the full $20 million.
We will believe that when we see it.