Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A New Year: Silence on the wire

Four days into the New Year, and I've yet to make a post. I must be getting old.

Actually, I've been busy with writing letters looking for a school job and attempting to keep my head above water at work. I've started another blog, this one focusing on my call back to independent education.

Now, to return to a topic which has popped up here on Musings from time-to-time... Ripped from the headlines in today's paper: Region passed over again on Homeland Security list.


((Don't be content with only a teaser of this post;
read more of this musing.))
Is Memphis, Tenn., at greater risk of a terrorist attack than Virginia Beach? Or Norfolk? Or the entire Hampton Roads?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security apparently believes it is. For the fourth year in a row, Hampton Roads was shut out of eligibility for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, according to a department announcement Tuesday.

Hampton Roads was passed over in favor of cities such as Memphis; Louisville, Ky.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Santa Ana, Calif.; the latter considered one of the safest communities in America, according to FBI crime statistics . In all, 46 metropolitan areas were put on the eligibility list to share $765 million in 2006-07 federal anti-terrorism funds.
What are they smoking up there inside the Beltway? Perhaps the folks from DHS ought to drive down and take a look at the possibilities. Bridges. Tunnels. Port facilities. Cruise ship terminal. Shipyards. Military bases. Schools. 1.6 million residents.
Urban Area Security Initiative grants are intended to add protection to areas found to be at a higher risk of a terrorist attack. All of the major metropolitan areas, including New York, Chicago and Washington, have received millions in the past three years.

The money is provided on top of the federal governmentÂ’s major homeland security grant program. Police and fire departments also receive additional money through other protection programs. Hampton Roads cities, however, have been at the bottom of federal per-capita homeland security spending programs, according to a Virginian-Pilot analysis in late 2005.

The region has received more than $40 million in federal homeland security grant money since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those grants have been spent on everything from protective gear for police and firefighters to increased port security. Every community in the country has received those funds.

The initiative funding is meant to bolster protection in areas that have more potential targets, such as the Pentagon in Northern Virginia.

Homeland security officials decide which cities or metropolitan areas receive urban protection funding based on a complicated threat and population analysis, Marc Short, a department spokesman, said Tuesday. The money is to be spent on equipment, training and security exercises.
Ya' know, I think we could use some of that coin.

And then, at the tail end of the article comes this little gem:
Hampton Roads "very well could be on the list next year," Short said, and he suggested that Hampton RoadsÂ’ large military presence could have worked against the region. "If assets are already protected or considered less vulnerable, then that certainly factors into whether they are at risk."

Collins, of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, disagreed. "The fallacy of that is they donÂ’t protect beyond the fences," he said of the military.

Ron Keys, NorfolkÂ’s emergency management director, said his city and Virginia Beach are working on a joint risk assessment that he hopes will win the region more federal protection money in the future.

"The one thing that probably hurts us is that when they look at Norfolk, they look at 240-some-thousand (people), and they look at Virginia Beach with 400-some-thousand," Keys said.

"If they took the 1.7 million" total population in Hampton Roads, "we would be not only be on the list, we would be very high on it."
So, once again, parochialismlism and are fractured local government and our inability for our cities to merge or even work together, hurts us. We can't get decent mass transit. We can't get homeland security bucks. We aren't seen as a single entity.

I ask this, however. If New York City can merge independent cities into one city -- and yet have those cities keep their status as boroughs -- why can't we?

Perhaps we just don't want to get along?

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