From today's Hartford Courant:
Federal Funds Unlikely For State's Disaster PlanSo, according to the current system, we can't get a lousy $1.5 million to fund a single emergency desk.
November 22, 2006
By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON -- A major goal of Connecticut disaster watchdogs is to have one desk in Hartford to keep an eye on statewide threats 24 hours a day.
If a train derailed near New Haven, an explosion rocked New London, or disaster jolted any other town, the command desk would instantly be able to tell whether the problem was an isolated event and suggest ways to respond immediately.
But under the current system of distributing federal funds, that desk is not likely to get the $1.5 million or so it needs anytime soon - not even with Democrats now controlling Congress and promising to make implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission one of its first priorities.
Does that strike you as slightly crazy? In this climate of heightened threat levels and endless Administration talk about the imminent dangers of terrorism and natural disasters, we here in Connecticut don't even rate a crummy million and a half from the Federal Govt. to have a single department monitor our state? Jesus.
Speaker-designate Nancy D. Pelosi, D-Calif., lists the 9/11 panel's suggestions as one of the six items she plans to have the House address, and probably pass, during its first 100 legislative hours after Democrats officially take control of the House Jan. 3.Yes please. If there's any single area where pork ISN'T a good idea, Homeland Security is it.
But one major suggestion has not been passed and probably faces a rough time: "Base federal funding for emergency preparedness solely on risks and vulnerabilities, putting New York City and Washington, D.C., at the top of the current list. Such assistance should not remain a program for general revenue sharing or pork-barrel spending."
Connecticut could benefit from a new system that sets tight standards for giving out money, though success is not guaranteed. While the state has heavily traveled interstate highways, the Naval Submarine Base at Groton and nuclear power plants, it also lacks the big urban areas that experts say are attractive terrorist targets.Here's your chance to shine, Senator. Show us doubters and skeptics that you really DO have our best interests in mind. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong about you. Go ahead and be my frickin' guest, would you?
So far, nothing has been done to implement the commission's suggestion. Before it went out of business 11 months ago, the panel issued a final report card on the recommendation's progress.
Helping lead the Senate charge has been, and will be next year, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., who will chair the Homeland Security Committee. He maintained this week that the legislation he has pushed in the past "is by far the best solution for a state like Connecticut, which has a number of high risk factors but has been denied high risk funding because our urban centers do not meet arbitrary population cutoffs."
Lieberman voices a common New England complaint about the current system: No one understands completely the rules for awarding money, and the Department of Homeland Security's explanations of how it gives grants remains vague - or, as the senator put it, "constantly fluctuating and ... a work in progress."You're at the helm, Senator. Steer this ship safely into port. Make us proud.
Local officials and independent analysts agreed.
Oh, and please Senator, no more 42-minute FEMA appointments.
Try asking questions about stuff like experience in disaster management; plans for improving disaster response; proposals for integrating all the various sub-agencies into a single, cohesive group...you know, all the obvious stuff.
Read the entire article here.